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VIENNA - AN ARTISTIC RENEWAL
1908: Gustav Klimt and his Secessionist associates work with Josef Hoffmann and his avant-garde designer contemporaries to stage an historic exhibition, Die Kunstschau, in Vienna. A generation of creative spirits had, through the preceding decade, established the city's credentials as a centre of artistic activity of international stature and relevance. One full century on, we celebrate the Kunstschau exhibition as a defining moment in the flowering of a revitalised, multi-faceted creativity in this city.
The Viennese avant-garde embraced the Secessionists, who founded their break-away exhibition society in 1897 under the presidency of Gustav Klimt, and the Wiener Werkstatte, an artisan co-operative set up in 1903 by Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser under the patronage of Fritz Wärndorfer. Against a culturally rich backdrop of musical, literary and other intellectual originality - for this was the city of Gustav Mahler, Arthur Schnitzler and Sigmund Freud - these artists, architects and designers shared an ambitious vision. They sought nothing less than a comprehensive synthesis of the arts. The Palais Stoclet project, a private commission initiated in 1905, seamlessly distilled their ideal of modern design rigour allied with the expressive and mystical. Here, Klimt's sumptuous and highly-charged mosaic murals were perfectly integrated within a clean-lined, yet grand and exquisitely considered architecture.
The Kunstschau was an important public exposition of the realisation of these ambitions - fine and so-called applied arts harmoniously integrated in a display that became a reference point for the Viennese artistic spirit in the early years of a new century. The following 18 lots, focusing on the power of line, principally through works in silver, provide a telling insight into the sensibilities that drew international acclaim a century ago to Vienna's brilliant artistic community.
Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, Volume XXIII, October 1908-March 1909 (design illustrated)
Museum Villa Stuck, Franz Metzner: ein Bildhauer der Jahrhundertwende in Berlin-Wien-Prag-Leipzig, Munich, 1977 (design illustrated)
Mazzotta (ed.), Le Arti a Vienna dalla Secessione alla Caduta dell'Impero Asburgico, Venezia Palazzo Grassi, 1984, p. 71 and p. 572
Vienna Kunstschau, 1908 (plaster original exhibited)