Vienna Secession

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Vienna Secession (German: Wiener Secession; also known as the Union of Austrian Artists, or Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs) was 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 which featured highly decorative works representative of the period.


A view of the secession building focusing on the dome.

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. Although Otto Wagner is widely recognised as an important 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. The Berlin and Munich Secession movements preceded the Vienna Secession, which held its first exhibition in 1898.

The group's exhibition policy was notable for providing the first dedicated space for contemporary art in the city, with the express aim of making contacts with international art movements and campaigning against nationalism in art.[1] This helped make the French Impressionists and others 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. The Klimt frieze has been restored and can be seen in the gallery today.

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 seceded from the Vienna Secession due to differences of opinion over artistic concepts.


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. Even though they had their own type of design, the inspiration came from neoclassical architecture, with the addition of leaves and natural motifs. The three main architects of this movement were Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich, and Otto Wagner. Secessionist architects often decorated the surface of their buildings with linear ornamentation in a form commonly called whiplash or eel style, although Wagner's buildings tended towards greater simplicity and he has been regarded[2] as a pioneer of modernism.

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) and became an icon of the movement. The secession building displayed art from several other influential artists such as Max Klinger, Eugène Grasset, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and Arnold Bocklin.

Otto Wagner's Majolika Haus in Vienna (c. 1898), part of Vienna Lines houses by Otto Wagner, is a significant example of the Austrian use of line. Other significant works of Otto Wagner include The Karlsplatz Stadtbahn Station in Vienna (1900), and Austrian Postal Savings Bank 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. 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 on 10 November 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.

On the obverse side of the Austrian € 0,50 or 50 euro-cent coin, the Vienna Secession Building figures within a circle, symbolising the birth of art nouveau and a new age in the country.

Other Secession artists[edit]


Exhibitions (sample)[edit]


  1. ^ "The Vienna Secession Movement". The Art Story. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  2. ^ Nikolaus Pevsner, Pioneers of Modern Design, Penguin Books, 1960
  • 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 978-0-394-74478-0
  • Borsi, Franco, and Ezio Godoli. "Vienna 1900 Architecture and Design". New York, NY: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc, 1986. ISBN 978-0-8478-0616-4
  • Arnanson, Harvard H. "History of Modern Art". Ed. Daniel Wheeler. 3rd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc, 1986. ISBN 978-0-13-390360-7.
  • Kathrin Romberg (ed.): Maurizio Cattelan. Text by Francesco Bonami, Wiener Secession, Wien. ISBN 3-900803-87-0
  • Topp, Leslie. "Architecture and truth in fin-de-siecle vienna". Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2004. ISBN 978-0-521-82275-6
  • "Architecture in Austria in the 20th and 21st Centuries". Ed. Gudrun Hausegger. Basel, SW: Birkhauser, 2006. ISBN 978-3-7643-7694-9
  • Sekler, Eduard F. "Josef Hoffmann The Architectural Work". Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1985. ISBN 978-0-691-06572-4
  • O'Connor, Anne-Marie (2012). The Lady in Gold, The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, ISBN 0-307-26564-1.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°12′02″N 16°21′57″E / 48.20056°N 16.36583°E / 48.20056; 16.36583