Carl Otto Czeschka. Back cover from the First Theater Program of Kabarett Fledermaus (Cabaret Fledermaus). 1907

Carl Otto Czeschka Back cover from the First Theater Program of Kabarett Fledermaus (Cabaret Fledermaus) 1907

  • Not on view

The program for the first season of the Cabaret Fledermaus in Vienna provides a permanent record of the nightclub's ephemeral entertainments. In October 1907, the Wiener Werkstätte, a cooperative of architects, artists, and designers as well as the preeminent producer of luxury goods and furnishings in the city, opened the nightspot and performing arts space. It was created to dispel boredom with doses of avant-garde theater and poetry readings taken with the latest cocktail creations. As recorded in the program, this mix of high and low culture included a shadow play by the young Expressionist Oskar Kokoschka, music and dance performances, and a parody of a mythological love story.

Designed by Carl Otto Czeschka, this program exemplifies the then-current idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk, or total work of art, in which all components, no matter how humble or disposable, follow the same aesthetic idea. The book's square format, Vienna's favorite symbol of modernity, mirrored the dominant decorative motif throughout the cabaret, while Czeschka's playful marginal decorations suggested the increasingly ornamental style that took hold at the Werkstätte at this time. The flat, stylized patterning of the four illustrations contributed by Oskar Kokoschka, Berthold Löffler, and Fritz Zeymer show the widespread influence of folk sources and the rejection of traditional academic standards in modern Viennese art.

Publication excerpt from Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.
Author
Peter Altenberg (Prologue)
Medium
Line block reproduction from a theater program with six line block reproductions (including front and back cover)
Dimensions
Back cover: 9 5/8 x 9 1/4" (24.4 x 23.5 cm)
Publisher
Wiener Werkstätte, Vienna
Printer
August Chwala, Vienna
Edition
unknown
Credit
Purchased with funds given by Mrs. Henry I. Cobb and Mrs. Melville Wakeman Hall
Object number
709.1993.6
Illustrated book
Kabarett Fledermaus (Cabaret Fledermaus)
Department
Drawings and Prints

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