Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The Vienna Workshop, V
Alfred Roller (1864-1935) was professor at the Kunstgewerbeschule and its director from 1909 – as well as a founding member of the Viennese Secession. Roller had close relations to the theater and initially designed costumes for the cabaret Fledermaus. He then collaborated with Max Reinhardt in Berlin, for whom he created countless stage designs and later became executive director for décor at the Wiener Staatstheater. His exlibris for Fritz Oberndorfer (1899) is a good example of the art movement of the early Secessionists. It is steeped in intellect with a balanced image-format where “not the professional activity but the true identity of the owner may be manifested in his Exlibris.” (Alfred Roller)
Another student at the same Kunstgewerbeschule was Berthold Loeffler (1874–1960). He took over a professorship in 1907, after Carl Otto Czeschkas’ move to Berlin. He taught art classes and held a workshop for print technology. He was a professor at the school until 1935. In addition to ceramic works, which he created together with Michael Powolny and the “Viennese Ceramics” – he applied himself to a variety of graphic works, such as book illustration, postcard design, posters, and general design. Loeffler created only a few exlibris, among them the two important and well known bookplates for psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud of Vienna and the poet Arthur Schnitzler. The ex libris for Loeffler’s wife Melitta (born Feldkirchner) is a beautiful example of the effortless, succinct style expressed by artists in the WW. His wife, often Loeffler’s model, was also an artist, known for her embroideries, which she designed and crafted in collaboration with the WW.
Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980) was a student of Berthold Loeffler at the Kunst-gewerbeschule and in the early years of his artistic career Kokoschka was strongly influenced by him. He outgrew his teachers and colleagues as a painter, as a graphic artist and as a man of letters. Kokoschka worked for the WW from 1907 to 1909 and also participated as a staff member in the Fledermaus décor. Kokoschka designed 15 postcards and several prints, and caused a sensation with the above mentioned story-book, “Die Träumenden Knaben” (“Boys Dreaming”) featuring eight magnificent lithographs.
Kokoschka’s ex libris for Emma Bacher shows his expressionistic, revolutionary style, which for Austria around that time was quite remarkable. The bookplate was displayedin the yearbook of the Oestereichische Exlibrisgesellschaft in 1909 as a sample of Kokoschka’s art work, and was received with spontaneous praise: “Perhaps this sorcerer’s apprentice will one day be revered as an old master.” Though Kokoschka lived a long time, he left only fourteen exlibris prints.
Emma Bacher was the wife of the Viennese jeweler and wealthy patron of the arts, Paul Bacher. Bacher acquired his gallery in 1904 to accommodate the Klimt-faction which had split with the Secession - to give them a showroom. In 1907, after the death of her husband, Emma Bacher took over the gallery and further cultivated the contact with its artists: Gustav Klimt, Kolo Moser, Alfred Roller, Emil Orlik, and others. Thus the contact to Oskar Kokoschka was established here as well.