Editorial by Sabine Folie
February 2022

Photo © Elodie Grethen

Dear friends of the Academy’s Art Collections,

It was with enthusiasm and elation that I took up my post as the new Director of the Art Collections of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna at the beginning of the year.

I consider it an exciting challenge and a great responsibility to lay out the future path for this well-established museum with its superb and prestigious collections – the Paintings Gallery, the Graphics Collection and the Plaster Cast Collection – that has its home in the Academy building.

The programme and thrust of the museum’s activities will increasingly foster a reactivation of our outstanding collections in surprising juxtapositions throughout the centuries and by reading them in a new and different way. The Academy presents itself as a lab of ideas and experimentation, not as a site of petrified perceptions. On the contrary, it acts as a school of seeing and thinking inspired by the historical collections.

An academy has the particular obligation to ensure that its historical collections are not closed off from contemporary art production and to combine topical social discourses with insights into the visual culture of the past. It is my further aim to explore the art of the past by amplifying this research with new methods and making these findings available to the public. Far more than just a deluxe teaching collection, the Academy’s Art Collections offer a wide realm for breaking up entrenched canons and historical nomenclatures, discovering the “outcast” (W. Benjamin) and dusting off what lies dormant. Looking at neglected aspects of the collections and “objects of lower rank” (T. Kantor) is often worthwhile. (Art) history can be rendered productive as a palimpsest of tendencies, connections, transitions, transformations and reanimations. Under these auspices I imagine it will be an exciting journey of discovery to unleash the museum’s hauntological potential, i.e. to revisit the ghosts of the past and their ever present agential virtues.

On 7 April, you will be able to witness the prelude for this adventurous path with an exhibition that pursues the transhistorical approach described above: The Purloined Masterpiece. Images as Time Machines.

With this proposal, devised with the support of experts and including the described experimental practices, we wish to reach out to a wider interested public and a diverse audience.

Your support for this enterprise is of vital importance in order to meet the ever-increasing demands of public relations, educational activities, scientific research, ongoing restoration of our holdings and, last but not least, rising costs related to Covid. We will soon offer an opportunity to engage further in this responsible task.

My team and I are looking forward to your visits to the Paintings Gallery.

Sabine Folie
Director of the Art Collections of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna