"Austrian Art 1860-1960" - the first foreign project to be awarded "Best Exhibition"

Beijing/Vienna, January 2018.
As announced by the Ministry of Culture of the People´s Republic of China on January 18, 2018, the exposition “Austrian Centennial Painting - Austrian Art 1860-1960 " has been awarded with the 600,000 CNY State Prize of the People´s Republic of China as "Best Exhibition 2015". The exhibition was organized in 2015 by the curator Josef Schütz and the "Chinese-Austrian Academy of Fine Arts" under patronage of the Embassy of the Republic of Austria in the Beijing "World Art Museum of China". Furthermore, the exhibition was subsidized by the Department of Culture of the City of Beijing with the
"Creativity Prize 2015", endowed with 100,000 CNY.

Awarding the Austrian art’s exhibition created by Schütz Fine Art, the Bureau of the Ministry of Culture of the People´s Republic of China honours a project that is not of Chinese origin for the first time (!).

“Austrian Art 1860-1960” – awarded first out of 54 other shortlisted other exhibitions - was presented at four Chinese venues: the Beijing World Art Museum of China and further museums in Dalian, Hubei and Macau. In the justification of the jury consisting of academic experts from all provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities of the People´s Republic as well as experts of the national museums, representatives of the National Art Museum of China NAMOC and the National Academy of Painting of China, the project was described as "the best project, the most outstanding exhibition project in China in 2015". Furthermore, the jury praised its excellent presentation, lucid selection of exhibits, art-historical relevance and the exhibition’s societal and socio-economic classification of the artworks in relation to the democratic development of the country.

Awarded annually by the Ministry of Culture of the People´s Republic of China for decades, this is the first time that a project has been neither designed by the national provinces nor featured national Chinese themes, that represented common threads of many of the past winners (e.g. "The Powerful Painting of Our Nation on the 150th Anniversary of Huang Bing Hong" at NAMOC, "Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of Victory over Fascism" in JiangSu, "Daoism of LaiShao Qi" in Guangdong, several exhibitions on "Chinese Calligraphy" , "Industrialization in Art" or "Heavenly Creations" at the Academy of Fine Arts in China).

This first place award is the highest level of active bilateral cultural exchange between the Republic of Austria and the People´s Republic of China so far, which has existed for more than four decades and has been enormously intensified in recent years. The exhibition, which was enormously successful, heavily acclaimed with millions of visitors, and reflected by media of all kinds (countless reports in TV, newspapers, magazines, the internet) and universally positively rated, had been preceded in 2011 and 2013 by the solo exhibitions of Willy Eisenschitz and Werner Berg. The third exhibition organised by Schütz Fine Art in China would have been "Presentation of 100 Paintings by Renowned Austrian Artists from 100 Years, the Period from 1860 to 1960”, that was destined to win the first prise.

The exhibition "Austrian Art 1860-1960" also deconstructs the mutual influences of both continents in an impressive manner. What was special about this exposition is the clarity with which the transcontinental bilateral relationships are depicted and explained, making it clear that active cultural exchange is required for a mutual creative fertilization. Thus, the exhibition revealed how Gustav Klimt and the surrounding circle of the Vienna Secession was enormously influenced by the flowering of Asian art, classical calligraphy, which was anticipated in several artworks.

The exhibition included excellent works by Gustav Klimt, Ernst Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, Emil Jakob Schindler, Olga Wisinger-Florian, Carl Moll, Willy Eisenschitz, Koloman Moser, Josef Dobrowsky, Alfons Walde, Albin Egger-Lienz, Sergius Pauser, Alfred Kubin, Werner Berg, Max Oppenheimer, Anton Kolig, Lois Pregartbauer, Broncia Koller-Pinell, Anton Faistauer, Rudolf Wacker, Franz Sedlacek, Tina Blau, Franz von Zülow, Albert Birkle, Wilhelm Thöny, Herbert Boeckl and many others. The exclusive art pieces were partly on loan from Austrian museums and collections such as the Austrian National Bank, the Museum Kitzbühel, the Leopold Private Collection, the Private Collection Munich, as well as private collectors who preferred to stay anonymous and the Irene & Josef Schütz’s private collection.

In 1865, exactly 150 years before the vernissage of the exhibition, the Ringstraße was opened in Vienna. It was a century of far-reaching changes that the curator was able to punctually depict: the 19th century flourishing metropolis of Vienna, one of the spiritual centres of the pan-European Fin de Siècle cultural fermentation, the prime and fall of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, the turmoil of the First Republic, the Dictatorship of fascism, the loss of statehood, the new beginning of 1945 and today´s Second Republic, characterized by peace and prosperity. The comprehensive exhibition presented the most important Austrian artists from the beginning of Modernism, Impressionism, Art Nouveau - which still characterizes the national identity and cityscape - and Secessionism to Surrealism, Expressionism, Cubism and the Avant-garde. Recognising and valuing the great Chinese cultural tradition, it was a serious concern of the curator to illuminate the diversity of artistic creations in Austria in all its facets against the backdrop of European metamorphoses and thus to present its visual arts, in search of the soul of the country.

The international recognition naturally fills with great joy and satisfaction the diplomatic representatives of both countries as well as the curator Josef Schütz. Personally touched, Professor Schütz adds with humility and gratitude that this appreciation will be an additional incentive for future projects. The award may well be understood as a sign of friendly solidarity and diplomacy between the two countries, as well as a symbol of mutual appreciation.


Organiser: Beijing World Art Museum (and sequently 3 further museums)
Represented by Wang Limei, Director of the BWAM

Under patronage of Botschaft der Republik Österreich in der VR China
Represented by Dr. Irene Giner-Reichl, Ambassadress of the Republic of Austria

Curator: Josef Schütz / Schütz Fine Art


Vernissage: 30 April 2015, 11:00 a.m.
Beijing World Art Museum

First Presentation: 30 April – 5 July 2015:
Beijing World Art Museum

Further Venues of the Exhibition in the People’s Republic of China

Dalian Modern Museum: 24 July – 6 September 2015

Hubei Provincial Museum: 25 September – 15 November 2015

The Macao Museum of Art: 15 January – 3 April 2016

Verbatim afterthough:
MMag. Dr. Irene Giner-Reichl / Ambassador of the Republic of Austria in China 2015 reported this words on the occasion of the opening of the exhibition "Austrian Art 1860-1960" in May 2015:

"For nearly five decades, our two countries have maintained diplomatic relations. The lively bilateral exchange of economic and artistic nature is widely known. Art and culture have always had a positive influence on the interpersonal relations and on diplomacy. Inspired by respect and admiration, an exchange between outstanding and traditionally peculiar cultures emerged. From an Austrian perspective, one can proudly say that Austria and its culture are widely known in China. (...)

Experts confirmed to me what my personal impression of this exposition curated by Irene and Josef Schütz was. Namely, the fact that such well-known Austrian art had never been seen in this abundance, quality and over such a long time – especially in such a relevant moment in history -, abroad and in Austria alike. We are grateful for the far-sightedness and knowledge to the Museum’s Direction in Beijing as well as to Schütz Fine Art, as expert and curator. I am contented and - despite the necessary humility - proud of the fact that, on behalf of the Republic of Austria, I have the patronage of this unique exhibition. In the interest of the arts, I wish the visitors to have fun, as well as great success and luck to the exhibition!"