After the Vienna city walls were dismantled, the buildings on the stately boulevard that was constructed in its place around the inner city became status symbols for the nobility and grande bourgeoisie.
Many Jewish industrialists and bankers, who had contributed to the economic boom in the Gründerzeit and were active as collectors and patrons of the arts, built magnificent residences on the Ring. In contrast to the splendor of the Ringstrasse façades, social problems and increasing political radicalization emerged as a concomitant to the massive economic and social changes in Vienna in the late 19th century.
The lower middle classes were the classic losers in this modernization process and were thus highly receptive to politically incited anti-Semitism, which did not stop at exploiting stereotypes such as the “poor ragged Ostjude,” the “socialist Jewish firebrand,” or the “capitalist Jewish banker.”
The exhibition looks at the light and dark sides of the Ringstrasse era, the social rise of a small Jewish elite, the daily struggle for survival of the masses of Jews, and the political exploitation of anti-Semitism and its consequences.
Curators: Gabriele Kohlbauer-Fritz; Sabine Bergler
Architecture und Graphics: bindermayer. Büro für Raumkonzepte