It’s a rare thing for us to visit a town without finding a bookshop or two to hang out in. The only one I came upon in Graz was closed when I went by. In Vienna we were particularly taken with the Walther König bookshop. I hadn’t heard of this chain before – they are in galleries around Europe, including a couple in London, I discover.
We went to the Museumsquartier in order to view the Schiele and Klimt holdings at the Leopold Museum, only to discover that it is closed on Tuesdays. It was a splendid second prize to walk into this bookshop. It’s very large but not impersonal. I’m used to the way in which secondhand bookshops grow, organically, if not higgledly-piggledy. Here it felt designed, in a good way. Lots of different categories merged into the idea of art. There are critical works and fiction. There is landscape gardening and books like The Architecture of Trees. There is design, including interior, and fashion and craft. Photography, of course. Graphic novels. Fascinating books on architecture and urban planning.
The book I would have loved to buy was Schiele: All paintings 1909-1918. But it cost 150 Euros and that’s without adding in excess luggage as it weighed kilograms. Still, an extravagant and beautiful book I could come back to. I’m not sure if it was the beginning of the internet, or simply cheaper ways to produce excellent art books, but the bottom fell out of the market for secondhand ones in the mid-nineties or so. Despite being well aware of that, I was nonetheless taken aback to see so many beautiful art books yesterday at such heavily discounted prices. For example, for a mere 15 Euros one could buy Dancing Around the Bride. An interesting looking publication in a unique format.
Instead I ended up with a small book on Schiele, text in English, and a John Berger I haven’t come across before: Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance. I look forward to visiting this bookshop again, we must go back to Vienna.