Leonard Bernstein. A New Yorker in Vienna

Leonard Bernstein, who was introduced to music in the synagogue of his childhood in Boston, studied at Harvard, and was based in New York, had a lifelong relationship with Vienna. From 1966 until his death in 1990 he returned on several occasions to work above all with the Vienna Philharmonic. As a Jew, Bernstein had an ambivalent relationship to this city. He wrote in a letter to his parents in March 1966, twenty-one years after the end of the Shoah:

I am enjoying Vienna enormously—as much as a Jew can. There are so many sad memories here; one deals with so many ex-Nazis (and maybe still Nazis); and you never know if the public that is screaming bravo for you might contain someone who 25 years ago might have shot me dead. But it’s better to forgive, and if possible, forget. […]
Your Wiener Schnitzel

He wore a traditional Austrian jacket in Vienna as “therapy against German nationalism,” as he said, reintroduced the Vienna Philharmonic—despite initial resistance—to the suppressed Gustav Mahler, and even played a role in Austrian domestic politics.

An exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the star conductor and composer that focuses on the New Yorker Bernstein’s relationship with the music city of Vienna, looks at the great artist’s Jewish roots, and also pays homage to his political activities.

Curators: Werner Hanak, Adina Seeger


Image (c) First/Look/picturedesk.com

Three with a Pen: Lily Renée, Bil Spira, and Paul Peter Porge

08 May bis 15 September
Museum Judenplatz,
Judenpl. 8, 1010 Vienna


The three artists in “Three with a Pen” shared the same fate. They all grew up as Jewish children in Vienna, had to leave their home after the “Anschluss,” the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany, and became successful elsewhere. They used their pens as tools for survival but also as sometimes trenchant weapons.

Lily Renée, born in 1922, escaped to England and made a career in New York as a graphic artist and illustrator. Her comic heroine Señorita Rio fought against the Nazis and other evil powers and became a cult figure for generations of comic fans.

Wilhelm “Bil” Spira (1913–1999), portraitist and caricaturist, painter and not least a gifted counterfeiter who forged innumerable visas and passports to enable those stranded in Vichy France to escape to freedom, survived denunciation and extermination camps to continue his successful career in Paris after the war.

Finally, Paul Peter Porges (1927–2016): at the School of Applied Arts in Vienna as a child, in the “Children’s Republic” and later in internment camps in France as a teenager, and at art school in Geneva as a young man. Armed with native wit and his pen, he went on to contribute cartoons and illustrations to some of the most prominent magazines in the USA, first and foremost The New Yorker.

The Jewish Museum Vienna is showing a representative selection of the works of these three outstanding artists, who have been rediscovered for the Austrian public.

Curator: Michael Freund, Sabine Bergler

The Eye of Brazil. Kurt Klagsbrunn

05. December 2018 to 12. May 2019

Jewish Museum,
Dorotheergasse 11, 1010 Vienna


Kurt Klagsbrunn (1918–2005) was born 100 years ago in Floridsdorf. The son of a coal merchant and soccer official began studying medicine in Vienna, fled with the family via Portugal to Brazil, where he turned his passion for photography into a career and became a chronicler of Brazilian modernism and its working world.

Pictures from the early Viennese years and from the escape to Latin America were also sensationally found alongside the Brazilian works in Kurt Klagsbrunn’s estate, which is supervised by his nephew Victor.

The photographs that Victor Klagsbrunn has now donated to the Jewish Museum Vienna provide an insight into a dedicated and integrated Viennese Jewish suburban family who were forced to flee in 1938. Moreover, the exhibition presents an important, new visual addition to Viennese Jewish everyday history.

Curator: Andrea Winklbauer

Foto (c) Victor Hugo Klagsbrunn

LAST PLACES BEFORE DEPORTATION Kleine Sperlgasse, Castellezgasse, Malzgasse

11. May 2018 to 22. November 2019

5. March 2019
2. April 2019
7. May 2019
4. June 2019
2. July 2019

Amtshaus of the district Leopoldstadt
Karmelitergasse 9,
1020 Vienna

Kleine Sperlgasse 2a, Castellezgasse 35, Malzgasse 7 and 16 – these addresses in Vienna-Leopoldstadt are virtually absent in the collective memory. In the topography of the Shoah of Vienna and Austria, however, these are central places. Here in the years 1941/42 there were four transit camps, in which Jews were interned before the deportation. From here, groups of 1,000 people each were taken by truck to the Aspang station. From February 1941 to October 1942, a total of 45 deportation trains went to ghettos and extermination camps. Most of the more than 66,000 Austrian Shoah victims were sent to their deaths by the four collective camps. The path to annihilation began in the middle of the city. The exhibition “Last places before the deportation. Kleine Sperlgasse, Castellezgasse, Malzgasse “reconstructs and conveys the meaning of these now almost forgotten last places before the deportation.

Further information: https://www.oeaw.ac.at/ausstellung-letzten-orte/

Arik Brauer. All of My Arts

03 April to 20 October 2019
Jewish Museum
Dorotheergasse 11,
1010 Vienna

“I’ve always been a painter,” is the reply Arik Brauer gives when asked about how he found his way to art. Whereby in his case it is better to speak of the arts: Painting, architecture, music, dance, sculpture and poetry are just some of the areas in which he has successfully used his versatile talents. From the carefree childhood abruptly ended by National Socialism to the murder of his father in the Holocaust, through the study years at the Academy of Fine Arts, where he co-founded the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism, his journeys by bicycle through Europe and Africa, the Parisian years with his wife Naomi—a Yemeni woman born in Israel, whose father was Theodor Herzl’s coachman in Palestine—, all the way to the return to Vienna with his family, where he became one of the pioneers of Austropop, championed environmental protection, and had an apartment house built according to his plans.

In his second home of Israel he implemented his idea of building a house for himself and his family in the artists’ colony of Ein Hod. Arik Brauer artistically designed the exterior as well as the interior of the residence there down to the smallest detail. The close connection to Judaism and Israel is expressed in much of his art. His sensitivity, his wit, but often the critical analysis of socio-political issues is also reflected in his work. The Jewish Museum celebrates Arik Brauer as a man and artist on his 90th birthday and presents the different facets of his oeuvre. Until he turns 120!

Curators: Danielle Spera, Daniela Pscheiden

Image (c) Brigitte Luettge-Dauth

Café As. The Survival of Simon Wiesenthal

29 May to 24 November 2019 
Jewish Museum
Dorotheergasse 11,
1010 Vienna

Simon Wiesenthal is known to this day as the person who dedicated his life to seeking justice for the victims of the Shoah and as the man who tracked down Adolf Eichmann. Before the occupation of Poland and his persecution by the Nazis, Wiesenthal worked as an architect. During his detention at the Mauthausen concentration camp, he met the Polish coffee merchant Edmund Staniszewski, who secretly supplied him with bread for survival. Staniszewski wanted to open a coffee house in Poznan after the war and asked Simon Wiesenthal to design “Café As” (“Café Ace”).Wiesenthal made initial sketches for the café, advertisements, cake decorations and even designs for the waiters’ uniforms—everything we call a “corporate identity” today. After the liberation of the concentration camp, Wiesenthal worked on the drawings, which he made based on sketches from Mauthausen, from May to July 1945. However, “Café As” never opened.

The set of 80 detailed plans and drawings for “Café As” was acquired by the Jewish Museum Vienna from the estate of Edmund Staniszewski for its collections with the support of the “US Friends of the Jewish Museum Vienna.” It is a unique and significant testimony of survival in the murderous system of National Socialism.

Curator: Michaela Vocelka

Image (c) Jüdisches Museum Wien