Agnes Husslein-Arco


Beauty always reflects the taste of its times. And yet contemporary artists in particular often strive to reflect the political situation, which is why ugliness is coming more and more to the fore. But essentially, I concur with the late Umberto Eco,who concludes in his “History of Beauty” that beauty can never be something fixed or absolute.

Alexander Horwath

Österreichisches Filmmuseum

Beauty – in art and everywhere else –strikes a chord when the “beauty and the beast” appear together. Cleanly separate the two, place them in separate spheres, and you will see no glimmer of truth or get even a taste of it, only its “tasteless” counterpart: constant advertising and self-promotion from the society of the spectacle. Beauty can only escape this vulgar world of cheerful untruth and the torpidity of all living things (including a vibrant political sphere) in the form of a beast.

Berthold Ecker


Just as politics and religion elegantly appropriated the regulative power of universality by determining what they found was ideal beauty, we now have commerce defining individual beauty as a feature to strive for in this phase of global capitalist meritocracy. Art that has been reflected upon plays with this phenomenon using any number of possible tactics, from affirmation to compromising exposure.

Bettina Leidl


The artist Peter Dressler, subject of a retrospective at KUNST HAUS WIEN, produced a series called “Tangible Beauty” with an interesting take on the topic. It takes you to adepartment store where (unlike in a museum) the longing for contact with objects of desire can actually be lived out. For Dressler, beauty lies in the haptic appropriation of the aesthetically sublime. Conve­rse­ly, one could say that beauty is that which touches or grips us. In whatever way.

Christian Strasser

Q21/MuseumsQuartier Wien

The schöne Künste, which literally translates to “beautiful arts,” are no longer beholden to provide us with maximally pleasant, harmonious impressions. Instead of massaging our minds, they prod them into action. And yet that is precisely what makes contemporary art so essential:this constant challenge and scrutiny is the single, vital lifeline for our understanding of “truth, goodness and beauty” in all areas of social life.

Christoph Thun-Hohenstein


In an era that sees the cool, digital measuring of every area of our lives, we look to art to have the courage to give beauty another chance. Not superficial or kitschy, but honest and profound. When all is said and done, the ability to value and appreciate beauty is still one of the things that distinguishes us human beings from artificial intelligence and robots. Vienna is an inspiring place to search for the lost beauty in art!

Dietmar Steiner

Architekturzentrum Wien

“Beauty” has beenlying low in today’s mainstream architecture. What is being produced are imagesof a “historicist Modernism,” egocentric, cool,technoid, supposedly efficient, determined by a developed and dominant building industry. And yet we’ve lost sight of “beauty” as a design value and quality point. It would be nice if we could speak of beautyin architecture again, because even a heterogeneous society would be able to understand what beauty is.

Eva Blimlinger

Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien

What is beauty, anyway? What could “the beautiful” be? Is art always beautiful? Is beauty always inherent to art? Isn’t “fine art” always beautiful art? And if so, is the ugliness in art also fine? Is there fine art in the fine arts? Is there ugly art in the fine arts? Do we recognize the beauty in art anymore? And who wants to see beauty in art at all? Everything is deconstructed and never­theless (or perhaps because of it) fine arts.

Gerald Bast

Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien

The rising clamor for “beauty” in art is alltoo often a thinly-veiled call for simplicity and superficiality. It implies a certain form of aesthetics and obscuresthe historical, cultural and contextual variability of the concept of beauty. It smacks ofa dominant true/false culture’s inability to deal with uncertainty and ambiguity. But art is the best teacher when it comes to handling uncertainty in unsettling times.

Hans Knoll

DIE GALERIEN Verband österreichischer Galerien moderner Kunst

Tolerance and beauty go hand in hand – beauty meansdifferent things to different people.

Hans-Peter Wipplinger

Leopold Museum

Whereas Art Nouveau continued to associate “beauty” with socio-political aspirations (an aestheticization of the ordinary would improve quality of life for people), the current, general trend toward aestheticization reflects the hedonism of our time as a matrix of culture that stands in stark contrast to the present-day political situation. Contemporary art opens new, alternative horizons of beauty – not least in that it questions the values of this matrix.

Herwig Kempinger


Beauty has always been essential for art. It goes beyond visual harmony or twee, and still there has been a long-running attempt to banish it from contemporary art altogether. Contemporary art that deals with something that has been vitally important throughout human history and in all forms of society is, in my opinion, far more interesting than art that plays it safe, sailing wherever the spirit of the times takes it.

Hubert Klocker

Sammlung Friedrichshof Stadtraum

Sigmund Freud questioned both the benefits and the cultural necessity of beauty while simultaneously confirming its continuous presence in culture. In doing so, he very nicely articulated the relativity at the very core of this concept. Beauty is nothing but another mystery. Still, it’s worth considering.

Karola Kraus

mumok Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien

Of course art throughout the ages has always questioned and reflected the contemporary definition of beauty.But art has a much more important purpose in a time of severe global crises, and thatis to give an outside perspective, to rendera reflective gaze that triggers startlingemotional and mental processes, eventually resulting in unexpected changes of perspective and, consequently,new solutions to our problems.

Klaus Albrecht Schröder


The belief that modernism finally, permanently substituted the twinned concepts of truth and beauty with the aesthetics of the ugly needs further qualification. Beauty has endured, and not just in all the art forms that rely on the power of decoration and ornament; the sense of beauty is still a key aesthetic concern for the tradition of the sublime. Say nothing of the fact that every successful work of art is perceived as “beautiful” – even Grünewald’s tortured Christ on the cross.

Martina Taig

KÖR Kunst im öffentlichen Raum Wien

Public space confronts us with traditional and contemporary notions of beauty in various ways. Since public art is mostly characterizedby its site-specificity, intensive dialogue with the immediate environment is unavoidable. And yet one of the prerogatives of art isthe decision of whether to speak the contemporary language of beauty, satirize it, turn it around or break with it altogether.

Matti Bunzl

Wien Museum

Our exhibition practice at Wien Museum is a daily attempt to pluralize our culture’s idea of beauty. Visitors quite rightly expect to find “beauty” in museums, and we show that art is not the only vehicle for these kinds of experiences. In our museum you find everyday objects next to masterpieces by Klimt and Schiele, showing that even ordinary things have thought-provoking aesthetic qualities. Our presentations encourage their reflection.

Monika Pessler

Sigmund Freud Museum

The issue of beauty in art is a relic of the past, but aesthetics – perceiving an idea through the senses – will likely persist throughout the ages and live on as a criterion for cultural value. The question of beauty seems strange, and implicitly hintsthat the search for the “beautiful” has something else at its core: the current “uneasiness in culture” is much more clearly reflectedin the fear of losingour “as-it-is-ness” – beautiful or not.

Nicolaus Schafhausen

Kunsthalle Wien

“To say that art is not identical with the concept of beauty, but requires for its realization the concept of the ugly as its negation, is a platitude,” Theodor W. Adorno noted long ago. A devil’s advocate could, like Donald Trump – “The beauty of me is that I am very rich” – conclude that today’s answer to the question of the nature of beauty is money. The exhibitions of Kunsthalle Wien prove the latter assumption to be wrong.

Peter Bogner

Österreichische Friedrich und Lillian Kiesler-Privatstiftung

In 1959, Friedrich Kiesler created a sketch entitled “sleeping beauty awakening,” showing an accumulation of tangled lines. They become parts that merge together to form a biomorphic object, though the final form is left to the viewer’s imagination. Both the visionary Kiesler and contemporary art aim for an ideal that can only be tapped by merging the lines of social relevance and timeliness, and the presentation and reception of a work of art.

Peter Zawrel

Künstlerhaus 1050

Beauty – it’s a matter of perspective. The Künstlerhaus, for example, is gorgeous! Both from a distance and close-up, on Karlsplatz and in Margareten. And yet there’s no way around the “aesthetics of ugliness”: art must display “those conditions and forms that make the ugly ugly, but it must remove fromit all that intrudes into its existence only accidentally, weakening or confusing what is characteristic in it.” (Karl Rosenkranz, 1853) The questionof beauty always includes the question of what art must do or need not do.

Sabine Haag

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

Beauty in art has also always been a quest for the ideal state of body and soul, the natural idyll of a landscape, a fineness of feeling, an image of God or ideas. Art depicted the beautiful to encourage good thoughts; outer beauty was also always a reflection of inner beauty. Awakening desire while simultaneously curbing it with moral implications could still be a way to understand beauty not only as an aesthetic criterion, but also as impetus for a thoroughly beautiful life.

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