Austria Arts and Architecture During 19th and 20th Century

Nineteenth century

In the first half of the nineteenth century particular qualities were accentuated in the individual provinces, giving rise to as many local schools. In painting the main artist is F. Füger, especially pleasant in portraits; among others, the portrait painter G. Lampi, the Bohemian J. von Führich who participates in the Romantic-Nazarene current. According to itypejob, the initiator of the costume picture was JP Krafft; his disciple J. Danhauser was the upper-class painter whose life he described, often with moralizing intentions. Excellent interior painters were P. Fendi and C. Schindler; landscape and portraitist was FG Waldmüller and quoted portraitist was also F. Amerling. Among the sculptors we remember FW Beyer, F. Zauner, JM Fischer. In the second half of the century, the construction of the Ringstrasse, in Vienna, following the demolition of the fortified walls (1859), favored the development of the eclectic style (neo-Gothic, neo-Renaissance, neo-Greek etc.) which then spread to all other cities of the empire. The sculpture is mainly decorative (A. Fernkorn, K. von Zumbusch). In this period the applied arts (furniture, leather, glass and metal works) acquired a notable development. The closest to the taste of the time was H. Mackart in painting, first-rate decorative ingenuity.

Twentieth century

With the founding of the Secession (1897), of the Wiener Werkstätte (1903) and of the Wiener Werkbund (1907), we have in Austria an extremely lively period both in architecture and in the figurative and applied arts, with personalities of high importance (A. Roller, M. Fabiani, J. Kotera, D. Peche, K. Moser etc.), as well as those internationally known by O. Wagner, J. Hoffmann and G. Klimt, while already in 1889 C. Sitte made a fundamental contribution to urban planning discipline. In the Secessionstil we find the seeds of the nascent expressionism which assumes an original and complex aspect in Austria with E. Schiele and R. Gerstl, and has one of the protagonists in O. Kokoschka.

After the First World War, the violent political and economic crisis is accompanied by a period of cultural isolation, particularly accentuated in the 1930s, but the activities of Austria Loos and the building policy initiatives implemented by the Municipality of Viennashould be noted in the architectural field until 1932. In the figurative arts, important personalities between the two wars are those of H. Boeckl, who through rigorous stylizations reaches abstractionism, and of H. Gütersloh (1887-1973), who had considerable influence on the Wiener Schule des phantastischen Realismus (E. Fuchs, E. Brauer, E. Hutter, Austria Lehmden), of surrealistic inspiration.

After World War II, F. Hundertwasser’s rigorous research evades with originality a classification of surreal painting or ecological art. The sculpture is dominated by F. Wotruba. In the 1950s, the Wiener Gruppe, composed mainly of writers and musicians, with its literary cabarets (1958, 1959) often crossed over into the field of visual expression and actionism; in the 1960s the Wiener Aktionismus – G. Brus (b.1938), O. Mühl (b.1925), H. Nitsch (b.1938), R. Schwarzkogler (1940-1969) – causes hostility and scandal with performances and actions aimed, especially through body language, to overcome taboos of bourgeois society, touching psychic and physical border areas. Nitsch continues this type of research (Orgien-Mysterien-Theater), while Brus turns towards a pictorial and poetic language marked by a more idyllic and magical visionary spirit (in 1997 he will get the State Grand Prix). The first activity of artists who have achieved international notoriety also dates back to the 1960s, such as M. Lassnig (b.1919) and Austria Frohner (b.1934), who from experiences related to Nouveau réalisme and actionism turns to painting, while maintaining a link with the latter in the violent themes dealt with, or B. Gironcoli (b. 1936), who with heterogeneous materials created sculptures, assemblages of objects, installations. Chromatic and gestural violence characterizes the Neue Malerei, whose main exponents are S. Anzinger (b. 1953), H. Schmalix (b. 1952), who then moves on to a geometrization of forms.

In the 1990s the reflection on the correlations of art became more intense, as well as with the phenomenological-formal aspect, with the functional-semantic one through the use of new media: V. Export (n. 1940) continues his raw social criticism feminist, started in the late 1960s, moving from performance to making videos and films; P. Kogler (b. 1959) is the author of complex wall decorations generated by digital elaborations; H. Zobernig (b.1958), after experiences of performance and neo-geometric painting, creates installations with objects (benches, windows, mirrors), studying their ambivalence, utilitarian and aesthetic, through a combination of artistic practices (painting, sculpture, graphics, video, architecture); expression of a physical, psychic, cultural and profane dimension, the sculptures by F. West (b. 1947) mark the passage from the contemplation of the object to its functional integration with the environment. Austria Konrad (b. 1960) uses photography as his expressive medium; in the field of video art operate E. Wurm (b.1954), P. Friedl (b.1960), as well as the duo Granular Synthesis (K. Hentshläger and U. Langheinrich) who have created spectacular installations-performances of images and sounds since the early 1990s.

In the architecture of the second half of the 20th century. above all R. Rainer and his school are of great importance, combining rigorous rationality and stylistic safety. K. Schwanzer, W. Holzbauer, F. Kurrent, J. Spalt, J. Staber still stand out, while since the last twenty years of the century a prominent place on the international architectural scene has been achieved by personalities such as G. Domenig, H. Hollein, G. Peichl, Coop Himmelb (l) au and B. Podrecca. On a national level, a significant production is also that of E. Giselbrecht (College of Physicists of Carinthia in Klagenfurt, 1994), V. Giencke (greenhouses of the botanical garden of Graz, 1995), Austria Krischanitz (new Kunsthalle in Krems, 1995), K. Kada (Stadthalle Graz, 2002), C. Baumschlager and D. Eberle (Student residence in Vienna, 2005).


Historic Center of the City of Salzburg (1996); Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens (1996); Hallstatt-Dachstein / Salzkammergut cultural landscape (1997); Semmering railway line (1998); historic city center of Graz (1999); cultural landscape of the Wachau (2000); cultural landscape of Fertö-Neusiedlersee (2001); historic center of Vienna (2001).

Austria Arts and Architecture