Vienna, Austria is a destination like no other. A walk through the streets reveals stunning architecture that hints at the beauty found behind every door. Like Paris, there’s a particular attention paid to aesthetics here. This appreciation stems from Vienna‘s tradition of intellectualism, where the arts have historically been of greatest importance in the culture — after all, this was the home of Mozart and Beethoven.
There are two distinct moments that changed the evolution of art in Vienna. One was the Vienna Secession, a movement started in 1897 formed by painters, sculptors, and architects, who objected to the emphasis on tradition and nationalism within the Association of Austrian Artists (who were housed in the Vienna Künstlerhaus) and resigned from the organization. With Gustav Klimt as the first president of the Secession, the group held exhibitions that became the first dedicated spaces to contemporary art in the city. Visitors to the exhibitions were also exposed to international artists and movements they wouldn’t normally get to see, like French Impressionism.
Among the members of the Vienna Secession was Josef Hoffman, who would go on to establish the Wiener Werkstätte movement with Koloman Moser a few years later in 1903. Wiener Werkstätte translates to the “Vienna Workshop” — which is precisely what it was. This community of visual artists produced ceramics, fashion, furniture, silver, graphic arts, and more, ushering in an era of modern design. The designs created here would go on to influence later aesthetic movements like the Bauhaus and Art Deco.
Another strong influence in Vienna‘s aesthetic tradition was architect Adolf Loos, who briefly associated with the Vienna Secession. However, he rejected and left the movement in order to pursue his own distinctive architectural style. This style was informed by his world travels, but was built on his own theories on ornamentation. Namely, he advocated architecture that was largely unadorned, and interiors that made full use of the entire floor plan.
Inspired by these movements — and the Neue Galerie installation of Austrian Masterworks — we’re taking a look at furniture and accessories currently for sale at Sotheby’s Home with an Austrian origin or influence.