Vienna Secession

Vienna Secession

The Vienna Secession (also known as "the Union of Austrian Artists", or "Vereiningung Bildender Künstler Österreichs") was formed in 1897 by a group of Austrian artists who had resigned from the Association of Austrian Artists, housed in the Vienna Künstlerhaus. The first president of the Secession was Gustav Klimt, and Rudolf von Alt was made honorary president.


The Vienna Secession was founded on 3 April 1897 by artists Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Max Kurzweil, Otto Wagner, and others. The Secession artists objected to the prevailing conservatism of the Vienna Künstlerhaus with its traditional orientation toward Historicism. The Berlin and Munich Secession movements preceded the Vienna Secession, which held its first exhibition in 1898.

Also in 1898, 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" ("die Sezession").

The group earned considerable credit for its exhibition policy, which made the French Impressionists 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 Klinger 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 crafts).

On 14 June 1905 Gustav Klimt and other artists left the Vienna Secession due to differences of opinion over artistic concepts.

tyle 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.

Secessionist architects often decorated the surface of their buildings with linear ornamentation in a form commonly called whiplash or eel style. Otto Wagner's Majolika Haus in Vienna (c. 1898) is a significant example of the Austrian use of line.

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 Crafts movement. A good example of his work is the Stoclet Palace in Brussels (1905).


The Secession movement was selected as the theme for a commemorative coin: the 100 euro Secession commemorative coin minted in November 10 2004.

On the obverse side there is a view of the Secession exhibition hall in Vienna. The 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

*Rudolph Bacher
*Richard Gerstl
*Max Fabiani
*Albert Paris von Gütersloh
*Oskar Kokoschka
*Jože Plečnik
*Max Kurzweil
*Carl Moll
*Koloman Moser
*Egon Schiele
*Othmar Schimkowitz
*Oskar Laske


*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

External links

* [, Life and Work of Gustav Klimt]
* [ Josef Hoffmann Biografie at WOKA (de/en)]
* [ Wiener Werkstaette]
* [ Arts and Crafts in Vienna 1900]
* [ - Secession in Hungary]

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