The Permanent Collection at the Albertina
With permanent loan of the Batliner Collection, the holdings of the Albertina came to include one of Europe’s largest and most important private collections of classical modernist paintings. Compiled by Rita and Herbert Batliner beginning in the 1960s, the collection has been providing substantial enrichment to the Albertina, and thus to Vienna as a city of museums, since the autumn of 2007. The Batliner Collection forms the core of the museum’s permanent exhibit with around 500 works that span an arc covering the most fascinating chapters from 130 years of art history, from French impressionism to the present.
Numerous works by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec afford an excellent overview of French impressionist and post-impressionist artistic output. The Water Lilies by Claude Monet, Two Dancers by Degas, and Cézanne’s landscapes showing the Arc Valley and Montagne Ste-Victoire bear witness to the Batliners’ passion for French art. Intensely coloured paintings by George Braque, André Derain, and Henri Matisse sweep their viewers away into the world of fauvism and form a transition to works by the expressionist groups Die Brücke [The Bridge] and Der blaue Reiter [The Blue Rider], including masterpieces by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Wassily Kandinsky, and Emil Nolde.
A further emphasis of the collection lies in the diversity of the Russian avant-garde, with paintings representing constructivism, cubo-futurism, neo-primitivism, and suprematism. Alongside a number of works by Marc Chagall, it is particularly the groups of works by Natalia Gontcharova, Lyubov Popova, and Mikhail Larionov that stand out here, as well as a masterpiece by Kazimir Malevich painted as an act of remembrance and resistance immediately following his release from one of Stalin’s prison camps. Paintings and sculptures by Max Ernst, Paul Delvaux, René Magritte, and Joan Miró illustrate both figurative and abstract surrealism.
A further focus of the collection is on the oeuvre of Pablo Picasso. Altogether 40 works by the artist, including ten paintings and a large number of drawings and one-of-a-kind ceramics, illustrate Picasso’s over 60-year creative career.
And with works by Alberto Giacometti and Francis Bacon, the collection makes the transition to art from the 20th century’s second half, concluding with paintings by Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, and Alex Katz.
Herbert and Rita Batliner have continued in their passionate and tireless dedication to collecting with a focus on the leading lights of the present-day artistic firmament.