Austrian Modernist Art in Fin-de-siècle Vienna: Philosophical Ideas and Artistic Techniques
The Austrian avant-garde forms a distinct and important stream within European modernism at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. On the basis of the Secession Pavilion, in many ways the visual manifesto of the Vienna Secession (the Viennese version of art nouveau) movement, we will discuss during this guided lecture-tour some of the most significant concepts and ideas of modernism, such as “the total work of art,” of which the Pavilion was meant to be the supreme example. We will analyze the Beethoven Frieze, the celebrated fresco cycle by Gustav Klimt, as an element within the organic unity of architectural design, sculpture, the idea of music. The Frieze will serve as a case study of some of the most important artistic influences underlining modernism in general (Romanticism, Symbolism, Japonisme, etc.) and the highly idiosyncratic and recognizable style of Klimt in particular. After the visit to the Pavilion, we will also look at the nearby buildings by Otto Wagner, the premier architect of the Secession, and the Café Museum by Adolf Loos.