Vienna Art Nouveau, Otto Wagner and the City Trains

Vienna Art Nouveau, Otto Wagner and the City Trains

Vienna-Art-Nouveau-2The question of an efficient infrastructure is a topic that inevitably dominated Vienna during the late 19th century, at the moment when the city’s population underwent rapid expansion. The capital city of an Empire, Vienna had become a magnet for people from all over Europe looking for work. There was a high demand for labourers of every type since, just a few years earlier, Vienna’s venerable medieval city walls had been demolished in order to make way for the grand boulevard of the “Ringstrasse” and the construction of the impressive buildings that lined it. The need for a modern system of public transportation was therefore a logical consequence of the city’s demographic and topographic upheavals. Thus, in the latter part of the century, Vienna’s parliament engaged urban planners to draw up metro lines that were to connect the suburbs with the city centre along the Ring.

Vienna-Art-Nouveau-3The architect chosen for this massive and sensitive assignment was Otto Wagner, who was already famous for giving materials and functionality a leading role in his work by contrast with the tendency of many of his peers to privilege ornate decoration. From the beginning, Wagner’s aim was to create a metro design that would be iconographic, easy to recognize and which would fit equally into different regions of the city, and which would highlight Vienna’s cosmopolitanism. It is therefor  not surprising that he chose to work with the international avant­ garde style of “Art Nouveau” or “Jugendstil” as it is called in German. The outcome was a series of design elements for Vienna’s metro, including fences, doors, and stone carvings that could be combined and re­combined according to the different needs of each station and the surrounding area. We will visit two of the remaining stations to begin discussing the idiom of Viennese Art Nouveau and its ideological underpinnings.

Starting out at the beautiful pavilion at Karlsplatz, we lay a foundation for our discussion by visiting the small Wagner Museum. From here we walk to the Stadtpark station, the best preserved of the original metro stations still in use. Here we will start to delve into some of the design elements. One of the most remarkable features of this station is the adjoining artificial riverbed constructed for the little Vienna river, since the waterway needed to be rechanneled when the city train was built and one of the major issues was how to integrate the realigned river into the new city landscape.

Vienna-Art-Nouveau-4Our next metro stop visit will be Kettenbrücke station. On our way we visit and explore the famous Sezession art building, the icon par excellence of Viennese Jugendstil, as well as two beautiful apartment houses by Otto Wagner. Here we will flesh out the philosophy behind Jugendstil and consider the symbols and materials favored by its practitioners. From Kettenbrücke station we will step onto the metro for our last stop, a visit to the imperial station. This outstanding building was erected outside the Schönbrunn castle solely for the Emperor to use. The crown jewel of the line, this station had a symbolic meaning as well, namely to show critics of Vienna’s metro that the emperor supported the line. In this small but dynamic building, we will recognize all the elements that we encountered throughout the walk and at the other stations, while also noting the methods used by Wagner to translate the generally bourgeois style of Art Nouveau into an aesthetic with imperial grandiosity.

 

Ilse

Ilse Heigerth

Having obtained a Masters degree in Romance languages, and studied ethnology and journalism in the 1990s in Vienna as well, Ilse has served as the editor for numerous well-known Vienna-based writers.  Her interests have always been attracted to history, the arts and literature.  Born and raised in Salzburg, it is not a surprise that she also developed an early affinity for classical music, studying piano at an advanced level in Graz for 2 years.  She worked with the Sigmund Freud Museum for 3 years; and in 2013, after two and a half years of required training and study she became a licensed Austrian tour guide.  Ilse delights in sharing the fascinating history and culture of Vienna and Salzburg on a personal level, while enjoying cultural exchanges with visitors from all over the world.

 

FelicitasKonecnyFelicitas Konecny

Felicitas Konecny studied architecture in Graz, Naples and Vienna. As a student she organized conferences, co-founded a research group, wrote articles, held seminars and worked freelance at architectural firms. This wide-ranging experience led her to a position as the secretary of the Austrian Society for Architecture (1997-2003). Five times she was a co-curator of the biennial Architecture Days in Vienna, from 2005–2010 she edited a program on architecture for Vienna‘s Community-TV-Channel „Okto“. In 2012, she became a licensed Austrian tour guide. Her tours are mainly focused on the urban development of Vienna from the origins to the present day and architecture in its respective socioeconomic, political, cultural, and aesthetic context. What makes Viennese architecture special to her: the multifaceted interplay of buildings from all ages in this historic city and the prominent role of social/affordable housing as a motor for innovation and a challenge for the best architects. Although an enthusiastic native Viennese, she despises cliches and is happy about visitors with a critical eye.

Gilles Gubelmann

Art brought Gilles to Vienna for the first time, twenty years ago, where he works as a painter and a set designer for opera and theater productions. It was the perfect way, in Gilles’ words, to discover not only Vienna's rich cultural and artistic past as well as the splendors of baroque architecture, but also its soul, its fantastic classical, romantic or contemporary music production. Gilles specializes in guiding travelers through Vienna's history of music, visiting places where famous composers lived and worked or which they frequented. He also helps you discover the great Baroque palaces that crown the city or the hidden beauties of Vienna’s historical center, with its 2000 years of history, including the Viennese Secession, with its pivotal role in the development of modernism in art and culture globally.  

Reinhard Travnicek

Reinhard Travnicek studied literature, cultural science and pedagogy at the Universities of Salzburg, Graz and Vienna. He earned his PhD with a thesis about Henri Michaux and French post-surrealistic literature and art.  His published articles focus on literary criticism and cultural history. Since 1986, Reinhard began to work cultural tourism and cultural pedagogy. As a lecturer at the University of Graz, his main research topics are Italian and European Renaissance, Baroque and the Fin-de-siècle. At present, Reinhard is working on a study about late Italian Renaissance and the Counter Reformation. His research activities have always been very stimulating for his professional work as a cultural guide opening up the great city of Vienna and its history to travelers.

Katharina Ebner

Katharina Ebner was born in Vienna in a family of three generation Viennese. She holds a Master Degree in Art History and Cultural Studies, having studied at the University of Vienna and Rome. During her studies she has was involved in a research project focusing on the photographic representation of post-war Austrians. Since graduating with a thesis on the relationship between sounds and images in film (summa cum laude), she has been working in several fields of art and cultural production in Vienna, Rome and Amsterdam. She worked as program curator for a renowned Vienna Discussion Forum, gave tours through the collections of the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. As an independent art professional she has been involved in several international University projects, as well as writing texts for catalogues and works as an editor. She is closely associated with the Institute of Composition and Experimental Music at the University in Vienna, currently working on a research project on the history of the Institute. She has been giving talks and lectures internationally on the contemporary Viennese Art Scene as well as Film, Sound and Image relationships. Because Katharina shares a strong interest in the historical and contemporary cultural urban space, she also became a licensed tour guide, providing insightful tours through Vienna.  

Katharina Trost

Katharina Trost was born and raised in Vienna and earned an MA in History at the University of Vienna.  She gives a wealth of themed tours of her city, from the classic city tour to imperial history, music history, architecture and art nouveau, palaces, churches and cemeteries. She is well-known for her lively and specialized tours for children, which are interactive and allow kids to solve historical secrets while discovering Austria's capital.  

Gerti Schmidt

Gertraud Schmidt has a linguistics background. She decided to leave a successful career in translation to indulge her passion for history, architecture, art and culture.  After graduating summa cum laude from the two years of study to become a licenced Austria guide, she has become a involved member of the Vienna travel world, representing the Vienna Tourist Guides in the Chamber of Commerce/Association of Businesses in the Leisure Field in Vienna, as a member the Tourist Guide Training Department and as Vice Chair of the Board in the Chamber of Commerce/ Association of Businesses in the  Leisure Field in Vienna. She loves introducing travelers to Vienna’s rich history, its architecture and astonishing art collections. In her free time, she also serves as an expert lay judge at the provincial high court.  

 

Additional costs:
Otto Wagner Pavillon:

From April to October, when the museum is open, this tour incorporates a visit to the Otto Wagner Pavillon. Admission fees are as following:
€5 for General admission
€4 for Senior citizens, students, holders of Vienna Card and persons with disabilities

If you tour on Tuesday to Sunday, €9,50 Adults and €6 students and seniors admission to Secession House to see Gustave Klimt’s famous Beethoven Frieze. Your guide will help you to pay.
Starting Location:
Café Museum
Operngasse 7
A-1010 Vienna, Austria

 

Groups of over 10 should contact us at [email protected] in order to get a special rate for their party.

Cancellation and Tipping


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