The Werner-Berg-Museum offers a representative overview of the lifetime work of the artist Werner Berg (1904-1981), born in Wuppertal Elberfeld, later settling down on Rutar’s farm in Lower Carinthia in 1931, in order to spend more time with his family as a farmer and artist. His work, with its roots in German expressionism, serves as a unique documentation of the place of his residence in Lower Carinthia. The museum is housed in a centuries old building at the Main Market in Bleiburg (Hauptplatz), whose expressively revitalised basic structure provides for the perfect placement of his works of art. A very successful symbiosis between the modern stylistic elements and the historic structure of the building itself makes a visit to the museum a very special architectural experience.
Werner Berg was born on 11th April 1904 in Elberfeld, today a part of the German city of Wuppertal. After having completed his studies of Political Science in Vienna, and Art at the Academies in Vienna and Munich, he settled on the Rutarhof in south-eastern Carinthia in 1931. The remote farmhouse, situated high above the River Drau, became the setting for a remarkable symbiosis of art and life. Here the artist worked under at times precarious conditions, as an artist and a farmer until his death in 1981.
He was an outsider to the Austrian art scene of the 20th century. Central to his artistic work are the landscape and people of his adopted "second home" of Lower Carinthia, observed with the objectivity of a stranger and the intensity of a lover.
With his work he has given the province of Carinthia a unique document. As well as being of high artisitic merit, it is simultaneously a chronicle of life in a pre-industrial age, one which the artist strived after but which today is mere history.
To mark the fiftieth anniversary of its foundation, the Werner Berg Museum in Bleiburg/Pliberk will exhibit Werner Berg’s most comprehensive retrospective to date. All major works from his oeuvre, originally selected for exhibition in the museum by the artist himself, will be presented in the entire museum space alongside many works on loan for the first time. For the connoisseur, the anniversary exhibition of 2018 will be a unique opportunity to ascertain the depth and complexity of paintings by the Rutarhof artist. An impressive oeuvre, depicting the landscape and people of Southern Carinthia in an incomparable way, will reveal itself to all visitors.
In 1931 the 27 year-old artist, who held a doctorate in political science, moved with his family to a small mountain farm above the river Drau, near the Annabrücke (Anna-bridge). Over the course of 50 years he led an exemplary life, characterised by uniting art and the way of life of a painter with that of a farmer on this very farm, the Rutarhof. In 1968, on the initiative of gingerbread maker Gottfried Stöckl and with the lifelong, active support by town councillor Valentin Vauti, a communally owned building on the main square was established as a permanent home to a high calibre selection of Werner Berg’s paintings and woodcuts. In the following decades, the building has been continually extended with much architectural sensitivity.
Besides its offering an opportunity to acquaint oneself with Werner Berg’s work in all its different aspects, the museum has also attained prominence far beyond the borders of Carinthia by special exhibitions of artists such as Emil Nolde and Gottfried Helnwein. The design of façades of the buildings on the main square with large-scale motifs from Werner Berg’s woodcuts will further impressively move the museum into the public space in 2018.
This year, the work of Helmut Machammer (* 1962 in Kalwang) will be exhibited in the sculpture garden. He primarily works with marble, mainly ‘Krastaler’ marble found in his adopted home of Carinthia.
Free audio-guides in German, Slovene, English and Italian. Guided tours on request on Sundays after 11 am.
It is a special concern of the Museum to make art accessible to children. There are audio-guides, designed and spoken by children, for children, a children’s book on Werner Berg, published in 2018, and museum tours for children and creative workshops, offering the opportunity to print woodcuts. All of these make a visit to the museum an exciting experience even for our youngest visitors.