Josef Hoffmann: Falling for Beauty 

Josef Hoffmann, 1954 © Yoichi R. Okamoto

The Art & History Museum’s Hoffman exhibition was developed in close association with the Applied Art Museum of Vienna (MAK) and features a variety of well-known works together with rare pieces from private collections. The small, but fascinating collection, is full of biographical details and new material on previously overlooked aspects of Hoffmans work; it is an opportunity to acquaint yourself with a leading figure in the field of modern design – one whose magnum opus is found in Brussels.

Josef Hoffmann, born in 1870 in Brtnice, Moravia, then-part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was an architect and all-round designer. He was one of the founding members of the Vienna Secession movement and co-established the Wiener Werkstätte (1903-32). The Stoclet House on Avenue de Tervueren was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009, is his masterpiece and is the most emblematic of the Vienna Secession. The work can be described as a Gesamtkunstwerk – a total work of ark – that was led by Hoffmann’s vision. The artists behind the interiors read like a ‘who’s who’ of the Vienna Secession: Koloman Moser, Gustav Klimt, Frantz Metzner, Richard Luksch, and Michael Powolny. 

The fact that Stoclet House is not open to the public is a source of some controversy, despite being unoccupied since 2002. Financier and engineer Adolphe Stoclet commissioned the work from Hoffmann, who he met while in Vienna. Stoclet and his wife Suzanne Steven moved in the avant-garde circles of both Vienna and Paris. 

As of 13 December it is now possible to visit a digital reproduction of the house, presented as a film. The virtual reproduction of this house (which reproduces the house as it was between 1911 and 1918 and does not represent the current situation) is based on precise archival sources and a detailed architectural analysis of its spaces. It has taken almost two years of collaboration between and the ULB (AllCe laboratory) to create this digital double.


Photos: © MAK