Vienna is famous for its Secessionist architecture and design. Well-known artists of the style include Otto Wagner, Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Koloman Moser, and Gustav Klimt. It is my favourite current within all of Art Nouveau.
My portfolio is relatively comprehensive, containing most important examples of Vienna Secession. Notable omissions include Josef Hoffmann’s Villa Primavesi and some other buildings outside the city centre. The Stoclet Palace by Hoffmann, located in Brussels, is another main work of the movement and should in no way be forgotten.
I took the below photos in November 2015, September 2016, March 2017, and July 2022.
You will find all the mentioned sites on the map below:
1. Secession Building
Friedrichstraße 12, Innere Stadt
Joseph Maria Olbrich, 1897-1898
The Secession Building is an exhibition hall that was constructed as an architectural manifesto for the Vienna Secession. Secession means the seceding of a group of rebel artists from the long-established fine art institution.
The building stands out for its circular dome made of golden leaves of bronze dominating over the clean white walls. Ever since, the white-golden colour pattern has been seen as a trademark of the Vienna Secession. Under the dome there is the motto of the Secession in golden letters: ‘Der Zeit ihre Kunst, der Kunst ihre Freiheit’ (‘To every age its art, to every art its freedom.’) The other motto, ‘Ver Sacrum’ (‘Holy Spring’), is located next to the bronze entrance doors. It was also the title of the magazine of the movement.
The entrance doors were designed by Georg Klimt, the gorgons above the doors are the work of Othmar Schimkowitz, and the six owls on the side façades are by Koloman Moser. The building is also home to Gustav Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze.
2. Nussdorf weir, the Schemerlbrücke, and administration building
Otto Wagner, 1894-1899
These works of hydraulic engineering are located at the point where the Donaukanal leaves the Danube. They were constructed with the purpose of transforming the Donaukanal into a winter harbour. They help maintain sufficient amount of water in the canal so that ships could pass it, and they protect the canal from floods and ice.
The weir, the Schemerlbrücke and the administration building are the works of Otto Wagner. Because of the prominent location of the weir, it was designed by Wagner as particularly impressive, as a gate to the city. It is adorned with imposing columns topped with lions made of bronze by Rudolf Meyr. The Secessionist administration building has a roof platform that served as an observation post. The Schemerlbrücke is named after an Austrian official who designed the first plans to regulate the Danube in 1810.
The adjoining buildings and the lock are thought to be the work of Sigmund Taussig.
The Wiener Stadtbahn, the public transportation system of Vienna, operated since 1898. It is, as a whole, a major example of late-Historicist and early-Art Nouveau architecture in the city. It is also one of the best works of Otto Wagner.
3. Hütteldorf-Hacking Railway Station
Keißlergasse 5, Penzing
Otto Wagner, 1895-1897
The first railway station here opened in 1858. It was torn down during the construction works of the Vienna Stadtbahn. The new station was designed by Otto Wagner. The main halls show elegant wreaths and festoons in stucco.
4. Stadtpark Stadtbahn Station
Otto Wagner, 1897-1899
This is one of the few preserved stations of the Wiener Stadtbahn.
5. Kettenbrückengasse Stadtbahn Station
Otto Wagner, 1899
This station, named after a chain bridge that crossed the Wien River since 1828-1830, opened in 1899 among the other stations of the Wiener Stadbahn.
6. Karlsplatz Stadtbahn Station
Otto Wagner & Joseph Maria Olbrich, 1899
This station, originally named after Akademiestraße, is the most outstanding of the historical stations of Vienna. It consists of two pavilions lying opposite to one another at Karlsplatz. These pavilions are, unlike the other stations of the Stadbahn, made of steel framework with marble slabs mounted on the exterior. They are very rationalist buildings, even though much more heavily ornamented than all the other stations. The floral ornaments are the work of Joseph Maria Olbrich. Today, one of the pavilions serves as an exhibition space, the other one is used as a café.
7. Hofpavillon Hietzing
Schönbrunner Schloßstraße, Hietzing
Otto Wagner, 1898-1899
The Stadbahn station was built on Wagner’s initiative for Emperor Franz Joseph I and his entourage. Unlike the other Stadtbahn stations, it has a Baroque-influenced dome, which makes it look slightly more conservative than, for example, the station located at Karlsplatz. The Emperor used the pavilion only twice. Today it belongs to the Vienna Museum.
Nestroyplatz 1 / Praterstraße 34, Leopoldstadt
Oskar Marmorek, 1898
This early Secessionist structure is a work of Oskar Marmorek, who built it for his father-in-law. Located very close to the Leopoldstädter Tempel, it served as a Jewish cultural centre. It contained spaces for theatre performances and film screenings, bars and restaurants, shops, offices, and apartments.
9. Linke Wienzeile 38
Otto Wagner, 1898-1899
This building and the Majolikahaus next to it with their flat and colourful façade ornamentation are a decisive breakaway from the architecture of Historisism. It is decorated with the golden ornaments by Koloman Moser and the sculptures on the roof are by Othmar Schimkowitz. Its corner solution is spectacular as well.
Linke Wienzeile 40, Naschmarkt
Otto Wagner, 1898-1899
The façade of this famous building is decorated with majolica tiles produced in the Wienerberger factory. The tiles are weather-proof and can be easily cleaned. The floral ornaments that extend over the entire façade were designed by Otto Wagner’s student Alois Ludwig. The plant carpet is especially dense between the windows of the upper floor.
11. Fleischmarkt 14
Ferdinand Dehm & Franz Olbricht, 1898-1899
The Secession Building clearly influenced the ornamentation of this structure on Fleischmarkt. Johann von Herbeck, the founder of the Vienna Singverein, was born here in 1831.
12. Rotenturmstraße 29 / Franz-Josefs-Kai 25
Carl Stephann & August Belohlavek, 1898-1902
This curvilinear building is located on Schwedenplatz.
13. Villa Wagner I
Hüttelbergstraße 26, Penzing
Otto Wagner, 1886-1888; Adolf Böhm Hall – c. 1900
This villa, located on the outskirts of the Vienna Woods, was designed by Otto Wagner for himself and his family. It was conceived as a summer house, but already some years later the Wagners moved in permanently.
It was a building of Palladian inspiration: a square volume with a balcony and a staircase in the front and a pergola on the both sides. The staircase has railings in the style of Secession.
The pergolas were closed some time later. One of the rooms thus created was used by Wagner as a studio. It is now known as the Adolf Böhm Hall, named after the author of the large panel of Tiffany glass that is displayed here. The glass mosaic, produced by Böhm in 1899, depicts autumn landscape in the Vienna Woods. It was displayed in the Secession Building before it was brought to Villa Wagner. The hall is now one of the most admired Secessionist interiors in Vienna.
In the 1970s, the villa went into the possession of artist Ernst Fuchs, who restored it and transformed it following his own style.