Architect Otto Wagner was one of the leading figures in the Vienna Secession.
After studying architecture at the Vienna Technical High School (1857–1860) and the Vienna Academy (1861–183), he worked in various historical styles for many years until he joined the Secession. The latter was founded in 1898 as a focal point for opposing the prevalent academicism of the establishment of fine arts, which also believed in painting and sculpture’s superiority over the applied arts.
Supporting the idea of the unity of the arts common to many avant-garde designers, architects and artists at the turn of the century, Wagner’s work took on a more functional appearance. This particularly showed in the Post Office Savings Bank (Thonet-designed). In his book Modern Architektur (1896), which emphasised the need for functionality, practical construction, and new material, he strengthened his role as an influential figure in modern architecture and design development.
His position as Head of Architecture at the Vienna Academy in 1894 was also important in this regard, having taught Josef Hoffmann and other young avant-garde figures. Hoffmann and Joseph Olbrich also worked at Wagner’s architectural office in the mid-1890s.
Woodham, J. M. (2006). A dictionary of modern design. Oxford University Press.
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