Curated by Rainald Franz, The Glass of the Architects. Vienna 1900-1937 is the second exhibition dedicated to international developments in 20th-century glass, after Glass from Finland in the Bischofberger Collection. The exhibitions are part of the Le Stanze del Vetro project jointly run by the Fondazione Giorgio Cini and Pentagram Stiftung for the purpose of studying and promoting the art of glassmaking in the 20th and 21st centuries.
With over 300 works from the collection of the Mak – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art, Vienna, and private collections, the exhibition in Le Stanze del Vetro on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore focuses for the first time on the history of glassmaking in Austria from 1900 to 1937, a period spanning the last decades of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the First Republic.
In fact in the early 20th century a group of young architects, designers, and fine arts and architecture students developed a special interest in the process of glassmaking. Many of them were to win fame as leading figures in Viennese Modernism, such as Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956), Koloman Moser (1868-1918), Joseph Maria Olbrich (1867-1908), Leopold Bauer(1872-1938), Otto Prutscher (1880-1949), Oskar Strnad (1879-1935), Oswald Haerdtl (1899-1959) and Adolf Loos(1870-1933). They paved the way to the first pioneering developments in 20th-century glass production as they worked with the furnaces in order to gain a thorough understanding of the material.
The collaboration between architects and designers and the introduction of their innovations to production created the style of Viennese Glass, found in new projects such as the Wiener Werkstätte or the Austrian Werkbund. In the exhibition, the juxtaposition of glass objects and their designs (with photographs documenting their production, design and exhibitions) brings back to life the amazing impressions on visitors that such radically modern objects created at the time.