For the first time, an exhibition examines the history of the branch on Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse through some 180 works including paintings, designs, furniture, jewellery and more.

A fresh view from a Viennese perspective

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During the heyday of painting in Vienna in around 1900, its most prominent artist Gustav Klimt (1862–1918) called for the abolition of the traditional distinction between ‘high’ and ‘applied’ art. His thoughts were based on an ‘ideal community of those who create and those who enjoy’. The most enduringly influential driver of that aspiration was the design cooperative known as the Wiener Werkstätte, which was founded in 1903. Its customers included Klimt’s leading clients, but also Ferdinand Hodler (1853–1918). Hodler had been well acquainted with the ideas of the Vienna Secession since his breakthrough exhibition there in 1904. Taking this as its starting point, the presentation at the Kunsthaus sheds fresh light on Switzerland’s national artist from a Viennese perspective. Hodler ordered the furniture for his apartment in Geneva from the Wiener Werkstätte in 1913. Its presence in Switzerland culminated in 1917 in the establishment of a branch on Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse.

This exhibition is the first to explore the story of that branch, through some 180 works including paintings, designs, furniture, jewellery and more.

Guest curated by Tobias G. Natter, Vienna

Image: W. Pleyer, front of the Wiener Werkstätte AG shop in Zurich, Bahnhofstrasse 1, 1917, MAK - Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna, © MAK