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Jugendstil in Vienna, Austria

<c> Gerhard Stappen <2001>

The words "Art Nouveau" mean new art or modern style but this late nineteenth-early twentieth century movement was mainly a style of decor and architecture, although elements of Art Nouveau can also be seen in painting and sculpture. Most popular in Belgium and England, it was known in Germany and Austria as "Jugendstil" and in Italy as "Stile Liberty" or "Stile florale". It featured floral or plant-like decorative elements, often stylish figures and flat patterns of writhing vegetable forms.

Art Nouveau received its German name (the "Youth Style") from "Die Jugend" (Youth), a magazine in the vanguard of art that propagated the new fashion. In Vienna, Gustav Klimt and others left the traditionalists guild of fine artists in 1897 and founded their own association, "Secession".

Crowning element of the Secession Building
1898 by Joseph Maria Olbrich
It is based on a sketch by Klimt and inscribed with the slogan "Der Zeit Ihre Kunst. Der Kunst Ihre Freiheit." (Time shall have its Art. Art its Freedom.)

Because the Jugendstil was so prominent in Vienna, it is easy to find many architectural features in the Jugendstil style. The architect Otto Wagner soon put his stamp on architectural Vienna, achieving a breakthrough for the new style with the new Stadtbahn (metropolitan railway) built 1893-1901 in the style of Jugendstil.

Karlsplatz Stadtbahn Pavilion
1898-99 by Otto Wagner

Public clock in the Karlsplatz Stadtbahn Pavilion

Otto Wagner's Stadtbahn Bridge crossing the Wien river is topped by a pedestrian bridge

Gersthof Stadtbahn Pavilion
1896 by Otto Wagner

Today it is part of Vienna's S-Bahn system (suburban railway)

The Kaiser Pavilion was a personal Stadtbahn station for Kaiser Franz Joseph near his summer residence Schönbrunn

The imperial style is untypical for Wagner but was a concession to the emperor's taste (However, the pavilion was never used by Kaiser Franz Joseph)

The Stadtpark Stadtbahn Station is used as subway station today

Otto Wagner (1841-1918) is considered the most renowned Jugendstil architect during this period. He realized the modern picture of imperial Vienna. The uniqueness of his creation and of his value reside in the way he was able to combine his artistic talent with his technical and engineering knowledge. In his designs and buildings Wagner added rational and functional elements to the aesthetic ones. He reduced the romantic character of the Jugendstil to objective forms, but without giving up decorative and graphic elements, which were organically integrated into his utilitarian buildings, emphasizing certain construction elements. Many of his buildings, railway bridges, and Stadtbahn pavilions are still in use today and can be found literally everywhere in the city of Vienna.

Majolika Building
Apartment Block Linke Wienzeile No. 40
1898-99 by Otto Wagner

Medallion Building
Apartment Block Linke Wienzeile No. 38
1899 by Otto Wagner

The floral display crafted from tiles set into the facade was designed by turn-of-the-century Secessionist Koloman Moser

Wagner Villa I
1886-88 by Otto Wagner

Wagner Villa II
Wagner's tendency to reduce the style of Jugendstil to functional forms in his later years is obvious
1912-13 by Otto Wagner

Postsparkasse (Postal Savings Bank)
1903-06 by Otto Wagner

The Schützenhaus is situated on Vienna's Danube Canal and was constructed to control the system of locks. The lockkeeper was also meant to live here.
1906-07 by Otto Wagner

St. Leopold Church am Steinhof
This Jugendstil jewel is currently undergoing an Euro 11.6 Mio. renovation, which is supposed to be completed in August 2005
1902-07 by Otto Wagner


Detail of the recently renovated facade

All photos presented here were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 880.


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