Josef Hoffmann (b. Austria, 1870) has an oeuvre that embodies the seismic aesthetic and philosophical shifts defining avant-garde art and design at the turn of the 20th century. He was a founding member of the Vienna Secession and the Wiener Werkstätte, both organizations of artists and designers who sought to breakaway from rigid historical precedents.
A workshop dedicated to the production of craftwork of everyday objects including ceramics, textiles, and furniture, the Wiener Werkstätte pioneered Early Modernism. Hoffmann was integral to defining Western applied arts during this period. The Stoclet Palace (1905–11), Hoffmann’s masterpiece, embodies the artistic tension of this era and reveals the architect’s prescience; the mansion’s decorative details recall the fluid stylization of Art Nouveau, while the stark exterior walls—sheets of white marble edged in gilded metal—anticipate the austere planes and strict geometry of the International Style.
Though Josef Hoffmann died in 1956 his designs still make up the beginning of many institutions' Modern Design collections. They are still highly coveted works of fluid design and innovative ornamentation.