New Series: OBJECT OF THE WEEK

We’re bringing art into your daily life

The patterns of our daily lives have always been subject to constant change. All of us are currently going through a period of extremely abrupt and radical change that is having a massive effect on the daily routines of social living. We are changing the rhythms we live by, setting other priorities, breaking with some old habits, and discovering others anew. In these days and weeks, for many of us our home has come to constitute the physical limits of our lives: a forum for digital communication, a playground, an office and, perforce, also a place of refuge. Possibly, indeed, we are seeing many objects in our domestic surroundings with new eyes and appreciating their value for the first time.

A museum too is faced with unusual challenges at this time: how to communicate with its visitors through closed doors. Unlike food store workers, garbage collectors, and doctors and nurses, who are working incredibly hard to keep our system going in these times, we as a cultural institution can currently make our most significant contribution to the social good by keeping our doors shut.

Nevertheless-or indeed all the more-we want to continue to bring art into your daily lives. Because, whether in analog or digital form, art constitutes a resonance chamber for social living by shaping and inspiring it. So let yourself be surprised anew by one of the MAK’s “treasures”! The heads of the museum’s collections and the curators have selected the objects according to a number of criteria: because they consider them relevant to what’s going on right now, because they find them especially fascinating, or perhaps because they have one eye on the coming of spring. They have selected objects for which they have a special affection or enthusiasm. We would like to present these objects and explore their fascination in our new series Object of the Day.

We look forward to delivering art to your home. Stay healthy, or get well again, and stay at home! We’ll be calling on you!

CURRENT OBJECT OF THE WEEK

Mon, 13 Jul 2020

Lotus and Kingfisher

China, Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), 16th century
Ink and paint on silk (Japanese mounting), with the inscription:
“In the year bingshen [i.e. 1536 or 1596] painted by Sun-zhi-zhang”
Mal 132 / 1949, formerly in the Exner Collection, Vienna
 
Lotus and kingfisher, both symbolizing the summer and closely associated with Buddhism, enjoy a paradoxical relationship. The sweet-smelling lotus flower, stoically rising up out of the mud, stands for purity, whereas the kingfisher with its dazzling plumage embodies unbridled vanity and egoism. Yet this pair of opposites, taken together, allegorizes a turning away from the sin of killing and eating living creatures: a charmingly aesthetic spectacle capturing the instant of renunciation. 

Mio Wakita-Elis, Curator, MAK Asia Collection

Inspirations – Previous Objects

Mon, 6 July 2020

CHÂTELAINE

Paris, ca. 1780
Gold, enamel
BJ 1193
© MAK
 
Forgotten Objects-forgotten words. In the past weeks we have done a lot of clearing up and, perchance, (re)discovered a number of things. In sorting out the collection’s database too, some wonderful objects have come to light with such euphonious names as agrafe, cruet, parure, and signet. The list also includes Châtelaine-a pendant hooked into the belt of a skirt or pair of trousers, often very elaborately designed. This example bears miniature scenes worked in gold enamel and bears the inscription “Lier le Coeur cest le verai boneur” (binding the heart is true happiness). Important objects of everyday use might be hung on the five small chains: a watch, the key to wind it up, sewing utensils and a signet.
 
Anne-Katrin Rossberg, Curator, MAK Metal Collection and Wiener Werkstätte Archive
Mon, 29 June 2020

Bowl

Iran, Kerman, Safavid Period
1st half 17th Century
White stoneware with cobalt blue slip glazing and decor in sgraffito technique
OR 783, formerly Imperial Royal Trade Museum, Vienna 
 
The color blue with its broad spectrum of hues is one of the hallmarks of Persian ceramics. Here, the white body, revealed in the form of a medallion with arabesques cut out of the cobalt glaze, creates a fresh contrast to the blue background. Incidentally, cobalt blue provided a link between what is today Iran and vast regions in east Asia, the Near East, and the Mediterranean. Blue stands as witness to transcultural unity, symbolizing that heaven for which we yearn so much. 
 
Mio Wakita-Elis, Curator, MAK Asia Collection
Mon, 22 June 2020

Font of Health

Studio: Atelier Der Kreis, Vienna, 1954
Commissioned by Bad Deutsch Altenburg
Printed by Chwala’s Druck
Flat print
Height: 60 cm, width: 84 cm
PI 6107
 
The Romans too appreciated the healing qualities of the iodine and sulphur springs within the boundaries of their legionary fortress of Carnuntum (today’s health resort of Bad Deutsch Altenburg). The poster’s designers, the “Atelier der Kreis”, allude directly to the location’s history. Dominating the picture is a spring with the Roman lettering “LEG XIIII G M V” chiseled into its stonework. The inscription stands for the 14th Legion, the “Gemina Martia Victrix”, that for some 300 years was stationed in Carnuntum as it served on the Limes frontier. The depiction of a broken crutch links the spring waters’ contemporary therapeutic effects back to Roman times.
 
Peter Klinger, Deputy Head, MAK Library and Works on Paper Collection
Mon, 15 June 2020

Verena Dengler, Invoice (Kiesler / Black Widows), 2016

VERENA DENGLER
GK 689  
Verena Dengler, Invoice (Kiesler / Black Widows), 2016
Tufted carpet
 
As the Black Widows, within the framework of the MAK exhibition KIESLER: Life Visions (2016) Verena Dengler, Janina Audick, and Sachiko Hara staged the Birth of Bucephalus (1964)—a monumental sculpture by Kiesler named for the horse of Alexander of Macedon, that Kranz Kafka featured in a short story under the name of Dr. Bucephalus. The Black Widows—on the opening evening together with Lili Reynaud-Dewar—galvanized the art and theater worlds. Dengler had a tufted carpet made as part of the installation in the exhibition, based on a receipt of Kiesler’s for the sale of a wall hanging by Fernand Léger. The receipt articulates the difficulty artists have in making a living and the conditions of production in the art system.
 
Bärbel Vischer, Curator, MAK Contemporary Art Collection
 

Mon, 8 June 2020

Indian Tunic (Aba)

Northern India (Kutch or Gujarat), ca. 1900
Embroidered silk, mirrored sequins
© MAK
 
Today’s object is a piece of clothing worn by Indian women. The steel-blue silk of the tunic is especially richly decorated on the sleeves and breast; numerous mirrored sequins are worked into the embroidery. This tunic was acquired in 1905 from the oriental carpet store of Eduard Janeczka in Vienna, together with a pair of matching trousers. It seems that as early as 1891 Indian costumes decorated with mirrors were loaned to the MAK in those days the Austrian Museum of Art and Industry) for its first large-scale costume exhibition. Such clothing was also the fashion among artists: in 1908, Mileva Roller had her photograph taken by Madame D'Ora, in a similar tunic from her collection, that today is part of the Angewandte’s costume collection.
 
Lara Steinhäußer, Curator, MAK Textiles and Carpet Collection
 
Mon, 1 June 2020

Poster MEM Soaps

Design: Julius Klinger
Commissioned by M[artin] E[mil] Mayer Vienna, Austria, 1917 - 1922
Flat print
Height: 125.5 cm, width: 95 cm
PI 1141
 
Businesses responded to the economic downturn after the end of the First World War with intensified advertising campaigns. For the campaign for MEM’s toilet articles and soaps, the company’s head Martin Emil Mayer engaged the crème de la crème of poster artists in Austria, to include Julius Klinger, who always designed his MEM posters around the initials of the company’s founder, M. E. Mayer. The stylized cat stands for cleanliness and daily grooming, and the lettering is designed to look like architecture. The poster’s message might be: “Cleanliness graces every home”
Julius Klinger’s planar poster style, using only red and black, radiates a satisfyingly purposeful matter-of-factness, paired with a dose of humor.

Peter Klinger, Deputy Head, MAK Library and Works on Paper Collection
 
Wed, 27 May 2020

Rocking Chairs

Rocking Chair No. 1 
Design: Gebrüder Thonet, 1860 
Execution: unknown, ca. 1880/90
Beech, solid bent, leather, upholstered
MAK H 2199/1969
Donation Federal Chamber of Commerce
 
Rocking Chair „Erlkönig“ 
Design: breadedEscalope, Vienna, 2011 
Execution: breadedEscalope, Vienna, 2011
Beech, bent; plastic; metal
MAK H 3607/2012

Gebrüder Thonet’s first rocking chair was produced in solid bent wood in 1860. As with all other variants, the seat, backrest, and connecting pieces were mounted between two identical side frames. At a show bending event at the MAK in 2011 a discarded and slightly damaged plastic stacking chair was turned into a functioning rocking chair with self-bent beech wood rails by the group of designers called breadedEscalope. 

Sebastian Hackenschmidt, Curator, MAK Furniture and Woodwork Collection
Mon, 25 May 2020

NECKLACE “NOLI ME TANGERE”

Beppe Kessler, 1997
Polystyrene, acrylic paint, thread
BJ 1699-1
© MAK
 
This necklace is a pretty way of making people keep their distance-cuddling is not recommended. “Don’t touch me” is the message its prickly globes send out, reminiscent of the fish of the same name or chestnuts in their barbed shells. The Dutch jewelry artist Beppe Kessler works with a wide range of materials, often using artificial materials to imitate natural objects. From the period of her globe necklace also stems a golden “Viennese Heart”-also barbed. Are things all that bad? We see cause for hope, even in these times. 
 
Anne-Katrin Rossberg, Curator, MAK Metal Collection and Wiener Werkstätte Archive
Mon, 18 May 2020

Chair 107

“Resting” on Biedermeier
Chair 107 
Design: Robert Stadler, Wien, 2011 
Execution: Thonet Frankenberg, ca. 2012; Beech, solid and bent, plywood
MAK H 3740/2013
Donation Thonet Frankenberg

In 2011, Robert Stadler created a simple but playful chair for Thonet, which is interesting mainly due to its backrest: The Vienna-born designer clearly follows the tradition of the Viennese Biedermeier chairs, whose characteristic, semicircular shaped backrests are considered to be a possible source of inspiration for the two early Thonet classics No. 8 and No. 14. 
 
Sebastian Hackenschmidt, Curator, MAK Furniture and Woodwork Collection

Thu, 14 May 2020

Verena Dengler „Sponsors“

2001–2014
 
Constant self-promotion and the definition of one’s own (artificial) identity as a “brand” are a natural part of the everyday (work) experience of “millennials,” the generation whose teenage years fell between the 1990s and the 2000s and who discovered the potential of the Internet and social networks for themselves. With the feminist appropriation of traditional techniques of craftsmanship, which Verena Dengler applies to digitally drawn pictures and logos, in her work Sponsors the artist transforms the idea of the continual transfer of images between brands and individuals into an embroidery that took shape between 2001 and 2014, over a period of 13 years. Sponsorship takes place with an expectation of compensation, in which the demands are set by the sponsors. It is contingent on the visual presence of the brand; the messages and associations it transmits turn consumers into producers of ideological added value: namedropping as a strategy of production and success.
 
Marlies Wirth, Curator, MAK Design Collection and Digital Culture
Tue, 12 May 2020

Nesting Tables

Nesting Tables „Hoffmann“ 
Design and execution: Ovidiu Anton, Vienna, 2012 
Safety barrier boards from road construction sites
MAK H 3627-1/2012
 
Nesting Tables No. 986 
Design: J. & J. Kohn, 1905 
Execution: J. & J. Kohn, ca. 1906; Beech, solid and bent, plywood
MAK H 3988/2019; Donation André Marcus
 
With his furniture object “Hoffmann,” created in 2012, the artist Ovidiu Anton made reference to the classic-modern nesting tables which are widely used in various designs: Sets of several nestable side tables, which were produced by various bentwood furniture manufacturers in 1900. In their formally most reduced version, they are still attributed—although without concrete proof—to Josef Hoffmann and produced as supposed “design classics.” 
 
Sebastian Hackenschmidt, Curator, MAK Furniture and Woodwork Collection
Mon, 11 May 2020

Study of fruit with apples and plums

Design: Anton Tomschik, Vienna, 1857
Opaque color, India ink
KI 11295-6
© MAK
 
Studies of flowers, plants, and fruit make up the majority of the 6 000 or so design drawings in the estate of the Vienna Porcelain Manufactory. On close scrutiny, this naturalistic representation of apples and plums, created for execution on tableware, brilliantly brings out the fruit’s unique qualities, tempting one to take a bite.
 
Kathrin Pokorny-Nagel, Head, MAK Library and Works on Paper Collection/Archive

Fri, 24 Apr 2020

SUBSTITUTE PHONE

Klemens Schillinger
2017
Plastic, aluminum, stone beads
MAK DS 386

Scroll, zoom, and swipe: Touching a smartphone often turns into a repetitive, almost compulsive ritual and has long become part of our everyday lives. Klemens Schillinger has designed analogue replacement objects which has a calming effect against symptoms of smartphone withdrawal.

Marlies Wirth, Curator, MAK Design Collection and Digital Culture

Wed, 20 May 2020

Black purse with green spiral ornament

WI 804
Wiener Kunst im Hause [Viennese Art in the Home], black purse with green spiral ornament, 1910
Smooth leather painted in batik technique, silk lining
© MAK
 
Not only in the works of Gustav Klimt, such as the “Tree of Life” in his cartoons for the Stoclet frieze (completed in 1911) are spiral tendrils to be found; in Art Nouveau Vienna, they were also popular in the design of accessories. Acquired by the Austrian Museum of Art and Industry (today’s MAK) in 1910 from Wiener Kunst im Hause [Viennese Art in the Home], an amalgamation of pupils of Hoffmann and Moser, the inventory book records no artist for this purse. But if one searches in contemporary exhibition catalogs, it appears that it was probably the work of the former arts and crafts student Johanna Poller-Hollmann, who was also responsible for a “Batik Leather Wallet” presented at the exhibition Austrian Arts and Crafts 1909-1910.
 
Lara Steinhäußer, Curator, MAK Textiles and Carpet Collection
 

Wed, 22 Apr 2020

Letter paper with florally decorated poem “My love”

Design: England, mid-19th century
Engraver and publisher: London Rock & Co.
Steel engraving, colored embossing
KI 8794-2
© MAK

Individually designed letter paper has increasingly gone out of style, not only in private life but also in the business world. Modes of transmitting short messages and other forms of communication, such as e-mail, SMS, WhatsApp, and Instagram, have rendered the luxury of an almost empty sheet of letter paper superfluous. But especially now, in times of social isolation and with abundant spare time, we might take the opportunity of formulating our greetings and thoughts in a more leisurely manner and so honoring in special ways those to whom we write.

Kathrin Pokorny-Nagel, Head, MAK Library and Works on Paper Collection/Archive
Tue, 14 Apr 2020

FABRIC PATTERN

before 1865
Silk jacquard fabric with glass fiber pattern weft
© MAK

At first sight, this object may not seem particularly spectacular. Although it has been in the MAK Collection since 1865, to date this fabric pattern “from modern French production” has never been exhibited. What is special about it is the material of the gleaming gold-colored pattern weft from which the leaves are fashioned, for it is glass fiber. Starting in the 18th but increasingly in the 19th century, glass was drawn out into extremely fine threads, which were rendered so flexible that they could be used in textile products and accessories. Today we tend to associate fiberglass with isolation technology or data transfer, which makes this piece of material something very special.

Lara Steinhäußer, Curator, MAK Textiles and Carpet Collection

Thu, 9 Apr 2020

Easter Card

Prague, 1918–1925
Printing plate, color lithograph
KI 8876-139
© MAK
Wed, 15 Apr 2020

Telepresence avatar for children with prolonged illness

2015
Plastic, electronic components, app
Loan No Isolation B.V.
Part of the MAK DESIGN LAB
Video

AV1 is a robot for children and teens who are chronically ill or ill for a long time. The handy and light avatar takes the child’s place in the classroom. Via an app, AV1 makes it possible for the child to participate in class and even have social interactions with classmates.

Marlies Wirth, Curator, MAK Design Collection and Digital Culture

Fri, 8 May 2020

Fashion picture from 'L'Élégance Parisienne': Masked woman in a playing card dress next to a lady in a dress with flower motif

Designer and lithographer: Guido Gonin, Paris, 1881
Publisher: Adolphe Goubaud & Fils
Printer: H. Lefévre
Hand colored chalk lithograph
Height: 36.2 cm, width: 27.6 cm
KI 8011-5

The two ladies in their elaborately pleated skirts and tight corsets, and with their extravagant accessories, present contemporary Parisian haute couture. Typical of Historicism, clothing is no longer simply depicted in goods catalogs but presented to potential wearers in artistically sumptuous and technically elaborate fashion magazines. The fashion image is thus no longer merely an illustration of clothing but, through the stories it tells, holds out the promise of an elegant, prestigious lifestyle. The “card game dress” thus immediately evokes the thrill of the gaming table-and not so much a sedate bridge evening among friends. In order not to be recognized, the lady wears a mask.

Kathrin Pokorny-Nagel, Head, MAK Library and Works on Paper Collection/Archive
Wed, 6 May 2020

PENDANT WITH PERFUME FLACON

with the monogram “JW”, Vienna ca. 1840
Gold, enamel, glass
BJ 1470
© MAK/ Georg Mayer
 
The tulip season is just about over this year, but we will keep it going a little longer with this precious pendant made of gold and enamel. Pastel-colored petals copied from a mottled strain of tulip can be opened by means of two hinges, revealing a perfume flacon closed by a minute enamel cap. What scent may have issued from it? Something floridly oriental as suggested by its “packaging”? What purpose did perfumes have in the 19th century: to cover up smells, to cleanse the skin, to show off, to seduce? Time to delve once more into Alain Corbin’s classic work “The Foul and the Fragrant” … 
 
Anne-Katrin Rossberg, Curator, MAK Metal Collection and Wiener Werkstätte Archive
 
Tue, 21 Apr 2020

WORKTABLE (“HAUSLAB TABLE”)

Vienna, 1790
Design and execution: Franz von Hauslab
Marquetry using various woods, gilded bronze fittings
H 508
© MAK

Letter-writing, an almost forgotten mode of communication! These days, what could be more romantic than a hand-written love letter! Perhaps a minor work of art?

Today’s Object of the Day goes a step further: it is both a worktable and a three-dimensional declaration of love to a countess. Ritter von Hauslab, who following a long tradition whereby male members of the aristocracy learned a handicraft, created the table in 1790 as his masterpiece to complete his training as cabinetmaker. The marquetry design on the tabletop poses a riddle. In the center of a floral arrangement a bee is depicted, above which may be read the words: “J’ai trouvé la reine” (“I have found the queen”). Yet Hauslab’s “queen” was not the queen bee but “ma chère Comtesse,” as he called the countess in a wooden “love letter” that forms the bottom of the left-hand drawer. A marvel of fantasy, craftsmanship, and personal, laborious passion.

Gabriele Fabiankowitsch, Head, Educational Programs
Wed, 8 Apr 2020

Artist’s postcard “Frohe Ostern” [Happy Easter]

Design: CR v. G., Vienna, 1915–1925
Publisher: Postkartenverlag Brüder Kohn (B.K.W.I.)
Color lithograph
KI 8876-58
© MAK

Fri, 10 Apr 2020

Postcard No. 793 “Frohe Ostern” [Happy Easter]

Design: Arnold Nechansky, Vienna, 1912
Lithograph
KI 8873-180
© MAK
Mon, 4 May 2020

reversed volumes

Bowls and plates
Design: mischer'traxler, Vienna 2010
Execution: PCM Design, Madrid 2013
Food grade resin 
This series of bowls and plates alludes to the shapes of leaves and fruit from nature; they were directly cast. The objects allow for a new perspective of natural shapes—the food-safe resin in which they are produced in series is, however, in no way purely natural. The design studio had initially intended to use more ecological materials for the production but this plan failed as the certificates and licenses needed to globally sell the products made of the alternative material as food-safe would have been very expensive.
 
Wed, 29 Apr 2020

Red, Old Woman, Yellow, Black Eyes, Brown, Pride Belt, Blue, Drilled Ears, Silver, Carpet Seeds, Blue, Teenage Acne

NILBAR GÜRES
2014
Installation, textiles, indigenous skirts
GK 669
Photo: © Martin Janda

Employing subversion and humor, the artist explores the relationship between cultural identity and feminist role models. This work too highlights the dynamics of visibility, concealment, and cover-up. Here Güres deploys skirts and accessories worn by the indigenous women of Brazil like individual pieces of scenery that together create the effect of a memorial: against colonialism and the multifaceted repression of women that to this day is part and parcel of daily life around the world.

Bärbel Vischer, Curator, MAK Contemporary Art Collection
Mon, 27 Aor 2020

HUNGARIAN COURT DRESS (BODICE, SKIRT, VEIL)

from the Atelier VARGES
2nd half 19th century
Silk, metal threads; tulle, bobbin lace, passementerie
T 10370
© MAK

The original wearer of this ensemble was definitely anything but underdressed. According to its label the dress, richly embroidered with silver and gold thread, originates from the Atelier VARGES. As records show, between 1864 and 1886 the atelier was managed by Christine and Anna Varges at Wollzeile 1 in Vienna. The sisters were two of the first women to be appointed imperial royal court dressmakers, and their well-heeled clientele included the Empress of Mexico. It is above all the characteristic lacing of the bodice that identifies this object as a Hungarian court dress. Whoever wore this outfit would most likely have been among the best-dressed guests at the 1867 coronation festivities.

Lara Steinhäußer, Curator, MAK Textiles and Carpets Collection

WW POSTCARD NO. 152
Fri, 17 Apr 2020

WW POSTCARD NO. 152

Design: Oskar Kokoschka, 1908
KI 8873-3
© MAK
 
For the Wiener Werkstätte (WW, 1903–1932), the postcard was an ideal medium to communicate its artistic message to a broad public. Starting in 1907, the artists of the WW used this “miniature art form” in a range of different ways: humorously, whimsically, poetically, to tell stories, or as documentation. Oskar Kokoschka too was inspired by this format. He created 16 motifs, to include a series of night pictures such as this Postcard No.  152. A woman reading or doing needlework at a window was a popular Biedermeier motif. Here it represents not so much an idyll as a vague sense of longing.
 
Anne-Katrin Rossberg, Curator, MAK Metal Collection and Wiener Werkstätte Archive
Tue, 7 Apr 2020

Casa Fontini

Artist: Bernard Rudofsky, 1939 bis 1941
Paper, Watercolor
Height: 48,5 cm, Width: 66 cm
KI 15024

The architect Bernard Rudofsky designed his residential buildings with courtyards or open-air rooms. Thanks to these natural spaces integrated into the courtyards, it was not necessary to retreat into the interior of the building to enjoy seclusion, privacy and intimacy. Rudofsky’s architecture is designed to satisfy people’s desire for quality living by offering room for both active and contemplative living, for intense and tranquil experience. Especially in times of quarantine and curfew, it is inspiring to conceive of living space as being on the interface between proximity and seclusion. Casa Fontini and Villa Arnstein are among Rudofsky’s most important buildings. They were designed between 1939 and 1940 during his exile in Brazil.

Janina Falkner, New Concepts for Learning, MAK



Mon, 6 Apr 2020

„DŌKE DARUMA-KEN“ 道外だるまけん

“DŌKE DARUMA-KEN” 道外だるまけん
1847
Ukiyo-e artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi,
Signature: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi giga 一勇斎国芳戯画
Publisher: Horimasa 彫正
Censor’s seal: Yoshimura 吉村, Muramatsu 村松
KI 7628-46 / 1905, H. Siebold Collection
© MAK/Georg Mayer


The game of ken (ken asobi 拳遊び), which was popular in the Edo Period (1603–1868), is similar to our “stone–paper–scissors.” Ken is played by two or three people who assume different bodily postures. This colored woodcut, dated 1847, shows the fox-ken variation: the village headman (in the sitting posture of an official, at lower right), beats the hunter (making the “weapon” gesture, at upper right), who in turn beats the fox (with raised paw, at lower left). But the fox, who in Japanese folklore possesses magic powers, beats the village headman. The game allows players to give rein to their creative imagination. Clever or not-so-clever performances cause amusement and hilarity. Just the ticket for stay-at-homes.

Mio Wakita-Elis, Curator, MAK Asia Collection
Fri, 3 Apr 2020

breadedEscalope BAR NON-LIEU

2012/2016
H 3902

At first sight, the BAR NON-LIEU is a piece of furniture whose dimensions are reminiscent of those of a classic drinks cabinet. On the inside it functions as a compact bar for togetherness. Closing of the doors creates a space of retreat for two visitors of the bar. From the outside only the visitors’ legs and lower abdomens are visible, gestures and words stay within the cabinet. In the interior space,  breaded-Escalope deliberately refer to the “American Bar” (also known as “Loos Bar”) by Adolf Loos in Vienna’s first district. The outside, by contrast, resembles a robust transportation box with (removable) legs.

Marlies Wirth, Curator, MAK Design Collection and Digital Culture
Thu, 2 Apr 2020

DESIGNS FOR WW POSTCARDS NOS. 641 AND 642

Mela Koehler, 1912
WWPKE 80, WWPKE 81
© MAK

Between 1907 and 1912, the graphic artist Mela Koehler designed more than 150 postcard and place card motifs for the Wiener Werkstätte. In these she combined her principal interest “fashion”—sometimes elegantly, sometimes tongue-in-cheek—with such topics as the Krampus (who punishes naughty children during the Christmas season), Christmas, New Year, Easter, and children’s games. Especially effective, indeed inspiring one might say, is a series of six square cards depicting girls playing with balls or hoops—one of them here is playing with a diabolo. Until you can get outside and really let off steam again, we can offer you virtual “freedom of movement” in our World Wide Wonderland, a game developed for the new MAK LAB APP.

Anne-Katrin Rossberg, Curator, MAK Metal Collection and Wiener Werkstätte Archive

Wed, 1 Apr 2020

HEART-SHAPED PENDANT

1911/12
Design: Stephanie Hunfalvy
Execution: Wilhelm Haarstrick
WI 1167
© MAK/Georg Mayer

Who cannot but be thrilled by this filigree web with its 18 pearls, ten diamond rosettes, citrine, and different colored sapphires formed into a precious piece of jewelry! Based on a design by textile and jewelry artist Stephanie Hunfalvy, the pendant was executed by Salzburg goldsmith Wilhelm Haarstrick and presented at the 1912 Spring Exhibition of the Austrian Museum of Art and Industry (today’s MAK). This filigree technique is traditionally–and internationally–associated with folk jewelry and is used in this case to create a subtly modern version of the traditional heart pendant worn on a woman’s folk costume.

Anne-Katrin Rossberg, Curator, MAK Metal Collection and Wiener Werkstätte Archive
Tue, 31 Mar 2020

FLOWER BOWL & DESIGN FOR A FLOWER BOWL

FLOWER BOWL
Design: Eduard J. Wimmer-Wisgrill, 1910
WI 977
© MAK/Georg Mayer

DESIGN FOR A FLOWER BOWL
Eduard J. Wimmer-Wisgrill, 1909
KI 13212-1
© MAK

“Art in everyday life” was the motto of the Wiener Werkstätte when, in 1903, it set out to restore to articles of everyday use their dignity and to beautify people’s lives. A very important aspect of this movement was dining culture, as one can see from the endless designs for cutlery, dinner services, drinking glasses, and bowls and stands for flowers and fruit. Among these is today’s object, whose designer originally envisaged it as being an openwork bowl with an ultramarine glass insert. It was finally manufactured as a closed bowl of gilded silver.

Anne-Katrin Rossberg, Curator, MAK Metal Collection and Wiener Werkstätte Archive
Mon, 30 Mar 2020

WOODEN TOY FROM THE VIENNA SCHOOL OF ARTS AND CRAFTS

1920s
PL 968
© MAK

One hundred years ago, art for and by children was a big topic. The famous Vienna Kunstschau of 1908 dedicated an entire room to “Art for the Child,” presenting mostly hand-made toys but also furniture and décor for the nursery. The art course for young people by Franz Čižek at the School of Arts and Crafts (today the University of Applied Arts Vienna) also enjoyed great popularity. The course focused not primarily on technique but on developing the kind of creativity capable of being expressed in all kinds of materials. Even back then, it was claimed that “everyone is born an artist.”

Anne-Katrin Rossberg, Curator, MAK Metal Collection and Wiener Werkstätte Archive
Fri, 27 Mar 2020

WIENER WERKSTÄTTE POSTCARD NO. 32 & FLOWER BASKET

WIENER WERKSTÄTTE POSTCARD NO. 32
Design: Leopoldine Kolbe, 1907
KI 8873-192
© MAK

FLOWER BASKET
Design: Josef Hoffmann, 1906
(contemporary photograph)
WWF 97-24-3
© MAK

It all started in 1904 with simple napkin rings with square cut-outs designed by Josef Hoffmann: it was the birth year of the Wiener Werkstätte’s (WW) famous “lattice objects.” They took the form of bread- and fruit-baskets, vases with glass inserts, and flower stands made of white lacquered zinc plate. Starting in 1908, hundreds of such objects were produced by Christoph Cloeter’s metal goods factory, making them one of the WW’s all-time bestsellers. Just like the postcards that started to circulate in 1907 and, as in our example here, imaginatively advertised the WW’s own wares.

Thu, 26 Mar 2020

Devotional picture with the martyrdom of St. Corona

Vienna, 2nd quarter 19th century
Engraver: F. Donhoffer
Publisher: J. Bermann
Colored copperplate engraving
KI 8108-179
© MAK

Corona has turned our lives upside-down. But who among us associates the name with the early Christian martyr St. Corona? Her martyrdom consisted of being torn apart by two palm trees to which she had been tied as they whipped up straight again. Her name means “crown,” and in post-medieval times she was appealed to as the patron saint of monetary affairs. But people also prayed to St. Corona to help them in times of plague. Just the ticket for a world currently shaken by illness and economic cares!

Kathrin Pokorny-Nagel, Head, MAK Library and Works on Paper Collection/Archive
Wed, 25 Mar 2020

Fabric pattern "La Pensée"

based on a design by Raoul Dufy for the Atelier Martine
from a pattern book of the firm of J. Claude Frères & Cie, 1911–1913
T 12859
© MAK

Another of my personal favorites is the pattern book of the Parisian firm of J. Claude Frères & Cie of the years 1911 to 1913, in which 1 165 “anonymous” printed fabrics–with no indication of their creators–are gathered together as “inspiration” for subscribers. Not only are numerous fabric patterns by the internationally successful Wiener Werkstätte pasted into its pages; one can also identify others by the famous French artist Raoul Dufy, created for the Atelier Martine founded by the French fashion designer Paul Poiret. They include the motif of La Pensée (“the pansy”) whose “twin” may be found in the collection of the FIDM Museum in Los Angeles.

Lara Steinhäußer, Curator, MAK Textiles and Carpets Collection
Tue, 24 Mar 2020

Travel bag with railway motif

Mid-19th century
Leather, cotton, glass and metal beads; embroidered Aida Canvas
T 11642-7
© MAK

The epitome of modern travel in the 19th century is resplendently embroidered on this chic accessory for fashionable leisure activities: the steam locomotive. With its subdued shades of grey, not only does it evoke the shiny metals and billowing smoke of the industrial age–it adorns the embroidery of this lockable leather travel bag like a grisaille painting. Bags such as this one were very much in vogue back then, as evinced by almost identical models in the collections of the German Historical Museum in Berlin and the Museum Weißenfels in Schloss Neu-Augustusburg in Weißenberg an der Saale.

Lara Steinhäußer, Curator, MAK Textiles and Carpets Collection