Time Travel to Early 1900s Austria With Kirkland Museum's 'Josef Hoffman's Vienna'

  • January 04, 2022 21:40

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Josef Hoffmann Cabaret Fledermaus Chair (No. 728), c. 1907. Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art.

Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art in Denver presents Josef Hoffmann’s Vienna Jan. 21 through April 3, 2022, offering visitors the chance to time travel to early 1900s Austria without the need of a passport and plane ticket. Revel in the influence of architect and designer Josef Hoffmann (1870–1956) on the Vienna Secessionist movement and subsequent Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops). Unlike Art Nouveau designers across Europe who were heavily into curving botanical motifs, Hoffmann and his Austrian contemporaries made and taught a streamlined style. Hoffmann was integral to the advancement of modern art, design and architecture. 

For armchair travelers to Josef Hoffmann’s Vienna, Kirkland Museum will host virtual tours and lectures in early 2022.

“Vienna, and especially the Wiener Werkstätte, created its own unique style that relied more heavily on geometry than that of their neighbors in France and Britain,” explains Associate Museum Director Renée Albiston. “Kirkland Museum’s Deputy Curator Christopher Herron’s compelling exhibition design incorporates the motif of checkerboard squares, made popular by Hoffmann’s designs.”

Hoffmann was a central figure in two progressive design movements in Austria. The Vienna Secession was an organization formed by artists and designers who broke away from the formal Viennese Artists’ Association, which the Secessionists saw as too formal and rooted in the past. During its first year (1898), Hoffmann served on the editorial board of Ver Sacrum magazine, the Vienna Secession’s publication that promoted modernism and rejected historicism or imitating past styles. Hoffmann went on to co-found the Wiener Werkstätte artist cooperative, one of the longest lasting design movements of the 20th century (1903–1932). Thus, he was instrumental in leading the culture of his country into a more global and modern future through art and design.

Kirkland Museum’s exhibition will feature a mix of visitor-favorite Hoffmann designs along with new acquisitions. Highlights include Hoffmann’s iconic Seven Ball Bentwood Side Chair and original issues of Ver Sacrum magazine.

Issue Number One of Ver Sacrum, 1898, cover by Alfred Roller (1864–1935). Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art.

Presented by Deputy Curator Christopher Herron and chosen from the collection assembled by Founding Director & Curator Hugh Grant, this special exhibition is included with admission and does not require a separate ticket.

For more information, please visit KirklandMuseum.org/josef-hoffmanns-vienna/.

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