Design & Decoration S03 ep14 : Wolfgang Bauer, Belle Etage, [Vienna]
Interview with Wolfgang Bauer
For over 30 years, the Viennese Wolfgang Bauer has been offering an exceptionally wide-ranging selection of first-class Viennese Jugendstil furniture and art objects in his gallery, "bel etage", located in the centre of Vienna, within sight of the opera. Interiors and objets d'art by the most famous architects and designers of the turn of the 19th to the 20th centuries, such as Adolf Loos and Otto Wagner (along with their students), as well as Josef Hoffmann and Kolo Moser - the best known artists of the WIENER WERKSTÄTTE - are presented on two floors. The range is rounded off with paintings and sculptures by top-class painters and sculptors of the early twentieth century. With great enterprise and a fine nose, the gallery owner succeeds time and again in tracking down and documenting works by the best-known artists of this important period, which has been gaining increasing international recognition over the past few years.
Beletage is the first floor of a very good house in Vienna where the house owner lived.
My father was a watchmaker and so when I was a child I got a good feeling for material, for brass,
for silver, for clocks and he was a producer of watch crystals.
I began to collect a little bit old things and then I found out I liked to buy pieces and sell them.
I’m more craftsman than dealer. I’m more interested in how fine the pieces are, an uncle of mine
was a cabinet maker my father was watchmaker so I am coming from craftsmanship. Most of the
art dealers come from reading books, having pictures looking at pieces, I look first if it’s quality in
the material, quality in the working, and then I look at the design. And if it comes together then it’s
a good piece of art.
I bought a little bit at the flea market, I bought a little bit private from friends and I sold it. One
important thing happened to me I was phoned by a client from the monastery in Vienna and they
offered me pieces and they offered me a lot of lampshades and a lot of things and the woman liked
me and there was also a piece of metal that looked like a part of a dishwasher, I didn’t want it and I
bought a lot of things and she said I give this to you as a present because somebody was here who
only wanted this and this was my first Hoffman piece I bought.
They invented pureness, they did not invent the square but they used it, very geometrical but this
was only the beginning, later on they were flowerish, even baroque.
In Vienna at that time it was a coincidence of famous artists, famous painters, famous architects,
famous doctors, medicine, it was the best age Austria ever had, let’s say from 1895 to 1920.
As we lost the war Austria shrank to seven million people from forty, it lost Hungary, it lost all the
crownlands, Czechoslovakia, Slovakia and the people were very depressed but we never actually
… Hoffman they produced but for sure not that important as before.
I have some people that walk around for me and look, and phone me and ask me. I by myself look
at auctions and sometimes I can go to private people but private people is the most complicated
hunt for me because I’m not patient enough. And private people most times if they come to me
they are very proud of their pieces and think it’s the best and even better than the best. If I do not
buy the people are often very angry.
These chairs, the table, that table, that cabinet, this furniture from Otto Wagner’s last apartment in
Vienna which he did in 1912 and he did this furniture for his wife. So Wagner is the most
important Austrian architect we had he is the father, let’s say the father of … movement, Hoffman
was pupil of him, Albrecht was pupil of him, most of them were pupils of Wagner, he was the
oldest of them and he gave a big input. He taught 180 architects in his own school. He had an own
school at the Academia de Wagner School, there are very few things still existing considering
It comes from a collector. He did not even know what it was. He bought it because he liked it, 20
years ago you bought important pieces and didn’t even know what you buy, this is today not
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Wolfgang Bauer, Belle Etage, Vienna