Vienna 1900 in a new Light

The fascinatingly complex cultural epoch denoted by the term “Vienna 1900” has long been the stuff of legend. Today, this chapter of design and arts and crafts history—subsumed under the terms of Secessionism and Jugendstil—serves like no other to underpin Austrian identity. But around 1900, the search for a suitable style reflected an identity crisis of the bourgeois class. The entirely contradictory results of this search were tied together by a central characteristic of the modern era: a pioneering desire for expressive individuality. The MAK (Museum für angewandte Kunst) in Vienna now invites visitors to engage in a multilayered examination of the “Vienna 1900” phenomenon. Vienna 1900. Design / Arts and Crafts 1890–1938 adheres to a largely chronological structure: the first room is dedicated to the search for a modern style; the second room features a close look at the Viennese style; and the third room points the way to the International Style. Around 500 collection objects are shown in various thematic combinations that serve to shed light on art-historical and sociopolitical aspects relevant to Viennese modernism. The new Permanent Collection on the “Vienna 1900” theme document mutual effects, making an important contribution towards underpinning a broader understanding of Central European modernism’s development.