Contemporary Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads surround the fountain in the Upper Belvedere Palace Gardens, Vienna.
The fountain was the location of another of Ai Wei Wei’s installations. F Lotus was a sculpture of hundreds of life jackets which formed the shape of an F; the lifejackets aimed to address the refugee crisis currently affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Both artworks form part of Ai Wei Wei’s Translocation – Transformation solo exhibition which was on display until mid-November 2016 at the Belvedere Museum.
After catching the metro to Belvedere Palace and Museum in the south east of the city, Ai Wei Wei’s work was the first thing myself and my travel buddy Caitlin saw when walking through the palace gates.
The Belvedere Palaces in Vienna Austria, built in the early 18th century and once home to Prince Eugene of Savoy, are now most well known for housing the largest collection of Gustav Klimt’s paintings.
After perusing Ai Wei Wei’s work, as well as the other hundreds of pieces of artwork, we came to the room in which Klimt’s most famous piece The Kiss was on display. I studied art in high school and had seen copies of the painting before. I’m embarrassed to say I felt it was quite overrated.
But after gazing up at The Kiss in person and experiencing the scale, the embrace of the lovers, and the glittering beauty of the gold leaf, I know now how incredibly wrong I was. Reproductions of Klimt’s work don’t do it justice. It has to be experienced in person and I was lucky enough to have that experience on a overcast Viennese afternoon in November.
The museum is open most days from 10am-6pm. Tickets are available online and on site. We bought tickets for the upper Belvedere Museum only as we were short on time. Tickets cost €14 for adults and €11.50 for students (shoutout once again to my ISIC card for saving me a few bucks that I happily spent on a slice of sache torte that evening).