Vienna’s Generali Foundation Closes after 19 Years

Where are its 2100 artworks headed?

Generali Foundation, Exhibition Hall © Generali Foundation, Photo: © Margherita Spiluttini
Generali Foundation, Exhibition Hall © Generali Foundation, Photo: © Margherita Spiluttini

Vienna’s Generali Foundation will close its final exhibition on Sunday, bringing to an end 19 years of engagement with the Viennese art scene. It’s the second of the Austrian capital’s major art spaces to close in less than a year, BAWAG Contemporary having shut its doors on December 31st, 2013.

Since 1995, the Generali Foundation occupied a vast space on Vienna’s Hauptstrasse. It hosted numerous solo and group exhibitions, among them shows of Isa Genzken, Dan Graham, Anna Oppermann, Gordon Matta-Clark, Martha Rosler, and Hans Haacke. Part of Italian insurance giant Generali S.p.A., the foundation’s final show is a retrospective of Ulrike Grossarth. Though, they first only announced that the exhibition would be the last at the Hauptstrasse location, they confirmed to Austrian daily, Der Standard, this week that they don’t plan to host exhibitions in the future.

The foundation also amassed one of the country’s most prominent collections of over 2,100 works by both Austrian and international names. That project began in 1988 under the direction of Sabine Breitweiser who departed the foundation in 2007 to become the director of Salzburg’s Museum der Moderne Kunst (Museum of Modern Art).

Generali Foundation, Exhibition Hall © Generali Foundation, Photo: © Margherita Spiluttini

Generali Foundation, Exhibition Hall
© Generali Foundation, Photo: © Margherita Spiluttini

Breitweiser’s pull on the foundation apparently never ceased, however. In January, the Museum der Moderne Kunst announced a new partnership with Generali, Breitweiser flanked by the insurers’ general director, Dietrich Karner. And, lo and behold, all 2100-plus works were put on permanent loan to the Salzburg museum. The hand-off also includes funds to build a new exhibition, storage, and office space onto the institution, which are estimated to be completed by the end of 2015. They will add approximately 3,000 square meters (32,000 square feet) of space onto the museum.

The collection will continue to grow as well, according to a Handelsblatt report at the time of the Salzburg partnership’s announcement. The Generali told the paper that they will continue to purchase art at the same rate as before. That was previously reported as hovering around €250,000 ($340,000) per year.

At the time of the announcement, exhibitions were scheduled to continue in Vienna through the end of 2014. Now, there’s just two days to say goodbye—or to scope out the space for your gallery’s Vienna outpost.


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