The Secession – “To Time its Art – To Art its Freedom”.


What does the motto of the Viennese Secessionists mean? Which artists played a leading role in the Secession. What is the purpose of the Secession today?

“Der Zeit ihre Kunst – Der Kunst ihre Freiheit” you can read outside at the entrance. What would Vienna be without the Secession and Gustav Klimt? The Secession – the exhibition building was called by the Viennese because of its appearance, initially derisively “Krauthappl (cabbage head) . On 1,000m2 they see ever-changing contemporary exhibitions.

But the Secession also houses a permanent masterpiece by Gustav Klimt: the Beethoven Frieze – a painted setting of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. It is a 34m long cycle of paintings located in the basement. It was made in 1902, 5 years after Gustav Klimt split with other renowned artists from the conservative Künstlerhaus.

1897 was the year of radical change and is considered the birth year of Viennese Modernism. Gustav Klimt left the conservative Künstlerhaus with other artists and founded a new artists’ association under the name of the Secession , of which he also became president. It was a counter-movement to the historicism that characterized the architecture of Vienna’s Ringstrasse.

Secession refers simultaneously to the Viennese Art Nouveau style, as well as the modern exhibition building . Other famous artists of the time were Koloman Moser, Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich (architect of the Secession), Joseph Hofmann, Otto Wagner, Egon Schiele.

At that time, Vienna had more inhabitants than today, namely 2 million, and was one of the intellectual and artistic centers of Europe . There was a spirit of optimism in the country as never before. Klimt, Schiele, Moser and Wagner contributed significantly to this.

Gustav Klimt became world famous with his painting “The Kiss“. Egon Schiele and the “Portrait of Wally Neuzil” are internationally known. Otto Wagner’s buildings are unique in Vienna, from the Postsparkasse via the Stadtbahn with its stations to the church at Steinhof . No one is more associated with the Wiener Werkstätte than Koloman Moser, a universal genius.

The period between 1890 and 1918 is known as Viennese Modernism or the Golden Age of Secession and signifies an interesting period in Austrian history. The end of the Habsburg Dual Monarchy was looming and numerous changes were taking place in art, literature, architecture, music and psychology.

Sigmund Freud founded psychoanalysis, Arnold Schönberg twelve-tone music, and literary figures such as Peter Altenberg and Karl Kraus debated with philosophers, scientists and mathematicians in the coffee houses.

Life took place in salons, where artists, politicians and scientists met. Women like Alma Mahler-Werfel, Lina Loos or Bertha Zuckerkandl began to emancipate themselves.

Ver Sacrum (Holy Spring) you can also read at the entrance at the Secession building. It was the slogan of this new movement, which took its cue from the Munich Secession .


This motto was supposed to express the hope for a new art direction, which also became successful.

The Secession style is considered the Viennese variant of Art Nouveau , which defined this epoch throughout Europe. Known in France and Belgium as “Art Nouveau”, in Anglo-Saxon countries as

“Modern Style” or in Italy as “Stile Liberty”.

A special experience is to listen to the 4th movement from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor op.125 through headphones while visiting the Beethoven Frieze . This is a recording by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, an orchestra quite comparable to the Vienna Philharmonic. The latter are much better known around the world because of the New Year’s concert.

Time Travel Tip:
An interior tour is recommended for Viennese Art Nouveau and Beethoven fans . The Naschmarkt and the Karlskirche are right next to the Secession and can thus be easily connected.


More info: secession




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