Description & Technical information
Made for the Bertold Löffler apartment
Neue Galerie, New York.
Christian Witt-Dörring, Curator at the Neue Galerie, wrote:
The five armchairs designed by Josef Hoffmann were originally part of the apartment furnishings of Bertold Löffler (1874-1960). He studied painting between 1890 and 1900 at the Vienna Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Crafts), where Kolo Moser was also one of his teachers from 1899 to 1900. The latter delivered this positive assessment of his pupil: "His nature studies from life, also of plants and animals showed extraordinary talent as well as great commitment and diligence. His free designs were outstanding in invention, form and colour and in execution always compliant with the material." Besides his painting and commercial graphics (postcards for the WW, posters and printed graphics for the Cabaret Fledermaus), Löffler is known above all for his ceramic designs, some of which he also executed himself. After he had already held a post as assistant at the Vienna Kunstgewerbeschule in 1903, he became teacher of the drawing and painting class and was finally appointed professor in 1909. In 1906 together with his friend and artist colleague Michail Powolny he founded the ceramics workshop "Wiener Keramik", which operated its sales and distribution mainly through the Wiener Werkstätte. This was the start of a fruitful partnership which subsequently led among other things to Löffler's participation in furnishing the Palais Stoclet and the Cabaret Fledermaus and collaboration in the WW exhibition "Der gedeckte Tisch" (The Set Table).
There are various explanations for the presence of this valuable suite of seating furniture in the apartment of this – at the time – young and promising artist: Löffler's appointment as teacher at the Vienna Kunstgewerbeschule and his move into a new apartment together with Powolny in 1907 on Baumannstrasse 5, Vienna 3, also his close contact to Hofmann and Moser. Hoffmann already developed this type of armchair around 1903/04 for the new Wiener Werkstätte business premises on Neustiftgasse 32. Subsequently Hoffmann used it repeatedly for his interior design projects. Accordingly we encounter it in 1904 in Gustav Klimt’s studio, in Paul Wittgenstein’s bedroom and in the study of Dr. Koller’s apartment, in 1905 in the study of the Brauner house and in the Wiener Werkstätte exhibition at the Galerie Miethke. The seat is not upholstered with straps but Hoffmann covers the entire length and width of the seat with a piece of leather fastened on the front and rear frame with visible decorative tacks. On top of this he places a quilted leather cushion. The back rest in the Haus Brauner is made of framed longitudinal splats, like the armchairs in the Wiener Werkstätte Garden Art Exhibition (1907). The same model with closed back rest as for the Löffler apartment was also used in the Garden Art Exhibition. Hoffmann encloses only two-thirds of the back rest with a board. He reinforces the dynamic proportion resulting from this even more by leaving out the lower bottom part of the frame, so the board has no horizontal tectonic anchoring in the frame and looks as if it can be slid into different positions if required. This achieves an impression of lightness and visual mobility, despite the closed surface area. All edges of the chairs are bevelled apart from the lower stretchers of the legs. Thus Hoffmann creates a cunning framing effect in the area of the back-rest board, which however is not resolved at the board's lower end and therefore relates solely to the outer contours of the chair.
Ref.: Erika Patka (Ed.); Bertold Löffler. Vagant zwischen Secessionismus und Biedermeier; Vienna 2000
Period: 20th century
Medium: White oak, Stained black
Dimensions: 91 x 55 x 44 cm (35⁷/₈ x 21⁵/₈ x 17³/₈ inches)
Exhibitions: Leopold musuem, Wien.
Belvedere musuem, Wien.
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20th Century Decorative Art