Time to bring some underappreciated names into the harsh glare of the exhibition spotlight. The MAK museum offers deserved space to the women artists who helped grow the output and reputation of the famous Wiener Werkstätte artisan workshops.
- Highlights the contributions of numerous women artists to the famous producer cooperative
- Covers a period from 1900 to 1930
- Chronological and thematic displays feature over 600 exhibits from around 100 artists
- Includes the works of such luminaries as Baudisch, Wieselthier and Flögl
- All info in English and German
- May 5, 2021 – Oct 3, 2021
- See also: MAK visitor & tickets info
Not just a man’s world
(Charlotte Billwiller, Mathilde Flögl, Susi Singer, Marianne Leisching, and Maria Likarz, Photograph, 1924, © MAK)
Klimt, Schiele, Wagner, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Haydn, Loos, Kokoschka, Makart…
Drift through Vienna’s art, music and design museums and you can’t help but notice the gender bias of the Austrian past and how male artists, designers and composers feature most prominently in our collective consciousness.
Take the Wiener Werkstätte, for example: a hotbed of design creativity that arose in the time of Viennese Modernism (primarily the early 20th century). The two names most closely associated with the Werkstätte are Koloman Moser and Josef Hoffmann. (Though to be fair, they did co-found the arts and crafts workshop.)
But many of the contributors to this iconic organisation had no Y chromosome. An exhibition at the MAK museum seeks to shine a deserved light on the work and impact of the women artists that helped establish the Wiener Werkstätte’s place in art and design history.
The exhibition actually serves a double function in highlighting the role of these women.
Firstly (and obviously), the exhibition explicitly presents the women’s contributions, taking us from their training through to their critical and commercial achievements.
Secondly, the research process underpinning the exhibition revealed the true extent of the involvement of women in the Wiener Werkstätte story, allowing many to receive overdue acknowledgement and recognition.
This involvement transcends the usual arts and crafts roles assigned to women of the time. So while many worked on fabrics and fashions, their efforts soon extended into sculpture, furniture design, and other areas of creative and design endeavour.
Works by around 90 women artists feature (roughly half of the female names unearthed in research). So you’ll see porcelain and ceramics, postcard designs, toys, glassware, jewelry, stationery, and much more, though fashion and fabric do tend to dominate.
As such, the exhibition goes beyond the well-known names like Mathilde Flögl (who established her own studio after leaving the Wiener Werkstätte) or Vally Wieselthier (who had her own ceramics workshop and worked with such famous brands as Augarten and Lobmeyr).
The displays also address particular themes, such as the reception given to the women and their work. So we have misogynist criticism of female art by some of their male counterparts, but also success and acclaim in major exhibitions during the 1920s.
Be prepared for one or two surprises. For example, one kimono turns out to be one used by Marlene Dietrich in the movie, The Blue Angel. Other items help bring the Wiener Werkstätte to life, such as photos of the sales premises on Vienna’s Kärntner Straße.
Dates and tickets
Admire the work of the Wiener Werkstätte women from May 5th, 2021 to October 3rd, 2021, in the main exhibition space off to one side of the top floor.
A standard ticket for the MAK museum gets you into all the temporary exhibitions, too.
How to get to the exhibition
See the bottom of the main MAK museum article for tips. Once inside the museum, note that the Wien 1900 permanent exhibition also features the output of the Wiener Werkstätte.
Address: Stubenring 5, 1010 Vienna