There are three letters that only a few can really imagine – and yet they are on everyone’s lips: “NFT”. This is the short form of the “Non Fungible Token”, the current biggest trend in blockchain technology and art combined. And it is precisely this trend that is taking the Austrian art world by storm: After the Belvedere caused a sensation with the unique NFT version of Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss”, the Leopold Museum in Vienna’s Museumsquartier (MQ) is going one better!
The Leopold Museum has entered into a cooperation with the NFT platform “LaCollection” and the Austrian Post and has published its first NFT collection. “The pandemic has led to a rapid acceleration of digitization processes in the art world and made NFTs an integral part of many established, traditional art collections,” explained Wipplinger.
“NFTs of Schiele’s artworks not only enable us to permanently preserve the museum’s treasures in the digital world, but also to get in touch with people who we have not been able to reach with our museum in Vienna before,” says Wipplinger.
Among the Schiele NFTs is an early work by Egon Schiele that is of particular importance: the painting “Leopold Czihaczek at the Piano”, which will be on permanent loan to the Leopold Museum in the future. This was considered lost for a long time and has now been rediscovered after more than 100 years – a sensation!
The painting shows Egon Schiele’s uncle and guardian, Leopold Czihaczek (1842-1929), playing the piano. Czihaczek received the picture, presumably a commissioned work, directly from his nephew and ward Egon Schiele. Schiele portrayed his uncle several times in 1907 and 1908. After the early death of Egon’s father Adolf Schiele (1850-1905), Czihaczek, who was married to Marie – one of his father’s sisters – took over the guardianship of Egon Schiele in 1906. The official Leopold Czihaczek was Ministerialrat and chief inspector of the Kaiser Ferdinands-Nordbahn of the kk Austrian state railways. In his apartment on Zirkusgasse in Vienna’s Leopoldstadt district there was a large music room with two pianos, as Otto Kunst reported in the article Egon Schiele and his aunt in the daily newspaper Der Wiener Tag of March 21, 1937.