The Vienna Secession was an artistic rebellion that sprouted from the coffee shops of its namesake city. Provided with a public meeting place outside of the stifling chokehold of the academy, artists could discuss all that was new and exciting at... [more]
The Vienna Secession was an artistic rebellion that sprouted from the coffee shops of its namesake city. Provided with a public meeting place outside of the stifling chokehold of the academy, artists could discuss all that was new and exciting at the dawn of the new century.
It was a Secession in the truest sense, as artists like Gustav Klimt, Kolomon Moser, Josef Hoffman, and Joseph Maria Olbrich declared their official rejection of the tightfisted Academy of Fine Arts and the Kunstlerhaus exhibition society in 1897. Gustav Klimt and Kolomon Moser moved like the tide to bring together Symbolists, Naturalists, Modernists, and Stylists. And while the group largely consisted of artists and architects, it did give birth to a flourishing graphic design movement.
The design style of the Secession movement was fluid, with a sweet melancholy echoing through its smooth lines. Though its early work was essentially within the Art Nouveau style, the Secession did exhibit more rectilinear tendencies. The movement promoted their design aesthetic with exhibition posters and its own journal, Ver Sacrum (Sacred Spring). The journal housed reproductions, poetry illustrations, graphic art, decorative borders, object design, and cutting-edge conceptions for layout. More importantly, Ver Sacrum introduced foreign designs to Vienna, most notably the Japanese block prints that so greatly influenced the Secession's two-dimensional style.
Indeed, designs were generally flat and clean -- the matured Secession graphic style commonly showcases geometric designs using squares. Letter-forms take on an ornamental character, at times greatly distorted to fit a pattern. Alfred Roller's 1903 poster for the Secession's sixteenth exhibition is a case in point. The poster features an extremely simple background that allows the stylization of the letters to fully impact the eye. The word 'Secession' heads the poster and the tails of the three 'S's sweep long and lean down the poster's empty space. The remaining text comprises an ornamental block at the bottom, letters marching shoulder-to-shoulder in thick, curling chunks that are both beautiful and somewhat illegible. The evolution of modern design owes much to designs such as these, as the Secession's promotion of a geometric vocabulary of form set precedents for later movements. [show less]