by Indigo Szubelak

A Brief History

Austria is a small country bordering on Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Czech Republic , Liechtenstein, and Hungary in Europe. Its capital is Vienna, and as a reference, this country is slightly smaller than Maine. About 90% of the population speaks German and the ethnicity of the groups within Austria range from people of all its bordering countries as well as Bosnians, Serbs and several others. Austria has a well-developed economy and a high standard of living. Their economy is very close to others in the European Union especially Germany’s. Because Austria borders so many different cultures, the culture of Austria itself varies by province. Another huge influence on the different cultures is the Alps that make up 62% of the country. About 65% of the population is urban and the culture varies between the city dwellers and mountainous people.
The architecture throughout Austrian cities displays a combination of religious importance with worldly views. The Austrian architects developed a unique national style that features irregular outlines, bold and delicate colors, and rich ornamentation.
All Austrian children are allowed free schooling and transportation to and from school as well as free textbooks. Their educational system is considered one of the best in the world and Austria has a literacy success rate of 99%. The goals of their elementary students include raising the children “to reflect the Austrian community spirit of peace and compromise as means of resolving conflict. They are taught to respect others and to appreciate the arts, their beautiful environment, and their heritage.”

Artist Profile - De Esde-es-schwertberger-4.jpg

Dieter Schwertberger, most commonly known as De Es, was born in Gresten, Lower-Austria. He graduated from the Engineering School of Vienna then closely followed a painter, Professor Fuchs, from the Vienna Academy. De Es is considered a fundamental character in the Fantastic Art movement. He spent twelve years of his life working in New York, but has moved back to Austria and continued to live there since 1986. His works are most widely known for both quality and for the variety of styles and periods that he paints. The works that De Es spends most of his time on are works that are impressionistic and more abstract than his early works.
De Es considers himself to be a seeker and much of his work was inspired by the different themes of man including: "man is a dreamer," "man is a beast," "...mystery," "...on a stage," "...a puppet," "...a robot," "...a split being (in reference to the Berlin Wall)," and "man is empty." Many of his paintings such as the one shown at the left included stone because the strength of stone was able to communicate for him the fact that man is in a constant struggle to fulfill the desire to be strong and live forever. In the 1980s, De Es painted a cycle of about 100 paintings dealing with light which he called "The Light of Life" paintings which were inspired by the "Dome of Peace" theme that was going on during that time. Schwertberger went through many different stages in his artistic career and in the 2000s he has been focusing more in streaming energy, moving figures, the decision of straight lines versus curved flow, the struggle for strength and content, and he's been trying to spread out and gain depth. Below is an example of the works he's been doing of late.

Art Organization - Museum der Moderne

Museum der Moderne is located in Salzburg, Austria. The building that this museum occupies was built in 1350 and originally used as a training location for new priests. The building was not actually turned into a museum until 1984. The Museum der Moderne offers workshops for school-aged children to teach them about art. Students are encouraged to make specific observations from the art and from there many discussions take place for educating the students.The Museum allows children to work in a mini studio. This is a painting opportunity for children ages 3-5 where they can learn some artistic processes at a very young age. The older children from ages 6-9 have the opportunity to express their creativity using sponges, rollers, pencils, glue and many other instruments to individualize their creations.

The Museum der Moderne spends most of its exhibition space in the display of 20th and 21st century art. It has also begun to display creations from the Austrian Gallery of Photography. It is a very new and contemporary museum, and seen there is mostly products of painting, sculpture, and graphics. Large collection areas are dedicated to the arts that were being created between war times.

Teachers Education

The Austrian academic system is very different from that of the United States. When a student reaches eighth grade, the student and parents decide what area of specialty that student should enter. The student then goes to a specialized secondary school to meet the needs required for their future career. Beginning with the requirements for kindergarten teachers in Austria, the student and parents in eighth grade decide the student is to become a kindergarten teacher. That student will then attend a secondary school where they become certified over four years to be a kindergarten teacher. This is the equivalent of graduating high school in the United States.
The upper levels of teaching are similar to the United States in that the teachers must obtain the equivalent of a Bachelor’s of Education to become a teacher. During this university study, the teachers become very specialized in their fields. The students are required to take arts courses until at least their 3rd year, or junior year, of high school. They are then taught by specially trained art teachers. The way that their education system is set up with the students specializing at such a young age, the teachers are also trained thoroughly in their areas of expertise. There is no arts integration that takes place, and even the teachers in elementary do not get involved in teaching the arts. The children, from a very young age, are sent to a separate teacher to learn the arts.

Finances for Education

Austria requires children to go to school for a minimum of nine years. The education is free, even the universities are free, for Austrian natives. The government tries to influence the people to live up to a certain standard of living, and parents are given a check every month depending on the number of children they have to provide for their children. There are some private schools and they are all funded by the Roman Catholic Church. The reason Austria offers free education goes back to World War II when the elites were characterized by their level of education. The government wanted to try and even the playing field so they took away the cost of education to give the rich and poor the opportunity to succeed in a career because they all had the same level of education.


I really enjoyed studying Austria and their different form of education. I gathered that an Austrian primary education is equivalent in the United States as elementary and junior high schools. The real difference and surprise that I came across was the difference of secondary school. I can't imagine having my parents, and partially myself, choose what area of study I should go into in order to get to a certain career at only the level of eighth grade. I probably would've picked a business school if I were to have picked in eighth grade because my dad is involved in sales, but I'm actually terrible with business concepts and never would have guessed medicine was where I would want to work. I think this is a really great concept for education in that not as much time is wasted on classes that you won't need to know a lot about for your career, but I also see a definite downside because parental influence plays to much of a factor.

Another surprise I ran into while studying Austria was their lack of specialized arts education. The culture of Austria is very much appreciative of the arts and their architecture is amazing, but art doesn't seem to be highly valued in their schools. There is a requirement to take art classes, but upon discussion with an Austrian student, I learned that these are just simple crafts projects or tours of museums. The touring that takes place in the classes is important to learn about the past, but the school systems don't seem to be looking at the future of arts in their society.

I think its awesome that the Austrian government provides free schooling to all Austrian students. I'm sure its not as smooth as it sounds, but its a great concept to give all hard working students the same opportunity regardless of the income of their family. It seems like a good way to lessen the gap between the rich and the poor.