Franz Metzner

Franz Metzner by Nicola Perscheid

Franz Metzner (18 November 1870, Wscherau, near Pilsen – 24 March 1919, Berlin) was an influential German sculptor, particularly his sculptural figures integrated into the architecture of Central European public buildings in the Art Nouveau / Jugendstil / Vienna Secession period. His style is difficult to classify.


Franz Metzner's sculptural figures within the Völkerschlachtdenkmal in Leipzig

Metzer learned the craft of stone-cutting in Breslau with Christian Behrens and did apprenticeships in Saxony through 1894. He founded his own studio in Berlin in 1896 and worked predominantly for the royal porcelain factory until 1903, and became a professor at the Vienna college of arts and sciences. Metzner achieved notoriety by winning a Gold Medal at the Paris Exposition Universelle (1900).

Among his important works are the sculptures for Josef Hoffmann's 1904–1911 landmark Art Deco Palais Stoclet in Brussels, including the eccentric four green male nudes at the summit of the building. The Palais Stoclet is an example of "Gesamtkunstwerk", the integration of art and architecture, one of the goals of Jugendstil.

In 1910 Metzner met the vacationing Frank Lloyd Wright and, according to the scholarship of Anthony Alofsin, Metzer affected Wright's "conventionalization" of the human figure and its incorporation into buildings like the Larkin Building and Midway Gardens. Around the same time, Metzner's designs influenced Czech artists working in Prague, Stanislav Sucharda among them.

A famous work is the 1913 Völkerschlachtdenkmal (People's Battle Monument), designed by the architect Bruno Schmitz in Leipzig. Metzner executed the powerful and strangely scaled interior figural-architectural sculpture in the "Hecker Tomb" with his teacher Behrens. The Monument was inaugurated in 1913 by Kaiser Wilhelm II and is associated with political strains of German nationalism in the period between the World Wars.

Much of Metzner's work in Germany was lost in World War II.

Other work

Further reading

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