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“Vienna on the Path to Modernism” at The National Museum of Art, Osaka, is essentially an illustrated history of sociopolitical developments leading to the city flourishing as one of the world’s great cultural centers from the mid-18th century. The principal chronology begins with the Viennese Enlightenment, followed by the Biedermeier period (1815-48), then the Grunderzeit phase of the mid-19th century. The Viennese modernist path terminates with a smattering of expressionist paintings among the 300 exhibits.

Eighteenth-century Enlightenment values were received in Vienna by absolutist monarchs as a means to effective state governance. Public schools were reformed, new technologies emerged, like that seen in the 1784 print “Johann Stuwer’s Hot Air Balloon in the Prater,” and institutions such as Vienna’s main general hospital were inaugurated.

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