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fledermausBerthold Loeffler was born in 1874 in Rosenthal, Bohemia today the Czech Republic. In 1905, he was one of the founders of the Wiener Keramik Works (Fine Art Ceramics Company). The other founder was Michael Powolny.

Loefller was a painter, graphic artist, print maker and a professor at the Arts and Crafts School in Vienna, Austria from 1906 to 1935. As a teacher of the drawing class, he taught Oscar Kokoschka from 1905-1909. Kokoschka later became a teacher at the same school. Loeffler was responsible for assigning to the students of the drawing class a project named “Illustrations for a Fairy Tale“.

Kokoschka accomplished this general assignment extremely well and his distinct illustrations were made into a book, Die Traumende Knaben (Dreaming Boys) published in 1908 with the balance of the edition by the Kurt Wolff Verlag 1917. Although not a good seller at the time, today it is considered the most important book in the Wiener Werkstaette style as it was originally commissioned by them, and perhaps the most important fairy tale book of the 20th Century. Two drawings by Kokoscka of the same period are illustrated below. (Copyright Marlborough Gallery)

kokoschka drwng2The Wiener Keramik Works became an integral part of the Wiener Werkstaette (WW) in 1907. Loeffler as one of the designers, designed porcelain and ceramics for the Wiener Werkstaette and glass for Bakalowits. He also designed the poster for the very famous Cabaret Fledermaus (The Bat) shown at the top of this post, as well as, contributed to some of the interior design. His numerous graphic works included layout design for the WW’s postcards, calendars, as well as, banknotes, illustrations and book designs for a number of other companies.

The importance of Loeffler to the Wiener Werkstaette hinges on the graphic design for the first printed program booklet presented to the public for the opening events at the Cabaret Fledermaus. The cabaret was a special and highly important project by the WW done under the direct supervision of Josef Hoffmann. For the printed program Loeffler designed a color lithograph portraying the famous dancer Marya Delvard. In our own collection we have an unusal Loeffler item.

Loffler portraitLoffler 2It is a printed graphic design on the back of a photograph (shown above) marked with two letters “LO“. The stylized figure probably representing the same dancer Marya Delvard is a wonderful graphic example of the Vienna Secession style. A similar design was used for a poster by Loeffler.

loffler poster Loeffler was also a collaborator with Hoffmann on his famous Palais Stoclet Project (Palace Stoclet) in Brussels, Belgium (shown below), the most important collaboration and projects done by him.

palais stocletNo job to large and no disdain for smaller jobs” was probably his motto and characterizes his professional attitude, and the ultimate Wiener Werkstaette, a.k.a., the total integration of art and life.

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