“It is no abstract or decorative surface geometry, which surrounds these people, but a three-dimensional, straightforward clarity.” - Werner Hofmann, Modern Malerei in Osterreich (Modern painting In Austria, in German), Wien, Wolfrum Verlag: 1965.
When I think of Josef Hoffmann's totalizing architecture, one of its notable characteristics is hisgenius for translating volume into planes. That said, I think Werner Hofmann's assessment of Viennese painting describes perfectly the paintings of Carl Moll (1861-1945).
In 1901, the first house that Josef Hoffmann built in Hohe Warte, a new suburb of Vienna, was a duplex for his friends and fellow artists, Carl Moll and Koloman Moser. In retrospect, Hohe Warte has taken on the aura of a Viennese Acropolis: home of monumental artists, situated on a hill overlooking a great city.
No exaggeration this, because history happened here. At the time Moll moved to his new house on Steinfeldgasse he was President of the Secession. Moll was also married to Anna Schindler, widow of the respected painter Emil Schindler, making Moll the stepfather of the beautiful and flirtatious Alma. It was at Hohe Warte that Alma Schindler and Gustav Mahler met, fell in love and married in 1902. The next year, Moll introduced Hoffmann to Adolphe and Suzanne Stoclet. The Stoclets had come to Vienna on business and they were so impressed by Moll's home and garden that they commissioned Hoffmann to build a villa for them at Hohe Warte . But their plans changed and they returned to Brussels in 1904, where Hoffmann's masterpiece, the Palais Stoclet, was eventually built between 1905-11.
As a Kunstler-Kolonie (colony for artists) Hohe Warte began with just four houses, the Moll-Moser residence at Wollergaase 10, a villa next door for photographer Hugo Henneberg and his wife Marie at Wollergasse 8, and a villa for another photographer, Friedrich Viktor Spitzer. Hoffmann viewed the four villas as one total work of art, (after the Secessionist ideal of the gesamtkunstwerk) incorporating into each one such common features as brick walls and white rough-cast exterior facades, simple rectilinear shapes, and patterns in black and white.
In a special issue of The Studio published in 1906 and devoted to The Art Revival In Austria, Ludwig Hevesi pointed to Moll as the one with the social connections. who collected the funds that financed the Vienna Secession. Moll “was the very leaven of the new movement, Minister of Fine Arts without portfolio,” Hevesi declared.
By then Moll, along with Kolo Moser and Gustav Klimt had become discontented with the aims of the Vienna Secession, a group they had helped to found in 1897. They had moved on to establish the Wiener Werkstatte, dozens of whose members contributed to the design of the Palais Stoclet.
1. Wiener Werkstatte Archive - Josef Hoffmann's duplex for Carl Moll and Koloman Moser, 1901, Museum for Applied Culture, Vienna.
2. Carl Moll - Hausgarten. Hohe Warte, 1903, Austrian State Museum, Vienna.
3. Carl Moll - Anna in The Living Room At Hohe Warte, 1903, Austrian State Museum, Vienna.
4.. Carl Moll's Study - Wollergasse 10, c.1903, private collection, courtesy Neue Galerie, NYC.
5. Carl Moll - The Artist In His Studio At Hohe Warte, 1906, Art Gallery of the University of Applied Arts, Vienna.
6. Carl Moll - A view of the artist's house at Hohe Warte, 1903, private collection.
7. Moritz Nahr, photographer (updated 08/23/13) - Gustav Mahler (standing) , Max Reinhardt, Carl Moll, Alfred Roller, Josef Hoffmann (back to the camera) on the terrace at Villa Moll, 1903, Austrian Theater Museum, Vienna.