The building for the Heidi Horten Collection is characterised by a playful interchange of historic and contemporary elements, reflecting in diverse ways the collector’s interests. The tea-room, a small room in the classic style on the museum’s first floor, is a place for relaxation and contemplation, with artistic interventions positioning it within the tradition of courtly and upper-class reception halls. The velvety crimson ceiling relief by Hans Kupelweiser lends the space a sumptuous, fantastic atmosphere and evokes the frescoes of Baroque palaces in its function. Together with furniture by Markus Schinwald, the wall design and bespoke tapestries create a Gesamtkunstwerk with a contemporary air.
In the neighbouring Albertina – the former palace of Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen – and the Vienna State Opera across the street, opulent salons can still be found to this day. These rooms served as private retreats for the lady or master of the house and could also function as intimate reception rooms, for example on opera visits by the emperor and empress. The tea-room at the Heidi Horten Collection continues this tradition, combining private and public, while simultaneously serving as a mirror for the collector and patron Heidi Goëss-Horten, her love of art and her desire to bring together old and new.
The artists in conversation about their interventions for the museum.
Kupelwiesers works seem trying to turn "natural" properties of surfaces or structures into their opposite. This becomes particularly clear with his inflated aluminum sculptures, which are installed oversized in the outdoor space. They appear light and fragile, as if they would float away like balloons untied.
Hans Kupelwieser - Ceiling relief
Untitled, 2022 Photo © kunst-dokumentation.com/Manuel Carreon Lopez Heidi Horten Collection, © Bildrecht, Vienna 2022
Markus Schinwald - Vitrine wall
Markus Schinwald was invited to develop a form for the presentation of small-format treasures from the Heidi Horten Collection for the Tea Room. His concept envisages a textile-covered showcase wall, behind which handicraft objects are displayed on racks. They can be viewed through gold-framed, glass portholes that run through the entire wall and allow viewers to immerse themselves in another collection area by bending and stretching.
Historical events and incidents, with facts between phenomenon and absurdity, form the point of departure for the work of Andreas Duscha. In it, the artist frequently foregrounds the trivial and the seemingly insignificant to highlight greater historical contexts and their impacts on humanity and society. Conceptual approaches intertwine with experiments in materials and techniques, which he examines in terms of their aesthetic qualities. His work with analogue, sometimes antiquated photographic techniques, reproduction processes and silver-nitrate mirrors represents a constant in his artistic practice.
For the corridors to the museum restrooms, the artist produced four works featuring mirrors he manufactured using a formula from the seventeenth century. Each of the works portrays bouquets or arrangements of various flowers and plants as representations of societal crises. One bouquet is composed of flowers which gave their name to political upheavals, such as the Carnation Revolution in Portugal in 1974, the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan in 2005 or the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003. Another refers to the Dutch “Tulip Mania” of 1637, during which tulips were used as tools for speculation and which can now be viewed as the first financial bubble in history. A further work is concerned with neophytes, invasive, non-native plant species which negatively impact ecosystem biodiversity. The fourth mirror portrays mythological plants which, like the opium poppy, have consciousness-altering properties.
Mirrors - Andreas Duscha