Galerie St. Etienne
In Search of The "Total Artwork" :
The Galerie St. Etienne’s principle exhibition of the spring season is a comprehensive examination of turn-of-the-century Austrian art and design. IN SEARCH OF THE "TOTAL ARTWORK": Viennese Art and Design 1897-1932 contains over 150 objects, including drawings, posters, furniture, metalwork, glassware, fashion design, fabric, jewelry and ceramics by such artists as Josef Hoffmann, Marcel Kammerer, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Berthold Löffler, Adolf Loos, Koloman Moser, Dagobert Peche, Egon Schiele and Otto Wagner.
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IN SEARCH OF THE "TOTAL ARTWORK" begins with the founding of the Vienna Secession in 1897, but the principal focus of the exhibition is the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop), a design collective active between 1903 and 1932. First at the Secession, and subsequently at the Werkstätte, the leaders of Austria’s avant garde pursued the ideal of the "total artwork": an environment coordinated down to the very last detail. As such, this movement encompassed every aspect of art and design, including architecture, furniture, accessories, fashion and the fine arts. Because the movement was so long-lived, it passed through several stylistic phases. The earliest works, severe and geometrical, anticipated much subsequent modern design. By 1910, partly through the influence of younger Expressionists such as Kokoschka and Schiele, Viennese style became more figurative and began to incorporate vernacular folk elements. In the 1920s, after Austria’s defeat in World War I, escapist fantasies with an almost Rococo flair became popular. The creation of such deluxe environments required large expenditures of capital, and the Wiener Werkstätte was ultimately done in by the harsh economic realities that followed the dismantling of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
IN SEARCH OF THE "TOTAL ARTWORK" is documented by a comprehensive checklist, which is available free of charge upon request. A separate list, providing more detailed information on the items that are for sale, and copies of Jane Kallir’ s book Viennese Design and the Wiener Werkstätte are also available.