Gustvav Klimt, art nouveau and the Secession movement

October 12, 2014  •  3 Comments

Ah, Vienna.  What can I say?  Every turn of the corner, every building, every street, a sigh. After the initial panic of knowing I wouldn't be able to do any of it photographic justice, I settled into the mindset that here was a city worthy of much more time, perhaps a lifetime if one had extras to toss around.  

After the bus tour into the city centre, which seemed like a cultural blur, and following our walking tour, we had roughly an hour of free time.  One goal was to find a shop with Swarovski Crystal, which we did.  But then we did something dangerous.  We walked into Julius Meinl (am Graben).  It is a foodie's paradise.  I could have spent a day and all my Euros in the multi-story shop.  Wine and beer consumed half of the first floor, paired with meats, while the other half was devoted to chocolate, coffee, and general grocery items.  Upstairs featured enormous pastry and cheese counters, along with liquors or "digestives".  My recollection of the building's layout may be inaccurate, since I am not known for having exceptional spacial acuity, but does it matter?  My nose and eyes led the way.   

The food theme continued into the first part of the afternoon.  Courtesy of the ship's chef and concierge, we rode the metro or U-bahn, and had a wonderful introduction to the permanent Farmers' Market.   Cheese and meat appetizers accompanied by wine were the fare.  But after Chef Hudak and the remainder of the group left, we chose to stay and explored more of the market.  You know me.  Food images will be featured in future blogs.  But after that massive introduction (it is what the overload of Vienna does to you), we finally arrive at today's theme - art nouveau.

During the last decades of the 19th century, art and architectural styles were changing, almost spontaneously in many parts of the world.  As the cultural center of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Vienna was evolving as well.  Its musicians included Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Strauss.  Sigmund Freud, architect Joseph Maria Olbrich and painter Gustav Klimt also called Vienna home.  But when a city is intentionally enlarged to accommodate theatres, opera houses, museums, and educational institutions, a petri dish of creativity results.  And what a time it must have been.  A new art and architectural movement was emerging known as Secession, and the individuals involved who were rebelling or seceding from the traditional arts, created Viennese Art Nouveau.  In 1898, the Secession Building, designed by architect Joseph Maria Olbrich with the assistance of Gustav Klimt and Koloman Moser, opened to the public.  This is the entry side of the building.   

Vienna Secession Building, Vienna AustriaVienna Secession Building, Vienna Austria

The three gorgons situated above the entrance represent painting, architecture and sculpture.

Entry, Vienna Secession building, Vienna, AustriaEntry, Vienna Secession building, Vienna, Austria

 The side elevation shows the attention to detail in every element of the builiding.  This is art nouveau heaven.

Vienna Secession Building, east side, Vienna, AustriaVienna Secession Building, east side, Vienna, Austria

The turtle-footed bowls can be found on either side of the entry.

Art nouveau mosaic turtle-footed bowl, Vienna Secession building entryArt nouveau mosaic turtle-footed bowl, Vienna Secession building entry

The work of Gustav Klimt is featured prominently in the building and exhibits. Thanks to the kindness of a shipmate who found one, I am now a proud owner of the beautiful silk scarf with "The Kiss" on it.  

"The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt"The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt

more travels next week...

until next Monday,


a passion for the [email protected]





Terry Thompson(non-registered)
I continue to look forward to these blog entries every week and this recent trip of yours is loaded with treats. Nice work.
thank you Steve, Yes DB, we do need a book. Klimt's visuals come at the perfect time. Inspiration divine. How did you know.
Steve Immel(non-registered)
This one is fabulous, Daryl. The photographs are wonderful but your writing that has really taken flight. With Vienna as your muse the words and turns of phrase seem to flow your fingertips. This entry feels like part of a book. HInt.
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