Otto Wagner

Otto Wagner
Otto Wagner
Born July 13, 1841(1841-07-13)
Vienna, Austrian Empire
Died April 11, 1918(1918-04-11) (aged 76)
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Nationality Austria-Hungarian

Floodgate, Nußdorf, Vienna
Karlsplatz Stadtbahn Station
Majolica House
Postal Office Savings Bank Building

Kirche am Steinhof
Rumbach Synagogue
Projects Viennese Wiener Stadtbahn

Otto Koloman Wagner (13 July 1841 – 11 April 1918) was an Austrian architect and urban planner, known for his lasting impact on the appearance of his home town Vienna, to which he contributed many landmarks.



Wagner was born in Penzing, a district in Vienna. He studied in Berlin and Vienna. In 1864, he started designing his first buildings in the historicist style. In the mid- and late-1880s, like many of his contemporaries in Germany (such as Constantin Lipsius, Richard Streiter and Georg Heuser), Switzerland (Hans Auer and Alfred Friedrich Bluntschli) and France (Paul Sédille), Wagner became a proponent of Architectural Realism. It was a theoretical position that enabled him to mitigate the reliance on historical forms. In 1894, when he became Professor of Architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, he was well advanced on his path toward a more radical opposition to the prevailing currents of historicist architecture.

By the mid-1890s, he had already designed several Jugendstil buildings. Wagner was very interested in urban planning — in 1890 he designed a new city plan for Vienna, but only his urban rail network, the Stadtbahn, was built. In 1896 he published a textbook entitled Modern Architecture in which he expressed his ideas about the role of the architect; it was based on the text of his 1894 inaugural lecture to the Academy. His style incorporated the use of new materials and new forms to reflect the fact that society itself was changing. In his textbook, he stated that "new human tasks and views called for a change or reconstitution of existing forms". In pursuit of this ideal, he designed and built structures that reflected their intended function, such as the austere Neustiftgasse apartment block in Vienna.

In 1897, he joined Gustav Klimt, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser shortly after they founded the "Vienna Secession" artistic group. From the ideas of this group he developed a style that included quasi-symbolic references to the new forms of modernity.

Wagner died in Vienna in 1918.

Major works

Karlsplatz Stadtbahn Station, Vienna (1894-1902)
Postal Office Savings Bank Building, Vienna (1894-1902)




  • Wagner, Otto (1988). Modern Architecture: A Guidebook for His Students to This Field of Art. Trans. Harry F. Mallgrave. Santa Monica: Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities. ISBN 0226869385. 


  • Mallgrave (ed.), Harry (1993). Otto Wagner: Reflections on the Raiment of Modernity. Santa Monica: Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities. ISBN 089236257X. 
  • Duncan Berry, J. (1993). "From Historicism to Architectural Realism: On Some of Wagner’s Sources". In Harry Mallgrave. Otto Wagner: Reflections on the Raiment of Modernity. Santa Monica: Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities. pp. 242–278. ISBN 089236257X. 
  • Graf, Otto Antonia (1994) (in german). Otto Wagner: Das Werk des Architekten 1860-1918. Vienna: Bölhau. ISBN 320598224X. 
  • Kolb, Günter (1989) (in german). Otto Wagner Und Die Wiener Stadtbahn. Munich: Scaneg. ISBN 3892350299. 
  • Schorske, Carl (1981). "The Ringstrasse and the Birth of Urban Modernism". Fin-De-Siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0394744780. 
  • Muller, Ines (1992) (in german). Die Otto Wagner-Synagoge in Budapest. Wien: Löcker. ISBN 9783854092001. 
  • Geretsegger, Heinz (1979). Otto Wagner, 1841-1989; the Expanding City; The Beginning of Modern Architecture. New York: Rizzoli. ISBN 0847802175. 

External links

Digitized books from the architecture collection of AMS Historica, the digital library of the University of Bologna.

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