Emil Pirchan, Universal Artist, Exhibition, Leopold Museum, Vienna: 27 November 2020-4 April 2021

An exhibition showcasing Emil Pirchan, a pioneer of Expressionist stage design and imaginative poster designer with success in advertising art.

Emil Pirchan was the son of an academic painter born in present day Brno in the Czech Republic. He began his career by studying architecture in Vienna under Otto Wagna before moving to Munich in 1908, opening a “studio for graphic design, stagecraft, house construction, spatial art and applied arts”. His multi talents lead him to show his creativity as a stage and poster design but also as a costumer, book illustrator, author, teacher, and many more occupations. He worked in Berlin, Prague and Vienna, but created designs for different places across the world, including a theater building in South America. The tiered stage – a milestone in modern stage design known as “Jessner staircase” – would have been unthinkable without Pirchan’s involvement. The clear structuring of the stage area and emphatic color effects Pirchan generally strove for were doubtlessly rooted in his work as a commercial artist. In this field, the artist experimented with colored paper cuts already in 1912.

The Leopold Museum is the first Viennese institution to dedicate an exhibition to this universally talented and exceptional artist who is still largely unknown to the broader public. In cooperation with the Museum Folkwang and based on numerous objects – including items of furniture, stage and costume designs, architectural models, posters, book illustrations and examples of marbled paper created using his own processes – the exhibition illustrates the creative range of this important protagonist of Central European Modernism.

EMIL PIRCHAN Plakatentwurf (Collage), ca. 1912 © © Sammlung Steffan / Pabst, Foto: Sammlung Steffan / Pabst
EMIL PIRCHAN Plakatentwurf (Collage), ca. 1912 © © Sammlung Steffan / Pabst, Foto: Sammlung Steffan / Pabst
Emil Pirchan mit Masken im Atelier, Berlin, 1920 © © Sammlung Steffan/Pabst, Foto: Sammlung Steffan/Pabst
Emil Pirchan mit Masken im Atelier, Berlin, 1920 © © Sammlung Steffan/Pabst, Foto: Sammlung Steffan/Pabst
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