Continental Drifters - Day Six

With only a scant two full days to spend in Vienna, we crammed in enough tourism for several days to fill our travels here. The order of the day was to experience Vienna as a center of European art history, with a few concessions to Dad's interests. For the most part, however, since the previous day had been mostly about Dad and his interest in Baroque architecture, opulent palaces, and the Hapsburgs, today was mostly about me.

We started off the day at my top tourism destination in Vienna: the Hundertwasser Haus, a private apartment complex designed by Austrian artist-turned-architect, and all-around eccentric, Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Hundertwasser believed that traditional, utilitarian architectural forms, with its flat surfaces and straight lines were stifling to mankind's inherent creativity, and therefore advocated the use of organic forms and lots of bright colors. He famously wrote, "Our true illiteracy is our inability to create."

Selected photos of the Hundertwasser Haus.

We then strolled over to the Kunsthaus Wien (the German spelling of Vienna), the museum that holds the majority of Hundertwasser's works in the numerous media he explored during his long career: painting, printing, weaving, drawing, sculpting, graphic design, and, of course, architecture. The museum portrays him as somewhat of a Renaissance man, but I think he was just more of a busy-body.

The Kunsthaus Wien.

After stopping at one of Dad's picks, the Karlskirche (which was both backlit by the sun on the exterior and under intensive interior renovation) we headed over to the Secession Building, an Art Nouveau structure erected as an exhibition place for works of the movement which no other museum would display at the time. My interest was particularly piqued by the splendid sphere of gilded laurel leaves crowning the roof. The exhibitions contained within weren't very interesting, aside from a notable mural by beloved Austrian artist, Gustav Klimt.

The Secession Building bears the mantra, "To every age its art, and to art its freedom."

Despite Dad's propensity for claiming that I never let him have any breaks on vacation, we paused for a light lunch of sausages at a cafe in the Museumsquartier, a complex of several museums housed together. Our destination there was the Leopold Museum, home to the world's largest collection of Egon Schiele paintings. Considering my intense admiration of German Expressionism, the museum was an absolute must-see for me, and it fulfilled all of my expectations.

How much do I love Egon Schiele? A lot.

A fantastic painting by Klimt portraying life and death.

Having forced Dad to indulge my artistic sensibilities all day, I navigated our way to the tomb of Maria Theresa on his behalf. Dad had been wanting to see it since before we left, and although I was utterly underwhelmed by the tombs of all the Hapsburgs, I felt I owed him one. Similarly, we also visited the Rathaus, and the adjacent Burgtheater (the most prestigious performance space in Europe) on his insistence.

The Rauthaus, or Vienna's city hall.

After visiting the Rathaus, we took a break on an obliging park bench, where I noted this sign, which reads, "Are these your turds? 36 Euro Fine." Coincidentally, the word for "turds" is the same as the word for "sausages."

To close out our journey through art history, we ended our day at the Kunsthistorichesmuseum, where we saw numerous paintings that were more to Dad's liking. The Old Masters were all represented in spades: Raphael, Titian, Brugel the Elder, Brugel the Younger, Rembrandt, Reubens, Vermeer, the list goes on and on.

I think Dad liked the interior of the Kunsthistorichesmuseum better than the actual pieces contained within.

I'm a little fuzzy on my New Testament, but I'm pretty sure that getting kicked in the groin wasn't a part of the Passion.

And so it was with inspired minds that we ended our brief respite in Vienna, and pressed on to the end of our European sojourn in Munich.

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