Vienna Feature


Jugendstil Jewels: Vienna's Art Nouveau

From 1897 to 1907, the Vienna Secession movement gave rise to one of the most spectacular manifestations of the pan-European style known as art nouveau. Viennese took to calling the look Jugendstil, or the "young style." In such dazzling edifices as Otto Wagner's Wienzeile majolica-adorned mansion, Jugendstil architects rebelled against the prevailing 19th-century historicism that had created so many imitation Renaissance town houses and faux Grecian temples. Josef Maria Olbrich, Josef Hoffman, and Otto Schönthal took William Morris's Arts and Crafts movement, added dashes of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and flat-surface Germanic geometry, and came up with a luxurious style that shocked turn-of-the-20th century Viennese traditionalists (and infuriated Emperor Franz Josef). Many artists united to form the Vienna Secession—whose most famous member was painter Gustav Klimt—and the Wiener Werkstätte, which transformed the objects of daily life with a sleek modern look. Today Jugendstil buildings are among the most fascinating structures in Vienna. The shrine of the movement is the Secession Building.

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