Palaces and jewels, buildings and fabrics, sofas and cutlery, furniture and houses. But also umbrella knobs, handles for walking sticks, teapots, caskets and book covers, as well as glass and ceramics. He drew everything Josef Hoffmann during his long life (1870-1956), but neglecting his work had never been the subject of a unitary gaze that would reconstruct with coherence and completeness not only the diachronic evolution but also the links between the different design scales with which he measured himself and above all with the evolution of society where he worked.
The exhibition is now filling the gap Josef Hoffmann – Progress through beauty, scheduled at Mak in Vienna from 15 December to 19 June next year, curated by Matthias Boeckl, Rainald Franz and Christian Witt-Dörring. Student of Otto Wagner, architect, designer, teacher, organizer of exhibitions and co-founder of the Wiener Werkstätte (association between designers, artists and producers inspired by the experience of the artistic craftsmanship of Arts and crafts),
Lina Bo Bardi, the deceased
by Ludovica Stevan
Hoffmann was to all intents and purposes a pioneer of twentieth-century architecture and design: initially close to the exponents of the Viennese Secession and an Art-Nouveau-Jugendstil taste, around 1900 he became an advocate of the Gesamtkunstwerk approach – or total work of art – and its exceptional buildings such as the Sanatorium Westend in Purkersdorf (1904-1905) or the Stoclet House in Brussels (1905-1911),
now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, they have left their mark on the architectural and artistic landscape both nationally and internationally.
Divided into 20 chapters and with more than a thousand works on display, the exhibition covers the entire span of Hoffmann’s production, which – it should be remembered – lived through five different political regimes, from the Habsburg monarchy to the Second Austrian Republic, always absorbing the “spirit of the time”. As Leonardo Benevolo once noted, Hoffmann influenced his contemporaries more with the furniture produced by the Wiener Werkstätte than with the architectural projects: “thanks to him the tradition of the Arts and Crafts is freed from any trace of medievalism, so that the taste of the Wiener Werkstatte ends up dictating the law throughout Europe, including France and England where it partially supplants similar local traditions ”.
“The importance of being an architect” opens the Film festival
by Gaia Giuliani
Among his most famous furnishings – for the often from his predilection square furnishings and for the parallel straight lines – are to remember at least the Sitzmachine designed in 1905, an armchair in curved and painted laminated wood with adjustable backrest, or the sofa and armchair Kubus, which through the modular repetition of a series of leather-covered cubes reveal Hoffman’s passion for geometric and square shapes applied to design. But Hoffmann’s fascination with geometry is also evident in numerous decorative patterns such as those in the “Serie b” collection of bottles and glasses, in blown crystal with black and white decorations created in 1910 and still in production after more than a hundred years. But at the Mak on display to the public for the first time there are also, among others, the furnishings of the villa for Sonja Knips (1924) and a reconstruction of the Boudoir d’une grande vedette (1937), designed by Hoffmann for the Paris World Exposition, exemplary for understanding his intimate and profound sense of simple space and the functional yet functional relationship he sought to establish between the places and the furnishings contained therein.
Francis Kéré: “Nature is the great architect”
by Fiorella Minervino