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November 09, 2006

Lentos Kunstmuseum in Linz

After the disorientating virtual reality end to our visit to the ARS Electronica Centre in Linz, we headed straight to our next sight-seeing stop, the Lentos Kunstmuseum of modern art. This involved a quick dash across a bridge over the River Danube.


Having visited Vienna, Bratislava, Belgrade and Budapest twice this year, Claire observed that if she hadn't known that it had been around for thousands of years already, she'd swear that the river was following us around Europe.

The Lentos Kunstmuseum is a new building, almost entirely covered in reflective glass with the museum's name etched into it.


And that, of course, meant we had to take the inevitable photo of us reflected in the building. It is shaped like an upside-down U, so you take a picture of your image looking up at the underside of the gallery's second floor.


There was a bit of confusion when we entered the museum. We had our Linz City Ticket, but there didn't seem to be anyone on the cash desk, so we just blundered through. We headed downstairs where a grumpy looking woman on a chair wanted to look at our ticket. An outburst in German followed, that we figured meant we had to go back upstairs to get it stamped or something, so we turned around and headed back up the stairs. Then she shouted a load more at is in German, and pointed into the room next door. We went back down and realised that she meant we had to put our coats and bags in the lockers in the room to the right. With that done, and feeling thoroughly chastised, we went back up to get our tickets stamped.

Then we had to go down and face the old dragon again. She spent ages looking us up and down and inspecting our tickets, and then begrudgingly waved us through. Into a room that seemed entirely filled with small geometric shapes made out of polystyrene in glass cases. We only just managed not to collapse with the giggles, having gone through such a rigmarole to get into the exhibition. In seriousness they were studies for building 3D models of futuristic cities, but we were in danger of losing control.

We got the lift to the top floor to look at the main collection, mostly so we could avoid having to walk past the dragon again. I have to say that on the whole I was quite unimpressed. They had defined "modern" art quite broadly, and so the small permanent collection housed a lot of 18th century portraits that I personally wouldn't really associate with "modern art". The collection was also devoid of any major works ro even minor works by major artists.

We did like one of the temporary exhibitions though - a collection of work by Johanna and Helmut Kandl. The material on display included some video clips and physical objects, but chiefly centred around some almost photo-realistic scenes of poverty and despair in the former Communist states of Eastern Europe, marked up with the kind of slogans you see on office "motivational" posters.


We stopped at the cafe/wine bar in the gallery to have a drink before making our way to the grand finale of our day - the Linz City Express.

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