OLBRICH, Josef Maria
(b. 1867, Troppau, d. 1908, Düsseldorf)

Secession Building: general view

Friedrichstraße 12, Vienna

By 1896 Olbrich and his contemporary Josef Hoffman had come under the influence of the painters Gustav Klimt and Kolo Moser and were involved in the founding of the anti-academic Secession in Vienna (1897). In 1898, having set up practice on his own, Olbrich completed his first major commission, the Secession building (interior modified), an exhibition building on a prominent site in the Friedrichstrasse. Its design, said to have been inspired by Klimt, immediately established Olbrich as one of Austria's most progressive architects: its cubic forms and battered walls, with a central, spherical, perforated dome of metal laurel leaves set between four short stone pylons, caused outrage in Vienna but brought Olbrich international acclaim and an invitation (1899) from Ernest-Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt, to join the artists' colony he proposed to set up in the Mathildenhöhe Park at Darmstadt.