Semi-nude of the artist in front of a blue background.
© Leopold Museum, Wien

An outsider at the Leopold Museum

The Austrian painter Richard Gerstl (1883 to 1908) did not have much time to bring his artistic talent to bear. He took his own life at 25 years of age. Nevertheless, he created an extremely modern oeuvre in the few short years he had. Gerstl is considered to be the first Austrian Expressionist, who created innovative works with his style even before Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka appeared on the scene. His secluded lifestyle and refusal to show his paintings in exhibitions makes his work assume the position of outsider when viewed by the rest of the world. Twenty-five years after the last monographic exhibition in Austria, the Leopold Museum dedicates a comprehensive presentation to the artist which is based on the impressive works of its own collection.

Enigmatic painter

Gerstl was just 20 years old when he painted a portrait of his naked upper body set against a dark blue background. He was scrawny, had stomach problems, and was said to have had a brittle nature. He was his own most constant motif. What it was that interested him about himself and his own face remains a puzzle. A central, indeed almost fateful role in his life was played by his close contact with the group of musicians around the composer Arnold Schönberg. However, this friendship came to an abrupt end in the summer of 1908 when it came out that Gerstl was having a love affair with Mathilde Schönberg. The painter lost all contact with the Schönberg group and fell into depression, having grown lonely and completely isolated. In the night of November 4 to 5, 1908, the young painter finally ended his life in his own studio. Gerstl's work subsequently fell into obscurity until it was presented to the public by the Viennese art dealer Otto Kallir-Nirenstein 20 years later. Nowadays, the most extensive collection of Richard Gerstl's works can be seen in the Leopold Museum.

Richard Gerstl / Inspiration - Legacy

September 27, 2019 - January 20, 2020

Leopold Museum

Museumsplatz 1 , 1070 Wien
  • Prices

  • Opening times

    • Mo, 10:00 - 18:00
    • We, 10:00 - 18:00
    • Th, 10:00 - 21:00
    • Fr - Su, 10:00 - 18:00
    • Open daily from June to August, closed on Dec 24, Dec 31: 10-17, Jan 1: 10-18
  • Accessibility

    • Main entrance
      • no steps (Double swinging doors )
    • Car parks Main entrance
      • 4 Parking spaces for people with disabilities
    • Elevator available
      • 89 cm wide and 210 cm low , Door 90 cm wide
    • Further information
      • Wheelchair accessible restroom available.
    • Comments

      Main entrance, access to all exhibition rooms and restaurant/café: no steps.

      4 parking spaces for visitors with disabilities in the MuseumsQuartier area.

      6 free parking spaces for visitors with special needs on the premises (access: Burggasse / Volkstheater) with proper identification and 4 parking spaces for visitors with special needs in the parking garage (basement level 2 next to elevator, access: main entrance Museumsplatz).

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