In 1888, the renown Jugendstil architect Otto Wagner designed and built a summer house for himself and his family located in Hütteldorf on the border of the historical “Wiener Wald”. The star architect moved in as early as 1895 and stayed until his children had moved out and the house became too big for just himself. He then sold the villa to Ben Tiber a wealthy business man who owned various theatres in Vienna including the famous Varieté Ronacher. Wagner himself acquired a piece of land right next to the grand villa and built himself a smaller and simpler house.
The former Wagner-Villa, later Ben-Tiber-Villa and today’s Fuchs-Villa, was considered a spectacular piece of architecture from its very foundation. When the design and floor plans of the house were first shown in Berlin, the press wrote the following: “A strange allure is evoked by this peculiar villa of the artist in Vienna, Hütteldorf. Completely deviating from the usual appearance of similar buildings, the frontal view of the house that sits on the flank of a hill, only shows a large open hall between two side wings.” Although the construction of the house evoked much turmoil at first, however, it later fell into oblivion and was only saved through the initiative of Ernst Fuchs.
Initially, the villa was meant to be a communal project of Ernst Fuchs and his fellow artists Friedensreich Hundertwasser and Arnulf Rainer. This later turned out to be too complicated however and the house became Fuchs’ very own project. Shortly before the artist acquired the house, the famous poet Heimito von Doderer decided to make it the showcase for his last work “Der Grenzwald”. When Fuchs’ first acquired the house, it was a ruin. It took the artist many years and a large financial investment to restore the house. The majority was restored after Otto Wagner’s initial designs and some details were supplemented by Ernst Fuchs himself.
For many years, Ernst Fuchs used the house as his studio, but today the Wagner-Villa is a museum. On the occasion of the Wagner-Villa’s centenary it was reopened as Ernst Fuch’s private museum in 1988 which was also when the artist moved his studio to Monaco where he would remain living and working for most of his life. Marcel Brion tried to capture and describe the artist Ernst Fuchs in an intricately designed catalogue which he devoted to the master and his collection. Calling Fuchs a “visionary that sees through things” and a “chronist of unknown worlds”, Brion tries to give the audience a better understanding of the mythical and spiritual world of Ernst Fuchs imagery. “No specific ancient or modern myth but Ernst Fuchs’ very own myth which in itself contains his entire work; no theological historical knowledge, no skillful historical depiction of some academic painter, but a mythology without idols which, however, still contains all of them, culminating in a hybridized liaison of hybrids invented or reinvented, a melting-pot of beliefs and intuitions, superstition and liturgy, enlightenment and nightmares, barely suspected and visionary felt. A world of its own. A real world.”