COLLECTING
Thomaï Serdari on Fine Arts & Luxury
Kunstkammer, Vienna
Depiction of a cabinet of curiosities on a print.

Depiction of a cabinet of curiosities on a print.

Is the epicenter of contemporary artistic creation shifting? New York City, a place of eternal social, creative, and urban renewal, seems to be losing its edge.

Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum boasts a vast collection of Sculpture and Decorative Arts, one that evolved from a cabinet of curiosities annexed to the National Treasury to a modern museum of the luxury arts. Its contents, an array of luxury objects created to inspire awe, envy, and even fear will be on view in February 2013, after years of closure. In addition to inviting the public into its collections, the museum is inviting contemporary artists to find inspiration in the timelessness of the most luxurious items: amber from Prussia, precious ivory, such as the narwahl tusk, diplomatic gifts in precious metals and rare compositions will all be at the “intellectual” disposal of young artists who are encouraged to produce their work with the use of new technology.

A bridge between the 21st century and Vienna’s historic past and collecting tradition is thus established with the re-opening of the Kunstkammer. This will allow the museum’s Director and Curators to momentarily put on their hat of archduke Ferdinard of Tyrol and continue growing the museum’s collections according to Austria’s present aspirations and in continuity with the nation’s past. This is no small feat–and it is so much edgier than art that rejects historicity, materiality, and luxury. Didn’t we learn anything from Andy Warhol?

© Thomaï Serdari