Otto Wagner


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Austrian architect of great distriction. Born in Penzing, near Vienna, he studied in that city and in Berlin (where he absorbed something of Schinkel's Classicism), and began practice in Vienna as a competent architect of many Historicist buildings, drawing heavily on the Renaissance and Baroque traditions (influenced by van der Null and Siccard von Siccardsburg). In 1890 he was appointed to prepare proposals for replanning the city: the only part to be realized was the Stadtbahn (City Railway—1894–1901), with its series of remarkable and beautiful buildings (stations, bridges, and other structures) in a restrained, economical style, tending to Neo-Classicism (but where even Ionic capitals are transformed into machine-like elements), and openly exploiting the possibilities of metal and glass in architecture. The elegant stations at Schönbrunn (Hofpavillon (Court Pavilion) outside the city and in the Karlsplatz in the centre both displayed Baroque and fin-de-siècle Art Nouveau tendencies.

Among his finest creations in an Art Nouveau style are the Majolikahaus (faced with ceramic tiles), and adjacent apartment-block (with Art Nouveau stucco ornament), on the Linke Wienzeile, Vienna (1898–9), while the second Villa Wagner, 28 Hüttelbergstrasse, Vienna (1912–13), anticipated aspects of C20 Neo-Classicism and even Art Deco. As a practitioner and Professor of Architecture at the Academy, Wagner influenced the younger generation, including Hoffmann, Kotěra, Olbrich, and Plečnik, and in his influential Moderne Architektur (1896) he argued for forms, style, structures, and materials that would be suitable for the times. His stripped Classical Post Office Savings Bank, Vienna (1904–6), has a façade clad in stone fixed with metal bolts, the heads of which are exposed, and the interior of the banking-hall is treated without historical references in a fresh and confident manner, using metal and glass. His mastery of combining new technology and materials with traditional forms is best seen at the Church of St Leopold, Am Steinhof (1905–7), on a hill in the grounds of the Vienna State Mental Asylum: there, aspects of Jugendstil, Neo-Classicism, and Baroque combine in a masterly synthesized whole. Wagner's influence extended after his death to the successor-states of the Austro-Hungarian Empire through his many pupils and assistants.

Asenbaum et al. (1984);B&G (1986);Geretsegger et al. (1983);Graf (1985);Lux (1914), 1997, 1999, 2000);Kliczkowski (ed.) (2002);Kolb (1989);Ostwald (1948);Ouvrard et al. (1986);Placzek (ed.) (1982);Pintarić (1989);Sheaffer (1997);Jane Turner (1996);Sheaffer (1997);Jane Turner (1996);Trevisiol (1990);Wagner (1914,1987, 1988, 2002, 2002a)

Subjects: Architecture.

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