MAK (Museum für angewandte Kunst)

This was the when-it-snows option, but I would have visited it anyway. MAK started life as Vienna’s version of the V&A and it has a wonderful collection of the influences on the Viennese Secession (William Morris, Emile Gallé, Mackintosh, van de Velde, Charles Ashlee) and Wiener Werkstätte objects. It also has the cartoons Gustav Klimt made for the frieze of the Palais Stoclet (designed by Josef Hoffmann) in Brussels in 1905-09:


and a frieze of “The Seven Princesses” by Margaret Macdonald for Fritz Waerndorfer, which is very similar to anything else of hers that I’ve seen. (It also occurred to me that Hundertwasser – another one-trick pony – was probably inspired by Klimt’s patterning.)


Chair by Hoffmann, 1904

Somehow I found myself entranced by the display of bobbin and needlepoint lace. How did that happen? The objects were just so exquisite that I was hooked. There was also a room of Biedermeier chairs and other furniture: it’s rather like the English Regency style but seems to have been much more grounded in the bourgeoisie. There were a small cabinet and a sideboard so simple and elegant that they could have been from 1960s Scandinavia. You could see how the Biedermeier style could have influenced Josef Hoffmann and Josef Frank (whom I also encountered in Stockholm). (And how Mackintosh – inspired himself by Japanese design – influenced Hoffmann too.)

There was a large display of mid-19th-century Thonet bentwood chairs. The remarkable thing was how difficult it was to copy: number 16 is a “fake”, which is clear from the bentwood back, which only bends on one plane. It’s much more rigid than the real thing.


There was also a bed-sitting room designed in 1925 by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky – she of Frankfurt Kitchen fame. Oh, the importance of good design. (I’ve just discovered that she died in 2000 aged 103: my goodness, that must have been some life.)

By this stage my brain was full, so I sat down on a sofa in the entrance hall and lifted my head until some of the information had drained out.



About aides mémoires

This is a chronological list of things I have seen, places I have visited, and thoughts that have wandered through the space between my ears. A reading group of one; an art appreciation society limited by my preferences and prejudices; opera criticism by one who knows nothing about the subject.
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