Joseph Urban papers, 1893-1998.
|Urban, Joseph, 1872-1933.
|135 linear ft. ( 39 boxes; 86 flat boxes; 147 board-portfolios; 12 map case drawers; 45 boxes of glass plates and acetate
negatives; 328 set models)
|Rare Book & Manuscript Library
|View CLIO Record and Request Material >>
Joseph Urban (1872-1933) studied architecture at the Akademie der bildenden Künst in his native Vienna. He established himself
as an architect as well as a book illustrator, exhibit designer, interior decorator and set designer often in collaboration
with the painter Heinrich Lefler. Urban and Lefler were co-founders of the Hagenbund, an exhibiting society similar to the
Secessionists. In 1912, at the age of 40, Urban emigrated to the United States and became the designer for the Boston Opera
Company where he introduced the innovations of the "New Stagecraft" from the european theater. After the Boston Opera Company
went bankrupt in 1914, Urban began designing sets in New York. He designed the Ziegfeld Follies as well as all other Ziegfeld
productions from 1915 to 1932. In 1917 he began designing for the Metropolitan Opera and continued to do so until his death
in 1933. From 1921 to 1925 Urban was also the art director for William Randolph Hearst's Cosmopolitan Studios He had branched
out to other artistic endeavors since moving to New York including designing shop windows, roof gardens and interior decoration.
From 1921 to 1922, he introduced the works of Viennese artists to the United States through his Wiener Werkstätte shop. He
received his license to practice architecture in the United States in 1926 after which he designed homes, buildings, ballrooms,
and theaters in New York and elsewhere. Notable examples of his extant architecture are the Paramount Theater Building and
Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida and the New School and the Hearst Magazine Building in New york.
Scope and Contents
Collection contains watercolor renderings, sketches, technical drawings (ground plans, elevations and details), photographs,
glass plate and acetate negatives, scrapbooks, set models and some related papers covering Urban's career in Vienna and New
York as an architect, set designer, decorator and illustrator. There is a thorough representation of his New York career including
his set designs for Florenz Ziegfeld (1915-1932) and the Metropolitan Opera (1917-1933). The collection also contains information
on Urban's work for William Randolph Hearst as art director for Cosmopolitan Studios, his exhibitions including his 1921 Wiener
Werkstätte store, and his many architectural projects. Biographical information and research gathered by Richard Cole and
Randolph Carter including contributions from his daughter,Gretl Urban, and biographical notes and some letters from his widow,
Mary Urban, are also present.