Works on Paper Room
On the occasion of his 130th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his death, the MAK has dedicated to the artist and “master of diversity” Franz von Zülow (15 March 1883 – 26 February 1963) an exhibition that provides a first-ever look at his creative output.

Inspired by the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts, the Vienna Secession, and the Wiener Werkstätte, and under the lifelong influence of rural impressions, Franz von Zülow gave rise to a comprehensive oeuvre characterized by an unmistakably individual style. It was quite early on that, in addition to painting and graphic art, he discovered the broad field of arts and crafts. Alongside watercolors and oil paintings, therefore, his output also encompassed designs for fabrics and ceramics as well as furniture decoration and frescos.
Zülow’s style is most clearly evident in wallpaper, pictorial broadsheets, and wall decorations. New graphic techniques and interior decorating concepts were just as much the products of Franz von Zülow’s enthusiasm for experimentation as they were of is interest in foreign cultures, above all that of Japan, which influenced him as well as many of his colleagues. 1903 saw him adapt the Asian technique of katagami (stencil-based textile dying) to create a printing process that, in 1907, he had patented as “paper-cut printing.” In 1947, having reached the zenith of his success, von Zülow authored his Malfibel, a compilation of techniques for decorating objects of daily use that Zülow deemed most important as examples to be followed. Throughout his creative career, which was characterized above all by graphic art, Zülow repeatedly created works for children. These included watercolors reminiscent of theater scenery, diorama-like carousel picture books, and paper toys and puppet theaters.

Thanks to the museum’s ability to directly access the artist’s entire estate, this exhibition includes objects that have never before been see by the public. The presentation concentrates above all on this Austrian painter and graphic artist’s works on paper, while also emphasizing graphic works and creations that are frequently quite intricate and/or fall into the category of arts and crafts as well as large and elaborately folded paper objects. The point is to direct attention toward Franz von Zülow’s inexhaustible creative abilities by focusing exclusively on his work with one single carrier medium (paper), as well as to show the new understanding of stylistic consciousness and formal will that stemmed from his fascination with non-European cultures.

Zülow’s Monatshefte, hand-painted periodicals that he published in very small print runs and to which figures including Josef Hoffmann, Gustav Klimt, and Egon Schiele subscribed, are featured as clear examples of his Jugendstil-derived decorative planar art, which he combined with folk art influences. There is also a selection examples documenting Franz von Zülow’ artistic development; despite his turn to applied art, Zülow is by no means to be categorized simply as an applied artist, since he spent his entire life oscillating around the very core of art as manifested in the quality of the decorative.

Curator Kathrin Pokorny-Nagel, Head of Library and Works on Paper Collection

This exhibition is accompanied by a publication as part of the MAK Studies series: FRANZ VON ZÜLOW. Paper, edited  by Christoph Thun-Hohenstein and Kathrin Pokorny-Nagel, with texts by by Roland Girtler, Friedrich C. Heller, Peter Klinger, Gerd Pichler, Kathrin Pokorny-Nagel, and Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, Verlag für moderne Kunst Nürnberg, 2013, 144 pages, available at the MAK Design Shop, € 24.

Expert guided tour

Thu, 28.11.2013, 5 p.m.
Expert guided tour through the exhibition with Kathrin Pokorny-Nagel, head of the MAK Library and Works on Paper Collection