Reflecting styles of the Vienna Secession at the beginning of the century to the Bauhaus, which closed three decades later, “Glass of the Avant-Garde” offers the public a rare view of a brilliantly dynamic period in the history of glassmaking. The exhibition features nearly 200 examples of glass by leading designers Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser, Dagobert Peche and many other modern masters of 20th-century art, design and architecture. “Glass of the Avant-Garde” is introduced through six sections: Style 1900, The Viennese Secession, The Later Work of the Wiener Werkstätte, Avant-Garde Ornament, Redefining the Engraver’s Art, and Designing for Industry. The exhibition is enhanced by contextual material, including textiles, posters, prints and other decorative arts from the permanent collections of Cooper-Hewitt.
Agnes Miles Carpenter admired the Lobmeyr glass at the 1925 Paris Exposition and placed an order for a commission with the firm in Vienna. These life-sized designs were sent to Carpenter in New York as part of the commission, which included glassware by Oswald Haerdtl. The tall glass is on display in the case nearby.
This drawing of 8 Ambassador-pattern vessels is carefully composed to illustrate that the pieces are intended as a set, ranging from water glasses to finger bowls and candlesticks. Agnes Miles Carpenter approved the pieces for her Fifth Avenue apartment, some of which are in Cooper Hewitt’s collection.
These drawings, which document different colorways, might have been made for the various Wiener Werkstätte shops, as records for the individual designers, or for fabric printers who were outside contractors.
The Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops), which operated from 1903 to 1932, produced more than 1,800 different patterns for use in fashion, accessories, and interior furnishings. The designers of the Wiener Werkstätte borrowed freely from contemporary forms of abstraction, such as futurism and cubism, as well as from traditional folk-art motifs.
The Harvest Time design refers to both plant and human fertility. Women in long robes decorated with checked borders hold pomegranates. The fruit is a traditional symbol of regeneration because of its numerous seeds. The black and white check motif alternates with the repeating circular fruits in a rhythmically patterned composition.