Art in Vienna 1900 - Details


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Whereas Paris was the spawning ground of Impressionism in painting, and Berlin and Munich the principal homes of Expressionism, Vienna gave birth to its own form of modernism in the visual arts, Jugendstil, or art nouveau. As the name Jugendstil itself (meaning: "youthful style") indicates, this art represented a protest of the younger generation of artists against the traditional art of their forebears. In 1897, led by the artist Gustav Klimt, these younger artists broke with the artistic establishment, the Kunstverein and the Viennese art academy, and founded their own artistic grouping, the Secession movement. Creating their own exhibition space in the Secession building just off Vienna's central Ringstrasse, artists such as Klimt, Egon Schiele, Richard Gerstl, and later, Oskar Kokoschka affronted the aristocratic and bourgeois tastes and sensibilities of traditional art patrons. Their work is marked by a pronounced sensuality, often giving way to explicit sexuality, and a daring use of color and form. In Klimt's use of gold, ornament, mythology, and vibrant colors one can detect the resonance of the tradition of the Austrian Baroque. In the works of Schiele and, above all in those of Kokoschka, Jugendstil gives way to the crass, exorbitant realism, even hyperrealism of German Expressionism.