A love letter to vintage Vienna

Thames & Hudson publishes a breathtakingly complete – and stylish – ode to Vienna at the turn of the 20th century.

There are art books – then there are art books.

That was my thought when I opened a recent package from Thames & Hudson to reveal the massive “Vienna 1900 Complete,” a stunning – and stunningly comprehensive – book by Christian Brandstätter, Daniela Gregori and Rainer Metzger.

Published Nov. 6 by Thames & Hudson ($125), the 544-page hardcover title features more than 1,250 illustrations in a tour-de-force walk through fin-de-siècle Vienna. It’s a treasure trove that explores paintings and drawings, decorative arts and crafts, graphic arts, fashion, photography and architecture.

Here’s how it’s been advanced:

“At the turn of the 20th century, Vienna became an epicenter for new thought, increasingly running counter to the prevalent conservatism symbolized by the neo-classical facades of the buildings in the city’s Ringstrasse. During the time of the modernist movement led by Gustav Klimt, Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser, among others, a multidisciplinary environment emerged in which music, writing, and intellectual thought flourished, bringing different arts together in a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ a total work of art.

“Covering all artistic fields, from painting to photography, the Wiener Werkstätte and decorative arts, fashion and architecture of fin-de- siècle Vienna and including biographies for featured artists, ‘Vienna 1900 Complete’ is an unprecedented compilation of richly colored images curated and authored in a single volume by three leading scholars of the period.”

Throughout, we were reminded of visits to Neue Galerie in Manhattan – a stunning museum that takes you on a step back in time with every visit. We featured its elegant exhibition, “Wiener Werkstätte 1903-1932: The Luxury of Beauty,” in our December 2017 issue – and are looking forward to our latest visit, set for Nov. 14 when we’ll take a curator-led tour of its new “Focus: Wiener Werkstätte Jewelry” as part of New York City Jewelry Week activities.

We’re already consulting – and savoring – this artistic reference and know we will for years to come.

And we’d bet that any history buff or fan of this era and its captivating creativity will be equally fascinated.

For more, visit thamesandhudsonusa.com, neuegalerie.org and nycjewelryweek.com.

– Mary Shustack

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