The Vienna Secession
(also known as the Union
of Austrian Artists
, or Vereiningung Bildender Künstler
) was formed in 1897 by a group of Austrian artists
who had resigned from the Association of Austrian Artists, housed
in the Vienna Künstlerhaus. This movement included painters,
sculptors, and architects. The first president of the Secession was
, and Rudolf von Alt
was made honorary
The Vienna Secession was founded on 3 April
by artists Gustav
, Koloman Moser
, Josef Hoffmann
, Joseph Maria Olbrich
, Max Kurzweil
, and others. Although Otto Wagner
is widely recognised as a
fundamental member of the Vienna Secession he was not a founding
member. The Secession artists objected to the prevailing
conservatism of the Vienna Künstlerhaus with its traditional
orientation toward Historicism
and Munich Secession
movements preceded the
Vienna Secession, which held its first exhibition in 1898.
The group earned considerable credit for its exhibition policy,
which made the French
somewhat familiar to the Viennese public. The
14th Secession exhibition, designed by Josef Hoffmann
and dedicated to Ludwig van Beethoven
, was especially
famous. A statue of Beethoven by Max
stood at the center, with Klimt's Beethoven frieze
mounted around it.
In 1903 Hoffmann and Moser founded the Wiener Werkstätte
as a fine-arts
society with the goal of reforming the applied arts (arts and
On 14 June 1905
Klimt and other artists left the Vienna Secession due to
differences of opinion over artistic concepts.
Style of the Secessionists
Unlike other movements, there is no one style that unites the work
of all artists who were part of the Vienna Secession. The Secession
building could be considered the icon of the movement. Above its
entrance was carved the phrase "to every age its art and to art its
freedom". Secession artists were concerned, above all else, with
exploring the possibilities of art outside the confines of academic
tradition. They hoped to create a new style that owed nothing to
historical influence. In this way they were very much in keeping
with the iconoclastic spirit of turn-of-the-century Vienna (the
time and place that also saw the publication of Freud
's first writings).
The Secessionist style was exhibited in a magazine that the group
produced, called Ver Sacrum
, which featured highly
decorative works representative of the period.
Along with painters and sculptors, there were several prominent
architects who became associated with The Vienna Secession. During
this time, architects focused on bringing purer geometric forms
into the designs of their buildings.The three main architects of
this movement were Josef Hoffmann
Joseph Maria Olbrich
often decorated the surface of their buildings with linear
ornamentation in a form commonly called whiplash or eel
the group's exhibition house was built in the vicinity of Karlsplatz.
Designed by Joseph Maria Olbrich, the
exhibition building soon became known simply as "the Secession"
). This building became an icon of the
movement. The secession building displayed art from several other
influential artists such as Max Klinger
, Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Wagner's Majolika Haus in Vienna (c.
1898) is a significant example of the Austrian use of line.
significant works of Otto Wagner include The Karlsplatz
Stadtbahn Station in Vienna (1900), and The Austrian Postal Savings
Bank or Österreichische
Postsparkasse in Vienna (1904-1906).
Wagner's way of modifying Art Nouveau
decoration in a classical manner did not find favour with some of
his pupils who broke away to form the Secessionists. One was Josef
Hoffmann who left to form the Wiener Werkstätte
, an Austrian
equivalent of the Arts and
. A good example of his work is the Stoclet Palace in Brussels
The Secession movement was selected as the theme for a
commemorative coin: the 100 euro Secession
minted in November
obverse side there is a view of the Secession
exhibition hall in Vienna.
reverse side features a small portion of the Beethoven Frieze
by Gustav Klimt
. The extract from the painting
features three figures: a knight in armor representing Armed
Strength, one woman in the background symbolizing Ambition and
holding up a wreath of victory, and a second woman representing
Sympathy with lowered head and clasped hands.
Other Secession artists
- Schorske, Carl E. "Gustav
Klimt: Painting and the Crisis of the Liberal Ego" in
Fin-de-Siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture. Vintage Books,
1981. ISBN 0-394-74478-0
- Borsi, Franco, and Ezio Godoli. "Vienna 1900 Architecture and
Design". New York, NY: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc,
1986. ISBN 0-8478-0616-2
- Arnanson, Harvard H. "History of Modern Art". Ed. Daniel
Wheeler. 3rd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc, 1986.
- Topp, Leslie. "Architecture and truth in fin-de-siecle vienna".
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2004. ISBN 0-521-82275-0
- "Architecture in Austria in the 20th and 21st Centuries". Ed.
Gudrun Hausegger. Basel, SW: Birkhauser, 2006. ISBN
- Sekler, Eduard F. "Josef Hoffmann The Architectural Work".
Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1985. ISBN 0-691-06572-1