Otto Wagner

Otto Wagner
Born Otto Koloman Wagner
(1841-07-13)13 July 1841
Vienna, Austrian Empire
Died 11 April 1918(1918-04-11) (aged 76)
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Nationality Austro-Hungarian
Occupation Architect

Floodgate, Nußdorf, Vienna
Karlsplatz Stadtbahn Station
Majolica House
Postal Office Savings Bank Building

Kirche am Steinhof
Rumbach Synagogue
Projects Viennese Wiener Stadtbahn

Otto Koloman Wagner (German: [ˈɔto ˈvaːɡnɐ]; 13 July 1841 – 11 April 1918) was an Austro-Hungarian architect and urban planner, known for his lasting impact on the appearance of his home town Vienna, to which he contributed many landmarks.

Life and career

Wagner was born in Penzing, a district in Vienna. He was the son of Suzanne (née von Helffenstorffer-Hueber) and Rudolf Simeon Wagner, a notary to the Royal Hungarian Court.[1][2][3] He studied architecture at the Viennese Polytechnic Institute and the Royal School of Architecture in Berlin.[4] After completing his education, he returned to Vienna to work. In 1864, he started designing his first buildings in the historicist style. In the mid- and late-1880s, like many of his contemporaries in Germany (such as Constantin Lipsius, Richard Streiter and Georg Heuser), Switzerland (Hans Auer and Alfred Friedrich Bluntschli) and France (Paul Sédille), Wagner became a proponent of Architectural Realism. It was a theoretical position that enabled him to mitigate the reliance on historical forms. In 1894, when he became Professor of Architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, he was well advanced on his path toward a more radical opposition to the prevailing currents of historicist architecture.

By the mid-1890s, he had already designed several Jugendstil buildings. Wagner was very interested in urban planning — in 1890 he designed a new city plan for Vienna, but only his urban rail network, the Stadtbahn, was built. In 1896 he published a textbook entitled Modern Architecture in which he expressed his ideas about the role of the architect; it was based on the text of his 1894 inaugural lecture to the Academy. His style incorporated the use of new materials and new forms to reflect the fact that society itself was changing. In his textbook, he stated that "new human tasks and views called for a change or reconstitution of existing forms". In pursuit of this ideal, he designed and built structures that reflected their intended function, such as the austere Neustiftgasse apartment block in Vienna.

Wagner Villa

In 1897, he joined Gustav Klimt, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser shortly after they founded the "Vienna Secession" artistic group. From the ideas of this group he developed a style that included quasi-symbolic references to the new forms of modernity.

Wagner had a strong influence on his pupils at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. This "Wagner School"[4] included Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Karl Ehn, and Max Fabiani. Another student of Wagner's was Rudolph Schindler, who said "Modern Architecture began with Mackintosh in Scotland, Otto Wagner in Vienna, and Louis Sullivan in Chicago."[4] Wagner died in Vienna in 1918.

Major works

The Austrian Postal Savings Bank building by Otto Wagner, constructed between 1904 and 1906 using reinforced concrete, regarded as an important early work of modern architecture, representing Wagner's first move away from Art Nouveau and Neoclassicism.
Major works of Otto Wagner in Vienna, Austria
Majolica House



  1. Slesin, Suzanne; Cliff, Stafford; Rozensztroch, Daniel (25 October 1994). Mittel Europa: rediscovering the style and design of Central Europe. C. Potter. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
  2. Wagner, Otto (1987). Graf, Otto Antonia, ed. Masterdrawings of Otto Wagner: an exhibition of the Otto Wagner-Archiv, Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. The Drawing Center. Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Wien. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
  3. "Otto Koloman Wagner - Vienna 1900". 2003. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
  4. 1 2 3 Sarnitz, August (2005). Otto Wagner: Forerunner of Modern Architecture. Taschen. ISBN 3-8228-3647-8.

Further reading

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Otto Wagner.

Digitized books from the architecture collection of AMS Historica, the digital library of the University of Bologna.

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