Vienna’s almost insouciant blending of modern and historical is aptly expressed at the city’s Le Méridien Vienna. Its classic, haute imperial exterior opens into a sleek and contemporary lobby that could easily do double duty as one of Vienna’s many ultra-modern art spaces. This unusual juxtaposition of old and new formed the ideal backdrop for the latest Outset Le Méridien Talk Series that was held during September’s VIENNAFAIR, the city’s annual contemporary art fair.

Given the role of photography and its derivative forms in recent current affairs, the weighty topic – ‘Truth or lies? Aesthetic and Documentary Strategies in Contemporary Culture’ – was the basis for a timely panel discussion. The debate was chaired by Christian Holler, editor of the contemporary art magazine, Springerin, and it brought to the stage a powerhouse panel that included the artists Anne Hardy and David Rych, alongside Sabine Folie, artistic and managing director of the Generali Foundation in Vienna, and Jeanette Pacher, curator at the Secession gallery.

For the audience, a lively cross section of Vienna’s art mavens and hipsters, it was a chance to segue from the day’s gallery viewings to participate in an intense and often provocative discussion about how individual realities are constructed in an age flooded with information.

Later, guests enjoyed cocktails and canapés prepared by Le Méridien’s crack food and beverage team. For many, this was also a golden opportunity to tour the hotel’s extensive, quirky art collection scattered throughout the public corridors, spaces and lobby. A highlight of the collection was the dazzling chandelier comprised of 300 illy art espresso cups, designed by celebrated artists including Julian Schnabel, David Byrne, Francis Ford Coppola and :mentalKLINIK, an LM100™ member.

An unforgettable satellite event was Anne Hardy’s moving solo show, alongside the presentation of her new monograph, at Secession, Le Méridien Vienna’s Unlock Art partner. For Le Méridien, it was a perfect expression of its support for the arts and Hardy’s unique visual language. The new monograph, in particular, was designed in close collaboration with London graphics team Åbäke.

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