Above/featured: Modernism at Steinhof Church: building by Otto Wagner, angels by Othmar Schimkowitz, stained glass by Koloman Moser (HL).
Vienna is as much a present-day cultural capital city as she was for decades and centuries. Many will get a peek and taste of long-established aspects of the city by walking the streets of the Old Town for the atmosphere, chatting in cozy cafés with coffee and cake for the ambience, and swaying to the rhythms of the waltz under the spell of the (blue) Danube.
The early years of the 20th-century were troubled by greater calls for more autonomy from multiple ethnic groups within the patchwork of the Austro-Hungarian empire, by destruction and loss of life from The Great War (World War I), and by subsequent dissolution of the Empire. The capital city became an open theatre for socioeconomic and political changes across all class divisions within an environment where rebellion and revolution were the big talking points against the dogma of long-held traditions. Deep longing for the stability of the old and familiar mingled with equally enthusiastic desire for the radical of the new and mysterious.
Many in the arts, design, and cultural scene were questioning the excessive persistence of past styles, and were seeking something new to better represent changes happening all around them in Vienna. In 1897, a group of artists and architects resigned from the established Künstlerhaus to form the Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs (Union of Austrian Artists), known also as the Vienna Secession. Architecture moved towards a sharper focus to geometry and abstraction, and art flowed to the decorative with organic floral-like designs in the Jugendstil, Art Nouveau’s chapter in German-speaking lands. To promote their new ideas, the Secession group produced an official magazine called Ver Sacrum (“sacred spring” in Latin, 1898) and constructed the Secession building (1897) as an exhibition hall to display their work. The Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops) was created in 1903 as an association of artists whose thinking and applied arts creations were a precursor to the Bauhaus movement. Members of the Werkstätte worked with Vienna’s architects to broaden and unite the various concepts for a complete artwork, or Gesamtkunstwerk, as applied to a living space: the house, its rooms and furnishings, the interplay of light and space, and the tools and utensils for every day aspects of living.
Some of the key figures and influencers of the city’s “new modernism” in the art, design, and architectural scene include:
- Josef Hoffmann,
- Gustav Klimt,
- Oscar Kokoschka,
- Max Kurzweil,
- Adolf Loos,
- Carl Moll,
- Koloman Moser,
- Joseph Maria Olbrich,
- Egon Schiele,
- Othmar Schimkowitz, and
- Otto Wagner.
Some of their work from various locations in Vienna are highlighted below. From the list above, four died in 1918: Klimt on February 6, Wagner on April 11, Moser on October 18, and Schiele on October 31. In the centenary of their deaths, Vienna has marked all of 2018 as the year of Vienna Modernism (Wiener Moderne).
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ABOVE: “Amants” (1895), poster for actress Sarah Bernhardt and her Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris. Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg – 5 Dec 2015 (HL).
One of my favourite artists from the Art Nouveau period is Czech artist Alfons Mucha (“MOOTZ’kha”). He loved strong women, or at the very least, he loved drawing and painting images of strong women, from the unique perspectives of a professional nature (above, Sarah Bernhardt) and a personal nature (below, “The Slav Epic”). I also associate Mucha with Prague, and it’s fitting the Mucha Museum prominently features his 1911 painting of “Princess Hyacinth.”
“Princezna Hyacinta” (Princess Hyacinth, 1911). Mucha Museum, 31 July 2013 (HL).
I made all of the photos above in July 2013 and December 2015. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-8S5.