When I think of Vienna, I think of Gustav Klimt and Art Nouveau artists. This summer, I visited Vienna, admired its palaces and magnificent 19th Century buildings and of course I went to see some famous Art Nouveau spots.
Are you ready for a Art Nouveau walk in Vienna with me?
Itinerary of my Art Nouveau walk in Vienna (click the map to enlarge)
The walk starts at Kettenbrückengasse subway station (on the U4 line). And the first Art Nouveau site is the subway station itself. It was built in 1899 by architect Otto Wagner, who designed other stations on the U4 line. Otto Wagner can be compared to Hector Guimard who built Paris subway stations. However Kettenbrückengasse subway station is more sober than Guimard’s luxuriant subway stations in Paris.
Kettenbrückengasse subway station
We can find foliage patterns that are typical of Art Nouveau style: indeed Art Nouveau artists wanted to reintroduce Nature into Art.
Detail of Kettenbrückengasse subway station
(2) Majolica House and Medallion House
The second stop is not far: located Linke Wienzeile 38 and 40, next to the subway station, Majolica House and Medallion House buildings were built by Otto Wagner in 1899.
Majolica House or Majolikahaus is covered with pink flower ceramic tiles. That makes a change from facades that are all the same color!
Medallion House is decorated with golden palm leaves, garlands and medallions of women’s heads by Kolo Moser.
Medallion House. Detail of the medallions
Art Nouveau artists thought that Architecture or Wrought-iron Work were Art in the same way as Painting or Sculpture. For them, there were no major arts or minor arts. All the forms of Art were valuable and collaborated for a total art.
Medallion House. Detail of the balconies.
(3) Secession building
Then we take Linke Wienzeile and go along Naschmarkt market. After 600 meters, we arrive at a building topped with a golden openwork dome. In Austria, instead of Art Nouveau, people use the expressions Jugendstil or Vienna Secession. Originally, a group of artists decided to secede from Vienna conservatist artists. They needed a place to exhibit. So in 1898, architect Joseph Olbrich designed this building which is called… Secession of course!
The building includes many symbols, as if there were a coded message in the architecture. For example, gorgon heads (a gorgon is a woman with snakes instead of hair) and owls are attributes of Athena, goddess of wisdom in Greek mythology. And laurel is associated with Apollo, god of the arts.
Secession building. Entrance door topped with three gorgon heads
Secession building. Owls statues and crown of laurels on the facade
Secession building. Laurel patterns on the facade
However I don’t know what those small turtles strolling under a big mosaic pot symbolise.
Gigantic vase and turtles statues at the Secession entrance
We walk on the same street until Karlsplatz where there are two former subway stations by Otto Wagner facing each other.
Karlsplatz subway station in Vienna
The facade is in white marble and ornamented with stylized sunflowers.
Detail of Karlsplatz subway station
The walk stops at Karlsplatz where you can enjoy Resselpark and have a break under the trees.
For more information on Vienna Secession:
A history of Vienna Secession