Secession: G. Klimt, poster for the first exhibition, 1898.
Secession, "Vereinigung bildender Künstler (Association of Visual Artists) Österreichische Secession", founded in Vienna in 1897 by 19 former members of the Künstlerhaus led by G. Klimt. Like similar contemporary movements in other European cities, the Secession fought against the historicist tendencies represented by the Kunstakademien, against the loss of artistic quality due to a lack of innovation and for the freedom of individual artistic work (Jugendstil). The movement organised its own exhibitions (the association´s Secession building built by J. M. Olbrich was opened in 1898) and the association´s official magazine, "Ver Sacrum" (1898-1903), were meant to attract the attention of a broad international public. French, English and German work had a decisive influence on the art of surface decoration (especially in graphic arts) which was typical of many Secession artists at that time, showing sometimes floral, sometimes geometric ornaments. Forms of expression were also influenced and determined by Impressionism. The aim of making art an integral part of life and living made many artists dedicate themselves to all fields of Industrial Arts (Wiener Werkstätte). In 1905 some of the most important members (G. Klimt, K. Moser, C. Moll, O. Wagner et al.) left to organise their own exhibitions under the name "Kunstschau Wien" ("Artshow Vienna") from 1908. Subsequently, this group and the Hagenbund artists´ association took over the Secession´s leading position as the forum of "modernism" in Austria. The Secession and the Künstlerhaus were merged in 1939, the Secession was re-established as an independent association in 1945 and the organisation of exhibitions with international artists participating was taken up again. It was still the aim of the Secession to promote its individual members, who formed a heterogeneous group of artists, and thus also contemporary art as a whole. In 1973 A. Hrdlička proclaimed a short-lived "Counter Secession", which was presided over by A. Frohner.
The Graz Secession ("Künstlerverband Graz, Secession") was founded in 1923; it played an important role in promoting the appreciation of Expressionism in Austria (e.g. W. Thöny, A. Wickenburg, F. Silberbauer et al.). The Innviertel Artists´ Guild and the MAERZ association (for Upper Austria and Salzburg) also took over the programme of the Secession after 1920.
Secession: "Die feindlichen Gewalten" ("Hostile Forces"). Detail from the Beethoven frieze by G. Klimt, 1902.
Group picture of members of the Vienna Secession, by Moritz Nähr, from left to right: Anton Stark, Gustav Klimt (in the seat), Kolo Moser (in front of G. Klimt, with hat), Adolf Böhm, Maximilian Lenz (reclining), Ernst Stöhr (with hat), Wilhelm List, Emil Orlik (sitting), Maximilian Kurzweil (with cap), Leopold Stolba, Carl Moll (reclining) and Rudolf Bacher.
Literature: R. Waissenberger, Die Wiener Secession, 1971; C. Nebehay, Ver Sacrum 1898-1903, 1975; O. Kapfinger et al., Die Wiener Secession, 2 vols., 1986; C. Nebehay, Secession Kataloge und Plakate der Wiener Secession 1898-1905, 1986; E. Patka (ed.), Ornament and Flächenkunst from Vienna, 2 vols., 1988; P. Baum (ed.), Secessionism and Austrian graphic art 1900-20, exhibition catalogue, Linz, 1990; Vereinigung bildender Künstler Wr. Secession (ed.), Die Wr. Secession. Vom Ausstellungshaus zum Kunsttempel, 1997.
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