Emil Pirchan with masks in his studio, Berlin, 1920, photography
© Sammlung Steffan / Pabst, Zürich, Foto: Sammlung Steffan / Pabst, Zürich

The unknown all-rounder

May we present? Everything in this exhibition revolves around Emil Pirchan (1884-1957). The universal artist, jack-of-all-trades, and pioneer of the expressionist stage set created an impressive œuvre over the course of his career. The Leopold Museum now brings the forgotten artist back to life again with an extensive exhibition. 

Vienna – Munich – Berlin – Prague – Vienna

Having studied architecture under Otto Wagner in Vienna, Pirchan, who was born in Brno (formerly in Austria-Hungary, today in the Czech Republic) moved to Munich in 1908. Having arrived in the state capital, he founded his "Studio for Graphics, Stage Art, Housebuilding, Spatial Art and Decorative Arts". After almost 13 years in Munich, where he made a name for himself mainly in the field of set design, he moved to the glittering Berlin (1921-1932) of the "Golden Twenties". Only another brief stopover in Prague separated him from Vienna, where he returned in 1936 and remained until his death in 1957.

On the theater scene, Pirchan was known at that time for his surprising, modern stage sets. The so-called "staircase stage" (also called the "Jessner Staircase", a freestanding staircase stage) was a milestone of modern set building, and would probably not have come into existence without Pirchan's cooperation. His clear structuring of the stage space and the conscious use of colors and their effects go back to his work as a commercial artist. Over the years, however, his work was forgotten, until a discovery in an attic in Zürich returned the artist's slumbering treasure to the light of day. 

The exhibition "Emil Pirchan – Universal Artist" uses numerous objects, including furniture, stage and costume designs, architectural models, posters, book illustrations and even marbled papers he made himself to show the extensive range of the unrightly little known universal artist, Pirchan. 

Emil Pirchan

Universal artist

December 8, 2020 – April 5, 2021

Note: Due to the current situation, the opening times of the individual institutions may have changed. Please make inquiries before you visit the museums.

Leopold Museum

Museumsplatz 1 , 1070 Wien
  • Vienna City Card

  • Opening times

    • Mo, 10:00 - 18:00
    • We, 10:00 - 18:00
    • Th, 10:00 - 21:00
    • Fr, 10:00 - 18:00
    • Sa, 10:00 - 18:00
    • Su, 10:00 - 18:00
  • Accessibility

    • Main entrance
      • no steps (Double swinging doors )
    • Car parks Main entrance
      • 4 Parking spaces for people with disabilities
    • Elevator available
      • 89 cm wide and 210 cm low , Door 90 cm wide
    • Further information
      • Wheelchair accessible restroom available.
    • Comments

      Main entrance, access to all exhibition rooms and restaurant/café: no steps.

      4 parking spaces for visitors with disabilities in the MuseumsQuartier area.

      6 free parking spaces for visitors with special needs on the premises (access: Burggasse / Volkstheater) with proper identification and 4 parking spaces for visitors with special needs in the parking garage (basement level 2 next to elevator, access: main entrance Museumsplatz).

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