About the Exhibition

About the Exhibition

Today, we think of architects as the people who design buildings, construct skylines, and help create the visual identities of our cities and towns. But at the turn of the 20th century, a group of progressive architects also designed all aspects of interior decoration. They believed their role was to seamlessly integrate craftsmanship and modern design into daily life. Even the smallest objects were considered a stage on which modern design could be explored: glass, furniture, ceramics, textiles, and fashion accessories, for example, played important roles in completing their artistic vision.

Glass of the Architects: Vienna, 1900–1937, a cooperation of the MAK and LE STANZE DEL VETRO, explores the notion of architect as designer. More than 150 iconic works from the collections of the MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Art/ Contemporary Art; J. & L. LOBMEYR Family Collection, Vienna; The Corning Museum of Glass; and a private collection, bring to life this captivating period of glass design and production in Austria.

Glass of the Architects: Vienna, 1900–1937 focuses on Austrian glassmaking in a period of great change in the art world. In Austria, a group of architects, artists, and designers broke away from Vienna’s conservative art academy in 1897 to form the progressive Vienna Secession. They rejected mass-produced objects that simply imitated older styles and instead focused on integrating modern aesthetics into their designs across media. Building on existing traditions of glassmaking and leveraging networks of technical and design schools across Central Europe, these new aesthetics in glass were promoted on a global scale at exhibitions and by manufacturers and retailers. Emerging from a confluence of individuals, ideas, and cultures, the design of Austrian glass from 1900 to 1937 embodied a newfound spirit of modernity.

The central figures of modern Austrian design, many of whom remain internationally-renowned today, paved the way for pioneering developments in glassmaking. Their approach and encouragement of collaboration between art, craftsmanship, and manufacturing, found success in projects like the Wiener Werkstätte and the Austrian Werkbund. The exhibition features objects by leaders in the development of modern Austrian design, including: Josef Hoffmann (1870–1956), Koloman Moser (1868–1918), Otto Prutscher (1880–1949), Dagobert Peche (1887–1923), Michael Powolny (1871–1954), Vally (Valerie) Wieselthier (1895– 1945), Oswald Haerdtl (1899–1959), and Adolf Loos (1870–1933).

A highlight of the exhibition is the reinstallation of Hoffmann’s Dressing Room for a Star. Designed for the Austrian Pavilion at the 1937 International Exposition in Paris, the room features mirrored walls, floor, and ceiling, and is an excellent example of a Gesamtkunstwerk—total work of art—that beautifully illustrates how architects conceived glass as an ideal material to create harmonious, complete environments.

MAKGlass of the Architects: Vienna, 1900–1937 is a cooperation of the MAK and LE STANZE DEL VETRO. At the MAK and LE STANZE DEL VETRO, the exhibition was curated by Rainald Franz, MAK Curator, Glass and Ceramics Collection.

About the MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art
Based in Vienna, Austria, the MAK is a museum and laboratory for applied art at the interface of design, architecture and contemporary art. Founded in 1864, it is the second oldest museum of decorative arts in the world. The MAK’s core competency is to deal with these areas in a contemporary manner in order to create new perspectives and to explore border areas based on the tradition of the house. The University of Applied Arts (Kunstgewerbeschule) grew out of the museum, and celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. This school first brought together architects, designers and glass makers.

Based in Venice, Italy, LE STANZE DEL VETRO is a long-term joint initiative of the Fondazione Giorgio Cini and the Pentagram Stiftung, devoted to the study of glass art in the 20th and 21st centuries. The work done by the Fondazione Cini and the Pentagram Stiftung in preserving, archiving and digitalizing the Venetian glassmaker’s archives—and in staging the internationally acclaimed Le Stanze del Vetro exhibitions—parallels that done by the MAK with respect to the Wiener Werkstätte legacy.

Read more about Glass of the Architects

This is the second in a two-part series. Read The Red Vase, part 1. Vase (detail), K. & K. Fachschulefuer Glasindustrie Haida (Designer),Karl Meltzer & Co. (Manufacturer),Bohemia, Novy Bor (Haida), 1914-1920.Gift of Roberta B. Elliott. 2017.3.55. The story of the red vase continues in... more
As exemplified in Glass of the Architects: Vienna, 1900–1937, a cooperation of the MAK and LE STANZE DEL VETRO, Austrian glass from 1900 to 1937 emerged from a confluence of ideas, individuals, and cultures. Advanced in large part by the support of Jewish patrons, artistic works of this period... more
Nestled within the Museum’s exhibition, Glass of the Architects: Vienna, 1900–1937, is Dressing Room for a Star, a silvered, mirrored and extravagantly furnished room by Austrian architect and designer Josef Hoffmann (1870–1956), on loan from the MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary... more