The “long” history of the Vienna Secession

In time for the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Vienna Secession building on November 15, 2023, a preliminary study of the long cultural-political history of its leading members will be complete. The history of the Vienna Secession is marked by ruptures, but also by long-lasting stability. This marked chronology covers the time of the authoritarian Habsburg monarchy as well as the embattled and militant First Republic; the Catholic-pervasive Dollfuß-Schuschnigg dictatorship; as well as the totalitarian regime of National Socialism; and, the curating, but also aesthetic consequences and stability after 1945. 

In order to create an overall context of superior quality in terms of contemporary and cultural history with an accurate political overlay, this lengthy, linear historical section will drill into precise analytical depths.  Based on circa 580 biographical sketches of artists who became members of the Secession between 1898 and 1970, the institutional history with all its fractures will be analyzed in a more differentiated but qualitatively precise way.  This change of perspective towards an examination of individual behavior in authoritarian, dictatorial, and ultimately totalitarian regimes is intended to provide new insights into the political function of artists. 

With a sample of 150 eminent artists, including the presidents of the Secession until 1970, leading and renowned members who were cultural-politically well connected, as well as committed National Socialists, detailed research in public archives in Austria and Germany as well as in private estates will be implemented as part of a preliminary study.

The goal of the study is to both document the political adaptation to authoritarian regimes and National Socialism on the basis of comprehensive new sources, and, to analyze the artistic and political resistance since the monarchy through all system fractures up to the Second Republic.  An aim of the study is to recall those who were and forgotten, such as the many patrons of Jewish origin and the role of women in the art business. The Allied influences after 1945 and prior to the ratification of the Austrian State Treaty are also topics, as is the question of the impact of National Socialism after 1945, both on artistic creation and on the institutional agenda.

Network analysis will clarify which leadership personalities, or those who influenced networks of relationships, had the most lasting impact on the content and also the political orientation of the Secession from 1898 to 1970.

In cooperation with University of Applied Arts, Mag.a Christina Wieder

Archiv des Wiener Künstler Hauses: Nikolaus Domes, MA

Secession: Mag.a Tina Lipsky

Team: Mag. Stephan Turmalin, Konstantin Schischka MA MEd

Funded by: