Hermi and Fritz Schedlmayer’s life has been artful in every sense of the word. Parts of their collection, which was shown in a recent exhibition at Leopold Museum, are up for sale at Dorotheum’s June auction of Art Nouveau.
“To me, describing art as ‘beautifying’ or ‘decorative’ isn’t derogative, but enriching.” This statement from Fritz Schedlmayer encompasses the collector couple’s attitude to life and art. For many decades, Hermi and Fritz Schedlmayer were instrumental in repopularising fin-de-siècle art in Austria and making it highly collectible.
The beauty of collecting dawned on them when they purchased a derelict, abandoned villa in Baden near Vienna in 1989. Refurbished by the Secessionist architect and designer Otto Prutscher in 1912, the harmonious layout and sophisticated functionality of the house made a particularly strong impression on its new owners. The couple’s devotion and meticulousness in restoring the villa to its historical state is unparalleled in Austria.
An extraordinary collection centred on decorative artworks mainly designed by Otto Prutscher eventually began to take shape, reviving the Baden villa through paintings, sculptures and graphic works. Hermi Schedlmayer’s profound examination and understanding of the artist’s œuvre laid the foundation for a comprehensive archive of materials, designs and publications by Otto Prutscher. At the same time, she encouraged museums to hold related exhibitions, and orchestrated generous donations to them.
The Schedlmayers´ collecting activity was recently honoured in an exhibition at Leopold Museum, where a selection of exemplary works recontextualised Otto Prutscher alongside Josef Hoffmann and Dagobert Peche, giving Prutscher the recognition he deserved.
Hermi and Fritz Schedlmayer appreciated the haptic properties described by art historian Max Eisler in the 1920s: “We immediately feel a strong desire to touch these objects, grasp them with our hands, and get the sense of well-being that the artist must have had in manipulating them.” This sense is a most “enriching” one, particularly for those who now have the opportunity to acquire selected pieces from the Schedelmayer collection in Dorotheum’s Art Nouveau auction.
Author: Magda Pfabigan is an Art Nouveau and Art Deco Specialist at Dorotheum.
From the Schedlmayer Collection- Art Nouveau and 20th Century Applied Arts, 30 June 2022, 4 p.m.
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