1919–1923 Bauhaus student
Franz Singer was born on 8 February 1896 in Vienna. Singer’s talent for drawing was recognised early and fostered at the Kunstgewerbeschule (school of arts and crafts) in Vienna, which he attended at the tender age of nine. Here he followed a drawing course for children taught by Alfred Roller (1905–1906); from 1914 to 1915, he then studied in Vienna under the painter Felix Albrecht Harta. Two years of military service followed, during which he began to study philosophy (1916 to 1919). From 1916 to 1919 the young artist exhibited at the Kunstschau in Vienna. From 1917, parallel to his studies in philosophy, he was taught by Johannes Itten at the Kunstgewerbeschule. Here, he also became acquainted with his companion and work partner of many years, Friedl Dicker.
When Johannes Itten was appointed at the newly founded Bauhaus in Weimar in 1919, Singer and Dicker went with him without further ado. Despite his personal relationship with Dicker, in 1921 Singer married the singer Emmy Heim, whom he had probably met during a Christmas concert at the Bauhaus in 1920, in which she performed. Singer studied at the Bauhaus until 1923, but from 1920 the Bauhausler was already working together with Friedl Dicker as a set designer for the Schauspielhaus in Dresden and in Berlin. In 1923 Singer and Dicker set up the Werkstätten Bildender Kunst (workshop of visual arts) in Berlin. Up to 1926 they worked together, developing interior designs, arts and crafts objects and set designs.
Having both returned to Vienna, in 1925 they opened the architecture office Atelier Singer-Dicker at 9, Wasserburggasse 2, Vienna. This collaboration lasted until 1931, while the former Bauhauslers designed and realised numerous interiors for flats, furniture, textiles and a number of buildings. Atelier Singer-Dicker’s services were also engaged several times on behalf of Vienna’s social programme, for instance to fit and furnish preschools and to collaborate on the project ‘Jugend am Werk’, which aimed to reintegrate young people in society. Artistically and intellectually, Singer and Dicker found themselves part of a circle of artists that had formed around Hans Moller, Adolf Loos and Max Ermers. As early as 1927, Singer was a prizewinner at the Juryfreie Kunstschau Berlin; in 1929 he received another award at the exhibition Moderne Inneneinrichtungen in Vienna. In 1930 following a series of personal conflicts, Friedl Dicker ended her collaboration with Singer and he initially continued to run Atelier Singer-Dicker on his own.
From 1931 to 1938 Singer was active as a freelance architect in Vienna. After his architecture office was forcibly dissolved following the Austrian Annexation of 1938, Singer remained in England where he had already worked since 1934, among other things as a consultant for the company John Lewis and as a freelance architect (in cooperation with Hans Biehl, later with Hedy Schwarz-Abraham). In England, he was temporarily interned. From 1938 to 1954 Singer worked as a freelance architect for the company Nursery Furniture Blackboard & Toy Cupboard in London. After the Second World War, Singer resumed the work as a toy designer and designer of children’s furniture, which he had begun in collaboration with Friedl Dicker in Vienna.
In the early 1950s Singer returned briefly to Salzburg and then to Berlin. Franz Singer died on 5 October 1954 in Berlin.
· C. Blauensteiner (1989): Das moderne Wohnprinzip, zur Ausstellung Franz Singer – Friedl Dicker, in: Bauforum, Heft 22, S. 11f.
· Wilhelm Holzbauer (1989): Franz Singer – Friedl Dicker, Wien.
· Elena Makarova (1999): Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, Wien/München.
· Ursula Prokop: Franz Singer, Architektenlexikon. Wien 1770–1945, Architekturzentrum Wien, http://www.architektenlexikon.at/de/723.htm (6.6.2016).
· Peter Wilberg-Vignau (1970): Friedl Dicker, Franz Singer, Darmstadt.
Main focus: Preliminary Courses, Joinery and Participant in the De Stijl course
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