Otto Wagner – Austrian Architect – (1841-1918)

Austrian architect, designer, and art theorist Otto Wagner was one of the most prominent artists in Vienna at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. A very influential figure in the development of modern architecture.

Portrait of Otto Wagner

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About his life

Otto Koloman Wagner was born on July 13, 1841, in Vienna, Austria. In 1894, Wagner was appointed professor of architecture at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. Among his students were the renowned Art Nouveau architects Joseph Maria Olbrich and Josef Hoffmann. In his unusual inaugural lecture, Wagner stated that he advocated modern architecture in response to contemporary needs, and condemned any stylistic imitation as false and inappropriate. This introductory lecture, which embodied Wagner’s philosophy of architecture and design, was published the following year as a book entitled Moderne Architektur”.

Metro station in Unter-Dobling, Vienna

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In 1897 he joined Gustav Klimt, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Josef Hoffmann, and Koloman Moser shortly after founding the “Vienna Secession” art group. From the ideas of this group, he developed a style that included symbolic references to new forms of modernity.

Karlsplatz Stadtbahn Station, 1892-1901, O. Wagner

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What are his major works ?

  • Rumbach Street synagogue, Budapest (1872);
  • Nussdorf weir and lock, Vienna (1894);
  • Majolica House (Majolikahaus), Vienna (1898–1899);

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    • Postal Office Savings Bank Building, Vienna (1894–1902);
    • Kirche am Steinhof, Vienna (1903–1907);
    • Kirche am Steinhof, also called the Church of St. Leopold
    • Viennese Wiener Stadtbahn, metropolitan railway system, e.g. Karlsplatz Stadtbahn Station;
Main facade of the Österreichische Postsparkasse (P.S.K.) building in Vienna

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The building he designed as the Austrian Postsparkasse (1904-06) is regarded as Otto Wagner’s masterpiece, both aesthetically and technically. Wagner conceived this building as a total work of art, using not only the newest materials such as reinforced concrete and aluminum, he also designed the entire interior, which reveals early functionalist tendencies, and used new methods of furniture-making.

The innovative interiors of Otto Wagner’s early-20th-century Austrian Postal Savings Bank (Österreichische Postsparkasse)

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