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City of Modernity,- 1890-1914

Tag Gronberg

In Vienna at the turn of the twentieth century the question of what it meant to be modern was a heated topic of debate. Focusing on interior design, fashion and photography, as well as on painting and architecture, this study casts fresh light on the vital role of the arts in these debates. The ‘new’ art and literature was crucial in defining a distinctive Viennese modernity while at the same time challenging preconceptions about modern urban life. Many artists and writers produced work that questioned and undermined oppositions between city and country, interior spaces and panoramic views, masculinity and femininity. Issues of gender and the representation of the body were particularly important in establishing professional identities for some of Vienna’s most prominent figures, including the Secessionist painters Gustav Klimt and Carl Moll, designers such as Adolf Loos and Emilie Flöge, as well as the poet and feuilletonist Peter Altenberg. Intellectual life in turn-of-the-century Vienna has often been characterised as a retreat from the public sphere. This book demonstrates how – even in its ostensibly most private manifestations – Viennese Modernism involved a highly performative set of practices aimed at an international audience.
Contents: The Inner Man: Interiors and Masculinity – Coffeehouse Encounters: Adolf Loos’s Café Museum – Haptic Homes: Fashioning the Modern Interior – Viennese Modernism: A New Look – Panoramas of Desire: The Visual Poetics of Peter Altenberg.