An original article from Commercial Art Vol 8, No 45, March 1930
A country is never dead so long as it has an art. Austria is a proof of this maxim. Its liveliness since the war is liveliness which has displayed itself in the arts to a remarkable extent : it deserves the world’s admiration and respect. In 1914 Austria was a great block of territories including Bohemia, Galicia, Hungary, Bosnia, Croatia, the Tyrol. Now Bohemia and Galicia have formed the commercial republic of Czechoslovakia. Hungary is a separate state. Croatia and Bosnia have become incorporated with the new group called Yugoslavia. Part of the Tyrol has gone to Italy. What is left substantially is – Vienna.
And Vienna in the modern world counts for something. The world sat up and took notice recently of the effort made since the war to house the Viennese people.
An effort of corporate enthusiasm brought into being blocks of dwellings, which combined taste and efficiency with such a degree of modern convenience that if you had not known they were built out of sheer necessity to supply an elemental need you would have called them luxury dwellings. Architects of genius designed the buildings. The dispossessed middle classes wielded pick and shovel. An event of this kind (it was described in The Studio magazine for February, 1929) represents a great deal of Vitality.
Similarly, Austrian commercial art is full of Vitality. The same effort that went into architecture goes into advertising- skill and enthusiasm equal to that of any other country.
The reputation of Vienna as the Paris of Eastern Europe must be maintained. There is a tradition to be kept up. Vienna, like Paris, sells goods largely on the strength of their beauty and originality of appearance.
Beauty and originality are therefore the guiding principles of its production. An example of Austrian originality is the gay and humorous Betterway figures, which are used in the shop windows of most of the world’s big cities. The importance of beauty proclaims itself in the new Viennese shops, which are
calculated to appeal to the international public. It proclaims itself also in posters, which are sometimes of practically unique distinction. They are mostly in character what is known as modern–a fact which
leads us to remember that Vienna is the centre of a modern tradition. It is not the modernity of Paris nor yet the modernity of Berlin. It is a modernity to be associated rather with the Wiener Werkstätte, an organisation which was founded with the idea of raising industry to a higher status by introducing the designer into it. The Wildbad poster by Aug. Fischinger is a typical offshoot of Wiener Werkstätte design.
Austrian graphic art is not so heavy as that of Germany nor so severe as that of France. It combines a great power of design, geometrically used as the fashion is with an individual charm. It is colourful even when only two colours are employed. A favourite combination of black and red is here illustrated by some outstanding examples.
The richness and variety of racial character in Austria contributes to give an exotic flavour to Austrian publicity. Two designers of great merit deserve special mention–Julius Klinger and Joseph Binder.
Julius Klinger has long been established as a European master. His earlier work in black and white bears some resemblance to that of Aubrey Beardsley, and this influence can be seen in the delicate
drawings of Hansi Rosner. His latest work will be familiar to Londoners in a series of Underground
posters in which a silhouetted little Cubist figure points to the various qualities for which the Underground is noted.
Of the younger school, Joseph Binder is pre-eminent. Binder has many of the qualities of an ideal poster artist. His ideas take a very simple and striking form, and are, in addition, not confined within a stereotyped style but adapted to the purpose as a comparison of the reproductions in this article will show.
If one word is to be used to express the Austrian contribution to the publicity of today, probably the most appropriate is INVENTIVENESS. The study of the five Kosel bookmark designs here
reproduced will provide convincing evidence of the freshness and nimbleness of the mind of the Austrian designer.