Style and Seduction: Jewish Patrons, Architecture, and Design in Fin de Siècle Vienna
[Shapira] maps the possibility of thinking about Jewish agency in the arts while avoiding the temptation to essentialise Jewish identity, to homogenise Jewish attitudes or to represent “the Jew” as a total personality whose positions are governed entirely by the fact of their Jewishness. Instead, she demonstrates how patrons were thinking through their Jewishness at the same time as they were positioning themselves in terms of class, gender and sexual identity, and were doing so at a time when all of these were topoi of substantial dispute.
—The Art Newspaper
Authoritative. ... Shapira’s documentation in primary and secondary sources is exhaustive. ... Recommended.
What emerges from Shapira’s examples is a very usefully nuanced picture of the Jewish involvement in the advanced architecture and design of the period. She shows the importance of patronage, but also that commissions, purchases and financial support were only some of the ways in which Jewish involvement in this area was manifested.
Compelling and important. ... Working from a truly astounding range of primary and archival sources, she brings to life the protagonists of her story with intimacy and richness of detail. Rarely has the active role of Jewish patronage been explored in such depth.
“Style and Seduction” is an engaging, creative and innovative study into the world of the Jewish bourgeoisie in Vienna in the fin de siècle. Shapira challenges a well-known essay by Ernst Gombrich on this theme, and evokes a much more colorful and provocative interpretation. The author unearths associations and interpretations on Jews and non-Jews, antisemitic overtones and visual designs that together bring alive the worlds of Vienna that entertained at the turn of the century many imaginative, hidden and evocative agendas, and personalities — Jews and non-Jews. Her book is bound to arouse attention and discussion.
—Richard I. Cohen, academic director of Da’at Hamakom, Center for the Study of Cultures of Place in Modern Jewish Society, Israel Center of Research Excellence
Shapira's work allows us to see Vienna 1900 from a quite different perspective, and a very productive one: that of the individuals who provided the actual resources with which the modernist (and many historicist) icons of the city where built. It provides a much more sophisticated assessment and understanding of how prejudice and actual cultural difference combined to shape Vienna's modern culture, and hence our world.
—Steven Beller, Patterns of Prejudice
ELANA SHAPIRA lectures at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria.