In 1897 Olbrich (Otto Wagner's assistant) and Joseph Hoffmann (Wagner's most brilliant pupil) came under the influence of the Viennese painters Gustav Klimt and Koloman Moser, and together they founded the anti-academic Vienna Secession movement. The following year Olbrich built the Secession building in Vienna, after a sketch by Klimt symbolic of the unconscious and pan-eroticism.
From then on Olbrich began to evolve a style of his own. In 1899 he was invited to Darmstadt by the Grand Duke. Here, with six other artists including Peter Behrens, they held an exhibition in 1901 entitled Das Zeichen (The Sign) on the steps of Ernst Ludwig House, a building Olbrich had completed for his colony of artists. It was undoubtedly the most progressive work that he produced during his remaining years though he continued his search for a uniquely expressive manner. In 1906 he was a founder member of the Deutsche Werkbund together with Muthesius, Behrens and Hoffmann. He died of leukaemia at the age of 40.
Of the buildings illustrated in the slides that follow, all except images 1 - 10 and 61 - 66 stand to either side of Alexandraweg in the Mathildenhöhe, Darmstadt. Ian Latham, who took all the photos, was the author of a monograph on Olbrich published in 1980 (Rizzoli, USA and Academy Editions, London).
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