Viennese Jugendstil

Break of Tradition and Art: The Art Nouveau in Vienna

Art Nouveau facade

Ver Sacrum – Sacred spring: the motto of the Wiener Secession, the major art movement of the end of the 19th century. Its founders and the “front-men” of the Wiener Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) movement, the visual artists Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, Wilhelm List and Josef Hoffmann, wanted nothing to do with previous conventions and traditions in art.

Der Zeit ihre Kunst. Der Kunst ihre Freiheit.Inschrift unterhalb des Secessions-Daches von Ludwig Hevesi (1843–1910), ungarisch-österreichischer Journalist und Schriftsteller

Die Wiener Secession wollte eine Revolution

The Wiener Secession wanted a revolution, and already with their exhibition space they attracted attention. Designed by the young Joseph Maria Olbrich, a student of the great Jugendstil architect Otto Wagner, the giant golden dome of laurel leaves atop the Secession aroused the suspicions of the Viennese, and they christened it the Krauthappl (head of cabbage). The master himself didn’t earn ridicule however; Otto Wagner’s imprint on Vienna’s cityscape is still ever-present today. You can’t miss his unaltered stations for the Stadtbahn urban railway, what are now the underground stations Gumpendorferstraße, Alserstraße, and Josefstädterstraße (U6), and Kettenbrückengasse, Karlsplatz, Stadtpark (U4).

Get out of the underground at the U4 station Kettenbrückengasse and enjoy Jugendstil to perfection: not only was the station designed by Wagner, directly opposite his Mojolikahaus (Linke Wienzeile 40) impresses with its beautiful filigree floral-patterned tin-glazed ceramic plates.

Art Nouveau bridge

 Vienna Secession

Karlsplatz subway

The neighbouring house at Wienzeile 38 bears the trademark of his colleague Koloman Moser: gold ornamentation glitters from the white plastering.

The architects of Jugendstil reconciled art with the everyday

Buildings had to be both functional and beautiful. An aspiration certainly fulfilled by the revolutionary design for the Postsparkasse (Georg- Coch-Platz 2, 1010 Vienna) – today a work of major importance in modernism – and the Kirche am Steinhof (Baumgartner Höhe 1, 1140 Vienna), both of them simultaneously lovely and practical!

Text: Manuela Graf-Staudinger, Fotos: Christine Wurnig