This panel aimed to reconstruct the specific urban, socio-cultural and theoretical contexts of the Viennese post-1945 avant-gardes as well as their historical background.
The collapse of the Third Reich, Austria’s military occupation and the country’s reconstruction formed the backdrop in terms of contemporary history for the nascent avant-gardes. In the eyes of the young avant-gardists, both reactionary “high culture” and the values of the lower middle-classes were “enemy” territory and as such legitimate targets for their aesthetic interventions. In this context, provocation for its own sake was used as the key aesthetic vehicle for the first time in performances by different actors, ranging from the Wiener Gruppe to Wiener Aktionismus. Despite the different positions these actors held on a variety of issues, they formed a tightly woven network. Cafés, clubs and galleries served them as venues for reflection, production and self-promotion.
To what extent were Vienna’s specific topography and communication structures formative influences on the “effectiveness” of the Viennese avant-gardes with regard to their transgression of genre boundaries and their re-encoding of art?
Is it possible to trace links in terms of theory and/or practice to specific Viennese actors such as Wiener Kreis, Fritz Mautner, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Wilhelm Reich, Arnold Schönberg, Karl Kraus, Adolf Loos?
To what extent did the Viennese avant-gardes succeed in reconnecting to the local “knowledge base” of Viennese and international modernism that had largely been destroyed in the National Socialist era?
What influences and/or interactions between Viennese and international avant-gardes can be traced in the time between 1950 and 1975?
Are the differences between the Viennese and other post-1945 avant-gardes due to local traditions in the respective cities (Paris, New York, Milan)?