To mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Otto Wagner (1841–1918) the MAK exhibition POST-OTTO WAGNER: From the Postal Savings Bank to Post-Modernism investigates Wagner’s role as the “Father of Modernism” and points out not only the context and the interaction between Wagner
and other protagonists of early Modernism, but also the influence his epochal work had on his contemporaries, students, and
following generations of architects and designers.
Starting with Wagner’s most important works—for example the building for the Vienna Metropolitan Railway (1894¬–1900), the
regulation of the Danube Canal (from 1894), the Imperial Royal Austrian Postal Savings Bank (1903–1910) and the church St.
Leopold am Steinhof (1902–1904), as well as residential and commercial buildings and his study Die Großstadt [The Metropolis] (1911)—subject areas are presented in a way which makes it possible to easily understand Wagner’s long-lasting effect on
the architecture from Modernism to Post-Modernism and on to the present.
In three chapters, the exhibition approaches Wagner’s legacy. In doing so it illustrates the architect’s rejection of the
language of form found in Historicism as well as his influence on modern architecture and urban planning. The development
of the metropolis in and around 1900 also made new building types necessary: In Vienna this included the modern residential
and commercial buildings as well as department stores and hotels, which, as a result of Otto Wagner’s rejection of Historicism
in favor of new possibilities for building, had to position themselves, and which represent a widely spread architectural
type still today.
Earlier than others Wagner recognized the increasing importance of technology and engineering which manifested itself in new
constructions and working materials. Consequently, he postulated a so-called “Nutzstil” [Functional style] whose forms should result from the materials, constructions, and functions. Through this break with the
aesthetics of Historicism and prevailing architectural styles Wagner became a leading figure of Viennese Modernism. After
1900, under the strong influence of architects like Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Josef Plečnik, Max Fabiani, or also
István Medgyaszay, Jan Kotěra, and Pavel Janák, the Wagner School became a type of laboratory for style pluralism and individualistic
approaches to style, aspects which were once again topical in Post-Modernism.
Curator Sebastian Hackenschmidt, Curator, MAK Furniture and Woodwork Collection
Expert Advisors Iris Meder, Architectural historian and freelance curator Ákos Moravánszky, Professor emer. of architectural theory, ETH Zurich
The MAK is home to an extensive collection of furniture and woodwork, in light of which the artistic and stylistic tendencies
of furniture historywith a focus on Austria and Viennacan be understood along with the cultural-historical and
political developments of the past nearly 150 years. The collection encompasses over 4,600 objects ranging from small carvings
and ornamental boxes to massive cabinets and whole room interiors.