Advent Calendar – Door 22: Two Garden Gates

Joseph Maria Olbrich, Design for a Garden Gate, 1900/01
Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (CC BY-NC-SA)

December 22 marks the birthday of Joseph Maria Olbrich (1867-1908), one of the more interesting but perhaps lesser-known Art Nouveau architects of Vienna. After completing his studies at Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts, Olbrich joined the office of Otto Wagner. His big break came in 1897 when he was chosen to design the building of the Vienna Secession which was much debated at the time, but has long since achieved iconic status. Two years later, Olbrich  relocated to Darmstadt in Germany, where he became the leading architect of the artists’ colony Mathildenhöhe.

Joseph Maria Olbrich, Design for a Gate at the Gartenbauausstellung,  1905
Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (CC BY-NC-SA)

Here in Vienna, it seems, Olbrich never really became a household name among the general public, despite his involvement with Wagner and the Secession. This is partly due to the fact that he left the city at a relatively early point of his career, partly to his early death, at the age of only forty. That being said, he has always been well remembered among architecture nerds lovers, and in recent years, his reputation has noticably grown, not least thanks to a large exhibition dedicated to his work in 2010 at the Leopold Museum in Vienna. Nonetheless, he’s still not as well known as he deserves, so I thought I’d use his birthday as an opportunity to post a couple of his designs…

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