ZeitraumJuni 2012 - Juli 2012
The Taste of Vienna still lingers
When I went to Vienna for the first time in 2006, I had in mind to feel the fairytale and melancholy fabric of this city that makes it one of the important culture/art capitals of the world, to watch the opera at Opernhaus and to see Gustav Klimt’s paintings, Sigmund Freud’s house, the Hundertwasser museum and the café that Thomas Bernhard frequented. However, my programme was full and time was very short. And apart from sampling just a hint of the tip of the city’s soul, I was not able to do any of the things I wanted to do.
But still I made time, and the day I was returning to Istanbul, early in the morning I went to the Leopold Museum. While intending to see Gustav Klimt’s paintings, I found I was enchanted by the poignant paintings of Egon Schiele, moved by the reds. I must have stayed a very long time in the museum because when I came out the city was covered in knee-deep snow and there were hours left until my plane took off.
When I received the kind invitation from the MuseumsQuartier / quartier21, I remembered my three-day Vienna visit and became very excited at the thought of seeing again the city that I had not explored to my satisfaction.
I spent June and July in Vienna. I was a long-term guest in this city of exceptional beauty. Vienna received me with open arms with all its splendour and art history, and I took a step into the riches of Vienna.
In the Leopold Museum I was once again bewitched by Egon Schiele’s paintings. His tragic death at an extremely early age distressed me. As I looked at Schiele’s pictures I felt that I was being unfair to Gustav Klimt. I reflected that if there had not been Klimt, there would not have been Schiele either. I gave Kokoschka his due. Tracing Koloman Moser and Otto Wagner took me to Jugenstil (Art Nouveau). I was filled with admiration for the buildings created by Otto Wagner, opposite the Naschmarkt. I learnt the story of the Secession Museum. The artists who brought Austria’s Secession into existence had viewed the world with such an open and progressive eye that, thanks to them, contemporary art underwent a historic transformation. I was thrilled to encounter the works of some of the world’s most esteemed artists such as Picasso, Monet, Munch and Chagal, as well as those of Anselm Kiefer and Georg Bazelitz. I was impressed by the place of Austrian artists in the history of world architecture and design. I saw wonderful work at MUMOK. The boundaries of artistic creativity in the Kunsthalle made me dizzy. I was impressed as much with the story behind the name of the Hundertwasser Museum as I was with the museum itself and with the vitality of the colours, and I saw its factory chimney transformed into a work of art and the concept of home turned upside down. MuseumsQuartier’s immense courtyard welcomes people of every age at any hour and keeps alive every moment of the day with dance, music and plays. I listened to the young musicians in front of the museum, and at night pricked up my ears to the Turkish conversation of taxi drivers.
I could not finish wandering around the museums in Vienna. I saw the extraordinarily bold, modern art works in the Jüdisches Museum and the skulls of the slain with notes on them taken by forensic experts in the Crime Museum. I saw the first forms of the harpsichord in the Historical Musical Instruments' Museum and the contemporary art works skilfully placed amidst the armour of Habsburg knights. I also looked at Andy Warhol’s Kafka poster and Warhol’s therapy couch that he made for Sigmund Freud. Freud’s house was very crowded. The sitting room, the collection of antique ornaments and the books were so real that I imagined that Freud would come in at any moment with a cigar in his mouth and thank the visitors. Wandering around the Habsburg’s palace was like journeying to a time extremely far from my own era and homeland. Because the opera season was over I listened to concerts that had a slightly touristy flavour. Butterflies alighted on my hands in the Schmetterlinghaus. I talked to the Turkish shopkeepers in the Naschmarkt about being immigrants. Linden flowers fell on my table as I sat in the café under the trees on Burggasse. I went to taverns that stretched deep beneath the ground and I threw money at Agustin. I visited the locations where The Third Man was filmed and I was amazed at the length of Vienna’s canals. I saw writers working, bent over their laptops in Sperl Café, and readers leafing through books in Phill Bookstore. I looked at the beauty of the historical Casino cinema that has been taken under protection. I took long walks along the riverbank, got on the tram and travelled to far corners of the city. I discovered the Heuriges and watched the Viennese singing songs for wine with musicians playing accordions. I listened to a Mozart concert in St. Stephen’s Cathedral. I lay on the grass in the Volksgarten and Burggarten and read books. One Saturday morning I bought a mirror with a gilded frame from the flea market held in Naschmarkt. I ate the tastiest schnitzel at the Stein Café and the best topfenstrudel at Meinl Café.
For two months I lived in Vienna and began a new book. In front of the window of my house overlooking Mariahilfer Strasse.
Two months is not long enough to experience a city, and especially cities like Vienna, two lifetimes would not be enough. But writers can create a cell out of two months, a cell that will grow while they write and gradually turn into a work of art.
I am grateful to the MuseumQuartier / quartier21, to my friends there and to Vienna.