The legendary artist and designer, Koloman Moser, is the centre of a newly unveiled exhibition, taking place at the Neue Galerie in New York City this week. As the first monographic survey of the Viennese designer's work on American soil, the Neue Galerie's retrospective promises to expose the full length and breadth of Moser's work, which touched on graphic design, furniture, jewellery, textiles and much more.
Moser was most notably a co-founder of the Wiener Werkstätte, though because he was overshadowed by his partner Josef Hoffman, he has largely remained an unsung hero of the design world.
Curated by Dr. Christian Witt-Dörring of the Neue Galerie, the exhibition focuses on works from 1897-1907, arguably the most creative period of Moser's career. Moser's artistic foray first began with painting and graphic art, which initially referenced the Art Nouveau style before he developed a more austere aesthetic that became characteristic of Vienna during the time.
Moser was also influential as one of the founding members of the Viennese Secession; a group of artists who sought to present fine art and applied art as one and purveyed a modern Austrian style dominated by clean and simple geometric forms. They were also champions of the notion of 'a total work of art' (Gesamtkunstwerk), to which all aspects of daily life could be seen as an artistic form.
This notion of Gesamtkunstwerk is cleverly expressed in the Neue Galerie's show, thanks to an exhibition design by Chicago-based architect John Vinci. Several galleries are adorned with period wallpaper to emulate the all-encompassing ideology pioneered by Moser. Against this vibrant backdrop, 200 of Moser's works are presented in their full glory, highlighting his wonderful dexterity as a graphic artist, furniture designer and interior architect.
In 1890, Moser, along with Hoffman, became a professor at the School of Applied Arts in Vienna. It was in this capacity (and the later establishment of the Weiner Werkstätte) that Moser and Hoffman successfully set the course for design in Austria, and much of Central Europe, for years to come.
'Koloman Moser helped define the art of his time,' said Ronald S. Lauder, President of the Neue Galerie. 'Today, it is impossible to imagine Vienna without the influence of Moser.'