AT THE TURN OF THE LAST CENTURY, Vienna was a hotbed of progressive art and design. Nowhere was the spirit more in evidence than at the Wiener Werkstätte, the Vienna workshop co-founded by Josef Hoffmann. The architect applied his revolutionary vision to large-scale projects but also to finely crafted jewelry. Banishing the swirling shackles of Art Nouveau, he designed silver bracelets and brooches in orderly geometries studded with colorful semi-precious stones. These modern baubles spoke a new language of decoration, and their distinctive hallmark, the Werkstätte's double W in a square, remains a graphic reminder of the impact architects and artists can have when they join forces to change their world.
At the Werkstätte, there was little pretense of making affordable objects for the masses. Beautifully crafted and functional furniture, ceramics, metalwork, and fashions exuded an avant-garde spirit for a rarefied clientele.
Hoffmann's strict geometric impulses gave way to flamboyance in the hands of later Werkstätte members, such as Dagobert Peche. The whole dazzling experiment petered out amid materials shortages after the first World War.
Today, New York's Neue Galerie preserves the excitement of Hoffman's era at a museum dedicated to the arts of Austria and Germany from 1890 to 1940. Through June 30, the spotlight is on Wiener Werkstätte jewelry. - Linda Hales
The Wrong House: The Architecture of Alfred Hitchcock
By Steven Jacobs
Hitchcock worked as a set designer in the 1920s, and architecture plays a major role in his movies. Jacobs, an art historian, analyzes the director's use of cinematic space, providing fascinating architectural plans of fictional film landmarks such as Manderlay, the country house in Rebecca; the Jeffries apartment from Rear Window; and, of course, the Bates Motel and house from Psycho. 010 Publishers; €29.50
Southern Exposure: Contemporary Regional Architecture
Virginia Center for Architecture, Richmond, Va.
Through June 8
In this group show, ARCHITECT editor at large Vernon Mays assembles projects by the best progressive architects working south of the Mason-Dixon: Frank Harmon, Marlon Blackwell, W.G. Clark, Mack Scogin and Merrill Elam, Lake/Flato (whose World Birding Center is shown here), and the Rural Studio. virginiaarchitecture.org
Luhring Augustine, New York
Through May 3
Artist Gregory Crewdson brings a novelist's sense of drama to his large-scale photographs. Typically set on the fringes of American towns and cities, in suburban homes and along small-town streets, the monumental photographs read like a latter-day equivalent of Edward Hopper's lonely realist paintings. luhringaugustine.com
Otto Neurath: The Language of the Global Polis
By Nader Vossoughian
Cross-pollinate infographics guru Edward Tufte, sociologist Richard Florida, and planner Jamie Lerner, and you might capture the significance of Otto Neurath (1882-1945). The German philosopher, sociologist, curator, and urban collaborated with such giants of modernism as Le Corbusier and Adolf Loos, but Neurath's spectacular graphics alone should earn him a place in history. NAi Publishers; €47.50