At the Winter Palace in Vienna, a selection of works by Ólafur Elíasson forms a site-specific exhibition titled Baroque Baroque. More than a dozen works, created during the last twenty years, are installed within the architecture of the 18th century palace. The contrast of Elíasson’s contemporary works inside grand Baroque staterooms alters perceptions of space and history for an experience that supersedes both.
The Winterpalais was constructed from 1696 to 1724 as a residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy. It is a significant edifice, with embellishments that represent the Prince’s military achievements and the height of Imperial Baroque style. The palace was acquired by Empress Maria Theresa in 1736 and later became the seat of several state institutions. It was re-opened to the public in 2013 as a museum for the Belvedere, Prince Eugene’s summer residence, to show the Belvedere’s collections as well as contemporary art.
Baroque Baroque is the first contemporary art monograph at the Winter Palace. Elíasson’s characteristic use of lights, projections, shadows, and mirrors expands spatial awareness of the architecture. In Yellow Corridor an ornate stairway is saturated with yellow light, heightening a sense of the space and the spaces beyond it, and sublimating the details of sculptural reliefs and columns with high contrast.
In Eye See You, a sodium lamp inside a mirror polished bowl emits bright, warm light and reflects the intricate details of the Gold Cabinet stateroom. Surrounded by parquetry, mirrors, and gilded panels, the parabolic light installation provides a single point of focus with solar intensity and gravity. It suggests the cosmological from an intimate scale.
A 30-meter long mirror spans through an enfilade of rooms, with particular effects in each space. In Wishes Versus Wonders, half of a circular brass ring is reflected as a complete circle within a symmetrical space. The ring’s shadow on the parquet floor, 18th century battle paintings by Ignace Jacques Parrocel, and the viewer, are all reflected back as illusory scenes.
The exhibition is comprised of works loaned by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21) in Vienna and the Juan and Patricia Vergez Collection in Buenos Aires. TBA21 was founded in 2002 by Francesca von Habsburg, whose father was the founder of the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid. Juan Vergez and Patricia Pearson-Vergez are the founders of Tacuarí, a private museum in Buenos Aires.
Baroque Baroque opened at the Winterpalais on November 21 and continues through March 6, 2016.