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'Everybody knows that a child gets into everything' wrote Moser in 1916. 'When he sees something, he learns it immediately. In just this way I learned from the most diverse masters: I bound books, built rabbit hutches, sewed clothes, learned how to cut wood on a lathe and, from the gardener, I learned how to create the most wonderful flower arrangements. Then it was an entertaining and charming game which later became a decisively important element and which made me feel at home in the field of the applied arts' ("Mein Werdegang", in Velhagen und Klasings Monatshefte, n.10, 1916, p. 9, transl. J. Van de Grift).
Through his multifarious activities - painter, furniture and fashion designer, jewellery creator, interior decorator, and teacher at the Wiener Werkstätte from 1903 to 1907 - Moser became the leader of the cosmopolitan movement, completely transforming the cultural panorama of fin-de-siècle Vienna. The principles of Secessionist artistic renewal - the total fusion of life and art, the search for the Wagnerian ideal of the Gesamtkunstwerk - occupied the core of Moser's vision.
Following his resignation from the Wiener Werkstätte in 1907, and the birth of his first child, Moser began to limit his activities, concentrating much of his energies for the few remaining years of his short life on painting. Amongst the myriad cross-currents of influence in the Middle European avant-garde, his close friendships with Gustav Klimt and, later, Ferdinand Hodler left their mark on Moser's painting style. And although a number of critics at the time were reluctant to accept Moser's new direction as a painter above all his other skills, recognition soon followed his first public show of paintings in 1911 at the Galerie Miethke in Vienna.
The following five works, originally acquired in Vienna in the 1920s and unseen in public over the intervening years, display the breadth of Moser's painted art, from landscape and flower still-lifes through to large-scale figurative composition.
PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF EVELYN R. PRESS, SAN FRANCISCO