Textile, Notschrei (Cry for Help), 1904
Medium: wool Technique: plain weave with complementary wefts Label: wool plain weave with complementary wefts. Museum purchase through General Acquisitions Endowment Fund. 1985-52-2
What is this?
Length of woven wool with columns of fine vertical lines broken by rows of inverted triangles and heart-like shapes in beige with touches of pale green on a black ground (faded to dark brown in some areas).
Why is this in our collection?
From 1903-1904, Josef Hoffmann designed a new building for the Purkersdorf sanatorium, which was established in 1890. At the turn of the twentieth century, there was a rising interest in psychotherapy and the treatment of individuals with mental illness. In Vienna, Sigmund Freud was one of the influential figures leading dialogues about psychiatric treatment. Cities were perceived as breeding grounds for nervous disorders, and patients were prescribed retreats into nature to escape the overstimulation and chaos of urban life. Purkersdorf, a private sanatorium, was a retreat for the urban elite to recuperate from the stresses of the city.
From the architectural plan to the furniture inside, Hoffmann focused on creating a soothing atmosphere. The textile Notschrei references its place of use only by its name, which translates to “cry for help.” The geometric and linear pattern accurately reflects Hoffmann’s style and speaks to his belief that one's environment could inspire change. He intentionally used geometric and linear elements throughout the building to create a calming atmosphere.