The Albertina, Vienna


From the moment we entered the Albertina I was unsure of the photography rules. I thought I saw a ‘No Photography’ sign, but then I saw lots of people taking photos very openly, in front of the guards.

You may say, what’s the point in even talking about this, why take photos in art galleries anyhow? And yes, the way that most people were doing it at the Albertina, as a way to own part of what they were seeing, would bear that point of view out. They were mostly snapping away and walking on quickly, capturing the image but not the feeling.

But I sometimes get inspired by an artist’s composition, by their use of colour, and I take snaps to remind me of those thoughts, and I wanted to do that in the Albertina at times. The Picasso room was ok but he tended to go for too many easy hits to be considered really good. Warhol was better but over them all was Gerhard Richter, who didn’t go for any easy wins at all, and his work was totally inspirational.

But I didn’t feel comfortable taking photos so I didn’t, the last thing I want on holiday is to get told off and hassled.

We walked from the Monet to Picasso and onto the more modern art and as I bent forward to get a closer look at a Warhol drawing of Mick Jagger the guard barked for me to get back. Apparently there needed to be a metre gap. What rubbish! If I want to view things from that far away I’ll just Google it. If I can’t get in close and study the humanity in the work, the brush strokes, the lines, then what use is there visiting it in person?

The portrait did give hints on what Warhol thought was essential in a portrait though, and that was of interest to any photographer I think.


There was a large Miro exhibition on so we visited that next. There were kids sat on the ground within a few inches of these masterpieces, I was a bit confused. The rules seemed to be different in every room you visited. I saw a nice scene and raised my camera.


“No photos,” smiled a guard. I was even more confused now. You could do photos here but not here, you could get close here but not there, couldn’t they have a joined up policy?

Anyway, the Miro exhibition was great. He was a token, of course, like almost all famous artists. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be allowed to be made famous. I thought momentarily of how he would have reacted to his images being sprayed all over glasses, posters, computer mats, postcards, etc, as they were in the gift shop, and then I thought that he wouldn’t have minded, probably, as rarely do artists come to fame without making a decision to jump on the money bandwagon.

The Albertina certainly entertained us for a few hours. Their collection is very good; if they get their photo policy sorted out and start allowing people to view the work up close, as you need to in an art gallery, it’ll be a superb gallery.

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