Wiener Werkstätte

RIX-UENO (Felice)

Fünf Bergsteigerinnen [Five Mountaineers].

(Vienna, Kunstgewerbeschule, 1915).

Original coloured linocut signed in pencil, (300 x 208 mm.), in passe-partout.

Outstanding Expressionist print made for the album “Mode Wien” [Part VIII, plate 9] and limited to 50 copies.

In 1914-15, still a student, Felice Rix was one of the twenty-five artists who contributed to “Mode Wien”, a luxurious portfolio of 144 fashion prints published by Eduard Kosmack under the aegis of Josef Hoffmann and the fashion department of the Wiener Werkstätte, establish a distinctive Viennese silhouette independent of Paris. Using various techniques, woodcut linocut, wash drawing, lithography, the plates were printed on the press of the School of Applied Arts by the various artists, hand-coloured, most in a very avant-garde style contrasting with the style of the Journal des Dames et des Modes published in Paris. Felice engraved six remarkable prints for this album produced in an edition of only 50 copies. Similarly, she contributed in 1916 to the album “Das Leben einer Dame”.

The choice of the linocut technique by the artist is striking and reflects her “radicality”; it was indeed a new technique first adopted in Germany by the artists of “Die Brücke” after 1905. Before that it had only been used for wallpaper printing. The primitive, folk-art quality suggested by the prints, along with the expressionistic, even crude style of their execution, give them a charming ethnic authenticity.

The Viennese artist Felice “Lizzi” Rix (1893-1967) studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Applied Arts) from 1913 to 1917, in the classes of Josef Hoffmann, Rosalia Rothansl (textile), Anton Hanak (sculpture), Adele von Starck (enamel) and others. There she came into close contact with the young Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980). At the age of 24, she joined the Wiener Werkstätte, designing glass décors, book covers and illustrations, toys, toiletries and smoking products, embroidery, ivory and enamel works, commercial art, ceramics; her major strength was the creation of textile patterns. She also worked for the fashion department of the workshops. She participated in several exhibitions and won a prize at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris in 1925. Through the Wiener Werkstätte, Felice Rix met the Japanese architect Isaburo Ueno (1892-1972), one of the founding members of the International Architecture Society of Japan who came to work in Europe, Berlin, and Vienna (under the supervision of Josef Hoffmann). They married in 1925 and settled in Japan soon after. Felice continued to design textile patterns for the Wiener Werkstätte until 1930. In 1929, she designed a wallpaper collection for Salubra. Between 1935 and 1944, she carried out decoration works, alongside her activity as a consultant at the Kyoto Experimental Textile Station. After the war, she became a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kyoto (now Kyoto City University of Arts), with a marked interest in printing techniques, a position she left in 1963 to open with Isaburo a private school (International Design School, today Kyoto Interactive School of Art). Felice Rix’s creations are present in several European and American museums. Not surprisingly both husband and wife helped introduce Modernism to Japan and contributed to the development of Japanese modern art.  She was Emil Orlik in reverse. In 2006-7, The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, received all the remaining works and reference material of Isaburo Ueno and Felice Rix-Ueno as a gift from the Kyoto Interactive School of Art, a superb collection which highlights the fusion of sensibilities between West and East, between Vienna and Kyoto.

In fine condition.

Ref. Gabriele Fahr-Becker, Wiener Werkstätte, (2003), p. 229 / Akiko Fukai, Fashion. The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute: A history from the 18th to the 20th century, (2002), p. 719 / Ilse Korotin, BiografiA, Lexikon österreichischer Frauen, (2016), III, p. 2722 / Elisabeth Rücker, Wiener Charme, (1984), pp. 29-36, pp. 11 (reproduction en couleurs) & 50 / Werner J. Schweiger, Wiener Werkstätte, art et artisanat, 1903-1932, (1986), p. 267 / Christoph Thun-Hohenstein et al., Die Frauen der Wiener Werkstätte, Women Artists of the Wiener Werkstätte, (2021), pp. 256-257 / The Isaburo & Felice « Lizzi » Ueno-Rix Collection, National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan