Sunday, September 21, 2008
This mantel clock was designed by Joseph Maria Olbrich circa 1899, in Vienna, Austria. It is carved of pearwood, with metalic numerals. Olbrich was a student of Otto Wagner, a famous Austrian architect. In May of 1897, Olbrich, Wagner, and others founded the Vienna Sucession, an independent artist group, after resigning from the Association of Austrian Artists. This particular clock was created for Dr. Frederick Spiker's apartment in Vienna. It was created as a piece of "a completely harmonized interior" of Spiker's apartment. Olbrich was known for his work towards modernizing and unifying furniture and the interior it is a part of. The mantel clock’s distinctive features include it’s curvaceous solid form, elegant but simple numerals, and characteristic oval shaped opening.
Compared to Eileen Gray’s Canoe Sofa which came a few years later (1919), the mantel clock shares a few qualities. Simplicity is a huge theme; both pieces are not very ornamented, but are decorated with a few small details that make a huge impact: small curves, clean oval shaped openings, both paired with a main solid form.
In contrast to the mantel clock, there is a different type of household device that came much later. Normal Bel Geddes’ “Patriot” radio (1939) is typical of it’s time period, with large, bold plastic shapes and colors. In 1939, instead of the essential household clock, there is the essential household radio. A relative size and layout compared to the mantel clock, but different usage. The radio also contrasts to the mantel clock with use of color and material. The mantel clock is 90 percent wood, natural, and the radio is about 100 percent plastic, which is fabricated.