Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Vienna Workshop, VII

Anton Kling received recognition from Josef Hoffmann in his diploma, stating:
“his brilliant talent and resourcefulness in architectural design, as well as his taste and perception.” Kling played a part as a “decorative assistant” for the Fledermaus when working for WW. In 1908 his work was relevant in organizing the “Wiener Kunstschau” (Vienna Art Exhibition) where some of his ex libris’ – among his other works – were shown. Thirteen of his bookplates are well known. An early ex libris for the painter Magda Mautner von Markhof beautifully balances the ornamental element with a landscape.

One of the few artists who worked for the WW without preparation at the
Kunstgewerbeschule, was Dagobert Peche (1887–1929). He became interested in the arts and crafts movement after his studies at the Technische Universität (Institute of Technology) in Vienna; then as a student of architecture at the Wiener Akademie, which he left in 1911 to work as a freelance design artist. In 1915 he was invited by Josef Hoffmann to join the staff at the WW – where he was able to assert himself with his more playful, ornamental style – and prevail by giving critical new impulses. He also had important ideas for jewelry-, enamel-, tortoiseshell- and ivory design; and for metal-works and goldsmith-design. In the end his style prevailed in the entire production. Through export of WW’s merchandise, Peches also received name recognition abroad. Last but not least, he became the representative of the WW at their base in Zurich vom 1916 to 1918.

Dagobert Peche was also devoted to books and designed book-covers and some ex libris. The bookplate with his name shows how Peche’s style changed since the first decade at the WW, in which the geometric style was replaced with freer graphics.
His bookplate for Wilhelm Baumgartner shows an aging harlequin in front of a curtain, and the rhombs in his costume highlight the black and white contrast.

Another artist who needs to be mentioned in connection with the WW is the type designer Rudolf von Larisch (1856–1934). He was a consultant to the WW from the beginning, and the typeface used by the WW for forms, invitations, announce-ments, etc., shows his influence. WW’s famous company emblem from 1903 and Larisch’s ex libris clearly show the same type font design. Larisch began teaching at the Kunstgewerbeschule in 1902, at the Graphic “Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt,” and at the Wiener Academie and he applied himself to the theoretical and practical side of letters. He wrote numerous important essays about, for example, writing as related to art, and the legibility of ornamental letters. Larisch was an important proponent of the reformation of the art of writing. By developing a new style of writing, he set a benchmark for its daily requirement. Readability was his maxim; theoretical studies, the layout of letters, the connectedness of letter-endings and the meaning of the spacing between letters have supported his theory. His teaching was not only about type design, but most of all to promote the appreciation for new type fonts. His importance was the expansion of this vision and its acceptance for daily use.

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