Exhibition Celebrates Gift from Philanthropist Leonard A. Lauder of Nearly 1,000 Postcards to Neue Galerie

NEW YORK (September 1, 2010)—From October 7, 2010, to January 17, 2011, the Neue Galerie will present “Postcards of the Wiener Werkstätte: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection.” This will be the first major museum exhibition ever held in the United States devoted exclusively to the postcards produced by the Wiener Werkstätte. The work in the exhibition is drawn exclusively from The Leonard A. Lauder Collection and coincides with the gift of nearly 1,000 of these postcards to the Neue Galerie.

The exhibition is organized by the distinguished decorative arts curator Christian Witt-Dörring, who has served as the curator for numerous exhibitions at the Neue Galerie, including “Dagobert Peche and the Wiener Werkstätte,” “Viennese Silver: Modern Design 1780- 1918,” and “Josef Hoffmann: Interiors 1902-1913.”

“The Neue Galerie is the perfect home for this collection, which has been in the making for more than 30 years,” said Leonard Lauder, Chairman Emeritus, The Estée Lauder Companies. “Although produced as postcards, the Wiener Werkstätte cards are really original prints, created for a wide audience as part of a project to make beautiful objects for everyday use. I am thrilled that the Neue Galerie appreciates them as individual works of art.”

“I am so proud to welcome this collection, and wish to thank my brother Leonard for his generosity and foresight in making it available to the Neue Galerie,” said Ronald S. Lauder, President of the Neue Galerie. “He has kindly lent works to the museum in the past. But with this gift, he raises his involvement to the highest level.”

“Leonard Lauder is well known as a philanthropist and businessman, and his passion for great art and design is evident in the care with which he assembled this collection,” said Renée Price, Director of the Neue Galerie. “We owe him an immeasurable debt of gratitude for making this gift to the Neue Galerie, and for allowing us to share these extraordinary objects with our viewing public.”

The Wiener Werkstätte or Vienna Workshops were founded in 1903 by architect Josef Hoffmann and artist Koloman Moser with the financial support of the textile industrialist Fritz Waerndorfer. One of the concerns of the founders of the fi rm was to present a unified graphic identity. All letterhead, logos, invoices, and other graphic materials were designed to ensure a cohesive unity. The Wiener Werkstätte’s purpose of expanding their production line with the design of postcards was to also confer the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk or “total work of art” on to this media. By doing so they developed a new art form unique unto itself.

Beginning in 1907, the Wiener Werkstätte began publishing a numbered series of postcards, which would ultimately exceed 1,000. The cards document cover a wide range of contemporary events including the Kunstschau Wien 1908 (Art Show Vienna 1908), the opening of the Cabaret Fledermaus and its activities, and the 1908 Imperial jubilee festivities. There were numerous cards designed to celebrate holidays, such as Christmas, Easter, New Years, and others. When the fashion department was founded in 1910, costume and accessories became another popular area that was depicted in the postcards. Other subjects treated are illustrations of places in Vienna and elsewhere in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Europe. Some of the cards are merely humorous or include popular sayings of the period.

All of the major designers who worked for the firm were contributors in this medium including Josef Hoffmann, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele, and Dagobert Peche. Other noteworthy artists who were active in this area whose names may be less familiar include Moriz Jung, Rudolf Kalvach, Mela Koehler, and Maria Likarz, among others.

A fully illustrated catalogue, published by Hatje Cantz, will accompany the exhibition. With new research from leading scholars including Christian Witt- Dörring, Elisabeth Schmuttermeier, Curator of Metalwork and the Wiener Werkstätte Archive at the Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna, Detlef Hilmer, an independent scholar and specialist on postcards of the Wiener Werkstätte, and Janis Staggs, Associate Curator at Neue Galerie New York, the publication will be an indispensable companion to the study of these works. It will be the fi rst catalogue raisonné on Wiener Werkstätte postcards to appear in English.

This exhibition will be open to the public five days per week: Thursday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (with additional hours of the First Friday of each month until 8 p.m.) Admission is $15 (students and seniors, $10), which includes the use of the audio-tour. Children under 12 are not admitted, and those under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

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