Gustav Klimt, the brilliant Austrian symbolist painter and muralist, was a founding member of the Vienna Secession movement. As such, Klimt found himself positioned to be a leader of a movement which responded to the energy and vitality of a new century by persuasively arguing that the next generation of Austrian artists needed to turn their back on the conservative Vienna Kunstlerhaus. By turning the gaze away from the constancy of the past, Klimt and the other founding members of the Vienna Secessionist group no longer pursued aesthetic compositions which responded first and foremost to historicist themes. The motto of Klimt and the other founders, conspicuously placed above the front door of their group’s headquarters by the structure’s architect Joseph Maria Olbrich, states the following: “Der Zeit ihre Kunst. Der Kunst ihre Freiheit.” (“To every age its art. To art its freedom.”). What are your thoughts on this Vienna Secession motto and do you see any relevance for this motto in our time?
Joseph Maria Olbrich, Vienna Secession Building, 1897
Photograph of Gustav Klimt, 1914