News from Austria (Austrian Federal Chancellery)
Oskar Strnad was one of the most brilliant architects, stage designers and theoreticians of the early 20th century. Together with Josef Frank, he founded the "Vienna School" of architecture, which distanced itself from the aestheticism of Wiener Werkstätte and was close to Adolf Loos in its basic approach free from dogmatism. As almost all Loos disciples, the founders and early members of the "Vienna School" came from a Jewish liberal middle-class background. Strnad's main focus was housing. His aim was to "shape without rigid forms" and to create "no dungeons but open worlds". He realized for example, the villa of the writer Jakob Wassermann presented in the exhibition, a semi-detached building in Vienna's Werkbundsiedlung and several flats in social housing complexes. Besides water colours and ceramic objects, Strnad also created furniture (e.g. for Hugo von Hofmannsthal); a drinking glass series made from mousellin glass can also be admired.
In 1909 Strnad led the architecture class at the Wiener Kunstgewerbeschule (Vienna’s College of Arts and Crafts). The drawings, photos and publications exhibited are a tribute to his pedagogical work as well as to his disciples and assistants, who passed into oblivion after their emigration. Typescripts, books and magazines introduce Strnad's theoretical work.
Another important section of the exhibition is devoted to Strnad's theatre, stage and film designs. It shows the plans for a "simultaneous theatre" with three stages, the Leopoldskron Palace Theatre, a theatre tent for New York as well as plans and a model of a theatre with a circular stage (designed together with Max Reinhardt), a theatre and cinema for the Ortmann-Pernitz workers' colony and a model of the Royaards Theatre in Amsterdam. Strnad excelled also as a stage designer, creating the sets for the spectacular premiers of Ernst Krenek's "Jonny spielt auf" ("Jonny Strikes Up the Band") and Alban Berg's "Wozzeck" in Vienna. Moreover, he was credited for the sets of "Masquerade" and "Episode," two famous films starring Paula Wessely.
The first comprehensive exhibition on this outstanding artist will be held at the Jewish Museum Vienna until 24 June 2007.