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Jewish Patronage in Vienna: “Style and Identity”

This lecture examines the attempts of Viennese Jews to participate in modern material-cultural production not only in order to improve their public image and reputation, but as part of their search for and commitment to cultural renewal. From the beginning of the nineteenth century ambitious dialogues between Jewish patrons and Christian artists in Vienna were meant to create shared cultural platforms between Jews and gentiles in the city.  Shortly before Jews received equal rights in 1867, a group of Jewish bankers and industrialists purchased lands and built houses at the center of the city, producing architectural and artistic landmarks which were meant to promote Vienna as the Imperial capital of the Hapsburg Empire. The following generation of Jewish patrons embarked on a new route of Jewish acculturation by rejecting the Historicist tradition of the second half of the nineteenth century and supporting the establishment of two famous avant-garde movements, the Secession and its opposition, the school of Adolf Loos. The conclusion addresses the question how Jewish patrons helped setting limits to the process of assimilation in Vienna?

Elana Shapira is a freelance art historian and a lecturer at the Design History and Theory Department at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna. Her recent essays are„Jüdisches Mäzenatentum zwischen Assimilation und Identitätsstiftung in Wien 1800-1930“ in: Claudia Theune-Vogt und Tina Walzer (Hrsg.) Jüdische Friedhöfe im Spannungsfeld zwischen Kultstätte, Erinnerungsort und Denkmalpflege (Böhlau Verlag, 2011); “Jewish Patronage and the Avant-Garde in Vienna,” in: Annette Weber (ed.) Jüdische Sammler und ihr Beitrag zur Kultur der Moderne/ Jewish Collectors and Their Contributions to Modern Culture (Universitätsverlag Winter, Heidelberg, 2011)

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