Vienna Secession 1897 – 1939

Viennese Secession or Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs was formed in 1897 Nineteen artists, including Gustav Klimt (first President of the Secession), Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Kolo Moser, and Carl Moll, rejected the conservative attitude toward the arts of the Künstlerhaus, favouring a more modern experimental approach The Honorary President of the Secession was the painter Rudolf von Alt The Secession defined itself as a regenerative force, calling its magazine Ver Sacrum (Lat: ‘sacred spring’) Schorske (1980) equated their protest action to the Roman ritual of the consecration of youth in times of danger: the young in Vienna took an oath to save culture from their elders Hermann Bahr composed an explanatory text for the round stained-glass window (destr) that Moser had designed for the Secession building: ‘The artist shows his own world of innate beauty which never was nor will be again’ Professing to have ‘no tradition’, they demanded instead new aesthetic forms of expression in keeping with modern life

The Vienna Secession (German: Wiener Secession; also known as the Union of Austrian Artists, or Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs) is an art movement 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 Gustav Klimt, and Rudolf von Alt was made honorary president Its official magazine was called Ver Sacrum The Secession is best known for its initial period between 1897 and 1905, but it still exists as a society promoting and hosting exhibitions of global contemporary art in Vienna

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The Vienna Secession was not without precedents It was actually the third, but most famous, of several “secessions” or reactions against the conservative artistic establishments in German-speaking countries in the 1890s, after Munich and Berlin The first of these, in Munich, was primarily related to painting, and occurred in 1892 when a group of artists including Fritz von Uhde, Wilhelm Trübner, Franz von Stuck, Eugene Spiro and Arnold Böcklin refused to conform to the academicism of the period as favored by most exhibition venues and artist societies They soon crystallized around the local art and culture journal Jugend, starting in 1896, and later the revue Pan

The Vienna Secession began under similar circumstances, wherein contemporary artists in the city became increasingly frustrated with the policies of the Künstlerhaus, the only venue in the city for the display of contemporary art, to favor more conservative-minded artists in part because their work sold better and the Künstlerhaus took a 10% commission on all sales The Vienna Secession was founded on 3 April 1897 by artists Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Max Kurzweil, Wilhelm Bernatzik and others, who resigned from the Association of Austrian Artists, who controlled exhibitions at the Künstlerhaus Although the architect Otto Wagner is widely recognised as an important member of the Vienna Secession he was not a founding member

Unlike other movements, there is not 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 placed the phrase “Der Zeit ihre Kunst Der Kunst ihre Freiheit” (“To every age its art To every 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)