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Views & Reviews Review of the Week

City on the verge of a nervous breakdown

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 07 April 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1422
  1. Trevor Jackson, magazine editor, BMJ
  1. tjackson{at}

    An exhibition looking at the relations between mental illness and art and architecture in Vienna in the early 1900s impresses Trevor Jackson

    Vienna in 1900 was one of the most conservative cities in the Western world. It was also the home of Sigmund Freud, the artists Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, and Max Oppenheimer, the architects Adolf Loos and Otto Wagner, the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, the writer Robert Musil, and the composers Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, and Arnold Schoenberg. The city that was the capital of the crumbling Hapsburg empire was also a centre of radical innovation and was on the brink of far reaching social and cultural changes that would usher in a new sense of modernity.

    The Wellcome Collection’s latest exhibition is an ambitious and impressive venture that looks at the interaction between madness and Viennese radicalism in art and architecture—at how creativity and mental difficulty shared the same space—and at the belief that modern architecture could transform people’s lives. Vienna in …

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