Hagenauer Werkstätte (1898-1986) decorative arts design and production workshop
Hagenauer Werkstätte (known also as Werkstätte Hagenauer Wien, or Hagenauer
Workshop) was a design and production company founded in Vienna in 1898 by Carl
Hagenauer (1872-1928). Specializing in metal workmanship, the Workshop produced fine,
handcrafted decorative and household objects for nearly ninety years. Before founding his company, Carl served as apprentice and journeyman for master silver and goldsmiths in Vienna and Bratislavia, and received important metalworking commissions, such as for the restoration of Esterhazy Palace. Having established his workshop, the designer-craftsman produced “Vienna Bronzeware” utilizing his own designs, as well as those of other important Viennese artists such as Joseph Hoffmann and Otto Prutscher. The Workshop proved a great success, increasing demand for exports, and gaining recognition in Paris, London, and Berlin.
In 1919, after World War I, Hagenauer’s elder son “Karl” (1898-1956) joined his father’s workshop, becoming responsible for designing and producing commercial artworks. A certified architect, Karl had studied at the Vienna Academy of Applied Arts from an early age, where he mastered metal-forming under Josef Hoffmann and Dagobert Peche. He was influenced by the Jugendstil, Art Deco, and Vienna Secession movements, and was commissioned by Josef Hoffmann to create designs for the Wiener Werkstätte. Karl took the Hagenauer Workshop in a decidedly modernist direction, designing a wide array of objects in silver, brass, copper, enamel, ivory, stone, and wood. These included utilitarian items such as lamps, mirrors, candlesticks, trays, bookends, and ashtrays - many in the forms of animals or athletes, as well as purely decorative objects, such as hood ornaments, figurines and larger sculptures, all bearing the characteristic style he developed. He also designed the company’s "wHw" trademark, first evidenced in the Workshop’s 1928 catalogue. Hagenauer style soon became recognizable worldwide, winning awards at many fairs and exhibitions. By the time of his father’s death in 1928, the younger Karl was successfully running Hagenauer Werkstätte.
While Hagenauer continued producing popular earlier designs, in the 1930s the Workshop began creating new, more stylized designs, along with expanding its product range. Karl’s younger brother Franz (1906-1986), who had also studied at the Academy of Applied Arts, grew increasingly involved in the designing. While Karl largely concentrated on the design of everyday objects, Franz specialized in sculpture. He helped develop new production methods, with brass as the principal material, in different finishes as well as combined with wood, such as in the iconic Josephine Baker figure in brass and ebony. Other recognizable Hagenauer objects of the period include horses, busts, and African-inspired sculptures and figurines featuring sleekly streamlined limbs and heads. By the late 30s Franz was creating larger, more abstract brass-hammered sculptures that were progressive for their time. All Hagenauer designs were executed by expertly skilled hand-craftsmen who translated them from drawings to metal models to finished castings. Many of the Workshop’s designs and fittings can be found in Vienna’s government buildings. The Workshop also expanded to produce furniture, with Julius Jirasek (1896-1965) as its chief designer.
After World War II, Hagenauer continued widening its product range to meet the increased demands for household objects: trays, bowls, coffee and tea sets, and other utensils, as well as furniture. The brothers opened a new sales outlet, as well as a second workshop specializing in wooden objects. In the late 1940s they introduced a new brass patination technique that created surface oxidation in a range of tones from brown to black, with some of the designs then being polished in places, resulting in a two-color contrast, a technique soon copied by other brass-figure manufacturers. In 1950 Franz was awarded the City of Vienna Applied Arts prize. Throughout the 1950s the Hagenauer Workshop created many decorative objects depicting people and animals, in addition to functional objects, such as corkscrews and bottle openers, bowls, trays, etc. When in 1956 Karl died of a heart attack, Franz assumed company leadership and became principle designer of decorative objects, with Julius Jirasek continuing designing furniture.
In 1962 Franz became Director of a master class in freeform metal design at the Academy of Applied Arts. During the 1960s and 1970s he produced many designs, such as busts of hammered brass, for the international art market. Franz died in 1986. The Hagenauer Werkstätte closed a year later, but the Vienna retail store that opened in 1938 continues today as both a museum and a shop.
Exhibitions and Awards
• 1923 Prima Mostra Biennale Internazionale Arti Decorative, Monza
• 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (Silver and Bronze medals)
• 1927 World's Fair, Philadelphia (Gold medal)
• 1934 Austrian State Prize
• 1937 World Fair, Paris (Grand Prix)
• 1948 Triennale, Milan (Gran Premio)
• 1951 Triennale, Milan (two Gold medals and a Silver medal)
• 1954 Triennale, Milan (Gold medal)
• 1957 Triennale, Milan (Silver medal)
• 1958 World's Fair, Brussels (Gold medal)
• 1938 Österreichische Werkkunst der Gegenwart, Mannheim
• 1971 Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna
• 1986 Würthle Gallery, Vienna
• 2011 Otto Wagner Museum, Vienna
• “Josephine Baker” - collection of Casa Lis Art Nouveau and Art Deco Museum, Salamanca
• Edward, Alfred W. (1996). Art Deco Sculptures & Metalware. Atglen: Schiffer.
• Kronsteiner, Olga (2011). Hagenauer, Wiener Moderne und neue sachlichkeit. Vienna:
• Robinson, Sal and Wayne Meadows (2015). Austrian Figural Corkscrew Design: Auböck ·Bosse · Hagenauer · Rohac. Vancouver: Kitsilano Cellars.
• Breinsberg, Erich (2016). Franz Hagenauer - die singuläre Kunst. Vienna: mymorawa.