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    Josef Hoffmann circa 1898

     

    A portrait of Josef Hoffmann taken in Kolomann Moser's studio. Hoffmann is sitting in a chair of his own design.
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    Office Chair 1904

     

    This chair was designed for one of the offices in Purkersdorf Sanitorium. During my stay in Vienna in 2003 the Sanitorium was undergoing comprehensive restoration. Unfortunately, I have no images of what many consider to be Joseph Hoffmann's major contribution to modern arciitecture. Today the restored sanitorium is a senior care home.
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    Purkersdorf Chair and Variation

     

    The chair on the left is one of the chairs used in the main dining hall of Purkersdorf Sanitorium. The one on the right is a variation made for commercial distribution. Both are from 1905 and made by the J & J Kohn Company, Vienna. The balls at the intersection of the legs and the seat became a kind of chair signature for Hoffmann, repeated in many of his designs.
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    Perforated Sheet Metal Vase

     

    Hoffmann's perorated sheet metal objects were among the most commercially successful of the Werkstätte's designs. Relatively inexpensive to manufacture once the tooling was set up they made into vases, desk accessories, dining table acessories, and jardinières. The pieces were usually punched in sheet steel and plated in nickel or sometimes silver, or they were painted white. Sometimes they were made in silver.
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    Sitzmaschine 1905

     

    This "chair" was originally designed for use in the Purkersdorfer Sanitorium. It references the English Arts and Crafts mechanical chair of Philip Webb although Hoffmann has thouroughly modernized the concept. There is a strong fusion of structural and ornamental components that would become a hallmark of many of hoffmann's modernist designs. Hoffmann's chair was mahogany stained beech and was manufactured by J & J Kohn of Vienna. The chair was also available in a painted white and blue finish.
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    Palais Stoclet 1905 -1911

     

    Commissioned by a wealthy Brussels banker, Palais Stoclet became Joseph Hoffmann's monumental architectural achievement. Here Hoffmann fully realized "Gesamptkunstwerk" ( the total work of art). Hoffmann's design was really a collaborative effort of many Werkstätte designers and Secession artists. The group that was involved with the design included Kolo Moser, Carl Otto Czeschka, Leopold Forstner, and Gustav Klimt, to name a few.
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    Cafe Fledermaus Chair and Modern Reproduction

     

    In 1907, flush with their success with the Stoclet commission the artists of the Werkstätte decided to found a cabaret with the blessing and the backing of their financial partner, industrialist Fritz Warendorfer. It became a favorite gathering place for the avant garde including intellectuals and bohemian artists, performers and writers of Vienna. Joseph Hoffmann designed this chair for the tables of the cafe. Today it is an icon of the period and Italian reproductions can be had at a handsome price.
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    Drawings For Tea Services 1903

     

    At times Joseph Hoffmannn and Kolomann Moser worked so closely together on projects that it could sometimes prove difficult to whom to assign provenance. This was especially true at the turn of the century when both designers would leave their everlasting marks on modern design. Eschewing the sensuous curves and organic stylizations of the "established" Art Nouveau, they embraced a minimalist geometric style, that was very much in contrast to the ornate flowery style of the period. These drawings of tea services from 1903 are excellent examples of this reductive philosophy.
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    Lamp 1909 and Coffee and Tea Service 1907

     

    After 1907 there were major changes in the Werkstätte. That year Moser left the group, angered by overtures to his wife to loan money to the enterprise. Hoffmann seemed to loosen his grip on the geometric minimalist style that had been the Werkstätte's hallmark. New members came to the Werkstätte, Carl Otto Czeschka being one of the more important, and Hoffmann seemed to fall under his flowery, folk art style. These drawings are indicative of his move away from modernism.
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    Villa-Primavesi-1

     

     
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    Villa Skywa-Primvesi 1913-1915

     

    A view of the street facade facing south. It is symmetrical and conceived in a classicst manner with fluted pillars and lateral projections. Hoffmann pays homage to monumental classicism with the steeply raked gables and the reclining figures sculpted by Anton Hanak nestled comfortably underneath the protective canopy.
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    Reclining Figure by Anton Hanack

     

    A detail of Anton Hanak's reclining figure. Hanak also sculpted the figures on the front columns.
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    Detail of the South elevation

     

    In this detail, the ornament employed by Hoffmann is quite apparent. A new member of the Werkstätte, Eduard Josef Wimmer-Wisgrill was largely responsible for the recurring theme of the bell flower which soon found its way into not only architectural details but most everything produced by the Werkstätte.
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    Table for Villa Skywa-Primavesi

     

    The side table designed by Hoffmann for the house incorporates architectural details such as the fluting from the facade columns and the bell flower motif.
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    Tea Service c.1920

     

    A tea service including tray and sugar tongs from around 1920 shows just how far Hoffmann has digressed from his early minimalist convictions.
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    Sofa,Table,Chair and Glass Cabinet 1920/30

     

    In this drawing from sometime between 1920 and 1930, it is evident that Hoffmann has submitted entirely to a more ornate derivative style. Unlike the Villa Skywa-Primavesi there is no hybridization of purity and ornament. The ornament now completely dominates.