Otto Prutscher (Austrian, Vienna 1880–1949 Vienna)
Beissbarth & Hoffmann (Mannheim-Rheinau, Germany)
Wood, metal, paint
36 1/2 x 15 3/4 in. (92.7 x 40 cm)
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1993
Not on view
At the turn of the century a number of avant-garde Viennese designers made an abrupt switch from the flowing organic lines of Jugendstil and Art Nouveau to a strict yet vigorous geometry. In 1903 these designers banded together to form the Wiener Werkstätte ("Vienna Workshops"), a designers' cooperative under the direction of the noted architect and designer Josef Hoffmann. Founded on the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement, the Wiener Werkstätte strove to provide a range of well-designed, often handmade products for a sophisticated audience and indeed could supply everything from an architectural setting to the smallest decorative accessory. Outside manufacturers were frequently used to produce and distribute designs that the Wiener Werkstätte was unable to realize in their own studios. The renown of the workshops was such that by the early 1920s they had opened branches in Paris, Zurich, and New York.
Otto Prutscher was a prominent member of the Wiener Werkstätte and a former student of Hoffmann. This plant stand, as well as a number of designs for similar plant stands by Prutscher, was produced by Beißbarth & Hoffmann AG, a manufacturer in Mannheim-Rheinau, Germany. Its architectonic design represents a particularly advanced take on the new geometry. The black-and-white checkerboard of painted squares is echoed in the alternating tiers of square cachepots. The motif is similar to one employed at the time in Glasgow by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose work was well known and admired in Vienna.
(sale, Sotheby's, London, September 23, 1993, no. 59, as attributed to Koloman Moser, sold to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Charles Rennie Mackintosh," November 19, 1996–February 16, 1997, no. 220.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Charles Rennie Mackintosh," March 29–June 22, 1997, no. 220.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Charles Rennie Mackintosh," August 3–October 12, 1997, no. 220.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Century of Design, Part I: 1900–1925," December 14, 1999–March 26, 2000, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Curator's Eye: J. Stewart Johnson, 1990–2004," March 1–November 6, 2005, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Modern Design: Selections from the Collection," May 30–October 5, 2008, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Highlights from the Modern Design Collection: 1900 to the Present," June 23, 2009–May 1, 2011, no catalogue.
Beissbarth & Hoffmann AG. Rheinauer Garten und Verandamöbel Spalierwerke. Mannheim, 1907, p. 20, no. 7, ill.
Dorothee Müller. Klassiker des modernen Möbeldesign: Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos, Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser. Munich, 1980, ill. p. 65.
Kirk Varnedoe. Vienna 1900: Art, Architecture & Design. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1986, p. 83, ill. p. 116 (collection Julius Hummel, Vienna), attributes it to Koloman Moser and dates it about 1903.
J. Stewart Johnson in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1993–1994." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 52 (Autumn 1994), p. 64, ill. (color).
Kathleen Howard, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. 2nd ed. (1st ed., 1983). New York, 1994, p. 464, no. 59, ill. (color).
Gabriele Fahr-Becker. Wiener Werkstaette 1903–1932. Cologne, 1995, p. 28, ill. p. 33 (color), as attributed to Koloman Moser.