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the name given to a number of late-19th- and early-20th-century German and Austrian art associations that represented new currents in art and arose on a groundwork of opposition to officially recognized academicism. Best known were the Munich Sezession, the Berlin Sezession, and the Vienna Sezession.
The Munich Sezession was founded in 1892 by F. von Stuck and was headed from 1899 by F. von Uhde. Its members were mostly representatives of the German version of art nouveau—Jugendstil. Among the leading artists of the Munich Sezession was the architect, graphic artist, and designer P. Behrens, who joined the group in 1893.
The Berlin Sezession, which was founded in 1899, was made up mainly of German impressionists. The association’s first president was M. Liebermann. In 1906 the association broke up to form two new groups—the New Sezession, led by L. Corinth, and the Free Sezession, headed by Liebermann.
The Vienna Sezession was organized in 1897 and included representatives of Sezessionstil— the Austrian version of art nouveau. The style was propagated by the Viennese journal Ver Sacrum, which was also the organ of Austrian literary symbolism (the essays of H. von Hofmannsthal, the verses of R. M. Rilke).
The leading artist of the Vienna Sezession was the painter G. Klimt, whose works are noted for the mosaic use of color and subtle ornamentality. Sezessionstil graphic art is distinguished by a geometric clarity of line, which paradoxically conveys an overall sense of decorativeness (Klimt, K. Moser, J. M. Olbrich, J. Hoffmann). In architecture there was an emphasis on three-dimensionality, a rhythmic arrangement of elements, simple decoration, and rational compositional and structural solutions (O. Wagner, Olbrich, Hoffmann). A distinguishing feature of Sezessionstil as a whole, including the applied arts, is an attraction to rectilinear ornamentation that preserved a geometric rigidity even in the most intricate combinations. Because of this feature, the style is sometimes called Quadratstil.
The Vienna Sezession greatly contributed to the spread of the positive principles of art nouveau, most notably in architecture and book design. At the same time, however, it propagated the style’s decadent tendencies, which in the fine arts included a propensity for pretentious symbolism, unhealthy eroticism, and an arbitrary distortion of the material world.
REFERENCESKlein, R. Die Sezession. Berlin, 1905.
Biermann, G. Die Sezession. Berlin, 1910.
Weissenberger, R. Die Wiener Sezession. Vienna, 1971.
See also references under ART NOUVEAU.