Read Thomas Wüstenhagen’s take on Vienna’s development.
This year for the eighth time Vienna was named world’s top city for quality of life. We asked some Viennese art professionals who live abroad if they see changes in Vienna and what they love the most about the Austrian capital.
Thomas Wüstenhagen, former partner of Emanuel Layr, left Vienna in 2012 for Basel, where he became the Head of Gallery Relations and Member of the Management Board at Art Basel, and then relocated to China to act as the Director of Art021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair.
The art scene in Vienna changed quite a lot since the time you were the only young gallerists in Vienna. In the last two years 10 new galleries opened in Vienna. Why do you think that happened in 2017?
I am really glad to hear that there are some new galleries in Vienna because in the last few years I had the feeling that no new spaces were opening. Vienna had one of the best gallery scenes in Europe a few years ago so hopefully these openings are a good sign. Why 2017? – maybe because people realized that there is a huge gap to fill.
It is always easier to notice developments from a distance. What do you think changed the most in the city?
There are more and more art institutions that show contemporary art, which is amazing compared to other cities in Europe.
I also hope that more and more of the Viennese galleries have the courage to work on an international level.
How important is an art fair for the local market?
In my opinion art fairs play an important role. There are more or less two global players in the art fair circus. All other fairs have to find a special focus, which makes it interesting for galleries and collectors. A good local art fair can strengthen the local galleries and their artists and the market in general.
If you bring someone with you to Vienna who is interested in contemporary art, what are your recommendations? What is the “must”?
That’s difficult because there are so many “musts” in Vienna. Secession, MUMOK, Kunsthalle, etc. And definitely some of the galleries.
What is your favorite building in Vienna?
Secession, Wiener Postsparkasse and so many more……
What do you always bring back as a souvenir from Austria?
From Manner Schnitten to Lobmayr glasses…..
Vienna has been selected as the best livable city for the 8th time this year, what makes it the best place to live in in your opinion?
It is not only one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but also in the center of Europe. Also, almost unlimited access to amazing art, music, design etc. And do not forget the food…..