Spotlight: Austria, Germany & Switzerland


This week’s spotlight was inspired by a panel discussion hosted by the Austrian- ,  German-   and Swiss-  American chambers of commerce on Women in Art.  I’ve covered the discussion in a separate post; below is information on cultural organizations from these three countries:

Austria has always punched above it’s weight in the arts, especially in the cities of Vienna and Salzburg.  New York City is home to Austria’s main cultural embassy in the U.S., the Austrian Cultural Forum (ACFNY).   You may already be familiar with it’s home, the 24-story sliver building (25 feet wide by 81 feet deep) at 11 East 52nd Street, designed by  Austrian-born New York architect Raimund Abraham.  You can take a tour .

The ACFNY’s library holds more than 11,000 volumes of Austrian literary, artistic, historical, and political works.

The Forum hosts musical events, readings, discussions and exhibitions.  From April 27th-29th  they will host the  Austrian American Short Film Festival (AASFF) , the first-of-its kind bilateral festival featuring short films in all forms and genres by promising young artists and filmmakers from both Austria and the United States

Their calendar is also a good place to find out about Austrian artists/performers who are showing/performing in New York and beyond.

It should come as no surprise that Germany is well represented on the cultural landscape.  The Goethe Institute NY  has settled into its space at 30 Irving Place from its former home on upper Fifth Avenue.  While they’re best known for their German language courses (I’ve taken classes there), they  also have a library, book club, and translation grant program.  The Goethe Institute operates in other cities in the US, and world-wide so you can study German at their facilities in other cities/countries.

From April 25th to May 15th, they will host Math to Touch, an interactive exhibition that will make mathematics more comprehensible for all age groups.  They will offer (self-)guided tours of the exhibition in German and English, quizzes and contests with prizes for German learners, information and classroom materials for German teachers and much more.    

In addition to their main space, the Goethe Institute also runs a contemporary art space at 38 Ludlow Street, where they have an artists residence program; this year’s theme is related to migration, and the current artist in residence is Anne Neukamp 

Deutsches Haus at NYU  offers not only German classes (I’ve studied here, too), but also exhibitions, talks, conferences and screenings for adults and children.  On  April 19th  they will host The Hugo Wolf Project, a Retrospective  in honor of the conclusion of the Brooklyn Art Song Society‘s epic six year survey of the complete Lieder of Hugo Wolf.  Some of the performers who have been there from the start will perform and discuss their favorite songs. 

Deutsches Haus at Columbia  has a limited schedule of events:  the evening of April 21st they will host  Goethes ‘Faust’: Reflexion der tragischen Form, a lecture by Professor David Wellbery (University of Chicago)  who will present material on “Faust” and tragic form from his new book.  This talk will be In German.  On April 25th, they will host Koffeuurtje, a Dutch conversation hour!

There are many other German groups here in the New York area – a good place to find more information is Germany in NYC .

You might also want to bookmark the Events page of the German Consulate General’s website for information about German artists/performers in New York and beyond.

One of the more unique museums in New York is The Neue Galerie New York, probably best known for Gustav Klimt’s portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, but there’s much more:  the  collection is composed of  painting, sculpture, decorative arts and photographs created in Austria and Germany between 1890 and 1940. Many of the works are from the collection of Ronald S. Lauder and the estate of Serge Sabarsky.  This museum is one of NYC’s gems.

Yesterday I saw the current exhibition Munch & Expressionism of about 85 works that examines Edvard Munch’s influence on his German and Austrian counterparts. I’ll do a full review next week, but in a word:  go see it!

The Neue Galerie also offers programs, especially cabaret performances,as well as recitals, lectures and films.

Despite its small size, Switzerland has had an outsized influence in the arts (Geneva, Basel). At 18 Wooster Street, in Soho, you’ll find the  Swiss Institute, an independent non-profit contemporary art institution known for its exhibitions and programs promoting experimental art. From April 15th to May 19th, they will present the first institutional solo exhibition in the United States of Olga Balema, For Early Man.   This is a new series of works using maps and globes from a range of origins and periods, which she has variously painted on and affixed with cast latex breasts, playing off the notion of Mother Earth and suggesting physical responses to perpetual growth and change.

On their website, you’ll find their video series, SI: Visions. I haven’t seen them all, but I liked the one by Christina Forrer, who explains how she transforms battles and struggles (found in online videos of cat fights and sporting events) into intricate weavings.  

You can find readings, performances and lectures at the Swiss Institute on it’s events page.

The Swiss Consulate has an events calendar on its website.

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