“We recognize no distinction between high and low art, between art for the rich and art for the poor. Art is a universal good.” —From Ver Sacrum (The Sacred Spring)
Otto Wagner described the goal of the Vienna Secession as to “show the modern man his true face.” In 1897, Gustav Klimt and his circle of artists sought to create their own unique artistic identity outside the confines of the Künstlerhaus, the traditional art academy in Vienna. The Vienna Secession, as it quickly became known, hoped to promote modern art at every level of society by presenting exhibitions free from the strict guidelines of Vienna’s annual salon. This pioneering group, closely associated with Art Nouveau, also strove to create a new style of architecture. Notable members of the Vienna Secession included Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser, and Carl Moll, in addition to Wagner and Klimt. In eight years, the group held 23 exhibitions in Joseph Maria Olbrich’s Secessionist Gallery, alongside a monthly publication, Ver Sacrum, that promoted the art of the Vienna Secessionists. In 1903 Secession members Hoffmann and Moser cofounded the Wiener Werkstätte. By 1905, Klimt and his followers had left the group; however, the Vienna Secession continued to influence modern art throughout the 20th century.