Evocative U

(ee-vok'-uh-tiv) Bringing strong images, memories, or feelings to mind

Glenn Murray

Written by Glenn Murray. I design and build cool software. CV

Here's my latest think piece.

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Vienna is the cleanest big city I have ever been to, a beautiful mix of old and new. Which is symbolic of my visit. It was my first trip to Austria to explore my heritage - my great-grandmother emigrated from here in the 1920s.

I think Vienna felt so comfortable because significant parts of my personality have their genesis in Austrian orderliness, and the emphasis on leading an intellectual and creative life.

Unfortunately, I have no known relatives in Vienna, because that branch of the family is Jewish and the Nazis killed them all.

Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum is among the most important in the world, thanks in large part to the Hapsburg Dynasty.

I was in 7th heaven in a room filled entirely with Brueghels. I was also quite taken by the Caravaggio paintings. Though terribly violent and didactically Christian, as many Baroque paintings are, there is a sensuality and humanity that appeals to me. The artist was a gay alcoholic, so we have shared sensibilities.

MAK Design Museum in Vienna has many pieces from the hugely influential Vienna Workshop of the early 1900s, several Klimts mockups, and a metal chair (contraption?) made from the artist's mother's old washing machine.

Favorite unexpected surprise in Vienna: I've not been much of a fan of fabric design, being more interested in furniture and gadgets. This collection at Vienna's MAK Design Museum really astounded me. These modernist designs are from the Biedermeier period - 1820 to 1840!

This was a little blip in design history in Central Europe that was soon overshadowed by the more well-known rococo flourishes of the later 19th century. Biedermeier influences later resurfaced to help inspire the Vienna Workshop and Bauhaus movements of the early 1900s, and modern design as we know it was born.