Here are a couple of things that I know. I know that Zoe and I both love it when various figures in American popular culture declare that they'd like to "get my swag on," as evidenced by the Parks and Rec clip below:
I know that we also both share an obsession/fascination with all things Hapsburg. We both have lived in Vienna and have been exposed to fin-de-siecle Viennese culture, which is full of tangly, intertwined cultural threads and fascinating intersections between ethnicity and nationality. Fin-de-siecle Vienna also greatly encapsulates the world of the music theorist Heinrich Schenker, the man whose analytical framework for music has given us the clever gang signs we haughtily flash to the world today. Schenker's world (Schenkerz wurld?) is full of artistic innovations in architecture and crafts, experimentations in music, and fascinating intellectual exchanges on the role of art in society and the nature of man.
In another life (or possibly in this one?) Zoe and I would own a WWI-era Hapsburg food truck known as a Gulaschkanon that would serve up all kinds of tasty Hapsburg-related treats.
Anyway. Our love for this world has led to the creation of the hashtag, #hapsburgswag, which we plan to use in future posts to celebrate the awesomeness that was the Hapsburg empire. This is our inaugural post.
And to kick-start our #hapsburgswag series on Schenkerian Gang Signs, I bring you the Viennese architect Otto Wagner:
Anyway. Whereas Gustav Klimt was mostly a painter and Klinger of course a sculptor, Otto Wagner built some really fascinating buildings in the city of Vienna. Here are a couple of them:
Exhibit A: The Majolica House
In the 1890s, the Viennese government invested money into building a public transportation system which became known as the Wiener Stadtbahn (the official English translation for it was "Vienna Metropolitan Railyway"). And they enlisted Otto Wagner's help in designing many of its subway buildings. The Wiener Stadtbahn is an excellent example of Jugendstil architecture and is a good reminder as well of a time when artists worked closely with cities for the public good. In the name of infrastructure and public spaces. Imagine that.
I grew up riding the U4 line on the subway in Vienna and passed by many of Otto Wagner's buildings every day.
Let me show you all some subway buildings so you can see what Otto Wagner and the city of Vienna accomplished.
Exhibit A: the subway stop Schönbrunn:
And here's the platform for it, too:
Here's a dome he designed for the Hietzing subway stop:
Otto Wagner's modernist aesthetic was certainly in agreement with other Secession artist then. Here's his 1886 villa, for example:
What makes Otto Wagner's subway designs so interesting is that they also prove that art can serve the public. Forward-thinking, modernist, beautiful art can be integrated into daily life on a structural/infrastructural level. Riding the u-bahn in Vienna as a child and quickly speeding past subway stops like Margaretengürtel and Pilgramgasse certainly taught me that.