African dancer, Werkstatte Hagenauer Vienna, circa 1940, wood and brass, marked
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Figurines with African motifs were produced by Werkstatte Hagenauer as early as the 1930s.
In this statuette, the comic element clearly prevails. The black dancer is performing a dance with expressive gestures and an expansive swing of her hips. Slapping her hand on her hip, a foot bobing in time, she emphasizes the rhythm. Caricature-like reduced and at the same time expressive, her wild movement is captured with few lines. The way alone her bent arms capture the moment, must be described as virtuosic.
The delightful statuette is manufactured in a combination of carved wood and cast metal, with patinated brass emphasizing the woman’s dark incarnate and contrasting effectively with the light, smoothly polished wood. Highly stylized features and masterfully executed details make it easy to understand why the Werkstatte Hagenauer was so successful with its exotic series of African figurines.
Werkstätte Hagenauer – stylistic evolution and importance
Today, the Werkstatte Hagenauer is rightfully among the most important Austrian Arts & Crafts manufacturers of the 20th century. The clear, strict formal language combined with dynamic poses and the usage of brass, nickel-plated, patinated or bare, along with copper, alpaca and exotic wood shows a high level of recognition.
However, it took the siblings Karl and Franz Hagenauer quite some time until they developed their own unique style. Karl and Franz both attended the Vienna School of Arts & Crafts and studied under Josef Hoffmann, Oskar Strnad, Anton Hanak and Dagobert Peche.
Until the closure of the Werkstatte Hagenauer on December 30, 1987, art objects of outstanding quality were still being produced. The siblings Karl and Franz Hagenauer strongly contributed in coining the term „design“ through their legacy and are surely among the most influential Austrian artists of the 20th century.
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