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1st Verdict on Gurlitt art

German prosecutors have announced that Cornelius Gurlitt rightfully owns several hundred paintings of the recently discovered Munich treasure trove of art. Until they were confiscated in February 2012, Gurlitt lived in solitude amongst the 1,406 masterworks. Including paintings by Picasso, Chagall and Matisse, 970 of the paintings are still under investigation to establish provenance. Experts […]

A Ballroom Reborn

A Ballroom Reborn

On 16 August, 2001 a fire broke out on Marxergasse in Vienna’s 3rd District. Allegedly caused by a careless workman, the flames raged for eight hours. Only when the smoke cleared could the damage be assessed: The legendary Sofiensäle, once Vienna’s most beloved ballroom, was a smouldering ruin.   Bath to ballroom The story of […]

New World Rebels at the Imperial Court

New World Rebels at the Imperial Court

When they met, Austria was a giant empire encountering a dwarf-like distant colony, barely independent and without many allies. Much has changed over the past 175 years.  As the U.S. Congress appointed William Lee in 1777 to be America’s first diplomatic representative to the Austrian-Hungarian court, imperial diplomats declined to recognise an upstart young nation […]

Alpbach 2013: A Meeting of Minds

Alpbach 2013:  A Meeting of Minds

Slate-grey, dramatic storm clouds frame the ragged mountain backdrop. They fill the horizon and are also reflected in the funnel-shaped, ceiling-to-floor glass wall that plunges below a wide, paved terrace, where scores of smartly-dressed people mingle in the lively murmur of conversation between two sessions of the European Forum Alpbach (EFA).  Now in its 68th year, the […]

Out of Sync

Out of Sync

With all the rave reviews, the film Brokeback Mountain had been a must-see when I finally caught a German-language version in a Vienna cinema. A German-dubbed western is an unsettling experience. Phrases like “I reckon”, and “I just can’t quit you!” spoken in lazy western drawls are more than lost in translation; they are just […]

Kim Dotcom: Privacy & the Abyss

Kim Dotcom: Privacy & the Abyss

A large Predator statue looms, its legs spread wide, one heavily armoured silver arm in the air. Across the room, a plastic female face looks out blankly from a chequered bed, each of its eyes bigger than a human head. By the door, wrapped in plastic, lie millions of US dollars in cash. These are […]

Book Review: The Tale of Jozef Tiso: Priest, Politician, Collaborator

Book Review: The Tale of Jozef Tiso: Priest, Politician, Collaborator

While the tumultuous years from 1914-1945 are surely the most researched, and written-about in modern history, the story of the priest-turned-president Jozef Tiso and the fascist Slovak Republic he presided over has been inaccessible to the Anglophone world. But no longer. With the publication of James Mace Ward’s Priest, Politician, Collaborator: Jozef Tiso and the […]

After World War II: Finding Where I Belong

After World War II: Finding Where I Belong

The eye changes over time: Looking back now 50 years on the manners, conventions, look and style of the 1950s feel like a foreign land: familiar, but very far away. This is the world of Where I Belong, the first feature length film written and directed by Austrian filmmaker Fritz Urschitz. Set in a small […]

The Cultural Exception

The Cultural Exception

Feelings are running high about the US-EU Trade Talks that are scheduled to begin in July in Washington. “The US-EU relationship is the largest in the world – it makes up almost half of global GDP,” American President Barack Obama said at the G8 Summit in Ireland in late June. “This potentially ground-breaking partnership would […]

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