Joseph Maria Olbrich – (1867-1908)

Joseph Maria Olbrich was a leading architect of the Austrian Art Nouveau and one of the founders of the Vienna Secession.

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Maria_Olbrich#/media/File:Joseph_Maria_Olbrich_1908.jpg

About his life

Born in Opava, in Austrian Silesia (now part of the Czech Republic), Joseph Maria Olbrich studied architecture at the Wiener Staatsgewerbeschule and afterward at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna under Otto Wagner.

Ein Dokument deutscher Kunst, Darmstadt, exhibition poster
poster by Joseph Maria Olbrich ,1901- Ein Dokument deutscher Kunst, Darmstadt, exhibition poster

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/09d4fb31-10ea-48ca-91bd-459cd364669f by MCAD Library

Along with Koloman Moser, Josef Hoffmann, Otto Wagner, and Gustav Klimt, Olbrich was a founding member of the “Viennese Secession” (1897), a group of dissenting artists who split off in protest against the academy art scene as other late 19th-century secessionist artists had already done in Berlin (1892) and Munich (1893).

Piano décoré par J.M. Olbrich (Musée de la colonie d'artistes, Darmstadt)
Pianoforte decorato da J.M. Olbrich (Museo della Colonia degli Artisti, Darmstadt) “Pianoforte a coda, decoro disegnato da Joseph Maria Olbrich” 1901

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/c8b77d5a-58cf-4de5-8ef1-41813a4e7914 by  dalbera

Joseph Olbrich- Secession Building, 1896
The Secession Building, 1897-1898, J. M. Olbrich

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/67f29ccf-9fb5-46c3-946d-b4e91841caee by roryrory

About his style

Influenced by the Viennese architect Otto Wagner (1841-1918), Olbrich was also associated with Art Nouveau, known in Austria as Sezessionstil or by its German name of Jugendstil, and was involved in the decorative design which is promoted. But he managed to overcome the weaknesses and limitations of Art Nouveau architecture, combining its fantastic appearance with spatial and distribution functionality.

Thus, like Victor Horta (1861-1947) in Belgium, Hector Guimard (1867-1942) in France, and Antoni Gaudì (1852-1926) in Spain, Olbrich acted as a bridge between 19th-century architecture and the advent of full-blooded modernism in the hands of Le Corbusier (1887-1965), Walter Gropius (1883-1969) and the Bauhaus design school (1919-33).

La Mathildenhöhe, colline jugendstil (Darmstadt)
Mathildenhöhe, jugendstil hill (Darmstadt) In the center, the Wedding tower (Hochzeitsturm) by Joseph Maria Olbrich (1867-1908)

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/00f090d0-308b-4e17-9359-74a2f7dd454e by dalbera

What are his major works?

  • “House of the Secession” in Vienna (1898-1999). Josef Maria Olbrich designed the building for the Secession exhibitions, which was his first large-scale project. It is notable for its blocky simplicity, but the metal dome is decorated with Art Nouveau floral ornaments.
  • The Hochzeitsturm (1907; Tower of the Wedding) in Darmstadt, which had rounded toe-shaped roof overhangs reminiscent of Art Nouveau, but also had sashes that marked a distinctly modern trend.
  • House at Cologne-Marienburg (1908–09) and a department store in Düsseldorf (designed in 1906 and completed after his death).

Olbrich was involved in designing the Viennese Secession periodical, “Ver Sacrum“.

Darmstadt artists’ colony

A colony of artists originated in Darmstadt around 1900 with the support of the Grand Duke of Hesse Ernst Ludwig von Hesse. He tried to implement this Crafts Guild idea, which was pursued by Victorians such as Ruskin and Morris, creating a village studio that included studio apartments, a workshop school, and his residence. The goal of the colony was to contribute to the economic growth of the region through the presence of the most important German-speaking artists, whose work is presented to the public in a series of exhibitions. Olbrich designed six houses here, as well as a central meeting and study hall, which bears witness to the influence of Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

  • Ernesto Luigi’s house was built in the form of a common atelier following the projects drawn up by Joseph Maria Olbrich. Olbrich had worked as an architect and was the central figure of the artistic cenacle, while Peter Behrens had been involved only as a painter and illustrator.
La maison Deiters (Mathildenhöhe, Darmstadt)
Wilhelm Deiters House (Mathildenhöhe, Darmstadt)- The Deiters house designed by architect Joseph Maria Olbrich in 1901. 

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/a79a890f-6a8f-4075-8429-f38fbf3909c3 by dalbera

  • Wilhelm Deiters House;
  • The large Glückert house;
  • The small Glückert house (Rudolf Bosselt’s house);
  • House of Joseph Maria Olbrich;
  • Ludwig Habich’s House;
  • Hans Christiansen House
Ernst Ludwig House
House of Ernesto Luigi in Mathildenhöhe, Darmstadt

Image source:  https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/50628838-bca6-4015-a154-2f6b4e979d3c , Metro Centric


Info sources:

www.britannica.com

www.encyclopedia.com

www.visual-arts-cork.com

www.joseph-maria-olbrich.com

www.visual-arts-cork.com

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