Ursula Prokop is a Viennese art and architecture historian who has written several books and regularly lectures on her research in the field of architecture and cultural history in the first half of the 20th century. She has contributed to numerous publications, collaborative studies, and research for exhibitions. In addition to writing the definitive biography and analysis of Jacques and Jacqueline Groag and their work, Das Architekten- und Designer-Ehepaar Jacques and Jacqueline Groag: Zwei vergessene Künstler der Wiener Moderne (Böhlau 2005), she is the author of a biography of Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein (Böhlau 2003), acclaimed by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Kunstmarkt as a biography that “makes the past come to life in an exciting way.” The Neue Zürcher Zeitung called the Stonborough-Wittgenstein book one “of high merit” and “insightful into the lives of the Wittgenstein family,” while the review from the Süddeutsche Zeitung found the book exemplary for providing “new contours” not just to the Wittgenstein family story and Margaret, one of the more famous sitters for Gustav Klimt, but to the picture of early-20th-century bourgeoisie life. Prokop’s earlier biography of controversial architect Rudolf Perco (Rudolf Perco 1884–1942: From the Architecture of Red Vienna to Nazi Megalomania ; Böhlau 2001) was the first comprehensive biography of this model student of Otto Wagner and Prix-de-Rome winner of 1910. It explored his adventuresome unbuilt designs, his descent into a utopian fantasy of state control, his disenchantment with the Nazis and subsequent disenfranchisement, leading to his suicide in 1942. The Neue Zürcher Zeitung found the book to have “a wealth of facts” and to be “meticulously researched.”
The art historian Ursula Prokop empathically describes the life of the Groags [...] and characterizes their artistic achievements. The difficulty of finding sources – Groag's buildings have been extensively changed, many of his furniture have been lost or are widely scattered – made the research for the present double biography at first slow and tedious. Nevertheless, the author has managed to convey a multifaceted and vivid picture of [the Groags'] contemporary history, as well as highlighting the influence that the continental avant-garde had on British design of the post-war years and the acceptance of a modern language of form. Thus, the work that emerged in the context of a research project carried out at the University of Vienna is not only a late tribute to the two designers in their old homeland, but also a contribution to the subject of the individual design history that goes beyond individuality.
– Dagmar Steffen, Bauwelt
Her work […] in the clarity of its line and colour as much as subject-matter, eluded received notions and never lost an element of child-like wonder, of day dreaming.
– Isabelle Anscombe, author of A Woman’s Touch
The Festival of Britain, the third and much the largest of the post-war design bonanzas is now regarded mainly as the start of the mass-public acceptance of the ‘modern’ design and architecture. … It opened up the possibilities inherent in designing and influenced the whole development of the modern multi-disciplinary design office. The Festival was British, extravagantly so, … but it is ironic that many of the main designers of the Festival in the post-war periods had in fact arrived from abroad: Stefan Buzas, Jacques and Jacqueline Groag. …Where would British design have been without this foreign input?
– Fiona McCarthy/Patrick Nugents, Eye for Industry, Royal Designers 1936–1986
Ursula Prokop offers an extensively researched book on the Viennese architect and designer couple Jacques and Jacqueline Groag that provides new information and new insight into the lives of two talented artists whose modernist work crossed over political. geographical, and cultural frontiers. [...] The book is a well-documented overview of the couple's lives and works. It introduces biographical material collected and preserved from many different collections, especially those of the two nephews, Mr. Jan Groag in New York and Dr. Willi Groag in Maanit, Israel. [...] This is a pioneering work that rightfully places the artists Jacques and Jacqueline Groag within the field of Viennese Modernism.
– Elana Shapira, Centropa
Among the buildings of the Werkbundsiedlung of 1932, the elegant house by architect Jacques Groag stood out in a positive way. Clever spatial economy succeeded in arranging the rooms so that they do not appear to be small and confined as is the case in one or the other home of the settlement, but spacious and airy. The sensation of the control of space and the strong impression of the room clearly marked the architect as a protege of Adolf Loos. Jacques Groag belongs to the younger Viennese architects whose style stands out because of its ingenious elegance and lightness.
– Österreichische Kunst (Austrian Art)
Jacques Groag´s living spaces exhibit an attitude that abstains from exaggerated “sober” motifs. Next to the purist cheerfulness that is at play, imagination rules, as well as delicate proportions, which are a mental rather than utilitarian matter. This architect has created living spaces that veritably dissolve in light. There is an impulse to open up walls and to take away their material bodies. The fact that Groag came from painting to architecture is apparent via the pictorial effects; it is obvious that he masters the technicalities. … Almost all of the rooms share a tendency towards delicate fabric covers that dissolve the boundaries of the rooms, a preference for natural-colored floor mats, and for light colors as such.
The fact is, that [Jacques Groag] was, until the Nazis invaded Austria, one of the leading and most successful avant-garde architects in Vienna, where he was for many years engaged on work for important housing projects, public buildings and private houses. … In Britain in the absence of any architectural work, he was glad to supply himself to utility furniture. When, after the war, building activities were resumed, no one in Britain seemed to be aware any longer of his caliber as an architect, and Groag himself was much too modest a man to claim what, by rights, ought to have been his due.
– Sir Gordon Russell, SIA Journal
Jacqueline Groag's long life of creativity received its strong foundations from the remarkable period of Viennese Arts and Crafts that – after three generations – we now recognize as the source of much of what European culture has given to the world. As one of the very few pupils of that great teacher, Josef Hoffmann, Jacqueline survived into our time of turbulence and uncertainty to make us understand that our lives are of real value only when we live with beauty.
– Stefan Buzas, Eulogy for Jacqueline Groag, January 21, 1986
[Jacqueline Groag lives] in a world of imagination. […] Starlight, with its interweaving of delicate chains, suggests to me marvellous and mysterious talks under the stars. I cannot remember designs for fabrics affecting me in this way before.
– Charles Reilly, Art and Industry
Few designers can move easily from abstract design to the representational and produce equally good work in both disciplines. Jacqueline Groag not only possesses this special gift but also the ability to abstract from life so that reality still exists in many of her patterns, but transformed by the wit and charm of her own personality.
– The Ambassador
The houses of Groag with the beautiful terraces impress because of their clever balance. They radiate comfort.
– Neue Freie Presse
[Jacqueline Groag] constantly and ingeniously exploited the decorative possibilities of simple motifs, frequently in highly complex designs.
– House and Garden