Other Modern: The Art Nouveau Church of St. Leopold in Steinhof, Vienna

In terms of "Other Modern" (which, to explain it to readers unfamiliar with the concept, is a modern style which is significantly influenced by and not detached from the classical forms of artistic expression), I have personally always felt that Art Nouveau was one of the very most promising expressions of this.  In the past we have featured some art nouveau vestments as well as some of the painted works of Carlo Donati, and now I wish to turn your attention to the architectural work of Otto Wagner (+1914) at the  Church of St. Leopold located in Steinhof in Vienna, Austria (better known simply as the Steinhof Church). 

The Steinhof church was built between 1903-1907 and it was built on the site of an asylum for the mentally ill -- which is perhaps ironic, because never was there a more sane approach to modernity within sacred art than is to be found here. 

Of course Otto Wanger, while being the main architect, was not solely responsible for all the artistic contents of the church of course. The mosaics and glasswork that are found in the church were designed by another Viennese artist, Koloman Moser (+1918) and the distinctive and iconic sculptural angels which would come to adorn the exterior facade of the church were designed by Austrian artist Othmar Schimkowitz (+1947).

One of the most stunning features of the church is its high altar with its metal canopy which is surmounted by a backdrop mosaic showing Christ enthroned in glory, surrounded by saints and angels. 

A closer look at the canopy itself reveals six-winged seraphim going around the circumference of its lower half.

The reredos includes two adoring angels which are purposefully set in the direction of a permanent exposition throne space set behind and above the tabernacle and altar cross. 

A view of the pulpit:

Turning to the exterior, the church has a classic 'footprint' with a main dome set over the axis of the church. This dome is not exposed from within the interior however, so it is effectively a "faux" dome. 

As mentioned, the exterior facade includes four sculptural angels that were designed by Othmar Schimkowitz. As you will see, they are heavily stylized and quite appealing.

I had also mentioned Koloman Moser in relation to the stained glass and mosaics. You have already seen his primary work -- the mosaic located behind the high altar, and here's a sense of some of his stained glass work.

As a bonus, the Steinhof church also has some wonderful Bueronese vestments. These were designed and made for the church by the Sisters of the Divine Redeemer in Vienna. 

This raises a point worth noting. All of the various contingent parts and pieces of this church were done to reflect this particular style. From the main architectural components, down to the vestments, candlesticks, sanctuary lamps, confessionals, organ and so on. 

I will leave you with few final random views of others parts and pieces of the church which help to show this.

Understandably, the particular style of this church and its liturgical art and architecture will not suit everyone's own particular preferences or tastes. This is unavoidable of course (just as not everyone will appreciate or prefer baroque, rococo, gothic, Romanesque and so on). The point is not, however, whether something fits to one's own particular preferences; the point is whether or not we can say that an expression is worthy, fitting and in harmony with its primary purpose: divine worship.  

In the case of the Other Modern approach of the Church at Steinhof, I think we can clearly say that it most certainly is. 

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