Italian Garden Landscape (detail)
Oil on canvas
Kunsthaus Zug / Foundation Kamm Collection, Switzerland
This exhibition occurred in the past. This website is available for informational purposes only.
VIENNESE ARCHITECT AND DESIGNER JOSEF HOFFMANN FEATURED IN CLARK EXHIBITION OPENING JUNE 16
WILLIAMSTOWN, MA (February 11, 2002) - Designer Josef Hoffmann was a leading figure in Vienna's art revival of the early twentieth century, helping to found the influential Wiener Werkstatte and stimulating the American Arts and Crafts movement. His decorative arts will be explored through his work for a prominent Vienna family in the exhibition Josef Hoffmann: Homes of the Wittgensteins, on view at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute June 16 through September 2. Furniture and silver commissioned by the families of Karl and Paul Wittgenstein, much of which is drawn from private collections and never before seen in the United States, will be featured in the Clark exhibition.
"These commissions created by Hoffmann for the Wittgenstein family exemplify the sleekness of design, emphasis on practicality, and celebration of craftsmanship that made Hoffmann one of the pivotal designers in the modernist movement," said Brian Allen, director of curatorial administration at the Clark.
It was through the patronage of clients like the Wittgensteins that Hoffmann was first able to experiment with new design ideas. The Wittgensteins were one of the wealthiest and most influential families in Vienna. Patriarch Karl Wittgenstein, a self-made entrepeneur, had eight children including philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and pianist Paul Wittgenstein. The family's social ambitions provided Hoffmann with the financial support he needed for his novel, and sometimes extreme, design ideas.
Born in Moravia in 1870, Josef Hoffmann studied architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts under Carl von Hasenauer and Otto Wagner. He established his own office in 1898 and was a founding member of the Vienna Secession, a group of revolutionary artist and architects. In 1903 he and a group of Vienna designers founded the Wiener Werkstatte, a workshop based on the teachings of William Morris. Hoffmann's early work relates to Art Nouveau, while the function and purity of his later works show him to be a precursor of the Bauhaus movement.
The exhibition is organized for the Clark by Christian Witt-Dörring, curator of furniture and woodwork at MAK, the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna.
"It is due to Dr. Witt-Dörring's great expertise that we are able to present this selection of works that the public would otherwise never have the opportunity to see," noted Clark director Michael Conforti. "Because of his special knowledge of Hoffmann's work, including pieces in private family collections, we will be able to show the artist's greatest objects through one set of commissions."
Josef Hoffmann is one of four focused exhibitions presented by the Clark in summer 2002 that explore the deep cultural change Vienna experienced in the 18th and 19th centuries. Gustav Klimt Landscapes is the first exhibition devoted exclusively to the poetic landscapes of the great Viennese Symbolist. Bernardo Bellotto's cityscapes of Vienna from 1758 to 1761 show the old city at the height of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and an exhibition of architect Otto Wagner's work focuses on designs for the never-built Vienna Academy of Fine Arts.
The Vienna Project
The Clark's Vienna exhibitions are part of "The Vienna Project," a collaboration of eleven leading Berkshire cultural attractions during the summer and fall of 2002. Programs range from the age of Mozart to the present and include art exhibitions, music, theater, opera, and film. Participating organizations are: the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, MASS MoCA, Tanglewood, Shakespeare & Company, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Berkshire Opera, the Berkshire Museum, the Norman Rockwell Museum, the William College Museum of Art, the Berkshire Theatre Festival, and the Berkshire Choral Festival. For more information visit www.berkshirearts.org.
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is one of the country's foremost art museums and also a dynamic center for research and higher education in art history and criticism. The Clark's exceptional collections of Old Master, Impressionist, and 19th-century American art on display in the museum's intimate galleries are enhanced by the beauty of its 140-acre setting in the Berkshires. The Clark is also recognized for its special exhibitions, such as the recent Impression: Painting Quickly in France, 1860-1890, which concurrently advance critical thought and generate popular interest in the arts.
The Institute is one of only a few art museums in the U.S. that is also a major research and academic center, with an international fellowship program and regular conferences, symposia, and colloquia, and an important art research library. The Clark, together with Williams College, jointly sponsors one of the nation's leading M.A. programs in art history, which has been part of the professional development of a significant number of directors of art museums, curators, and scholars. The Clark's Fellows and conference programs draw university and museum professionals from around the world to pursue research and share new scholarship. The Institute encompasses one of the most comprehensive art history libraries in the world. The Clark also is home to the Williamstown Art Conservation Center, which serves more than 50 institutions in the region and also provides professional training in art conservation.
The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Throughout the exhibition, the Clark galleries will be open daily 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Admission is $10 for adults (members, students, and children free). For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.
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