Symposium Design Dialogue: Jewish Contributions to Viennese Modernism

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Dr. Elana Shapira and Dr. Rainald Franz
The symposium “Design Discourse” offers historical and contemporary perspectives that testify to the important role Jews played in the creation of Viennese modernism.
From the beginning of the nineteenth century, ambitious dialogues between patrons and designers in Vienna bridged the gap between Jewish and Christian cultures, advancing instead a new aesthetic and ethic ideal of civilization. These dialogues and the model relationships between various patrons and architects give this symposium a framework through which to discuss shifting aesthetics and socio-cultural structures in the modernist timeline. With modernism, new architectural and design frontiers were being shaped in Vienna; this symposium will illuminate Jewish participation in these transformations, tracing not only aesthetic developments but also socio-cultural interchanges.
Leading cultural historians, museum curators, architecture historians and art historians will present new research reflecting on the significant influence Jewish patrons and Jewish architects had on the semantics of architecture and design in Vienna from the 1860s to the 1930s. Among topics being examined are the emergence of Jewish patronage and the prominence of Jewish architects in the Historicist period; the role of Jewish patrons in the promotion of two famous Viennese avant-garde movements, the school of Josef Hoffmann and the oppositional school of Adolf Loos; the contributions to Viennese and international modernism made by Jewish students and followers such as Oskar Strnad, Josef Frank, Liane Zimbler and Frederick Kiesler. Throughout, the symposium will consider the relevance of this earlier design discourse for today’s social, intercultural and global perspectives.

The symposium is a cooperation between Angewandte and MAK.