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Kummaberg - Kunwald, Gottfried (16/25)
Kunstgeschichte Kunsthistorisches Museum


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Industrial Arts: Amphora-shaped vase with flower painting by J. Nigg, 1817.

Industrial Arts, the production of utility articles or jewellery or handcrafted decorative objects (also, since the mid-19th century, machine-made) which are also artistically designed. Industrial arts include a great variety of techniques and materials, such as metal (gold, silver, bronze, brass, pewter, iron, etc.), Glass, wood, leather, ceramics, ivory, enamel, textiles, and others.

Artistic objects made of metal and clay in the territory that is now Austria have been preserved from eras as early as the Bronze Age and the Iron Age (particularly from the Hallstatt Culture). The typical artistic forms of these materials in the Celtic La Tène Culture remained to a considerable extent characteristic of the Roman Era, particularly in the Noric/Pannonian region, where they soon merged with the Roman provincial style. During the migration of the Germanic Peoples, highly ornamental forms of jewellery became established, particularly as a part metalworking, which, as the so-called "Langobard style" remained widespread in the Alps region up into the 13th century. While it can be assumed that in the archbishopric of Salzburg important workshops were already active by the end of the 8th century (with another peak in the 12th and 13th centuries), in the territory of the Babenbergs, aesthetically qualitative articles made of metal (Goldsmithery), ivory, or enamel for the abbeys associated with their residences were imported from various artistic centres (portable altar of Suanhild in Melk, abbot crosiers in Göttweig and Altenburg, Verdun altar). It was under the Habsburgs that court artisans began to acquire importance, although their creations were strongly characterised by foreign influences. Austrian textile workshops were very productive in the 14th century. All branches of Austrian industrial arts achieved especially high quality in the Gothic period in the decoration of churches and in the production of weapons and armour. From the mid-16th century, a great increase in the demand for grandeur and prestige among the royalty and the aristocracy increased the demand for artistically made articles of valuable materials. These higher standards also had the effect of creating new divisions of labour (e.g. between carpenter, joiner, cabinetmaker, and specialists for marquetry). Industrial arts in the Austrian region assumed a similar degree of importance again at the beginning of the 18th century, due to the flourishing building activities of the aristocracy and the clergy and their concomitant demand for interior and exterior decoration (e.g. wrought iron latticework). When the Viennese porcelain manufacturer Porzellanmanufaktur Augarten was founded (in 1718), the artistic design of household and decorative objects made of porcelain became firmly established. In the first half of the 19th century, the distinctive and time-honoured Biedermeier style of home décor caused all fields of the industrial arts to flower. Now that industrial production was fully developed, the desire to also do justice to the artistic design of these products led to the establishment of the first "Museum für Kunst und Industrie" (Museum of Art and Industry) on the European continent (today the Austrian Museum of Applied Art), in Vienna in 1864. This brought the desired rise in standard and the recognition of Austrian industrial arts throughout Europe in the second half of the 19th century. The imitation of historic styles practised at that time, however, was soon vehemently rejected by the Secession, which demanded modern, practical, and precisely made decorative craftwork as part of a general culture of living and interior design. Thus the products of the Wiener Werkstätte (established in 1903), as well as of the Österreichischer Werkbund (established in 1912) retained a dominant position for a long time and attained international recognition. After 1945 the factors of design and utility of articles, as well as social and living conditions, came to the fore in the applied arts. The boundaries between applied arts and fine arts have become increasingly fluid, e.g. in the fields of ceramic figures, metalworking design for the public sector, or the decoration of buildings.

Literature: 100 Jahre Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, exhibition catalogue, Vienna 1964/1965; W. Neuwirth, Österreichische Keramik des Jugendstils, exhibition catalogue, Vienna 1974/1975; 4000 Jahre Keramik in Vorarlberg, exhibition catalogue, Bludenz 1978; Neues Wohnen. Wiener Innenraumgestaltung 1918-1938, exhibition catalogue, Vienna 1980; W. Neuwirth, Die Keramik der Wiener Werkstätte, Vienna 1981; Gold und Silber. Kostbarkeiten aus Salzburg, exhibition catalogue, Salzburg 1984; S. Gmeiner and G. Pirhofer, Der Österreichische Werkbund, 1985; H. Fillitz and M. Pippal, Schatzkunst, 1987; G. Koller, Die Radikalisierung der Phantasie, 1987; K. Fenzl (ed.), Design als funktionelle Skulptur, 1987; W. Schweiger, Meister der Wiener Werkstätte, 1990; Geschnitztes Steinbockhorn, exhibition catalogue, Salzburg 1990; Metall für den Gaumen, exhibition catalogue, Vienna 1990.

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