Okay, I get it. I listen to strange music, I own two typewriters, I spend my days writing in rustic cafés, I down lattes like they were Smarties, I wear high-waisted jeans and I don’t give a fuck what you think. I may, in fact, be a hipster. Whatever. Most people spend years running away from who they really are. I’m comfortable in my hipsterdom.
I just got back from spending a month in Vienna (with an extra couple of weeks on the side to visit friends in London, Prague, Amsterdam and Brussels), and while I was in the planning stages of the trip, I was Googling fun, alternative, creative things to do in Vienna, but came up empty. Apart from doing the museum-clusterfuck, or the Stephansdom-two-step, the internet was not very forthcoming with activities for the lumberjack-suspenders-bowtie-red-lipstick-thick-eyebrows crowd. Last name FAIL, first name EPIC. No TripAdvisor, I do NOT want to jump on an obnoxious hop-on-hop-off bus painted the colour of communist China. Yes LonelyPlanet, there are other places to get free wifi besides the McDonalds on the Graben, thanks.
So I decided to make my own Viennese Hipster guide so no one has to suffer my fate again. If you’re headed to the Austrian capitol and want to be a total WIENER (haaaaaaaaaaaaa), I did all the artisanal legwork for you. I’ve crafted The Hipster’s Guide to Vienna for all your ironic needs. included in this post are helpful tips on:
Shopping That Isn’t Bullshit
Activities That Aren’t Lame
Cafes that Aren’t Touristy
Cafes To Avoid Like Herpes
Souvenirs That Aren’t Made In China
Hunting Vienna’s Dark Past
Museums That Still Profit From Nazi-Looting
German Phrases You Will Deffo Need.
Accommodation & Where To Stay
See this above photo? That’s where I stayed. It was a palatial flat in the area of Meidling with high ceilings, massive windows, glass chandeliers, antique furniture, a record player, and two Snugglebum von Cuddletummies (cats). And I stayed here for free.
Housesitting, I was. As usual.
If you’re a hipster, you COULD pay for an overpriced Air Bn’B on the Ringstrasse, you COULD Couchsurf on some uni student’s couch that smells of patchouli, OR you could stay for free in a place all to yourself in exchange for giving the Snugglebum von Cuddletummies some lurve. It’s up to you. If you do decide to stay in a hostel or hotel or some other huge mistake, do yourself a favour and stay outside of the touristy Maria-Hilfer strasse. It’s just too gross, too uncultured, too bullshit. Meidling was a great area because it was only 3 uBahn stops away from Westbahnhof station, and only 3 stops away on the Schnellverbindungen to the Quartier Belvedere, or 4 stops to Landstrasse Wien Mitte.
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A video I made of riding the trams in Vienna. Definitely ride the trams!
I could get anywhere within minutes, and I was within walking distance of the Schonbrun Palace and Gardens. Also, the homeowner left me her metropass and her bicycle so all my travel was free. I never had to pay for expensive meals (unless I wanted to) because I went grocery shopping and cooked all my meals at home. Comforts of home! I cannot stress Housesitting enough, people. You should get on that.
Shopping That Isn’t Overpriced FUBAR
Vienna is famous for its expensive shopping districts like the Graben and on Kartnerstrasse. There are tons of expensive jewelers, high-end clothes and shoe shops, and antqiue boutiques. BUT why blow all your money on the high streets when you can spend a couple cents on the same items at….
During the week, the Naschmarkt is a regular farmers market located just outside of Kettenbruckengasse uBahn station, but on Saturday mornings, it also features an AMAZING fleamarket. It mostly features antiques like chandeliers, home furnishing, bric-a-brac, and kitchen supplies, but it also has other amazing finds like historic photographs, Jugendstil jewelry for a fraction of the price on the high street, mobile phones, vinyl records, wall art, and SO MUCH CLOTHES. Here are three examples of some of the things I procured on the fleamarket. The above photograph is of a love letter I bought on the Naschmarkt for €2. It’s dated 1940 and sent from Switzerland by a woman named Grete to Salzburg to a man named Wolf. It’s in German but I translated it, it’s your standard love letter, full of hopes, longing, expectation and desire. But what’s interesting is that postal sticker on the back. It says it was OPENED by the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht before it reached its destination, and you can clearly see the Nazi eagle and swastika. The other interesting feature is that it is addressed to Salzburg, which as we all know is in Austria. BUT the letter is addressed to the “German Reich.” Remember, this is 1940, so because of the Anschluss, Austria as a country had ceased to exist.
This above love letter I bought for €3. It’s a rare find on a Viennese fleamarket because it’s in ENGLISH! It was sent in 1947 from Vienna to a woman in Southend-on-Sea, UK. As you can see from the first line, the Austrian soldier has just been released from a Russian POW camp and is looking for his lost love Annie whom he hasn’t seen since 1939 before the war. Annie’s last name is listed here as Reifmann, which sounds awfully German to me. Or perhaps, Jewish? Maybe she had family in Austria and that’s how they met? But if it was sent to the UK, why was it back in Vienna for me to find? As the envelope indicates, it was Return-To-Sender. So either Annie didn’t live there anymore, she died in the blitz (or worse), or she was like, “You were a German soldier so fuck you.”
This above document I bought for €5. It’s a “Persilschein.” These were documents issued by the occupying Allied forces after the war to citizens who had proved they hadn’t been Nazis et.al. before or during the war. The document is in German, English, French, and Russian. Persil is a type of washing liquid, and schein means shine, so if you had this document, it literally meant your past was squeaky clean.
I also bought photographs, necklaces, and other trinkets and tokens on the Naschmarkt, basically at cost. Highly recommended for your Saturday mornings!! And you walk away with gifts and finds you won’t get on the fucking Graben.
Activities That Aren’t as Lame as Your Gramps
So Vienna is all about museums. They love that shit. They eat that shit up. But sometimes it feels like if you’ve seen one museum, you’ve seen them all. There’s only so much goddamned art one can take in before it all starts to look the same. So here’s a selection of the museums and galleries I liked that weren’t too much of a gaudy tourist trap.
Westlicht is an amazing photography gallery that has a wicked selection of the best photographs of the 20th and 21st century. The place also has it’s own cafe and bar, and a selection of great photography books for sale. Only €10 entry. Also, it’s located in a particularly grimy (but also charming) section of Westbahnstrasse so at least the affluent snobs from Kennebunkport won’t be there.
The MAK (free Tuesday nights!)
The museum of design is free every Tuesday night from like 6pm until closing, which is when I went, but I would have gladly paid the entry fee, it was amazing! These are pics I took inside. Look at this awesomeness!
There were video clips, light installations, and they gave you bubblegum to chew as part of the experiment! One section was a bicycle that needed to be pumped hard in order for the light installations to work! I loved it all. And of course, there were also the more refined design aspects, like art deco furniture and an entire wing dedicated to the evolution of the chair, hahaha.
The museum is on the Ringstrasse so it’s easy to find, but it wasn’t really patroned by tourists, rather by design students, so it felt like an edifying experience amongst people who genuinely care about this shit.
And and and! ThERE WERE KLIMTS!
Look at that gorgeous thing!!!
Mumok (I was only charged €6 for some reason)
The Museum of modern art was great because it was one of the few museums in the city that actively carried and promoted the works of women artists (more on this later). The exhibits were engaging and interesting. It’s in the middle of the Museum Quartier so it’s easy to find, but again, there weren’t very many tourists here, it was mostly students and locals. I liked that.
And when you’re done museum-ing, they have their own cupcake cafe inside!! Also the museum has free wifi and also a free app you can download on site for a free audioguide!
The price is supposed to be €11 but they only charged me €6 for some reason. Maybe I look like I’m under 27. BITCH I’M 35.
Wien Museum (free first Sunday of the month!)
I wouldn’t have necessarily paid the full entry for this museum if it hadn’t been free the first Sunday of the month, but I’m glad I went just for the Klimts! Did I mention I love Klimt and I eat that shit up? This here is a portrait of his longtime mistress Emilie Floge. It’s part of his gold leaf period and when his style was so unique and more two dimensional than the other portraits of the time that aimed to give the illusion of 3 dimensions. The Wien Museum also does like this history of the Stephansdom gargoyles and a whole bunch of other relics from Vienna’s past as a walled-city and such. They also had an exhibit on two really important artists from the pre and post war Vienna, detailing the sadness and atrocities happening around them that was highly stylized and super engaging. All in all, me likey, but glad me no pay full price.
Here’s another Klimt!
And this is an interesting story tied in with Klimt. This is a portrait of Arnold Schoenberg, the famous composer. The portrait was painted by Richard Gerstl who was having an affair with Schoenberg’s wife Mathilde. She briefly left her husband for Gerstl but returned a few months later for the children. When that happened, Gerstl hung himself. He was never famous or well known in his own time, but after the war he became so popular and now I’ve found his works in every major museum and gallery in Vienna. Below is his self portrait. Anyway, the reason this is super interesting and tied in with Klimt is because, over 100 years later, Schoenberg’s grandson Randy, a lawyer in Los Angeles, was hired to represent Maria Altmann in her Supreme Court case versus the country of Austria. Why was she suing them? They were holding on to Klimt’s famed portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, considered the Mona Lisa of Austria, and Altmann was the heir to the painting. It was looted from her family home by the Nazis and never returned. SIX DEGREES OF KEVIN BACON. I found it rather fitting that the Klimts and the Gerstl portraits were hanging side by side. It’s like, hey guys, do you have any idea how much shit your heirs are gonna stir?
Also, they have works by Egon Schiele, whom I didn’t like 10 years ago, but I feel like he’s grown on me and I appreciate his stylized pain a lot more than Klimt now. Here’s him in a self-portrait, flashing us his west-side gang signs.
Resistance Museum (free forever!)
Now let’s not mince words. It’s not as if Austrians put up much of a resistance. When the Anschluss happened, the white anglo-saxon Austrians welcomed Shitler with flowers and a huge parade. They cheered him in the streets, the church bells rang out and the bakeries gave out free sweets. They welcomed it. They weren’t the “first victims of WWII” as they like to paint themselves. However, that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few conscious objectors. Individuals did indeed resist and attempt to circumvent the Nazis, but there wasn’t exactly a cohesive, organized resistance movement. The only real official resistance in all of Europe that was organized and widespread (although quickly quashed) was the tram-workers strike in Amsterdam in 1941. No one in Europe was able to mount a large, organized resistance (although major props to the Polish for putting up a good fight too). Anyway, the resistance museum is free for obvious reasons (as are all Concentration Camps memorial sites throughout Austria and Germany, and the like…) and their displays have really interesting artifacts from individual’s resistance attempts. I was super engrossed in it. Worth the visit. I like bad-ass rebels.
Space Invader Hunting, and other street art hunting!
If you’re an actual hipster and not some tourist, then you know who Space Invader is. Also, if you read this blog often, then you know who he is. If not, what exactly are you doing here? Anyway, by now you should have already downloaded his Flash Invader app and have flashed at least one of his thousands of pieces erected around the world in dozens of cities. And if you have, then you know, that there are many of his pieces up in Vienna from his visits in 2006 and 2008. I flashed 23 of them.
Like this gem.
And this one.
And this one at street-level. The great thing about hunting Space Invaders when you’re new to a city is it is a free activity that allows you to get to know the layout of the city better. I found all my ‘Vaders in my first week in Vienna. After that, I could walk around the city without a map, because I knew each quartier and platz from him. “Oh I know this area because I found a ‘Vader here.” OR I knew that something wasn’t far off because I had already walked the distance to find him. Sometimes I would go hunting and the ‘Vader was long gone, but you could still see the imprint from the tiles in the wall or building or bridge. That would suck, but at least I discovered a new area of the city through it. Hunting ‘Vaders brings you to new areas of the city that you wouldn’t ordinarily get to otherwise. Sure he puts things up in touristy areas, but he also goes to the quiet, dead corners of the suburbs as well. Those are always awesome.
And Vienna is great for hunting the works of other great street artists. This is a Roa someone had the gaul to partly cover!
I call this one, “Neeeeeeaaaaarrrrr…….. faaaaaaaaaaaarrrr!”
Ah, the women of Sonke. I love Sonke’s oeuvre so hard. Oeuvre on fleek.
You’re beautiful. It’s society that’s fucked. I KNOW RIGHT.
My German is so good now, I can read this without having to resort to google translate! When I found this I was like… FINISH THE SENTENCE, I’M BREATHLESS WITH ANTICIPATION!!!
…was the best/worst thing that ever happened to you.
Bike-Share Rentals & Bicycle Paths
Vienna has the same city bike-share program as other major cities like London, Paris, Toronto, Montreal and NYC. You can find the stands located outside almost every major attraction or uBahn stop. You register with a credit card right there at the terminal and use the same pin number each time you want to take out a bike. They have large baskets, adjustable seats and 3 gears. And they’re super cheap compared to other cities! The first hour is free! After that, it’s like one euro for the next hour and it goes up incrementally after that but I think four hours is like less than latte. AND if you put it back before the first hour is up, then wait 15 minutes, you can withdraw another bike and get another hour free! Renting bikes from a shop is for suckers and not a hipster like you. I used these bikes a lot. There are excellent bike paths all throughout Vienna. One day I cycled from Meidling, along the canals, through the city, across the Ringstrasse, across the Danube, and up to the Prater, and that only took me 45 minutes! No traffic! Bike lanes are well-maintained and clearly marked. I felt super safe the entire time.
I also recommend you cycle along the Danube canal to check out some of the great murals and street art along the water. Great activity on a sunny Viennese day.
Before Sunrise film locations
Everyone’s favourite 1995 indie summer thinking-woman’s cult hit was filmed in its entirety in Vienna and after a month of being in Vienna, I would be walking down a small alley on the Molkerbastei, or I’d be at the Arena complex near Erdberg, and I’d be like, waaaaaait a minute….
Anyway, I found almost every location where they filmed their infamous scenes….
…from the bridge where they meet the dudes putting on the play about the cow…
…to the Riesenrad ferris wheel where they have their first kiss at sunset…
…to the street where they dance to the harpsichord then take mental photographs of each other.
I even found the record shop where they listen to that record in the listening booth. And Cafe Sperl where they pretend to speak on the phone to their friends…
…more on this place later!
It’s crazy to think how many famous people have come from Vienna. In fact, it’s crazy to think how many famous people were living in Vienna at the exact same time. Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Sigmund Freud, Adele Bloch-Bauer, Arnold Schoenberg, Gustav Mahler, Alma Mahler and ADOLF SHITLER were all living in Vienna at the same time. I like to think that if Klimt had passed Shitler on the street when Shitler was a starving artist, lugging his colours and palettes and brushes around and hoping to get into the art academy, Klimt probably would have felt sorry for Shitler. He probably would have given him a shilling out of pity. Anyway, with so many stars, it stands to reason their graves are here too. This is another free activity to do in Vienna that will get you exploring different areas, and you can enjoy the amazingly-scenic tram rides to get there. Also, don’t forget to Instagram them, you hipster douche.
First grave I found was the most important to me.
Luckily his grave was within walking distance from where I was staying. I found him pretty easily, and was pleased to see that the Jewish tradition of putting stones on the grave was being employed here. Klimt wasn’t Jewish, he was Catholic (yet he did some rather unCatholic things like fathering dozens of illegitimate children to poverty-striken young women), but many of his patrons were Jewish, and he wasn’t one of the many anti-semites running around the Austro-Hungarian empire at the time. He didn’t care, he socialized (and slept) with everyone. And perhaps his most famous patron was also buried in Vienna…
Well I say buried, but this is actually a crematorium wall, so I’m assuming her cistern is inside the wall. I must say, I am so glad Bloch-Bauer and Klimt passed away before the second World War. I can’t bear to think what might have happened to them had they lived…. Had they witnessed the destruction of civilized society, the murders and beatings on the street, their friends throwing themselves out of windows rather than be taken by the Nazis, their entire property be seized and then being forced into exile. Or worse, being deported to a camp. I’m glad they died of natural causes. I’m glad they have no idea what came next. But perhaps they did have a tiny inkling that their legacies would cause a massive shit-stir one day and turn the world on its head. Here’s hoping that thought gave them comfort.
Mozart was actually buried in an unmarked mass grave and it took decades for them to go in and try to find his remains. What lies in this grave could be Mozart, it may not be. But this was a super quiet experience, the cemetery was empty and I was the only one there. I told Mozart quietly that I enjoyed the marriage of figaro and the magic flute and his requiem and most of all, his piano concerto no.23 in a major k488. Grazie, Maestro!
Beethoven’s remains have been moved three times, but here he finally rests. Roll over! Haaaaaaa.
Using those old-fashioned photobooths is a HUGE thing in Austria and Germany (and France too, really). You’ll find the classic booths in most uBahn stations and places of interests. I found one inside the Museums Quartier. They’re only €2 for 4 photographs, and they come out looking super stylized in black and white. I love mine. It’s hanging on my wall right now.
For €7 you can have a tour of the imperial, ornate, illustrious Burgtheater near Schottentor, across the street from the Rathaus. If you like live theatre at all, backstage stories, and fresco paintings by Klimt before he was famous, then this is super fucking righteous and totally engaging (I majored in Theatre in university, so this was like a wet-dream for a hipster-shit like me). And if you’re lucky like me, you will be the only one to show up for the English-language tour, and instead of the tour being just an hour, you’ll be there for 3 hours and the staff won’t know you’re still there and they’ll turn the lights off on you and the guide and you have to find your way out of there by feeling the walls. It was super fucking cool and interesting, highly recommended!
The stage is set. The curtain rises.
I’ve found stolpersteines (which literally translates as “stumbling blocks”) all over Europe and of course they are here in Vienna too. This is another activity that is free and also loaded with meaning, heart, sadness, mourning, healing, hope, and all that other good stuff. If you walk around the city, pay attention to the ground. A German artist began installing these gold bricks into the ground, marking the spot where a person who was persecuted by the Nazi’s once lived. More of then than not, the person in question was killed, but sometimes the stolpersteine will note that the person survived. Most of these people were murdered in concentration camps or died in transit. So when you’re walking through beautiful and regal Vienna, and you find one of these stones, you immediately know the names of the people who once called that spot home and they were forcibly ripped from their homes and their families, then slaughtered like cattle. Don’t ever forget that every street, every corner, and every house has a dark and sad history to go with the good.
This family died in Auschwitz.
This family died in Auschwitz, Gurs, and Chelmno
Last Residences of Famous People
The internet is full of the former addresses of famous people. Sometimes their former residencies have been turned into museums, like Freud’s has above. Or sometimes there’s just a marker, like Kafka and Beethoven’s below. But more often than not, I would find an address, and there was no marker. Someone wonderful lived here and called it home, but no one who lives there now knows about it. Still, it was a free activity and it kept me exploring and full of wonder, so this was an A+ activity for a frugal hipster like me.
I made sure I found the homes of: Maria Altmann, Milena Jesenska, Adele Bloch-Bauer, and Klimt. Do you have some favourite celebs from Vienna? Maybe Michael Hanneke (you will only know who he is if you’re a hipster anyway)? Christoph Waltz? Google their addresses and go searching for them, you hipster-fuck.
Cafés That Aren’t Touristy Bullshit
A hipster without a cafe in which to drink and write is a hipster close to death. What would we do without our cafes? I DON’T EVEN WANT TO THINK ABOUT THE HORROR. Here’s my ultimate list of A+ cafes that featured zero tourists, only locals, and whose decor and drinks were top notch. I’m not including links here because I’m a carpal-tunnel hipster but all you have to do is google “Vienna + the cafe’s name” and you’ll find them easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.
Liebling: good-looking people, rustic wooden tables great for writing, vintage furnishings, cheap lattes, a bit too smokey. Free wifi.
Café Nil: a kind of Marrakesh decor coupled with a 1950s green tile design. Adorable retro stands next to the tables carry the sugar, salt & pepper. Nice servers. Lots of natural light. Free wifi.
Café Pruckel: has been around for 100 years, and hasn’t changed it’s decor for 60. Unlike other massive centenarian cafes, this is populated solely with locals. Lots of newspapers on the wooden racks to read, free wifi, really good looking people abound.
The above photograph is of a communal fridge inside Siebenstern cafe, where locals can put their unwanted food, and anyone is invited to take it, although I mostly saw the homeless and refugees taking advantage. Free wifi, large communal tables, open late for food and drinks, good-looking servers who speak English.
This is what it looks like. Cafe plus bookstore plus vinyl shop plus good-looking people. The wifi password is clapyourhands. You’re welcome! I came here so many times, I loved it. Great for writing and people watching.
Vollpension: designed like your grandmother’s sitting room, free wifi and lotsa communal tables but so difficult to snag a spot, this place is super busy. Brunch on weekends needs to be reserved in advance.
The Breakfast Club: only open until 2pm, great food, almost no place to sit. No wifi but you can mooch off of Vollpension next door if you already have their wifi password.
Café inside Leopold Museum (separate entrance): you don’t need to pay to enter the museum to visit this cafe. Free wifi, really nice view of the Museumplein, gorgeous long-bar, newspapers to read, open late, separate smoking area, gorgeous tattooed guy behind the bar. I WANTED TO HAVE HIS ABORTION.
Café inside the Kunsthistorische Museum (must pay entry): You have to the entry fee of the museum to gain access to the cafe but THIS PIC BELOW IS WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE. It’s like a bloody Russian novel up in hurr. Free wifi, and I chatted with a super rich grandmother and her grandson from NYC who sat next to me. They were charming in a myopic sort of way. The servers were marveled by how quickly I can type on my iPad. #hipsterproblems
Café Ulrich: free wifi, decent lattes, serves food and the tables after 5pm are reserved for diners. Creepy dudes can populate the long-bar, but in general, I liked this place.
Café Europa: I took the following photo inside Cafe Europa. Mirrors everywhere. Smoking section not properly secured, free wifi, decent lattes, lovely tall windows.
Supersense (EXTRA HIPSTER POINTS):
Okay this one I’ll link to because HOLY MOTHER OF GOD THIS IS THE GRAND PUBA OF HIPSTER. I wish I had discovered this place earlier in my stay (found it days before I left) because I instantly fell in love. Gorgeous Jugendstil Art Deco furnishings and large wooden high tables and stools, and free wifi. But the crowning jewel of this place was the attached shop that was a CORNUCOPIA of hipster shit that gave me an ironic stroke. There was an old wooden birdcage elevator upcycled into a recording booth that records you for 90 seconds and puts it on vinyl! They had wax and envelope stamps. There was a machine that put your thoughts/wishes/recipes/whatever on a scroll and sealed it in an antique bottle! I WAS ENCHANTED.
Also featured in Before Sunrise (the palm reader scene), it’s super small but is very charming and there’s lots of newspapers on the rack to read. No wifi but that’s good for writing.
Café Jelinek: early 20th century red velvet decor and lush window drapings, oddly shaped tables, free wifi, cheap lattes, a log fire, and lots of space. Surly and ornery servers but who cares. I’m just as surly. Hey! Surly only cares about one person. SURLY.
Hmm. Sorry Surly.
(Hipster points for knowing what I’m referring to.)
Café & Bar Warning
Even though the rest of Europe, and lo, the rest of the civilized world, has banned smoking in public establishments, Vienna is still behind the times. Technically there is some kinda no-smoking law, but it is either not enforced, or won’t really go into effect until 2017 (depending on who you ask). Thus, people will smoke in your face all day long in the cafes and no matter what kind of dirty looks you throw them, it won’t stop them. Some cafés have a smoking section (haaaaa! Remember Smoking Sections??!!) but staff rarely close the fucking doors to the smoking section, so all the smoke wafts over into the non-smoking section. You will walk out of every café or bar one minute closer to death and smelling like arsenic.
Cafés That Will Kibosh Your Buzz (aka AVOID)
Café Central: long-lineups, all tourists, loud, jerk waiters. I walked in to photograph the unusual inverted ceiling and then left.
Café Schwarzenberg: if you go here after peak hours, then it’s fine & kinda nice. Otherwise, it’s a shitshow.
Alt Wien: where 19-year-old university frat-holes go to piss on the floor
Skybar: just because you have a nice view of the Stephansdom doesn’t mean you’re cool. Also, FULL OF YUPPIES.
Café inside the Belvedere: €6 for a latte? Go fuck yourself, how about that.
Souvenirs That Aren’t Postcards or Tshirts
I wanted to get myself something that was quintessentially Viennese but that no one else would have. Something you can’t buy at those overpriced souvenir shops on KarntnerRing. I was reading a lot about Vienna and I came across the works of Secession artist and Wiener Werkstatte founder Koloman Moser. Aside from being an internationally acclaimed visual artist and member of Vienna’s intelligentsia of the early 20th century, he was also adept at the fine art of the Ex Libris.
For those hipsters not aware of the literati-snob practice of owning your own Ex Libris, let me explain:
Ex Libris is latin, and translates to, “Out of the library of,” or “Out of the book of.” It is a stamp, almost kind of like a Standard or a Coat of Arms, that indicates to whom a book belongs. You see, the socialites and intelligentsia of era’s past would of course own their own vast private libraries in their homes, and they liked to lend them out to their friends. But to keep track of all the books they had loaned and shared, they would stamp the inside cover with their own custom Ex Libris. As time went on, the design of the Ex Libris went from being a simple stamp with someone’s name on it, to a fashionable artistic expression of the person. And Koloman Moser was the go-to Ex Libris designer of 1900 Vienna. He fashioned them for everyone from Sigmund Freud to Adele Bloch-Bauer. Here are some examples of his work.
Pretty fucking sweet, right? So I was like, I WANT MY OWN EX LIBRIS! I’m a writer, I’m a literature-snob, I love Viennese-shit, and I’m a ridiculous hipster.
SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.
So I found this shop on Siebensternegasse that only fashions stamps. That’s all they make! Nothing but stamps! I couldn’t believe something like that actually existed. That’s like having a milkman or a blacksmith. It’s so quaint! A stamp man! I walked in and asked if he could make me an Ex Libris. He asked if I had a design in mind, and I showed him the screencaps I had taken of Koloman Moser’s work. I asked if he could just take one design and plug my name in there. He said “keine problem” as they say in German, and 2 days and €35 later, I owned MY OWN FUCKING EX LIBRIS!
KNEEL BEFORE YOUR HIPSTER-QUEEN, BABYLON!!!
So if you want your own Viennese souvenir that wasn’t made in China or unravels in the wash, get thee to an Ex-Librisy (or something).
Hunting Vienna’s Dark Past
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having dark fascinations, like looking at photos of dead bodies, or collecting Nazi junk. Our fascinations aren’t inherently good or bad. It’s what we do with these fascinations that’s important. Using these mementos of humanity’s past to remind ourselves of what is good and evil, to remind us of history so as not to repeat it, I think, is a good thing. And Vienna is one of those cities that is responsible for a lot of shit. Namely: Shitler.
Of course you won’t find a single place in Germany or Austria that marks a place where Shitler lived or worked or was born or hung out. Obvi. Once you mark it, it’s turns into a place of pilgrimage. So not only are none of his former places of residence in Vienna marked, I betcha the current residents don’t even know. The internet is good for this type of thing (like I mentioned above in the Former Residences of Famous People section), so it wasn’t long before I found the site of Shitler’s first flat when he moved to Vienna from Linz circa 1906. It’s just around the corner from the Westbahnhof. The building itself is rather unassuming, kinda dank and under-maintained. However, when I found it one night when it was cold and windy out, I realized I needed to be discrete and respectful to the current residents. First of all, you don’t want to make a big fuss, and also, you don’t want to glorify things. So I looked at the place from across the street, I didn’t take any photos, I stared for a bit, then left. I don’t know what I was expecting to see or find, but it felt similar to when I’ve visited concentration camps. You reflect, you think, you move forward.
Also, I found out that after a couple years of living in flats in Vienna, and after being rejected twice from the Vienna Arts Academy, Shitler’s living allowance ran out and he became a homeless crazy beggar on the streets. He had to move into the homeless shelter in Meidling. I WAS HOUSESITTING IN MEIDLING. That was a total mindfuck for me because not only was the building I was living in pre-war, almost all of Meidling escaped Allied bombings, which means the streets and facades of Meidling probably looked exactly the same when Shitler was begging on the streets there. He probably knew my area well. When I would walk home at night, it gave the area an extra kind of layer of sadness and horror.
I also found out about one particularly sad detail of Cafe Sperl, seen in this picture I took below:
I mentioned Cafe Sperl above in the Before Sunrise section because this is where they filmed that scene where they pretend to talk on the phone. Cafe Sperl has been around for over a century and pretty much looks the same as it did then. In the early half of the 20th Century, Cafe Sperl was usually occupied by artists, both successful and starving. They had a practice where they would give starving artists a cup of coffee in exchange for one of their drawings or paintings.
One of those starving artists was — you guessed it — Adolf Shitler.
Naturally, Cafe Sperl doesn’t like to advertise this fact, so when you visit, just be mindful.
Just think of how different the last 100 years would have been if Shitler had just been accepted into the Art Academy. Talk about lack of foresight.
Another place to visit is the former location of the Hotel Metropole, which, after the Anschluss, was taken over by the Gestapo and became their headquarters. I found this place by accident because I found a Space Invader in the Morzinplatz (see! Hunting ‘Vaders leads to other discoveries!), and I noticed a huge empty green space with a large memorial stone atop it. People would disappear into the Metropole and would never be seen again. Interrogated, tortured, shipped off to a camp, never heard from again. The Hotel is long gone but being in that spot which overlooks a nice section of the Danube canal was a bewildering but meaningful experience.
Speaking of Vienna’s Nazi past that still haunts the present day….
Museums That Still Carry Nazi-Looted Art & Refuse to Give It Back Because They’re Blood-Profiteering Shitbags
I have mentioned many times in this post the infamous case of Klimt’s portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer and the fight to have her returned to her rightful heir. Last year in NYC I stood in line for 90 minutes to run inside the Neue Gallerie and stare at the portrait for an hour before closing. I’ve always loved the haunting portrait. It’s so famous, they even made a movie about it last year starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds. It’s not a very good film, to be honest, but it gives you a good understanding of the legal battle (less about Adele herself). Actually, if you want an excellently-written study of Adele, her portrait, the cityscape of Vienna during Klimt and Adele’s time, and during the Nazi years, I would highly recommend reading Anne-Marie O’Connor’s book “The Lady In Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer.” I bought this book while I was in Vienna and I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. MY HIPSTER BRAIN BLEW THROUGH CHAPTERS LIKE SOME PEOPLE BLOW COKE UP THEIR NOSE. Such a good read.
Anyway, the book goes into great detail about how Vienna and the German Reich systematically looted art from persecuted Jewish families in the city. Then, after the war, the very Nazis who had looted it were now in charge of restitution!! Many exiled Austrians didn’t want to return to Vienna for obvious reasons, but they wanted their paintings back. For this, they would need exit permits and visas for the paintings. Did they Austrians give them the permits? DID THEY FUCK. Of course they didn’t. Most of the time, the authorities wouldn’t even acknowledge that the paintings belonged to the families in the first place. They would fabricate or alter documents to claim the paintings had been “donated,” or “sold” to the state or to the galleries before the war.
Why? Because art is lucrative, and Nazis like to live like the prosperous despots they are.
Since Maria Altmann’s epic court case, where Austria had its ass handed to them on a global scale, they’ve tried to quash further legal battles with other heirs to paintings stolen by Nazis. They still don’t want to give up their paintings, even though they don’t own them, AND they’re profitting from the paintings. Here are just some of the museums that profit from Nazi-looted art and won’t give them back. Yes, I paid entry into these museums. Yes, I hate myself for it. Yes, I wanted to see the paintings. Yes, I sorta yelled at some museum attendants for having this art. Yes, I was almost thrown out. Whatever.
The Belvedere is perhaps the most well known (and most fucking expensive) museum and gallery in Vienna. I paid TWENTY FUCKING EUROS for a ticket to both the upper and lower Belvedere. This is the very same gallery that had the Adele Bloch-Bauer portrait for almost 70 years before they had to give it back. Do they still have Nazi-looted art on their walls? YOU BETCHA.
Right next to Klimt’s famous The Kiss painting hangs another of his portraits. It’s an unfinished portrait of a young woman named Amalie Zuckerkandl. I found it rather interesting that the Belvedere’s audioguide had NO audio or information on this piece. HOW INTERESTING. I wonder why? Because they don’t own the piece and it was stolen by the Nazi’s, that’s why.
As the lawyer who represented Altmann in court, Randy Schoenberg, writes in this piece for MSNBC, the piece actually belonged to Adele Bloch-Bauer’s husband! The very man who owned the portraits of Adele! The very man who willed them to Maria Altmann! The Nazis stole it, and sold it illegally to the Belvedere. The Belvedere doesn’t mention this anywhere on the plaque or in any documentation or guides, NOR does it mention that Amalie Zuckerkandl DIED IN BELZEC CONCENTRATION CAMP along with her daughter.
But the Belvedere DOES sell postcards, pins, books, bookmarks, magnets, and other capitalist bullshit with Zuckerkandl’s face on it. I need a moment to let the class wash over me.
The Vienna Secession began during La Belle Epoque to showcase works and artists who weren’t interested in the classical ways of painting dominating Viennese society. Klimt and Koloman Moser were founding members of it in the Wiener Werkstatte. In fact, the building was the place where Klimt’s famous Beethovenfries was first ever exhibited. The piece was meant to be temporary and torn down and destroyed, but someone convinced the Lederers (who were one of Klimt’s major patrons) to buy it. They cut it down and kept it. The Secession building was later destroyed during the war but rebuilt, and the Lederer’s art collection was stolen by the Nazis and they themselves were killed. Most of the Lederer’s collection burned in a fire, but not the Frieze. Erich Lederer, heir to the Lederer estate, and a Jew in exile, tried in vain after the war to get an exit permit and visa for the Frieze. Authorities said no, but they did acknowledge that it belonged to him, so they forced him to pay for its storage in a cellar underneath the Belvedere, where flooding from the war had caused water damage to the Frieze. Unable to get it out of the country, he sold it in 1956 to the founder of the Leopold museum for a mere$1150. He would have gotten more if he could have gotten it out of the country, but he couldn’t and he needed the money.
The Secession building was rebuilt and the Frieze now hangs there. I took this below photo of it. You’re not allowed to take photos inside the Secession but THUG LIFE THUG RULES. I took this pic and I got yelled at. HAAAAAA.
Now the Lederer heirs are suing Austria to try and get their Frieze back, and I hope they do. The audioguide of the Secession literally makes no mention whatsoever of what happened to the Frieze during or after the war. They lie and say it was donated. It was not, you liars.
The Leopold (Although at least they acknowledge it!)
Inside the Leopold you will find a lot of Klimts and Schieles, perhaps the largest collection of Schieles that anyone owns. Like this famous Klimt of Death and Life…
and this self portrait of Schiele…
One of the Schieles on the wall is a portrait of his longtime lover and supporter Wally, a ginger beaut with fat red lips. The plaque next to the portrait acknowledges that the portrait was looted by the Nazis and hung in the Leopold for decades before the heirs of it’s rightful owner, a Jewish woman who had died long before, sued the museum and the country when the portrait was on show in the USA. Because of such ownership disputes, the USA seized the portrait until the case could be resolved. The heirs won their case. They sold the piece, got what they were owed, and now it’s back in the fucking Leopold. I’m not sure if the Leopold was the buyer or if they convinced the buyer to loan it, but still….sneaky fucks.
Another fancy-schmancy museum, another looted piece worth millions that they won’t give back because who cares about Jews and persecution when there’s all that money, right? This is a painting by the grand Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. It’s called the Artist in his Studio. So basically, a self portrait. I took these pics inside the gallery.
This painting was owned by a man named Czernin who wasn’t Jewish himself, but married to one, so he and his family faced the same persecution. He sold the painting under duress. Guess who was the buyer?
ADOLF SHITLER HIMSELF.
He sold the painting under fucking duress the butcher of the 20th century. Does the audioguide of the Kunsthistorichemuseum make note of that? Nope. This piece hung in Shitler’s own private estate until after the war when Austria took it and placed it in the museum. Czernin and his heirs sued for restitution but where denied. Why?
“Because Czernin’s wife was only one quarter Jewish,” aka they don’t believe he actually faced persecution and that he wasn’t under any duress.
That is some bullshit right there. The entry fee for the Kunsthistorische museum is €15 too! Super expensive. So they profit from Nazi-looted art with the ticket price, and then they sell kitsch with the Vermeer on it in the gift shop, AND to add insult to injury, they don’t even acknowledge that this was stolen by Shitler in the first place!!
WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK.
Subheader: Women Artists Need Not Apply Because Vagina
One glaring omission slapping everyone in the face who visits these museums is the lack of women artists on the walls of The Belvedere, the Leopold, the Secession, and the Kunsthistorische. There are literally no women artists on their walls at all. NONE. But! They do have a lot of paintings of naked women! Naked women in various unnatural, idealized, fantasy poses. There’s even Klimt and Schiele paintings of masturbating women! FUN. And what does the audioguide to these dehumanizing naked portraits say? “Look at the natural way in which the female form has been painted….” I’m sorry, but no woman’s boobs look like two upright cantaloupes with pink nubbins for nipples. What the fuck man. I understand that at the time these were painted, women’s sexuality was believed not to exist at all, so this was perhaps an act of rebellion. But was it also an act of objectification and exploitation? Yup. It was all those things. So listen up, women artists. The only way to get inside the Belvedere is to be naked. You’re not getting in there otherwise. Sorry, but… you know…. vagina.
Important German Phrases You Will Need
Ein milchkaffee bitte. A latte, please.
Kleine, bitte/Grosse, bitte. A small one, please/a big one, please.
Kann ich die zucker haben? Can I have the sugar?
Was ist das passwort fur das Wlan? What’s the wifi password?
Es gibt Wlan? Is there wifi?
Ist das Wlan kaput? Is the wifi not working?
Wo sind die Toiletten? Where’s the toilets?
Wo ist der schlussel fur die Toiletten? Where’s the key for the toilets?
Kann ich zahlen bitte? Can I pay please?
Wie viel kostet das? How much does that cost?
Nein, das ist zu teuer! No, that’s too expensive!
Kann ich die Rechnung haben, bitte? Can I have the receipt please?
Danke schoen! Thanks a lot.
Vielen danke fur deine hilfe! Many thanks for your help!
Das ist mein einziger Mantel und mein Reisverschluss ist kaput! This is my only coat and my zipper has broken! (I had to figure this out really quickly one day when this exact scenario happened to me on the street and when I finally found a tailor around the corner, he spoke no English. Also learned: tailor = SCHNEIDER!)
Schoen tag! Have a nice day!
Schoen abend! Have a nice evening!
Ich mochte ein Termin bitte. I’d like an appointment please (great for when you need a haircut or whatever)
Ich kann nur wenig Deutsch Sprechen. I can only speak German a little.
Mein Deutsch ist nicht sehr gut. My German is not very good.
Ich verstehe nicht. I don’t understand.
Sprechen Sie Englische? Do you speak English?
Sprechen Sie Franzosiche? Do you speak French?
Ich lerne Deutsch! I’m learning German!
Das ist ein schoenen, perfekten Schwanze. Nice dick, bro.
** I have omitted the umlauts from almost everything in this post because….reasons.
I hope this Hipster Guide to Vienna has been somewhat helpful for your future visits to the Austrian capitol of cool. If you link to this post, or repost, please remember to give a sistah some credit. I took all these photographs myself and it was a lot of work putting this post together.
Just don’t be a ding-dong. Do the right thing.
Recently I was invited on a personal tour of Station 16 Gallery in Montreal. I’ve been friendly with its founder Carlo for about four years now, ever since I facilitated an introduction between him and a local street artist. So when I told him that I would be back in my old Montreal stomping grounds, he took a couple hours out of his busy day to show me around the ever-expanding gallery.
Station 16 is located on Boulevard St-Laurent in the heart of le plateau, where the gallery’s presence has boosted the community’s economy and sprouted new growth and development for local businesses. Montreal was hit hard by the economic downturn, and there are still many empty retail spaces around. So Station 16 partnered with the annual Mural Festival to reinvigorate interest in this historical and trendy area.
The goal of Station 16 is to feature and promote local urban artists as well as international favourites. The great thing I noticed when I entered the gallery was how busy it was. Most art galleries are usually very quiet, with one or two patrons an hour, and the receptionists’ shoes usually cost more than your entire annual salary. For many people, visiting art galleries is an intimidating and perhaps snobby-elite experience that feels alienating and ostracising. Not Station 16. Kids, teenagers, families, tourists, street art enthusiasts, art collectors, and dealers abounded the ground-level gallery. It’s a very inclusive and welcoming experience, with a no-pressure enviro, and fosters a sense of community. I think that encouraging everyday people in the process of appreciating, critiquing, and collecting pieces of art is a good thing, and removes the exclusivity that surrounds the art world.
Pure Maple Sizzurp piece by What Is Adam, like an Warhol-throwback!
Took me a moment to realize those are guns.
Olek, my beloved guerilla-knitting-yarn-bombing babe with a clever turn of phrase here. This is actually a silkscreen of her work, but it comes out very 3D! It looks like there’s actual yarn in there! I’ve photographed her in Montreal, NYC, and London!
Le Diamantaire! You can’t turn a single corner in Paris without running into his street diamonds. They’re prolific!
Now this is my kind of toilet. The entire walls are covered in What Is Adam pieces, and what’s that on the loo?
It’s my boyfriend HANKSY!
Enzo Sarto is one half of my NYC favourite Enzo & Nio!
This is the back of Carlo’s computer! I see WIA, Stikki Peaches, Enzo & Nio, Shepard Fairy…. “Never forget how awesome you are.”
How could I?
Station 16 is located at 3523 Boul St-Laurent in Montreal, within walking distance from metro stops Mont-Royal or Sherbrooke. If you go, tell them Chris says hi!
I first photographed Icy and Sot in Amsterdam, both on the street at at one of their gallery shows. They’ve become street art darlings since then, with major turns at Norway’s NuArt fest in Stavanger, and also, it seems, New York City. I literally couldn’t walk through a single borough without running into their work. Most of these were in conjunction with the Bushwick Collective, but also, they were part of the Welling Court Project. Even still, some of it just seemed to be good, ol’ fashioned illegal graff. Good on ’em.
This delightful mural in South Williamsburg just went on and on….
… and on….
This massive, colourful explosion in Bushwick seems to depict suicide bombers in Iraq, but it could also be the way protesters are gunned down in Gaza. Or perhaps it’s Tel Aviv. Syria? Tahrir Square? I’m not really sure, but then again, the goal isn’t to precisely identify what the artist is trying to say. The point is to make it mean something to you.
I love how his arm reaches up and hangs off of the barbed wire on the roof.
Apologies for not getting a close-up of his hand. I should point out that I took these photographs the first week of January when it was about -20 degrees and removing my hands from my mitts to take photos was a race against frost bite. I could only take maybe two or three pictures before my hands would sting and splinter and redden and become numb. Graff hunting in winter is so much different than in summer. Le sigh.
Their famous portrait here in blue was a massive mural up in Queens, as part of the Welling Court project.
I love this cop and his shadow mural off of Meserole in Bushwick. It must have been erected during the Black Lives Matter protests, as it seems to be a direct comment on Police Brutality, and appearance vs reality when it comes to New York cops.
You know what’s funny of this walking boy of theirs? If you go on Instagram, everyone thinks this is Banksy.
No, beebees, just, no.
I will do anything you tellllll meeeee toooooooooo.
I had never photographed or heard of Vexta until this trip to NYC, but her work was everywhere and it was gorgeous, dark, haunting, emotive, and meaningful. I really liked her use of colour, and subject matter. And the pieces are just so provocative, you never forget them once you’ve seen them!
I found most of her work in Bushwick as part of the Bushwick Collective, but there were some pieces found in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, so just keep your eyes peeled when you’re walking around!
Post No Selfie.
Post No Bills, Give No Fucks.
Know Thy Selfie.
I Reeeally Dislike The Word ‘Artist.’
Fuck Your Phone – Keep Your Head Up!
I’m More Of An Internet Artist.
no more tears.
The Power Of Kanye Compels You.
All I See Are Naked Emperors. –Gilf
Never Let Go.
Loveless (I am not).
Black Is Beautiful – Jef Aerosol.
We’re all alone
Bound by fear
Seeking the mirage of love.
I photographed this three years ago. It seems the #FairyTalesfortheFatherless wheatpaste crew is still at it.
Sound familiar? Look to the right of this blog.
Aren’t we all.
As I’ve mentioned previously, last year Space Invader came out with an app called Flash Invaders. It turns graff-hunting into a real-life video game. You take a photograph of his work you’ve found, and the app will award you points. Get enough points, you’re in the high scores! It’s like living inside a 1980s arcade game! Anyway, I’m in the High Scores (naturally! I peaked at #25, but last time I checked, I had dropped to #50 because there are no ‘Vaders in Toronto!) and you get an extra 100-point-bonus for every new city you flash, so I was excited to go hunting in NYC considering he has put up hundreds in the city over the years (previous examples here and here). The last time he visited NYC was in 2013, but since then, people have ruthlessly cut his work off of the buildings and very few remain! Here are the ones I managed to find. I understand that there are some I have missed, so if you’ve found some recently that I’ve missed, let me know in the comments below!
‘Vader has been collaborating A LOT with Cost and Enx as of late (check out my ‘Vader post from Paris, you will all of their collabs there), and this massive piece worth 100 points on the app was in Bushwick in the heart of the Bushwick Collective area.
Space Invader does Snow White! He loves doing this big characters. From my Paris piece, you’ll remember he’s done Picasso, Mona Lisa, Robin Hood, the Pink Panther, Star Wars, and many others. This was in the Lower East Side and I had to stand in the middle of busy Manhattan traffic just to get this shot. Totally worth it.
Also, it was freezing outside, so taking my fingers out of my mitts to wield my camera was really painful and I lost feeling in my hands many times, so I hope you appreciate my dedication here!
Super Mario Brothers! If you remember the video game, Mario would get sucked into those tube-like things, so it’s funny that he placed this mosaic right underneath a tube, hahah…. not so funny that it’s next to a baggie of dog poop. I found this one just north of the Meatpacking district on the West side.
An actual ‘Vader, probably dating back a few years. This was on Bowery, and I kicked myself for missing this one so many times, as I walked up and down Bowery a gazillion times before finding it.
A 3-D ‘Vader! I had intel on this one, but then my intel got damaged and I had to throw it out (specifically, the cat I was looking after pooped on it) and I had written this one off. But then one night I was walking along the High Line (which you really should do in Winter as there’s no one on it in Winter so you have it all to yourself!) and I found it while looking at the view of the city! Totally stumbled upon it by accident, and worth 50 points too!
This one pissed me off because I had the location and intersection for this one and searched and searched for it to no avail. Until one day I decided to go a bit south of the indicated location and found it! My intel had been wrong!!! I hate it when people aren’t specific!! They had told me it was at 17th and 10th. WELL IT WASN’T.
Another one I found by accident. This was in South Williamsburg. It’s half-destroyed, but I figured it might still be flashable, as many of the ‘Vaders I found in Paris were half-destroyed but still flashable. I was right!
Oh and this sweet lil’ thang was in the Museum of Moving Images in Queens!
Check out my Space Invader category for all of his pieces that I’ve photographed from around the world!
If you’re a Torontonian, it’s almost certain you have, at some point, walked past a wall and seen the lady-faces of Anser spraypainted up on a city wall. I used to think he might live in the Dundas and Ossington area because I had found 10 pieces within one block. But I had never found his work outside of Hogtown. So this past month in NYC, I was delighted to find that he had dusted off his passport and taken the time to tag Williamsburg and Bushwick in Brooklyn!
This was in Bushwick
This kind of East Williamsburg, bordering into Bushwick.
Check out my Anser category for more of his work that I’ve photographed.
I’ve blogged many times about one of my fav street artists, Swoon, who is also one of the more successful women in the boys-only-club. DON’T PEGGY OLSEN HER, MOTHERFUCKERS.
Anyway, I found this gorgeous wheatpaste of her in Bushwick, which I think dates back to just last summer/autumn when she had an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. It’s so gorgeous, that once I took this photograph, I had the photo blown up on canvas, and now it’s hanging in my room.
Also, it was featured in the infamous SNL skit, “Bushwick, Brooklyn” from a couple of weeks ago.
Tangent: that skit is so spot on, and my life in Bushwick over the past five years has been exactly like this, a blend of raw and wild with gentrification and artist’s ghettos. After the skit aired, everyone in Bushwick was talking about it. I went to a cafe on Flushing and Bogart in Bushwick, and all the punters sitting at the counter were regaling the waitress with the facets of the skit. Also, the intersection where they’re standing in Bushwick is just up the street from the main section of the Bushwick Collective, where I spend most of my days. So I know it well. It’s not actually as busy as the skit portrays it as, but many parts of Bushwick look like that (think the intersection of Bushwick Avenue and Meserole).
Here’s another Swoon piece I found, which I like to call, “Swoon Behind Bars.”
Check out my Swoon category for more of her work that I’ve photographed around the world.
By the time you read this, I will already be out gallivanting through New York City, Brooklyn and Queens, hunting Space Invaders, Banksys, Hanksys, Swoons, and many more of my favourite street artists. I am here for a month, housesitting in the Upper West Side. I end this year the way I began it: on my own terms, and travelling. I have never been more free.
And I win.
Enjoy some of my greatest goofy 2014 hits, in GIF form!
Rolling my eyes at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof, leaving Germany for the last time.
Dancing on the streets of Bonn.
Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science, built by… uh… Stalin.
The best Klezmer band in Brussels right outside my window!
(hit the volume button on the bottom right corner of the vid)
The Berlin eyes have it.
The ghosts in Shoreditch’s windows
Art imitates life imitates art.
Guns in Copenhagen are beating like hearts.
Brick Lane street art goes largely ignored. (It says, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”)
Where’s the Space Invader?
I like to call this one, “Ew, I smell that, was that you?”
I like to call this one, “Oh is that really what you’re wearing? How… brave…”
I like to call this one, “Is that a bee or a fly?”
I like to call this one, “I just had a small stroke.”
How I talk to Cats (part 1), filmed whilst housesitting in London.
How I talk to Cats (part 2), filmed whilst housesitting in Copenhagen
How I talk to Cats (part 3), filmed whilst housesitting in Enkhuizen (the Netherlands)
Now let us go out of 2014 with a bang, just like we did in Paris…
Goodbye 2014. I hope I never see you again.
As you read this, I am on my way back to Warsaw to catch a flight out of here, so that means my delightful #Polska14 adventure has come to an end! But what an amazing journey! Three delightful cities in one week, and an immersion in Polish urbanism, history, culture, gastronomy, innovation, exchange, economy, but most of all, wonderment! On our final day in Poznan, we basically had a free day to explore at will. So after a leisure morning in my posh hotel, I went out to discover some more street art gems! The above is just a section of BLU’s mural which I found by accident. I photographed him in Berlin this summer, but finding his work isn’t always easy, so I was delighted to find it. Soon I will post much better pics, these are just snaps made from my iPad. BLU is to talented, and this mural is overwhelming.
Water cubes, anyone?
I posted pics of this little Poznan character yesterday, and he seems to be everywhere!
So goodbye for the second time Poland!
Day 3 of this Polish extravaganza was jammed packed! Refreshed from my glorious sleep in the fancy hotel, some of the delegates took a walk through Poznan’s old town. And wow, what a glorious city. Unlike Warsaw, which was totally destroyed during the war and rebuilt, Poznan has original architecture dating back centuries, and while some buildings are in a state of disrepair, I actually really like the “urban decay” look. It gives the city character. And just because something is old, doesn’t mean it has outlived its usefulness.
I love how it looks like the fountain is vomiting.
After a leisure morning, we were ushered to the convention centre to attend the POLEKO conference. When it comes to being Green, this trade fair espoused the future of innovation. I was specifically interested in the recycling sector which presented products made entirely from recycled materials…
…lathering brushes and razors…
…and artisanal chaises.
Naturally, there were some tongue in cheek pieces, like an entire dining room set made of recycled materials made to look like Sigourney Weaver’s Alien and friends…
We were treated as honoured delegates from Canada and attended a business mixer to exchange ideas and thoughts with other countries and businesses. The conference, although young, is very international, with a big German and Scandinavian presence. There were school groups and very engaging booths with a highly stylized design. And free chocolates. Good GAWD, the chocolates!
I had previously photographed what I thought were genuine Invaders in Amsterdam, but it turns out there is an Invader-imposter! I realized they were fake when I tried to flash them on the Flash Invaders app, and then some graff-friends confirmed they were bogus. So it took a lot of digging and searching, but I managed to find some of the few genuine ‘Vaders still poking about my beloved ‘Dam.
You know what really bothers me about this? I’ve been to Amsterdam six times now, and all of these ‘Vaders, I must have walked obliviously past them a gazillion times, they’re all on streets I frequent a lot. Normally I have a very keen eye for these types of things. How did I miss them?!
For example, this one was across from the English Bookshop that I go to often.
I must have sauntered past this one a bazillion times. It’s down below and on a pillar that doesn’t face the sidewalk, it’s on the edge of the street, so I probably missed it because had I walked on the street-side, I would have gotten hit by a car. I’ll let myself off the hook for this one.
This one was hard to get, it was on the other side of a bridge. I had to hang my camera-hand over the railing just to get the shot. Those are my knobby-knees in the background.
This was on the Blauwbrug, a bridge I have crossed a bazillion times. How could I have been so blind? DAMMIT ESTIMA.
Now onto Brussels. Seeing as how I lived in Brussels last year, I had already found so many ‘Vaders, but I didn’t realize how many I had missed! And what’s worse, a lot of the ‘Vaders I photographed last year were audaciously taken down, so I couldn’t flash them on the app! SACRILEGE! But at least there are still some gems to be found in my beautiful, belle Bruxelles. Behold!
I think this one is my favourite. It’s down below, it’s unblemished, it’s colourful, and I just love it.
I don’t have a smartphone, but this ‘Vader is actually a QR code that when scanned on your smartphone, reveals the locations of all the Brussels ‘Vaders. There once was 40. Now there’s only 24 left.
Again, must have walked by this one a bajillion times before I found it. FOR SHAME!
Last year I photographed many peeing ‘Vaders (Brussels has a thing about statues peeing… it’s a whole piss-thing). But I didn’t know about this one, it’s down a dead-end alley next to another one of Brussels’ pissing-commemorations… I mean, jeez.
A million times…
… and I never saw it.
I love this photograph.
The colours of the Belgian flag 🙂
This one has haunted me. I was in a car last year, someone else behind the wheel, and we sped past this one, and I tried to make a mental note of where it was, but I never found it again… until now.
And last but not least…
Yes you do.
Check out my Space Invader category for more of his work that I’ve photographed all around the world!
Thanks to the good-ol’ street art blogs, I found out while I was in Amsterdam that Persian street artists Icy and Sot were having an opening of their work near Het Spui whilst I was there. So of course I made sure to check out the show, and during my unDutchable excursions, found a whole bunch of their stencils and works across the city.
A window-dressage at Het Spui around the corner from their opening.
This gorgeous piece was right next door to the gallery.
And now, to the vernissage! The works for sale were mostly the same ones on the street.
It was really great to find their work on the back streets and narrow alleys of the city before the show. When work is on the city walls, it’s ephemeral and democratic and free for all to enjoy. At the shows, the exact same works are removed from their site-specific power and transferred to canvas, hung on taupe walls. I fully support artists putting on shows (artists need to make money just like the rest of us), I guess I just prefer the wild nature of liveable street art. In French the term “sauvage” is apropos here, and that’s the quality that really speaks to me. I guess I’m just not sure what happens to street art when it’s not on the street. What is it then?
That being said, if I had the funds, I probably would have bought the entire gallery.
Also, there was food, and I hadn’t eaten all day.
Oh don’t give me that look.
As many of you know, I’ve been photographing Laser 3.14‘s street art for well over a year now. I’ve blogged his work so much, that him and I have become friendly. Friendly enough that he even gave me the nickname “Brows” because of my infamous eyebrows (they really are the only reason people like me, let’s be honest). Every time I’m in Amsterdam, he let’s me know the locations of some of his latest works so I can go on a graff-hunt.
Here are some of his newest works to be found on the streets of my beloved Amsterdam.
The future is already haunting us
Children of the electric funk
Promises of heaven
Giving us hell
I peel off my skin
So I can reach the inner me
The drapes are drawn
Our bodies entangled
(This one is my favourite, obvi)
My favourite thing about this photograph is the shadow of the guy next to me who took a swig from his liquor bottle right as I snapped this photograph, and the shadow of him falls upon Laser’s work, giving it a level of potency, methinks.
Welcome to (my life). This was number 1.
This was number 2.
Versace never reassured me.
This was particularly potent because the street it was on had some pretty upmarket high street shops like Gucci and Ermenegildo Zegna.
The certainty of uncertainty
(this to me is like the flip side of the ol’ Death and Taxes saying)
Yours too? What are the odds!
She controls the knob
Or as I like to think of this one, “She stoops to conquer.” Har har.
Laser told me this one is actually around 3 or 4 years old, so we’re both shocked it’s still kicking around!
Check out my Laser 3.14 category so you can see all of his pieces that I’ve photographed in Amsterdam. And the next time you’re in the ‘dam, make sure you check out his work!
This is the kind of street art that makes my spirit soar. This is stencilling taken to another level!
These wheatpastes are tagged “levalet.” Why does that name sound familiar to me? Lil’ help?
These paintings were hung inside Le Musée des années 30 (The 1930s museum, which was free the day I went because all national museums are free on the first Sunday of the month). I stared and stared at these paintings. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them.
I took this photo on my last night in Paris. I wasn’t staying far from L’Arc de Triomphe, so I hopped on a Vélib, cycled over, sat on a concrete barrier, and watched the sunset behind the alabaster stones and racing roundabout. It was a hot evening, and I am better for it.
Check out my C215 category for more of his work that I’ve photographed around the world!
As many of my readers know, I have been fortunate enough to photograph JR‘s work and his Inside Out Project in cities all over the world (so far, I’ve snapped him in NYC, Toronto, Berlin, London, Paris, and counting! Last year, I was even lucky enough to meet him! When I found out he had a temporary exhibition inside the Panthéon, the most popular secular temple in Paris, where great minds and activists have longed to be buried to throw off the shackles of religion, even in death, I knew it was worth the price of admission.
I’m just going to let the photographs speak for themselves.
HAHA, look at her face.
You should check out my JR Category for more of his pieces that I’ve photographed all over the world.
And of course, check out my Inside Out category. So many great portraits, changing the world.
While in the Panthéon, you have to check out the crypt in the creepy, dank cellar. It’s where the you’ll find the tombs of many of history’s great thinkers. This here is the final resting places of Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas (Les Miserables and The Count of Monte Cristo, respectively). Remember last year in Paris when I found the spot where Victor Hugo witnessed the June Uprising, which in turn inspired Les Miserables?
I also found Zola’s home last year.
Yup, you are looking at the graves of Marie Curie and Pierre Curie. DON’T TOUCH THEM, YOU’LL GET RADIATION POISONING! Hahaha, kidding! (Not kidding).
Bless you, Voltaire. Also, have you seen Voltaire? Dude is a silver fox.
This above and below is by Seth aka Globepainter, near Rue Mouffetard coming down from Place Contrescarpe. I love how expressive and bold they are, with the thick lines and rounded curves. And the childlike enthusiasm.
And the disappearing into walls…
Ha! Look at this slug trying to be a repairman! I think my favourite detail is the tool belt. I found this near Abesses metro station.
Nina Simone by Miss Me. The first time I found a Miss Me was in Montreal, but I also found her work in Berlin when I was living there this summer. She’s also in Paris! Good for her! Canadians are taking over the planet, just you wait. I found this in the hilly staircases of Montmartre.
TYPEWRITER PORNOGRAPHY. by WRDSMITH
J’ai demandé à la lune….
I suspect the artist behind this carebear piece is the same artist behind The Kiss (pixelated) that I blogged about last week.
The following, including this one, were all found on Rue Denoyez. The last time I blogged from Rue denoyez was 2 years ago, and this time the experience was much less enjoyable, because of all the disgusting sexual harassment that happens in the Belleville area. I literally had to run in, photograph, and run out. I was being hounded at every corner. Seriously Paris, fuck you. Do something about your sexual harassment problem.
Arbeit Macht Lazy, huh?
There was no artist name next to this one, anyone know who’s behind this? It’s great, wasn’t far from the Victor Hugo museum…
Ha ha ha.
It’s an animal menagerie at Porte de Vanves.
Check out my Paris category for all the wonderfully cool finds I’ve photographed over the years, from street art to writer-hangouts to relics of the past, and everything in between.
Everyone knows Tanya Chalkin’s famous photograph, The Kiss. Someone in Paris has taken it upon themselves to create the mosaic-pixel version of this near Etienne-Marcel.
This is not a Space Invader, although it bears some of his hallmarks. For one, the women have been updated with Video Game attire.
I don’t know who’s behind this piece of art, but if you do, please let me know in the comments below!