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Picture: Best of Austria

BEST OF AUSTRIA. An Art Collection

2 January to 10 May 2009

How does the Cultural Capital of Europe end up with an art collection commensurate with that title? That's easy: it gathers a collection.

A capital city - even if it is only for one year - needs an art collection that corresponds to this status and the concomitant responsibility to represent the country. Yet how should this collection be acquired, if not by theft? Since that is not an option, the Lentos Art Museum and Linz 09 have gathered together a collection by requesting generous assistance to enable the Capital of Culture to fulfill its role appropriately.
The results is that Austria's most excellent works of art that are capable of being borrowed or transported at all will be gathered together in the Capital of Culture Linz. Over thirty Austrian museums and prestigious collections, galleries, foundations and private collections from Vienna to Lake Constance are providing three works each. Almost one hundred exhibits ranging through every style and several centuries are focus the view of the manifold artworks in the holding of this country.   

What are the criteria for the selection? Which standards are used to determine the quality of art?

Over a period of four months Lentos will present what an ideal art collection could look like as a temporary, playful experimental arrangement. As with most collections, this assemblage is also influenced by chance, by personal preferences, and by financial and spatial possibilities.
Best of Austria bears witness to how diverse and contingent the conjunctions are that result in an ensemble of art works, and to the role played by the harmonizing power of the institution museum.  What all the exhibited works have in common is the high quality of what is, in the broadest sense, national property.

Tension Between Cultural Goods and "Good Culture"
Best of Austria tells a story of the pleasure of looking, while at the same time instigating a debate about the standards and criteria of "Best of." Is it representatives of the most expensive, the most famous, the most publicized pictures and objects that are shown in Linz? Are these the favorites of the directors and heads of collections, who seek to spotlight unknown treasures?

If this charged field accommodates a relevant debate about selection, quality, the representation of "national property" and what so-called "cultural heritage" means, then all the better.

Participating institutions: The Albertina, BA Art Collection, Bawag Foundation, Gallery of the Federal Province of Burgenland, Essl Museum, EVN Collection Erste Bank. Group, Painting Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Kunsthaus Bregenz, State Museum Joanneum / New Gallery, Liechtenstein Museum, Leopold Museum, MAK. Austrian Museum for Applied Art / Contemporary Art, MUMOK Museum of Modern Art, MUSA Museum on Demand, Museum of Modernism Salzburg, Museum of Modern Art Caranthia, Museum of the Federal Province of Lower-Austria, Museum of the Federal Province of Upper Austria, Austrian Gallery Belvedere, Austrian Film Museum, Art History Museum Vienna, Salzburg Museum - New Residence, Verbund Collection, STRABAG Bauholding, Museum of the Federal Province of Tyrol Ferdinandeum, T-Mobile Austria GmbH, Museum of the Federal Province of Voralberg, Vienna Museum.

Idea / Concept
Linz 09, LENTOS

Opening
1 January 2009, 7–9 p.m. (with invitation), 9–11 p.m. (open house)

A cooperation between the LENTOS and Linz 09, with support from the OMV AG.

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Photo: © maschekS.