Joseph Maria Olbrich

Joseph Maria Olbrich was born in the year 1867. As a pupil of Otto Wagner he co-founded the Vienna »Sezession« in 1898 and designed its exhibition building. The unconventional design earned him widespread recognition. Olbrich was consequently called to Darmstadt in 1899 by Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig and given responsibility for the overall direction of planning the buildings for the Künstlerkolonie (artists colony) on Mathildenhöhe. »It concerns«, stated Olbrich, »the creation of self-contained works of art, which with utmost feeling and simplicity help to manifest the joyous principle of life«. Olbrich designed and planned the large exhibition building, seven of the eight artists’ villas and the Hochzeitsturm (Marriage Tower), the symbol of the Künstlerkolonie. Joseph Maria Olbrich reached the pinnacle of his artistic career in Darmstadt. In close cooperation with his artist colleagues he designed outstanding objects of applied art, furniture, jewellery and implements. His dominating role among the artists of the colony, however, rapidly generated displeasure so that five of the »Darmstadt Seven« left the colony in the years 1902/03. Olbrich remained in the Darmstädter Künstlerkolonie until his death in the year 1908.