Many say that life is a journey. Do you agree? One thing is for sure — encounters on the road (literally or not) can enrich our lives. Travelling provides us the opportunity not only to observe and absorb but also to express and share.
Many artworks honestly document how visiting and local artists fused their ideas and how they influenced each other. The relationship between Van Gogh and Gauguin first came to my mind, but there are also more harmonic and lasting ones. A series of exhibitions recently opened on both sides of the Brenner Pass and they highlight this exact type of mutual development. The exhibitions focus on the mobility of the artists in this region between WWI and WWII and they share the same title:
IM NETZ DER MODERNE — KUNSTPOSITIONEN ZWISCHEN ALPEN UND GARDASEE
(In the Net of Modernity — Art Stances between the Alps and Lake Garda)
The curatorial concept was materialized across four locations over five months (May – September 2021). Two of the sites are the NIMUin Mutters and the Rabalderhaus Schwaz — both in North Tyrol — and the other two are in Eppan and Riva del Garda in the Trentino-South Tyrol region in Italy.
The core figures in these exhibitions are Artur Nikodem (1870 – 1940) and Hans Josef Weber-Tyrol (1874 – 1957). Both artists were professionally active in the region between the Lake Achen in Austria and the Lake Garda in Italy. They were in friendly contact with each other and mutual influences could be traced in their works. For the fellow artists in greater Tyrol and Trentino, both artists were also inspiring.
ARTUR NIKODEM (1870 – 1940)
Artur Nikodem was very well travelled for a man of his time. He left his hometown, Trient, to study and research art in Munich, Milan, Florence and Paris. Serving in the navy around the Mediterranean, on the other hand, brought him as far as Egypt. Then he spent 14 years in Merano where he thrived with the local Artists’ Association before settling in Innsbruck. His later artistic interest, photography, helped him capture his experience in Bulgaria, Turkey and Tyrol.
I visited the “NIMU” (Nikodem Museum) in Mutters which was the nearest IM NETZ DER MODERNE exhibition site to me. Home to the Nikodem Archive, the museum was opened in 2010 by Nikodem’s great-grandson, Martin Krulis, whose photographic artworks were also nurtured by extensive international journeys.
As the exhibitions were to explore the relationships among these artists, the works were often displayed in pairs. What they had in common could be the subject of interest and/or their art techniques.
Left: Two Farm Ladies, Artur Nikodem / Right: Two Farm Ladies, Hans Josef Weber-Tyrol
Left: Untitled (Autumn Trees), Artur Nikodem / Right: Untitled, Waldemar Güttner (both in private collection)
I also found familiar subjects in the exhibition such as the lovely chapel in Arzl and the Golden Roof in snowy Innsbruck. (If you enlarge the photo below by clicking on it, you might just see the Golden Roof.) In fact, in Arzl there is a street named after Nikodem (Nikodemweg).
Left: photo taken by Artur Nikodem in Arzl, Innsbruck / Right: Old Innsbruck, painting by Theodor Prachensky, winter 1914/15
The IM NETZ DER MODERNE exhibition in the NIMU was hosted on the ground floor. On the first floor, there were enlarged modern prints of Artur Nikodem’s photographs. The space itself was also amazing.
Ichia Wu is a Taiwanese artist with broad experience in the tourism sector. Since relocating to Innsbruck, she has become an ardent enthusiast of the traditional carnival celebrations ("Fasnacht") in Tyrol.