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Joseph Maria

Joseph Maria Olbrich (German Joseph Maria Olbrich; November 22, 1867, Troppau, Silesia [now Opava, Czech Republic] - August 8, 1908, Dusseldorf, Germany) - German architect, co-founder of the Vienna Secession, the Austrian manifesto of Art Nouveau style. Albrich was a student Otto Wagner, one of the "founding fathers" of modern architecture in Europe.

Features of the work of Joseph Maria Olbrich. One of Austria's greatest architects at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries, along with other artists, including Gustav Klimt, was the founder of the Vienna Secession. For him, Olbrich designed the famous headquarters building, known as the Secession House. He was influenced by his teacher, the Viennese architect Otto Wagner, with whom he built a number of buildings (including the pavilions of the Karlsplatz metro station) in the secession style (the Austrian name is Art Nouveau). However, he managed to overcome the weaknesses and limitations of modern architecture and combine a bizarre look with spatial functionality. Albrich - along with Victor Horta in Belgium, Hector Guimard in France and Antonio Gaudi in Spain - became a bridge between 19th century architecture and the full-blooded modernism of Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius and the school Bauhaus.

Famous buildings of Joseph Maria Olbrich. House of Secession, Leonard Titz Department Store, Wedding Tower (Hochzeitsturm) at the Artists' Colony in Darmstadt.


Joseph Maria Olbrich was born in Opava, in Austrian Silesia (now the territory of the Czech Republic) in a family of a prosperous brick manufacturer. Paternal business and stimulated the initial interest of the future architect in the construction of buildings. Olbrich studied architecture at the Vienna State Industrial School, and then at the Academy of Fine Arts, where Otto Koloman Wagner was his teacher. At this university, the young man received several awards, including the Rome Prize in 1893. This prompted Wagner to invite a student to his architectural studio, where Olbrich worked for five years.

In 1897, Olbrich, together with Gustav Klimt,Kolomanom Moser and Joseph Hoffman, another student of Wagner, founded the Vienna Secession (Wiener Sezession), an avant-garde art group striving to modernize Austrian art. The “fathers” of the movement declared war on classicism and historicism, adopting modern trends, including post-impressionism, expressionism and decorative art.

The organization began to publish its own magazine Ver Sacrum ("The Rite of Spring"), which advocated blurring the boundaries between visual, decorative, applied and folk art, as well as art and architecture. Joseph Olbrich designed the impressive headquarters of the secession (Haus der Wiener Sezession). This iconic building is crowned with a metal dome with leafy Art Nouveau design, and its interior features a temple-like lobby and an industrial-style exhibition space.

In this building, from 1898 to 1905, 23 exhibitions were organized which presented the public with French impressionism, symbolism, English art and crafts, Japanese woodcut Ukiyo-e, as well as various works of international art nouveau.

The Secession House quickly brought Olbrich international fame and the many orders that he received between 1898 and 1900. The master was recognized as the most talented and inventive of the Vienna architects of the secession.

In 1899, Olbrich traveled to Darmstadt at the invitation of Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse, to design and build a series of buildings and galleries for the newly created utopian colony of artists on Matilda Hill (Matildenhöhe). The architect completed the construction of six houses, including the Ernst Ludwig House, which housed meeting rooms and artists' workshops. He borrowed architectural elements from Scottish designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Olbrich also designed a multi-story Wedding Tower - an exhibition center with several galleries - with avant-garde elements such as an Art Deco-style add-on and contemporary window stripes. In 1900, Olbrich received the citizenship of Hesse, and then assumed the post of professor of architecture from the Grand Duke.

During the 1900s, Olbrich carried out a variety of other diverse architectural projects, including the Leonard Titz Department Store in Vienna. In addition, he experimented with applied art, creating ceramics, book bindings, musical instruments and furniture. Here he was inspired by the creativity of the members of the Vienna workshop - a studio founded by Koloman Moser and Josef Hoffman and where gifted young artists such asOscar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele.

Olbrich also sent several works to the Louisiana exhibition in St. Louis (USA), and - thanks to the patronageFrank Lloyd Wright - He was elected an associate member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). In addition, he was a member of the German Federation of Labor. Other buildings the master designed at the end of his career include the Opel Workers House in Darmstadt and the Joseph Feinhals Residence in Cologne.

Unfortunately for 20th-century architecture, Joseph Maria Olbrich died of leukemia in August 1908 at the age of only 40.

Author: Vlad Maslov
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