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The German Youth Movement and The Vienna Secession

Art Nouveau in Germany was expressed in the ‘youth style’ or Jugendstil. In Austria the Vienna Secession group of artists and designers created a form of Art Nouveau. The Vienna Secession group of creative individuals had a great impact on what we call modern design.

It always amazes me (I know it shouldn’t) how even during difficult times the kindness, care and provision of God shines through.

‘I believe in the sun 
even when it isn’t shinning
I believe in love even when I cannot feel it
I believe in God even when he is silent’
Written on the wall by a Jewish prisoner in Cologne

Art Nouveau in Germany
In Germany the best example of Art Nouveau was August Endell’s ‘Atelier Elivra’ built in 1896. The façade was asymmetrical, the windows and door openings rectangular with curving corners. The building was decorated with a bas relief of curing lines giving a wave like appearance.

In Munich the German Art Nouveau developed as the ‘youth style’ or Jugendstil. In 1899 Richard Riemerschmidt designed a music room for the Dresden exhibition. He designed furniture, lighting and wall decoration. One of his chairs from this time has become a ‘classic’ and influenced modern design.

For the Paris exhibition in the same year he worked with Bernhard Pankok to create a dining room. Pankok also designed a smoking room. He lined the room with carved timber shapes creating what was called by some a Jugendstil fantasy world.

Another designer working in the Jugendstil style was Peter Behrens. The interiors of his home Darmstadt built in 1901 are an example of his work. Peter also designed electric fans, kettles and other products for the German electrical industry in a more reserved modern style.

The Vienna Secession
A group of artists and designers in Austria become known as the Vienna Secession. In 1897 they withdrew from the Vienna Academy in protest because the Academy would not accept modernist works. Gustav Klimt the painter headed up the group.

Joseph Oldrich created a design based on natural forms for the decorative detail of the Secession Gallery in 1897. There were hints of classicism in the symmetrical rectangular building. The arched ceiling had skylights and flowing Art Nouveau motifs decorated the walls. Oldrich also designed the Villa Friedmann.

Another architect involved in the Secession style was Josef Hoffmann. His later works became more rectangular. The Puckerdorf Sanatorium built in 1903-6 has white walls. The interior are simple with patterned tiled floors in black and white. The furniture is inclined to be of in straight lined modern style. His most famous work built in 1905-11 is the Palasis Stoclet found in Brussels.

The building is asymmetrical with sculpture placed on the large tower. Interior walls are thin marble sheets edged with gilding. Klimt created large murals for the dining room.

Adolf Loos was involved with the group but became concerned with what he thought was a superficial decorative slant in the movement. His work includes bentwood furniture for Thonet.

He also worked with the glassware firm Lobmeyr. His Steiner House built in 1910 was very austere with white block like walls with scattered windows.

The work produced by the Vienna Secession tended to be simple and geometric in form; craft orientated with the result it has had a greater impact on modern design than the other forms of Art Nouveau developed in France and Belgium.

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