Church of Ruined Modernity

Minoritenkloster and Minoritenzentrum Graz
Mariahilferplatz 3
8020 Graz (partly  ♿)
​→  Google maps

Tue–Sun 11:00–19:00
(22.9. and 23.9., open until 22:00)
Free admission thanks to AK Steiermark

Note: Of the four exhibition rooms, the attic and Franziskussaal are not wheelchair-accessible. In addition, the attic can only be entered with flat shoes.

Down by the Mur River, at the beginning of what was the Murvorstadt, the ensemble of Minoriten Monastery and Mariahilfer Church embody the power and splendor of the Church and the support it finds in the architectural styles of the late Renaissance and the Baroque. They were built as donations to house Conventual Franciscans, who still occupy the building. Beginning in the 1960s, the friary also became a venue for exhibitions and a place of encounters between religion and modern art.

One of the artists featured early in the monastery’s history as an exhibition venue was Mira Schendel (1919–1988), an abstract painter and graphic artist living in Brazil. It was one of her first European exhibitions. Born in Switzerland into a Catholic family of Jewish origins, she spent World War II in occupied Europe, first in Italy and then in Yugoslavia, where she managed to evade persecution under the Nazi racial laws.

Interestingly, Schendel had visited Graz before. In 1944, she took a risky train journey from Sarajevo (then Croatia) to Graz, where she received her Croatian immigration passport. In 1949, Schendel left Europe for Brazil, where she would become famous for her Neo-Concrete graphics and sculpture. Inspired by her phantom presence, the monastery now becomes a Church of Ruined Modernity—representing the continent Schendel left behind.