New Series: OBJECT OF THE DAY

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 each day 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!
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

Inspirations – Previous Objects

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