Best of Vienna: art nouveau
The genre dates back to the turn of the century, a period shaped by a desire to break free of historicism and instead embrace the fledgling modernist style. In Vienna, the term Jugendstil is closely associated with the Secession, an artists' association that sought to offer an alternative to traditional approaches to art. Its fortunes are also intrinsically linked with the Wiener Werkstätte, which raised the status of design in its quest for the Gesamtkunstwerk or total work of art.
The exhibition house erected by the association of artists is a classic example of Viennese art nouveau, which was also known as the Secessionist style. Built in 1897-98 by Joseph Maria Olbrich, the Secession building near Naschmarkt was Central Europe's first ever exhibition venue to be dedicated to contemporary art. Among the highlights on display is Gustav Klimt's masterpiece, the Beethoven Frieze.
The key examples of the Viennese Secessionist style in the city include works by the architect Otto Wagner, who had a markedly geometric take on art nouveau: the residential buildings on the Wienzeile, the Post Office Savings Bank on the Ringstrasse boulevard, the stations, bridges and concourses of the former Vienna Stadtbahn, as well as his famous Steinhof church. All of these buildings reveal the propensity of art nouveau towards ornamentation, which was most commonly seen in the marble, glass, tiles, metal, brightly colored stucco work and gilded detailing used on the facades.
The First World War and the fall of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1918 spelled the end of this golden architectural era.
Residential buildings near Naschmarkt
Friedrichstrasse 12, 1st district
Linke Wienzeile (near Naschmarkt), 6th district
Post Office Savings Bank
Georg-Coch-Platz 2, 1st district
Karlsplatz, 4th district + Schönbrunner Schlossstrasse, 13th district
Baumgartner Höhe 1, 14th district