Austrian Art and Architecture

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Course Information
Art History
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 

An interest in art. A basic knowledge of European (more specifically Austrian) history is helpful.


The course presents the evolution of Austrian art and architecture from its beginnings to the present. The study of each period provides the student with the essential characteristics of the art of the particular era and shows the continuity within the art development. The outstanding and characteristic achievements of the artists of each period and the cultural and historical background that shaped them are described. Austrian art is discussed in the context of European art and parallels between Austria and other art centers are drawn. The class includes field trips to Vienna´s art museums and churches.

Attendance policy: 

Attendance is mandatory.

Learning outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Recognize and critically analyze the various styles represented in the Austrian art development.
  • Have a basic knowledge and understanding of how history and the resulting cultural landscape of Austria formed the important periods of its art development.
  • Develop their power of observation and comparative skills thereby enhancing their ability to observe and think critically.
Method of presentation: 

Lecture with slides, discussion of readings and works of art, visit to museums, galleries and churches to supplement the lectures, brief oral presentations.

In addition to the class tours, students are required to visit independently other pertinent places of interest. Their observations and critical discussions should be discussed in the form of journal entries. A few suggestions for additional site visits are: Museum of Natural History, Albertina Collection of Graphic Art, Schönbrunn Palace, Hofburg apartments (Sisi Museum), Lichtenstein Palace, Art Academy Gallery, Kunsthaus (Hundertwasser Museum), MAK (Museum of Applied Art).
A complete list of Vienna´s Museums will be distributed in class.

Required work and form of assessment: 

Attendance of lectures and tours is mandatory.
Midterm written examination - 1½ hours
Final written examination - 2 hours

Students are also required to write a critical art journal. Keeping a journal stimulates students to visit museums, churches, palaces and other places of art historical interest on their own and also improves their power of observation and art appreciation. The journal should be illustrated (drawings).

  • Attendance and class participation - 20%
  • Midterm examination -  25%
  • Final examination - 30%
  • Art journal - 25%






Earliest Austrian Art - Prehistoric art and the Hallstatt and La Tene Civilizations.



The Romans in Austria -Settlements in Vindobona and Carnuntum.

TOURS: Roman ruins at the Hoher Markt. Antique collection at the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Wien Museum.


Migrations of the Germanic Tribes and the Beginnings of Christianity



Romanesque in Austria - Romanesque architecture, sculpture, fresco painting and manuscript illumination under the Babenbergs

TOUR: St. Ruprechts Church (oldest church in Vienna)


Gothic in Austria - The development of Gothic architecture, sculpture and painting (including stained glass) from the mid-13th century to the beginning of the 16th. Austrian Gothic compared to that in other areas of Europe, for example, Bohemia or France

TOURS: St. Stephens Cathedral, Maria am Gestade, Neidhart frescoes (only remaining medieval secular frescoes in Vienna.
Midterm Exam



Renaissance in Austria. The Landhäuser and palaces of the Renaissance period. The expansion of the Hofburg. The Danube School of Painters and their relationship to Albrecht Dürer in Germany.

TOURS: Kunsthistorisches Museum I: international artists of the Renaissance period; Northern Renaissance painting of Dürer, Breugel, the Danube School of Painters; Italian Renaissance painting of Perugino, Raphael, Bellini, Titian,etc. Imperial Treasury.



Baroque in Austria. The art of the counterreformation and the period of absolutism

TOURS: Kunsthistorisches Museum II: international Baroque art; Flemish and Dutch artists; Rubens and the artists of Antwerp, Rembrandt Vermeer; Baroque artists of Italy and Spain; Caravaggio, Velasques,etc. St. Charles Church. Architecture by Fischer von Erlach, frescoes by Rottlmayr. Jesuit Church, St. Peters Church, Plague monument on the Graben.



Classicism, Biedermeier and the Vienna Ringstraße. Art of the late 18th and l9th centuries.)

TOURS: Upper Belvedere, Biedermeier collection: Wien Museum, art of the Biedermeier, Ringstraße and modern Austrian art. Walking tour of the Ringstraße.


Art of the 20th century in Austria - Vienna at the turn of the century. Art Nouveau and Expressionism.

TOURS: Upper Belvedere. The art of Klimt, Schiele and Kokoschka. Leopold Museum, Wien Museum (top floor), Secession (Beethoven frieze by Gustav Klimt ). Otto Wagner buildings, Stadtbahn pavilions, Postal Savings Bank,etc.
Note: class tours and assignments are subject to change depending on current exhibitions in Vienna.
Final Exam


Required readings: 
  • Gruber. Reinhard. St. Stephens Cathedral in Vienna, Vienna, l996.
  • Lehne, Inge. Johnson Lonnie. Vienna – the Past in the Present – a Historical Survey. Vienna. 1985.
  • Mandl, Henriette. Vienna Downtown Walking Tours. Vienna. 1984. (tour one – St. Stephens Cathedral).
  • Pippal, Martina. A Short History of Art in Vienna. Munich. 2001
  • Saliger, Artur. The Cathedral of St. Stephens in Vienna. Florence, 1992.
  • Toman, Rolf. (ed.) Vienna Art and Architecture. Vienna. 2001.
  • Wechsberg. Joseph. The Dome was my Techer – A Little History of St. Stephens Cathedral in Vienna. Vienna. 1982.
  • Lehne,Inge, Johnson Lonnie. Vienna – the Past in the Present – a Historical Survey. Vienna. 1985.
  • Nebehay, Christian. Vienna 1900: Architecture and Painting. Vienna. 1984.
  • Chapters on Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoshka and Otto Wagner.
  • Pippal, Martina. A Short History of art in Vienna. Munich, 2001.
  • Schorske, Carl. Ein de Siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture. New York. 1980.
  • Toman, Rolf (ed.) Vienna Art and Architecture. Vienna. 2001.
  • Xeroxed articles and other material will be distributed in class.