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Style and Seduction
Jewish Patrons, Architecture, and Design in Fin de Siècle Vienna
Elana Shapira

The Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry

2016 • 336 pp. 30 illus. 6 1/8 x 9 1/4"
Modern Architecture to 1945 / Jewish Studies / Modern Art

$40.00 Paperback, 978-1-61168-921-1
$85.00 Hardcover, 978-1-61168-920-4

$34.99 Ebook, 978-1-61168-969-3

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

(Hardcover is un-jacketed.
Cover illustration is for paperback edition only)

“Shapira] maps the possibility of thinking about Jewish agency in the arts while avoiding the temptation to essentialise Jewish identity, to homogenise Jewish attitudes, or to represent “the Jew” as... [continued in Reviews below]”—The Art Newspaper

Explores the central role of Jewish patrons as shapers of Viennese modernism

A recent surge of interest in Jewish patronage during the golden years of Vienna has led to the question, Would modernism in Vienna have developed in the same fashion had Jewish patrons not been involved? This book uniquely treats Jewish identification within Viennese modernism as a matter of Jews active fashioning of a new language to convey their aims of emancipation along with their claims of cultural authority.

In this provocative reexamination of the roots of Viennese modernism, Elana Shapira analyzes the central role of Jewish businessmen, professionals, and writers in the evolution of the city’s architecture and design from the 1860s to the 1910s. According to Shapira, these patrons negotiated their relationship with their non-Jewish surroundings and clarified their position within Viennese society by inscribing Jewish elements into the buildings, interiors, furniture, and design objects that they financed, produced, and co-designed.

In the first book to investigate the cultural contributions of the banker Eduard Todesco, the steel tycoon Karl Wittgenstein, the textile industrialist Fritz Waerndorfer, the author Peter Altenberg, the tailor Leopold Goldman, and many others, Shapira reconsiders theories identifying the crisis of Jewish assimilation as a primary creative stimulus for the Jewish contribution to Viennese modernism. Instead, she argues that creative tensions between Jews and non-Jews—patrons and designers who cooperated and arranged well-choreographed social encounters with one another—offer more convincing explanations for the formation of a new semantics of modern Viennese architecture and design than do theories based on assimilation.

This thoroughly researched and richly illustrated book will interest scholars and students of Jewish studies, Vienna and Viennese culture, and modernism.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“[Shapira] maps the possibility of thinking about Jewish agency in the arts while avoiding the temptation to essentialise Jewish identity, to homogenise Jewish attitudes, or to represent “the Jew” as a total personality whose positions are governed entirely by the fact of their Jewishness. Instead, she demonstrates how patrons were thinking through their Jewishness at the same time as they were positioning themselves in terms of class, gender and sexual identity, and were doing so at a time when all of these were topoi of substantial dispute.”—The Art Newspaper

“Authoritative. . . . Shapira's documentation in primary and secondary sources is exhaustive. . . . Recommended.”

“What emerges from Shapira’s examples is a very usefully nuanced picture of the Jewish involvement in the advanced architecture and design of the period. She shows the importance of patronage, but also that commissions, purchases, and financial support were only some of the ways in which Jewish involvement in this area was manifested.”


“Compelling and important. . . .Working from a truly astounding range of primary and archival sources, she brings to life the protagonists of her story with intimacy and richness of detail. Rarely has the active role of Jewish patronage been explored in such depth.”—Ars Judaica

“Elena Shapira has succeeded in telling a provocative and convincing history that inserts itself into a long tradition of scholarly debate and recasts our understanding of the role of Jewish identity – or identification , as she would insist – in the influential modernist movements in Vienna during the long turn of the century.”—
European History Quarterly

“Style and Seduction is an invaluable addition to the literature on fin-de-siècle Viennese art and design, continuing themes of recent work on the specifically Jewish nature of Viennese modernism. The author is to be lauded for the daring nature of her interpretation that finds specific cultural meaning in design objects and, fundamentally, for subjecting design culture to a rigorous formal and contextual analysis.”—West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture

“Shapira’s work takes us deep into the heart of some of the city’s most well-known cultural movements to show how inextricably intertwined they were with the experiences of Viennese Jews.”—

“Shapira’s talent at reading architectural structures and artistic symbols is impressive and well informed. . . . Shapira’s book is a valuable contribution. It certainly creates a more complex view of Viennese modernism and its historical development.”
Austrian History Yearbook

Style and Seduction is an engaging, creative, and innovative study into the world of the Jewish bourgeoisie in Vienna in the fin de siècle. Shapira challenges a well-known essay by Ernst Gombrich on this theme, and evokes a much more colorful and provocative interpretation. The author unearths associations and interpretations on Jews and non-Jews, antisemitic overtones, and visual designs that together bring alive the worlds of Vienna that entertained at the turn of the century many imaginative, hidden, and evocative agendas, and personalities—Jews and non-Jews. Her book is bound to arouse attention and discussion.”—Richard I. Cohen, academic director of Da’at Hamakom, Center for the Study of Cultures of Place in Modern Jewish Society, Israel Center of Research Excellence

Author Photo

ELANA SHAPIRA lectures at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria.

Thu, 14 Mar 2019 13:08:29 -0500