The Studio yearbook of decorative art — 1907

Page: 211
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MODERN DECORATIVE ART IN
AUSTRIA

IN spite of the difficulties placed in the way, decorative art in
Austria in general, and Vienna in particular, is advancing
by leaps and bounds. Manufacturers are beginning to see
that if they must keep step with those of other lands and compete
with them they must progress, and progress means movement, and
continuous movement too. I do not wish to decry the decorative
art of Austria as shown at the Austrian Exhibition held in London
last year, the very fact of the Exhibition taking place there is a
good sign; but there was nevertheless little of the real modern
decorative art exhibited, and that which was shown, notably the
beautiful objects made in the Wiener Werkstaette and the bent-
wood furniture exhibits of Messrs. J. & J. Kohn, were so dis-
advantageous^ placed that they were hurriedly passed. But the
revival in decorative art is a real thing in Austria, and is, moreover,
showing its influence in Germany.

Among all the late developments none are more extraordinary
than those in bent wood and wicker-work, for the manufacturers
of these articles by employing the best artists to design for them
have aroused keen interest among the artists, or better still the
architects, who have consequently devoted much thought and
time to the possibilities in these branches of decorative art. The
possibility of bent wood being used for cheap articles of furniture
was first recognised by the firm of Messrs. Thonet Brothers in
Vienna, but, curiously enough, it was long before they saw that it
could be developed on artistic lines. It is no easy task to make
wood pliable and plastic so as to mould it to various forms as the
potter does his clay, yet two great architects, Josef Hoffmann and
Leopold Bauer, have worked out this problem artistically, as the
beautiful furniture by the latter here reproduced proves (page 217).

It is not a little to the merit of these moderns that they turn
their thoughts to every branch of manufacture, and no problem
seems too difficult for them to solve. They are very earnest in all
they attempt, no step is slurred over; they possess an infinite
capacity for taking pains. Their success, therefore, is not to be
wondered at. Look at the developments in the manufacture of
glass of late years. Leopold Bauer studied the technique of glass-
making before he attempted to design such beautiful ornamental
glass as that reproduced on pages 218, 219 and 220. The variety
of forms is great ; there is poetical feeling and rhythm in all, and
earnestness too, for here it has been bent and turned to the artist’s

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