Oswald Spengler - Der Untergang des Abendlandes

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Oswald Spengler   

'Preußentum und Sozialismus'
Oswald Arnold Gottfried Spengler (29 May 1880 – 8 May 1936) was a German historian and philosopher of history whose interests included mathematics, science, and art.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
He is best known for his book 'Der Untergang des Abendlandes' - (The Decline of the West), published in 1918 and 1922, covering all of world history.
He proposed a new theory, according to which the lifespan of civilizations is limited and ultimately they decay.
He wrote extensively throughout World War I and the interwar period, and supported German hegemony in Europe.
As a precursor of National Socialism, in 1920 Spengler produced 'Preußentum und Sozialismus' (Prussia and Socialism), which argued for an organic, nationalist version of socialism and authoritarianism.




Biography

Blankenburg
Oswald Spengler
(29 May 1880 – 8 May 1936)
Oswald Spengler was born in 1880 in Blankenburg the eldest of four children, and the only boy.
His family was conservative German of the petite bourgeoisie.
His father, originally a mining technician, who came from a long line of mine-workers, was a post office bureaucrat.
His childhood home was emotionally reserved, and the young Spengler turned to books and the great cultural personalities for succor.
He had imperfect health, and suffered throughout his life from migraine headaches and from an anxiety complex.
At the age of ten, his family moved to the university city of Halle.
Halle Marktplatz
Here Spengler received a classical education at the local Gymnasium (academically oriented secondary school), studying Greek, Latin, mathematics and sciences.
Here, too, he developed his affinity for the arts - especially poetry, drama, and music - and came under the influence of the ideas of Goethe and Nietzsche.

Nietzsche
After his father's death in 1901 Spengler attended several universities (Munich, Berlin, and Halle) as a private scholar, taking courses in a wide range of subjects. His private studies were undirected.
In 1904 he received his Ph.D.
He briefly served as a teacher in Saarbrücken and then in Düsseldorf.

Realgymnasium - Hamburg
From 1908 to 1911 he worked at a grammar school (Realgymnasium) in Hamburg, where he taught science, German history, and mathematics.
In 1911 he moved to Munich, where he would live until his death in 1936.
He lived as a cloistered scholar, supported by his modest inheritance.
He began work on the first volume of 'Der Untergang des Abendlandes' intending at first to focus on Germany within Europe, but the Agadir Crisis affected him deeply, and he widened the scope of his study.
The book was completed in 1914, but publishing was delayed by World War I.
Due to a congenital heart problem, he was not called up for military service.


© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
'The Decline of the West' is a two-volume work by Oswald Spengler, the first volume of which was published in the summer of 1918.
Spengler revised this volume in 1922 and published the second volume, subtitled 'Perspektiven der Weltgeschichte' - (Perspectives of World History), in 1923.
The book introduces itself as a "Copernican overturning", and rejects the Euro-centric view of history, especially the division of history into the linear "ancient-medieval-modern" rubric.
According to Spengler, the meaningful units for history are not epochs but whole cultures which evolve as organisms.
He recognizes eight high cultures: Babylonian, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Mexican (Mayan/Aztec), Classical (Greek/Roman), Arabian, Western or "European-American."
Cultures have a lifespan of about a thousand years.
The final stage of each culture is, in his word use, a 'civilization'.
The book also presents the idea of Muslims, Jews and Christians, as well as their Persian and Semitic forebears, being Magian; Mediterranean cultures of the antiquity such as Ancient Greece and Rome being Apollonian; and the modern Westerners being Faustian.
According to the theory, the Western world is actually ending and we are witnessing the last season - 'Winterzeit' - (winter time) — of the Faustian civilization.
In Spengler's depiction, Western Man is a proud but tragic figure because, while he strives and creates, he secretly knows the actual goal will never be reached.

General Context

Spengler relates that he conceived the book sometime in 1911 and spent three years in writing the first draft.
At the start of World War I he began revising it and completed the first volume in 1917.
It was published the following year when Spengler was 38, and was his first work, apart from his doctoral thesis on Heraclitus.


Heraclitus of Ephesus
Heraclitus of Ephesus (Ἡράκλειτος ὁ Ἐφέσιος—Hērákleitos ho Ephésios; c. 535 – c. 475 BCE) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, a native of the Greek city Ephesus, Ionia, on the coast of Asia Minor.
Heraclitus is famous for his insistence on ever-present change in the universe, as stated in the famous saying, "No man ever steps in the same river twice". He believed in the unity of opposites, stating that "the path up and down are one and the same", all existing entities being characterized by pairs of contrary properties.

The second volume was published in 1922.
The first volume is subtitled 'Form und Aktualität' - (Form and Actuality), the second volume is 'Perspektiven der Weltgeschichte' - (Perspectives of World-history).
Spengler's own view of the aims and intentions of the work are sketched in the Prefaces and occasionally at other places.
The book received unfavorable reviews from most interested scholars even before the release of the second volume.
Spengler's veering toward right-wing views in the second volume confirmed this reception, and the stream of criticisms continued for decades.
Nevertheless in Germany the book enjoyed popular success: by 1926 some 100,000 copies were sold.
A 1928 'Time' magazine review of the second volume of 'Der Untergang des Abendlandes' described the immense influence and controversy Spengler's ideas enjoyed in the 1920s:
"When the first volume of The Decline of the West appeared in Germany a few years ago, thousands of copies were sold. Cultivated European discourse quickly became Spengler-saturated. Spenglerism spurted from the pens of countless disciples. It was imperative to read Spengler, to sympathize or revolt. It still remains so."
Spengler presented a worldview that resonated with the post-WWI German mood  - a view of democracy as the type of government of the declining civilization.
He argued that democracy is driven by money-breeding, and therefore easily corruptible. Spengler supported the rise of a right wing, authoritarian government as the next phase after the failure of democracy.

Overview

Nietzsche
Goethe 
Spengler's world-historical outlook is informed by many philosophers, Goethe and Nietzsche among them, and the former more than the latter.
He would later further explain the significance of these two German philosophers and their influence on his worldview in his lecture Nietzsche and His Century.
His analytical approach is that of "Analogy. By these means we are enabled to distinguish polarity and periodicity in the world."
Morphology is a key part of Spengler's philosophy of history, using a methodology which approached history and historical comparisons on the basis of civilizational forms and structure, without regard to function.
In a footnote, Spengler describes the essential core of his philosophical approach toward history, culture, and civilization:

Kant
Plato
'Plato and Goethe stand for the philosophy of Becoming, - Aristotle and Kant the philosophy of Being... Goethe's notes and verse.. must be regarded as the expression of a perfectly definite metaphysical doctrine. I would not have a single word changed of this: "The Godhead is effective in the living and not in the dead, in the becoming and the changing, not in the become and the set-fast; and therefore, similarly, the reason is concerned only to strive towards the divine through the becoming and the living, and the understanding only to make use of the become and the set-fast. This sentence comprises my entire philosophy.'

Sonnenuntergang - Sunset
Scholars now agree that the word "decline" more accurately renders the intended meaning of Spengler's original German word "Untergang" (often translated as the more emphatic "downfall"; "Unter" being "under" and "gang" being "going", it is also accurately rendered in English as the "going under" of the West).
Spengler explained that he did not mean to describe a catastrophic occurrence, but rather a protracted fall - a twilight or sunset. (Sonnenuntergang is German for sunset, and 'Abendland', his word for the West, literally means the "evening land".)
Writing in 1921 Spengler observed that he might have used in his title the word Vollendung (which means 'fulfillment' or 'consummation') and saved a great deal of misunderstanding.
Nevertheless, "Untergang" can be interpreted in both ways and, after World War II, some critics and scholars chose to read it in the cataclysmic sense.

Spengler's Cultures

The "Decline" is largely concerned with comparisons between the Classical and Western cultures, but some examples are taken from the Arabian, Chinese, and Egyptian formations. 
Each culture arises within a specific geographical area, and is defined by its internal coherence of style in terms of art, religious behaviour and psychological perspective.
Central to each one is its conception of space which is expressed by an "Ursymbol" (primeval symbol).
Although not amenable to a strictly logical examination, Spengler's idea of the culture is, he claims, justifiable through the existence of recurrent patterns of development and decline across the 1,000 years of each culture's active lifetime.
Spengler seems to ignore Southeast Asian and Peruvian (Incan, etc.) cultures, and he thinks the Russian culture is still defining itself.

The Meaning of History

Spengler distinguishes between ahistorical peoples, and peoples caught up in world-history. While he recognizes that all people are a part of history, he argues that only certain cultures imbue a wider sense of historical involvement.
Thus some people see themselves as part of a grand historical design or tradition, while others view themselves in a self-contained manner.
For the latter, there is no 'Welt-Geschichtsbewusstsein' - (world-historical consciousness).
For Spengler, a world-historical view points toward the meaning of history itself, by breaking the historian or observer out of his crude culturally-parochial classifications of history.
By learning about different courses taken by other civilizations, one can better understand his own culture and identity.
Those who still maintain a historical view of the world are the very same who continue to "make" history.
Spengler asserts that life and mankind as a whole have an ultimate aim.
However, he maintains a distinction between world-historical peoples, and ahistorical peoples - the former will have a historical destiny as part of a high Culture, the latter will have a merely zoological fate.
World-historical man's destiny is self-fulfillment as a part of his Culture.
Further, Spengler asserts that not only is pre-Cultural man without history, he loses his historical weight as his Culture becomes exhausted and becomes a more and more defined Civilization.
For example, Spengler classifies Classical and Indian civilizations as ahistorical, whereas the Egyptian and Western civilizations developed conceptions of historical time.
He sees all cultures as necessarily placed on equal footing in the study of world-historical development.
From this idea flows a kind of historical relativism or dispensationalism.
Historical data, in Spengler's mind, are an expression of their historical time, contingent upon and relative to that context.
Thus, the insights of one era are not unshakeable or valid in another time or culture - "there are no eternal truths."
Each man has a duty to look beyond his own Culture to see what men of other Cultures have with equal certainty created for themselves.
What is significant is not whether the past thinkers' insights are relevant today, but whether they were exceptionally relevant to the great facts of their own time.

Culture and Civilization

Spengler adopts an organic conception of culture.
Primitive Culture is simply a collection, a sum, of its constituent and incoherent parts (individuals, tribes, clans, etc.).
Higher Culture, in its maturity and coherence, becomes an organism in its own right, according to Spengler.
The Culture is capable of sublimating the various customs, myths, techniques, arts, peoples, and classes into a single strong, undiffused historical tendency.
Spengler divides the concepts of culture and civilization, the former focused inward and growing, the latter outward and merely expanding, however, he sees Civilization as the destiny of every Culture.
The transition is not a matter of choice - it is not the conscious will of individuals, classes, or peoples that decides.
Whereas Cultures are 'Dinge immer' (things-becoming), Civilizations are the 'Ding geworden'" (thing-become).
As the conclusion of a Culture's arc of growth, Civilizations are outwardly focused, and in that sense artificial.


Practical Roman Civilization
Civilizations are what Cultures become when they are no longer creative and growing.
For example, Spengler points to the Greeks and Romans, saying that the imaginative Greek culture declined into wholly practical Roman 'civilization'.
Spengler also compares the 'Weltstadt' (world-city) and province, as concepts analogous to civilization and culture respectively.
The city draws upon and collects the life of broad surrounding regions.
He contrasts the "true-type" rural born, with the nomadic, traditionless, irreligious, matter-of-fact, clever, unfruitful, and contemptuous-of-the-countryman city dweller.
In the cities he sees only the "mob", not a 'Volk' (people), hostile to the traditions that represent Culture (in Spengler's view these traditions are: nobility,  privileges, dynasties, convention in art, and limits on scientific knowledge).
City dwellers possess cold intelligence that confounds völkisch (peasant) wisdom, a new-fashioned naturalism in attitudes towards sex which are a return to primitive instincts, and a dying inner religiousness.
Further, Spengler sees in urban wage-disputes and a focus on lavish sport expenditures for entertainment the final aspects that signal the closing of Culture and the rise of the Civilization.
Spengler has a low opinion of Civilizations, even those that engaged in significant expansion, because that expansion was not actual growth.
Roman 'Weltherrschaft
Roman 'Weltherrschaft'
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
One of his principal examples is that of Roman 'Weltherrschaft' (world domination).
It was not an achievement because the Romans faced no significant resistance to their expansion.
Thus they did not so much conquer their empire, but rather simply took possession of that which lay open to everyone.
Spengler asserts that the Roman Empire did not come into existence because of the kind of Cultural energy that they had displayed in the Punic Wars.
After the Battle of Zama, Spengler believes that the Romans never waged, or even were capable of waging, a war against a competing great military power.

Races, Peoples and Cultures

Eine Rasse (a race), writes Spengler, has "roots," just like a plant.
It is connected to a landscape.
"If, in that home, the race cannot be found, this means the race has ceased to exist.
A race does not migrate.
Men migrate, and their successive generations are born in ever-changing landscapes; but the landscape exercises a secret force upon the extinction of the old and the appearance of the new one."
However, a race is not exactly like a plant.
"Science has completely failed to note that race is not the same for rooted plants as it is for mobile animals, that with the micro-cosmic side of life a fresh group of characteristics appear and that for the animal world it is decisive.
Nor again has it perceived that a completely different significance must be attached to 'races' when the word denotes subdivisions within the integral race 'Man.'
With its talk of casual concentration it sets up a soulless concentration of superficial characters, and blots out the fact that here the blood and there the power of the land over the blood are expressing themselves - secrets that cannot be inspected and measured, but only livingly experienced from eye to eye.
Nor are scientists at one as to the relative rank of these superficial characters".
Spengler writes that,
"Comradeship breeds races... Where a race-ideal exists, as it does, supremely, in the Early period of a culture... the yearning of a ruling class towards this ideal, its will to be just so and not otherwise, operates towards actualizing this idea and eventually achieves it."
He does not believe language is itself sufficient to breed races, and that "the mother tongue" signifies "deep ethical forces" in Late Civilizations rather than Early Cultures, when a race is still developing the language that fits its "race-ideal."
Closely connected to race is Spengler's definition of a 'ein volk' (people), which he defines as a unit of 'die Seele' (the soul).
"The great events of history were not really achieved by peoples; they themselves created the peoples. Every act alters the soul of the doer."
Such events include migrations and wars.
For example, the American people did not migrate from Europe, but were formed by events such as the American Revolution and the U.S. Civil War.
"It is not unity of speech that is decisive."
What distinguishes a people from a population is "the inwardly lived experience of 'we'," which exists so long as a people's soul lasts.
"The name Roman in Hannibal's day meant a people, in Trajan's time nothing more than a population."
In his view,
"Peoples are neither linguistic nor political, but spiritual units."
"It is quite often justifiable to align peoples with races.
In race (Rasse haben) there is little material, but rather something cosmic and directional, the felt harmony of 'ein Schicksal' (a Destiny), the single cadence of the march of 'geschichtliches Sein' (historical Being).
To Spengler, 'Völker' (peoples) are formed from early prototypes during the Early phase of a Culture.
"Out of the people-shapes of the Carolingian Empire—the Saxons, Swabians, Franks, Visigoths, Lombards - arise suddenly the Germans."
These peoples are products of the 'geistlichen Rasse' (spiritual race) of the great Cultures, and "people under a spell of a Culture are its products and not its authors.
These shapes in which humanity is seized and moulded possess style and style-history no less than kinds of art or mode of thought.
The people of Athens is a symbol not less than the Doric temple, the Englishman not less than modern physics.


"Man is a beast of prey."
There are peoples of Apollinian, Magian, and Faustian cast... World history is the history of the great Cultures, and peoples are but the symbolic forms and vessels in which the men of these Cultures fulfill their Destinies."
In attempts to tie race and culture together, Spengler is echoing ideas similar to those of Friedrich Ratzel and Rudolf Kjellén.
These ideas, which figure pro-eminently in the second volume of the book, were common throughout 'Deutsch Kultur' (German culture) at the time, and would be the most significant elements for the 'völkischen Denker' and the National Socialists.
In his later works, such as 'Mensch und Technik' - (Man and Technics) and 'Die Stunde der Entscheidung' - (The Hour of Decision), Spengler expanded upon his 'geistlichen' - (spiritual) theory of race and tied it to his metaphysical notion of eternal war, and his belief that "Man is a beast of prey."

The State and Caesarism

Spengler sees a leader's responsibility as only to a minority that possesses the proper breeding for statesmanship, and which represents the rest of the nation in its historical struggle. Most states, he argues, have only a single social stratum which, constitutionally or otherwise, leads politically.
That class represents the world-historical drive of a State, and within that stratum a skilled and self-contained minority actually holds the reins of power.
Spengler rejects Parliamentarianism as a distinct Civilizational stage, like the absolute Polis and the Baroque State.
Instead it represents a transitional period between the mature Late-Culture period and the age of state formlessness.
The transformation of a Culture into a Civilization he attributes partly to the bourgeoisie.
At the inflection point, he sees an independent and decisive bourgeois intervention in political affairs.
The bourgeois is hostile (often violently) toward the absolute state, which represents the traditional institutions, aristocrats, and cultural symbols.
Decline is also evidenced by a formlessness of political institutions within a state.
As the proper form dissolves, increasingly authoritarian leaders arise, signaling decline.
The first step toward formlessness Spengler designates Napoleonism.
A new leader assumes powers and creates a new state structure without reference to "self-evident" bases for governance.
The new regime is thus accidental rather than traditional and experienced, and relies not on a trained minority but on the chance of an adequate successor.
Spengler argues that those states with continuous traditions of governance have been immensely more successful than those that have rejected tradition.
Spengler posits a two-century or more transitional period between two states of decline: Napoleonism and Caesarism.


Caesarism
Caesarism is a form of political rule that emulates the rule of Roman dictator Julius Caesar over the Roman Republic, in that it is led by a charismatic strongman whose rule is based upon a cult of personality, whose rationale is the need to rule by force, establishing a violent social order, and being a regime involving prominence of the military in the government.
The most famous person who themselves espoused Caesarism, was Napoleon Bonaparte, who admired and emulated Caesar during his rule in France..

The formlessness introduced by the first contributes to the rise of the latter.
Spengler predicts that the permanent mass conscription armies will be replaced by smaller professional volunteer armies.
Army sizes will drop from millions to hundreds of thousands, however, the professional armies will not be for deterrence, but for waging war.
Spengler states that they will precipitate wars upon which whole continents - India, China, South Africa, Russia, Islam - will be staked.
The great powers will dispose of smaller states, which will come to be viewed merely as means to an end.
This period in Civilizational decline he labels the period of 'Contending States'.
Caesarism is essentially the death of the spirit that originally animated a nation and its institutions.
It is marked by a government which is formless irrespective of its 'de jure' constitutional structure.
The antique forms are dead, despite the careful maintenance of the institutions; those institutions now have no meaning or weight.
The only aspect of governance is the personal power exercised by the Caesar.
This is the beginning of the 'Imperial Age'.
Spengler notes the urge of a nation toward universalism, idealism, and imperialism in the wake of a major geopolitical enemy's defeat.
He cites the example of Rome after the defeat of Hannibal - instead of forgoing the annexation of the East, Scipio's party moved toward outright imperialism, in an attempt to bring their immediate world into one system, and thus prevent further wars.
Despite having fought wars for democracy and rights during the period of Contending States, the populace can no longer be moved to use those rights.
People cease to take part in elections, and the most-qualified people remove themselves from the political process.
This is the end of great politics.
Only private history, private politics, and private ambitions rule at this point.
The wars are private wars, "more fearful than any State wars because they are formless."
The imperial peace involves private renunciation of war on the part of the immense majority, but conversely requires submission to that minority which has not renounced war.
The world peace that began in a wish for universal reconciliation, ends in passivity in the face of misfortune, as long as it only affects one's neighbor.
In personal politics the struggle becomes not for principles but for executive power.
Even popular revolutions are no exception: the methods of governing are not significantly altered, the position of the governed remains the same, and the strong few determined to rule remain over top the rest of humanity.

Oswald Spengler - The Final years

When 'Der Untergang des Abendlandes' was published in the summer of 1918 it became a wild success.


Treaty of Versailles 
Treaty of Versailles 
The perceived national humiliation of the 'Treaty of Versailles' (1919) and later the economic depression around 1923 fueled by hyperinflation seemed to prove Spengler right.
It comforted Germans because it seemingly rationalized their downfall as part of larger world-historical processes.
The book met with wide success outside of Germany as well, and by 1919 had been translated into several other languages.


Max Weber
Thomas Mann
Spengler rejected a subsequent offer to become Professor of Philosophy at the University of Göttingen, saying he needed time to focus on writing.
The book was widely discussed, even by those who had not read it.
Thomas Mann compared reading Spengler's book to reading Schopenhauer for the first time. Academics gave it a mixed reception.
Max Weber described Spengler as a "very ingenious and learned dilettante", while Karl Popper, not surprisingly, described the thesis as "pointless".
In 1931, he published 'Der Mensch und die Technik' - (Man and Technics), which warned against the dangers of technology and industrialism to culture.
The principle idea in this work is that many of the Western world's great achievements may soon become spectacles for our descendants to marvel at, as we do with the pyramids of Egypt or the baths of Rome.
In Spengler's mind, our culture will be destroyed from within by materialism, and destroyed by others through economic competition and warfare.


Adolf Hitler and Paul von Hindenburg
He especially pointed to the tendency of Western technology to spread to hostile "Colored races" which would then use the weapons against the West.

This book contains the well-known Spengler quote 'Optimismus ist Feigheit' - (Optimism is cowardice).
Spengler voted for Hitler over Hindenburg in 1932, and met Hitler in 1933, and he became a member of the German Academy in the course of the year.
Spengler spent his final years in Munich, listening to Beethoven, reading Molière and Shakespeare, buying several thousand books, and collecting ancient Turkish, Persian and Hindu weapons.
He made occasional trips to the Harz mountains, and to Italy.
He died of a heart attack on May 8, 1936 in Munich, three weeks before his 56th birthday.

Fin de Siecle Art - Germany and Austria

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013


Fin de siècle is French for end of the century.

Vienna - 1900
The term typically encompasses not only the meaning of the similar English idiom 'turn of the century', but also both the closing and onset of an era, as it was felt to be a period of degeneration, but at the same time a period of hope for a new beginning.
The "spirit" of 'fin de siècle' often refers to the cultural hallmarks that were recognized as prominent in the 1880s and 1890s, including boredom, cynicism, pessimism, and a widespread belief that civilization leads to decadence.
The themes of 'fin de siècle' political culture were very controversial and have been cited as a major influence on Völkisch philosophy and national socialism.
The major political theme of the era was that of revolt against materialism, rationalism, positivism, bourgeois society and liberal democracy.
The 'fin-de-siècle' generation supported emotionalism, irrationalism, subjectivism and vitalism, while the mindset of the age saw civilization as being in a crisis that required a massive and total solution.



'Fin de Siecle' in Austria


At the turn of the 20th century Vienna was one of Europe’s largest urban centers, with a population of more than two million by 1910.
By then, Vienna had been a major centre of political power and cultural patronage for centuries. Vienna was a place of tensions and paradox: Its mayor, Karl Lueger, had right-wing, anti-Semitic inclinations. 

Adolf Hitler
Theodor Herzl 
Vienna sheltered both Theodor Herzl — the founder of Zionism — as well as Adolf Hitler, the founder of National Socialism.
The city’s numerous innovative cultural and intellectual movements and figures radically changed Western culture and thought.
Viennese turn of the century culture had its roots in French decadence, and the “Dionysian” influence of two Germans - Richard Wagner and Friedrich Nietzsche.




Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher, poet, composer, cultural critic, and classical philologist. He wrote critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy, and science, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony, and aphorism.
Nietzsche's key ideas include the "death of God," the Übermensch, the eternal recurrence, the Apollonian and Dionysian dichotomy, perspectivism, and the will to power. Central to his philosophy is the idea of "life-affirmation", which involves questioning of all doctrines that drain life's expansive energies, however socially prevalent those views might be. His influence remains substantial within philosophy, notably in existentialism, post-modernism, and post-structuralism, as well as outside it. His radical questioning of the value and objectivity of truth has been the focus of extensive commentary, especially in the continental tradition.

Nietzsche had repudiated nineteenth-century ideology, and demanded the reorganization of 
human society under the guidance of exceptional leaders.
Fin de Siecle illustration for
'Das Rheingold'

Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner answered the call, and became the archetype of 'die neue Kunst' - 'the new art' - the embodiment of the Dionysian ideal for which Nietzsche yearned.

Wilhelm Richard Wagner (22 May 1813 – 13 February 1883) was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is primarily known for his operas (or, as some of his later works were later known, "music dramas"). 


Parsifal und die Blumenmädchen
Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works. Initially establishing his reputation as a composer of works in the romantic vein of Weber and Meyerbeer, 
Wagner revolutionised opera through his concept of the 'Gesamtkunstwerk' ("total work of art"), by which he sought to synthesise the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, with music subsidiary to drama, and which was announced in a series of essays between 1849 and 1852.
 Wagner realised these ideas most fully in the first half of the four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) and his last work - 'Parsifal'.

Vienna, circa1900, was a vibrant centre of radical cultural and intellectual innovation, with consequences that reverberated into the twentieth century.
Vienna, in the years leading up to the First World War, was a city with an identity crisis.
It was at the crossroads of Europe and the centre of the Austro-Hungarian empire

The Austro-Hungarian Empire 1910
The Empire had been disintegrating - though few realised this slow decline - internally for many years.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Between 1880 and 1910 the population of Vienna trebled to more than two million.
Social deprivation and a desperate housing shortage were the result, with working-class unrest soon presenting a serious threat to the prosperous bourgeoisie - and it was here that the young Adolf Hitler spent his formative years.
The decorative extravagance of nineteenth-century Viennese art and architecture seemed increasingly at odds with social reality.

Ringstraße - Wien
The Ringstraße is a circular road surrounding the Innere Stadt district of Vienna, Austria. It is typical of the historical style called Ringstraßenstil (Ringstraße Style) of the 1860s to 1890s. The Ringstraße and the planned buildings were intended to be a showcase for the grandeur and glory of the Habsburg Empire. Sigmund Freud was known to take a daily recreational walk around the Ring.

One of the most popular artist in Vienna at the turn of the century was Hans Makart who exemplified the elaborate symbolism of the final years of the Empire.
Interestingly, Makart was one of young Hitler's favourite artists.

'Abundantia - The Gifts of the Sea' - Hans Makart
Hans Makart (May 28, 1840 – October 3, 1884) was a 19th-century Austrian academic history painter, designer, and decorator; most well known for his influence on Gustav Klimt and other Austrian artists, but in his own era considered an important artist himself and was a celebrity figure in the high culture of Vienna, attended with almost cult-like adulation.





'Junge mit einer Flöte'
Hans Makart
Hans Makart
The "Makartstil", which determined the culture of an entire era in Vienna, was an aestheticism the likes of which hadn't been seen before him and has not been replicated to this day. Called the "magician of colors", he painted in brilliant colors and fluid forms, which placed the design and the aesthetic of the work before all else. Often to heighten the strength of his colors he introduced asphalt into his paint, which has led to some deterioration in his paintings over the years. The paintings were usually large-scale and theatrical productions of historical motifs. Works such as The Papal Election reveal Makart's skill in the bold use of color to convey drama as well as his later developed virtuoso draughtsmanship.
Makart was deeply interested in the interaction of all the visual arts and thus in the implementation of the idea of the "total work of art" which dominated discussions on the arts in the 19th century. This was the ideal which he realised in magnificent festivities which he organised and centred around himself. The 1879 Makart-parade was the culmination of these endeavors. Makart was also a friend of the composer Richard Wagner, and it can be argued that the two developed the same concepts and stylistic tendencies in their differing art forms: a concern for embedding motifs of history and mythology in a framework of aestheticism, making their respective works historical pageants.

Sigmund Freud
In contrast, the avant-garde culture that developed in Vienna over the first two decades of the twentieth century sought to strip away pretence and to probe beneath society’s ‘acceptable’ surface.
Ideas of supposed 'honesty' and 'naturalness' informed the architecture and theories of Adolf Loos (see below), the satirical journalism of Karl Kraus, and the paintings and graphic work of artists such as Egon Schiele and Richard Gerstl.
The development of a particularly dissonant form of Expressionism, with its emphasis on uncompromising subject matter, un-suppressed sexuality and psychological introspection, can be traced in the visual arts as well as in music, literature and the theatre, echoing the influential psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud.


Entartete Kunst
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas. Expressionist artists sought to express meaning or emotional experience rather than physical reality.
Expressionism was developed as an avant-garde style before the First World War. It remained popular during the Weimar Republic, particularly in Berlin. The style extended to a wide range of the arts, including painting, literature, theatre, dance, film, architecture and music.
Expressionism is associated with Entartete Kunst as defined in conservative cultural circles, and by Völkisch and National Socialist aesthetics.

The architecture of Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos epitomised the new spirit which sought to reduce decorative excess.
The functionalism and relative simplicity of their buildings contrasted strikingly with the highly ornamented façades of nineteenth century Vienna.
Loos’s Michaelerplatz Haus was erected opposite Emperor Franz Josef’s ornate residence. So unimpressed was the Emperor by the stark rigour of Loos’s shop building, that he is said to have closed the curtains in the Hofburg to keep it out of sight.


Michaelerplatz Haus - Adolf Loos
Adolf Loos
Adolf Franz Karl Viktor Maria Loos (10 December 1870 – 23 August 1933) was an Austrian architect. He was influential in European Modern architecture, and in his essay Ornament und Verbrechen' - (Ornament and Crime) he abandoned the aesthetic principles of the Vienna Secession. In this and many other essays he contributed to the elaboration of a body of theory and criticism later referred to as 'Modernism' .
Loos authored several polemical works. In 'Gesprochene in die Leere' - (Spoken into the Void), published in 1900, Loos attacked the Vienna Secession, at a time when the movement was at its height.
In his essays, Loos used provocative catchphrases, and has become noted for one particular essay/manifesto entitled 'Ornament and Crime' - 1910.


Table
Adolf Loos
Decorative Consloe
Adolf Loos
In this essay, he explored the idea that the progress of culture is associated with the deletion (?) of ornament from everyday objects, and that it was therefore a crime to force craftsmen or builders to waste their time on ornamentation that served to hasten the time when an object would become obsolete. Loos' stripped-down buildings influenced the minimal massing of modern architecture, and stirred controversy.
Perhaps surprisingly, some of Loos's own architectural work was elaborately decorated, although more often inside than outside, and the ornamented interiors frequently featured abstract planes and shapes composed of richly figured materials, such as marble and exotic woods. The visual distinction is not between complicated and simple, but between "organic" and superfluous decoration.
Loos was also interested in the decorative arts, collecting sterling silver and high quality leather goods, which he noted for their plain yet luxurious appeal. He also enjoyed fashion and men's clothing, designing the famed Kníže of Vienna, a haberdashery.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Haus Wittgenstein
Perhaps the most extreme example of this stripped-down approach was the house designed by the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein in 1929, but informed by ideas developed before the war.
The source of Viennese artistic culture is to be found in the Vienna Secession.

Haus Wittgenstein is a house in the modernist style designed and built on the Kundmanngasse, Vienna, by the Austrian architect Paul Engelmann and the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.


Wittgenstein and Hitler
In November 1925, Wittgenstein's sister Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein commissioned Engelmann to design and build a large townhouse. Engelmann designed a spare modernist house after the style of Adolf Loos: three rectangular blocks. Wittgenstein showed a great interest in the project and in Engelmann's plans, and poured himself into the project for over two years. He focused on the windows, doors, door knobs, and radiators, demanding that every detail be exactly as he specified.
Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951) was an Austrian philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. Witgenstein, as a boy, went to school with Adolf Hitler - who was also interested in architecture.


© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
WIENER SEZESSION

The Vienna Secession (also known as the 'Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs' - Union of Austrian Artists) was formed in 1897 by a group of Austrian artists who had resigned from the Association of Austrian Artists, housed in the Vienna Künstlerhaus.
This movement included painters, sculptors, and architects.
The first president of the Secession was Gustav Klimt, and Rudolf von Alt was made honorary president.

Rudolf Ritter von Alt
Der Stephansdom vom Stock im Eisenplatz
Rudolf Ritter von Alt
Rudolf Ritter von Alt (28 August 1812 in Vienna – 12 March 1905 in Vienna) was an Austrian landscape and architectural painter. Born as Rudolf Alt, he could call himself von Alt and bear the title of a Ritter after he gained nobility in 1889.
He was the son of the famous lithographer Jakob Alt (1789–1872). He studied at the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Vienna. Hiking-trips through the Austrian Alps and northern Italy awoke a love for landscapes, and he painted with his brush using watercolors in a very realistic and detailed style. In 1833, inspired by a visit to Venice and neighbouring cities, he also made a number of architectural paintings.



Ver Sacrum
Its official magazine was called "Ver Sacrum".

Ver Sacrum ("Sacred Spring" in Latin) was the official magazine of the Vienna Secession. Published from 1898 to 1903, it featured drawings and designs in the Jugendstil style along with literary contributions from distinguished writers from across Europe. These included Rainer Maria Rilke, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Maurice Maeterlinck, Knut Hamsun, Otto Julius Bierbaum, Richard Dehmel, Ricarda Huch, Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, Josef Maria Auchentaller and Arno Holz.

The Vienna Secession was founded by Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Max Kurzweil, and others.

Gustav Klimt
Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918) was an Austrian symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches, and other objets d'art. Klimt's primary subject was the female body; his works are marked by a frank eroticism.
Pallas Athena - Gustav Klimt
He remained with the Secession until 1908. The group declared no manifesto and did not set out to encourage any particular style—Naturalists, Realists, and Symbolists all coexisted. The government supported their efforts and gave them a lease on public land to erect an exhibition hall. The group's symbol was Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of just causes, wisdom, and the arts—of whom Klimt painted his radical version in 1898.

In 1894, Klimt was commissioned to create three paintings to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna. Not completed until the turn of the century, his three paintings, Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence were criticized for their radical themes and material.


Allegory of Sculpture - Gustav Klimpt
Klimt had transformed traditional allegory and symbolism into a new language that was more overtly sexual and hence more disturbing to some. The public outcry came from all quarters—political, aesthetic and religious. As a result, the paintings were not displayed on the ceiling of the Great Hall. This would be the last public commission accepted by the artist.
His 'Nuda Veritas' (1899) defined his bid to further "shake up" the establishment. The starkly naked red-headed woman holds the mirror of truth, while above her is a quotation by Friedrich Schiller in stylized lettering, "If you cannot please everyone with your deeds and your art, please only a few. To please many is bad."
In 1902, Klimt finished the Beethoven Frieze for the Fourteenth Vienna Secessionist exhibition, which was intended to be a celebration of the composer and featured a monumental polychrome sculpture by Max Klinger. Intended for the exhibition only, the frieze was painted directly on the walls with light materials. After the exhibition the painting was preserved. The face on the Beethoven portrait resembled the composer and Vienna Court Opera director Gustav Mahler, with whom Klimt had a respectful relationship.



Otto Wagner
Although Otto Wagner is widely recognised as an important member of the Vienna Secession he was not a founding member.

Otto Koloman Wagner (* July 13 1841 in Penzing in Vienna , † 11 April 1918 in Vienna 7 ) was the most important Austrian architect , architectural theorist and urban planner Vienna in the Belle Epoque or at the fin de siècle. His Art Nouveau , his academic work and his writings on urban planning in the 1890s helped him to worldwide recognition.








Beethoven - Max Klinger
The Secession artists objected to the prevailing conservatism of the Vienna Künstlerhaus, with its traditional orientation toward Historicism.
The Berlin and Munich Secession movements preceded the Vienna Secession, which held its first exhibition in 1898.
The 14th Secession exhibition, designed by Josef Hoffmann and dedicated to Ludwig van Beethoven, was especially famous.

Beethoven Frieze - Gustav Klimpt
A statue of Beethoven by Max Klinger stood at the center, with Klimt's Beethoven frieze mounted around it.

Max Klinger (February 18, 1857 – July 5, 1920) was a German Symbolist painter, sculptor, printmaker, and writer.
Klinger was born in Leipzig and studied in Karlsruhe. An admirer of the etchings of Menzel and Goya, he shortly became a skilled and imaginative engraver in his own right. He began creating sculptures in the early 1880s. From 1883-1893 he lived in Rome, and became increasingly influenced by the Italian Renaissance and antiquity. Klinger was cited by many as being a major link between the Symbolist movement of the 19th century and the start of the metaphysical and Surrealist movements of the 20th century.

In 1903, Hoffmann and Moser founded the Wiener Werkstätte as a fine-arts society with the goal of reforming the applied arts (arts and crafts).
On 14 June 1905 Gustav Klimt and other artists seceded from the Vienna Secession due to differences of opinion over artistic concepts.

Vienna Secession Building
 Joseph Maria Olbrich
The Vienna Secession building, was built in 1898 by Joseph Maria Olbrich, in the Jugendstil style as a showcase for the Secession movement's artists .
The building has been adapted and renovated several times:


Vienna Secession Building
Joseph Maria Olbrich
The entrance hall was altered in 1901. In 1908, part of the ornamentation and the slogan "Der Zeit ihre Kunst. Der Kunst ihre Freiheit" ("For every time its art. For art its Freedom") were removed. 
Its best-known exhibit is Gustav Klimt famous Beethoven Frieze - a monumetal wall cycle - designed in 1902.
This exhibition, conceived as an homage to the composer Ludwig van Beethoven, most sublimely embodied the secessionist idea of the gesamtkunstwerk - a comprehensive work of art.


Haus Feinhals - Marienburg - Joseph Olbrich
Joseph Maria Olbrich
Joseph Maria Olbrich (22 December 1867 – 8 August 1908) was an Austrian architect and co-founder of the Vienna Secession.
Olbrich was born in Opava, Austrian Silesia. He was the third child of Edmund and Aloisia Olbrich.
Olbrich studied architecture at the University of Applied Arts Vienna (Wiener Staatsgewerbeschule) and the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, where he won several prizes.


Ernst Ludwig House - Darmstadt -  Joseph Maria Olbrich
In 1893, he started working for Otto Wagner, the Austrian architect, and probably did the detailed construction for most of Wagner's Wiener Stadtbahn  buildings.
In 1897, Gustav Klimt, Olbrich, Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser founded the Vienna Secession artistic group. Olbrich designed their exhibition building, the famous Secession Hall, which became the movement's landmark. 
Olbrich executed diverse architectural commissions and experimented in applied arts and design. He designed pottery, furniture, book bindings, and musical instruments. His architectural works, especially his exhibition buildings for the Vienna and Darmstadt Secessions, had a strong influence on the development of the Art Nouveau style.
Olbrich died from leukemia in Düsseldorf on August 8, aged 40.


Paul Bürck - Male Nude
Paul Bürck - Mythological Scene
The Ernst Ludwig House - The laying of the foundation stone took place on the 24th of March 1900. The atelier was both a worksite and the venue for gatherings in the artists’ colony. In the middle of the main floor is the meeting room with paintings by Paul Bürck and there are three artist studios to each side of it. There are two underground artists’ apartments and underground rooms for business purposes. The entrance is located in a niche that is decorated with gold-plated flower motifs. Two six-metre tall statues, “Man and Woman” or “Strength and Beauty”, flank the entrance and are the work of Ludwig Habich. 


'Betender Knabe'
Ludwig Habich
'Grabenkmal as einer Gafallen'
Ludwig Habich

Paul Wilhelm Bürck (* September 3rd 1878 in Strasbourg , † April 18 1947 in Munich ) was a German painter, graphic artist and textile designer and worked as a member of the Darmstadt artists' colony on the Mathildenhoehe.

Ludwig Habich (* April 2 1872 in Darmstadt , † January 20th 1949 in Jugenheim ) was a German sculptor and medalist .Habich created sculptures for Darmstadt, including the colossal figures of a man and a woman at the entrance to the Ernst-Ludwig House.




Secession Style

Unlike other movements, there is not one style that unites the work of all artists who were part of the Vienna Secession.

xiii secession - 1902 
"Der Zeit ihre Kunst. Der Kunst ihre Freiheit." 
The Secession building could be considered the icon of the movement.
Above its entrance was placed the phrase "Der Zeit ihre Kunst. Der Kunst ihre Freiheit." ("To every age its art. To art its freedom.").
Secession artists were concerned, above all else, with exploring the possibilities of art outside the confines of the traditions of the time.
They hoped to create a new style that owed less to historical influence.
In this way they were very much in keeping with the spirit of turn-of-the-century Vienna (the time and place that also saw the publication of Freud's first writings).
The Secessionist style was exhibited in a magazine that the group produced, called Ver Sacrum, which featured highly decorative works representative of the period.

Architecture

Along with painters and sculptors, there were several prominent architects who became associated with The Vienna Secession.
During this time, architects focused on bringing more simplified geometric forms into the designs of their buildings.
The three main architects of this movement were Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich, and Otto Wagner.
Karlsplatz Stadtbahn - Otto Wagner
Secessionist architects often decorated the surface of their buildings with linear ornamentation.
In 1898, the group's exhibition house was built in the vicinity of Karlsplatz.
Designed by Joseph Maria Olbrich, the exhibition building soon became known simply as 'die Sezession'.
This building became an icon of the movement.
The secession building displayed art from several other influential artists such as Max Klinger, Eugene Grasset, and Arnold Bocklin.




'Der Arbend ' 1882 - Max Klinger
'Triton und Nereide' - Max Klinger
Max Klinger (February 18, 1857 – July 5, 1920) was a German Symbolist painter, sculptor, printmaker, and writer. Klinger was born in Leipzig and studied in Karlsruhe. An admirer of the etchings of Menzel, he shortly became a skilled and imaginative engraver in his own right. He began creating sculptures in the early 1880s. From 1883-1893 he lived in Rome, and became increasingly influenced by the Italian Renaissance and antiquity. 
Klinger traveled extensively around the art centres of Europe for years before returning to Leipzig in 1893. From 1897 he mostly concentrated on sculpture; his marble statue of Beethoven was an integral part of the Vienna Secession exhibit of 1902. (see 'GALLERY' below for more of Klinger's works)


'Die Toteninsel' - Arnold Böcklin
Arnold Böcklin (16 October 1827 – 16 January 1901) was a symbolist painter, and one of Adolf Hitler's favourite artists.
Influenced by Romanticism his painting is symbolist with mythological subjects often overlapping with the English Pre-Raphaelites.


Selbstporträt mit fiedelndem Tod
Arnold Böcklin
His pictures portray mythological, fantastical figures along classical architecture constructions (often revealing an obsession with death) creating a strange, fantasy world.
Böcklin is best known for his five versions (painted in 1880-1886) of ' Die Toteninsel' (Isle of the Dead).
In 1933, the painting was put up for sale, and a noted Böcklin admirer, Adolf Hitler, acquired it. He hung it first at the Berghof in Obersalzberg and, then after 1940, in the New Reich Chancellery in Berlin.
Böcklin's work is one of the most consummate expressions of all that was later disliked about the latter half of the nineteenth century.
(see 'GALLERY' below for more of Böcklin's works)


Otto Wagner's Majolika Haus in Vienna (c. 1898) is a significant example of the Austrian use of line.


Majolikahaus - Otto Wagner
The so-called Majolica in the left Vienna Line 40 was built in 1898. The facade is decorated with glazed majolica tiles of the company Wienerberger dressed, decorated with floral motifs. These ceramic tiles are weather resistant, easy to clean and washable - for Otto Wagner hygiene was an important part of modernity.  .

Other significant works of Otto Wagner include 'The Karlsplatz Stadtbahn Station' in Vienna (1900), and the less successful 'Austrian Postal Savings Bank' ('Österreichische Postsparkasse') in Vienna (1904–1906).
Wagner's way of modifying Art Nouveau decoration in a classical manner did not find favour with some of his pupils who broke away to form the Secessionists.
One was Josef Hoffmann who left to form the 'Wiener Werkstätte', an Austrian equivalent of the Arts and Crafts movement.
A good example of his work is the 'Stoclet Palace' in Brussels (1905).




Wiener Werkstätte

Wiener Werkstätte
Established in 1903, the Wiener Werkstätte was a production community of visual artists in Vienna, Austria bringing together architects, artists and designers.
The enterprise evolved from the Vienna Secession, founded in 1897 as a progressive alliance of artists and designers (see above).

From the start, the Secession had placed special emphasis on the applied arts, and its 1900 exhibition surveying the work of contemporary European design workshops prompted the young architect Josef Hoffmann and his artist friend Koloman Moser to consider establishing a similar enterprise.

Finally in 1903, with backing from the industrialist Fritz Wärndorfer, the Wiener Werkstätte began operations in three small rooms; it soon expanded to fill a three-story building with separate, specially designed facilities for metalwork, leatherwork, bookbinding, woodworking and a paint shop.


Josef Hoffmann - Chair
Moser - Zebra Cabinet - 1904 
The range of product lines also included; leather goods, enamel, jewellery, postcards and ceramics. The Wiener Werkstätte even had a millinery department.

Most of the objects produced in the Wiener Werkstatte were stamped with a number of different marks; the trademark of the Wiener Werkstatte, the monogram of the designer and that of the craftsman, who created it.
The Wiener Werkstatte had about 100 employees in 1905, of whom 37 were masters of their trade.
The seat of the venture was in Neustiftgasse 32-34, where a new building was adapted to their requirements.
Eventually the project exhausted Wärndorfer's fortune.
The circle of customers of the Wiener Werkstatte and Josef Hoffmann mainly consisted of artists and upper middle class supporters of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Palais Stoclet - Josef Hoffmann
Several branches of the workshop were opened in Karlsbad 1909, Marienbad, Zürich 1916/17, New York 1922, Berlin 1929.
In architectural commissions such as the Purkersdorf Sanatorium and the Palais Stoclet in Brussels, the Wiener Werkstätte was able to realize its ideal of the Gesamtkunstwerk (total artwork), a coordinated environment in which everything down to the last detail was consciously designed as an integral part of the whole project.

The Stoclet Palace (French: Palais Stoclet, Dutch: Stocletpaleis) is a private mansion built by architect Josef Hoffmann between 1905 and 1911 in Brussels, Belgium, for banker and art lover Adolphe Stoclet. Considered Hoffman's masterpiece, the Stoclet's house is one of the most refined and luxurious private houses of the twentieth century.

For several years, beginning in 1904, the Wiener Werkstätte had its own carpentry workshop. Josef Hoffmann designed a furniture line noted for its simple forms for the firm of Jacob & Josef Kohn. But only few pieces of furniture were made there.


Josef Hoffmann
Sessel Kubus - Josef Hoffmann
Josef Hoffmann (December 15, 1870 – May 7, 1956) was an Austrian architect and designer of consumer goods. Together with Joseph Maria Olbrich they founded the Vienna Secession in 1897 along with artists Gustav Klimt, and Koloman Moser.
Beginning in 1899, he taught at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. With the Secession, Hoffmann developed strong connections with other artists. He designed installation spaces for Secession exhibitions and a house for Moser which was built from 1901-1903. However, he soon left the Secession in 1905 along with other stylist artists due to conflicts with realist naturalists over differences in artistic vision and disagreement over the premise of Gesamtkunstwerk. With the banker Fritz Wärndorfer and the artist Koloman Moser he established the Wiener Werkstätte, which was to last until 1932. He designed many products for the Wiener Werkstätte.


Kolo Moser - 'Selbstbildnis'
'Allegorie des Frühlings'
Koloman Moser
Koloman Moser (March 30, 1868 – October 18, 1918) was an Austrian artist who exerted considerable influence on twentieth-century graphic art, and one of the foremost artists of the Vienna Secession movement and a co-founder of Wiener Werkstätte.

During his life, Moser designed a wide array of art works - books and graphic works from postage stamps to magazine vignettes; fashion; stained glass windows, porcelains and ceramics, blown glass, tableware, silver, jewelry, and furniture - to name a few of his interests.

Most of the furniture known as Wiener Werkstätte Furniture were made by cabinet-makers as: Portois & Fix, Johann Soulek, Anton Herrgesell, Anton Pospisil, Friedrich Otto Schmidt and Johann Niedermoser.
Some historians now believe that there are no existing original products of the Wiener Werkstätte Furniture division.
From 1905, the Wiener Werkstatte produced hand-painted and printed silks.
The Backhausen firm was responsible for the machine-printed and woven textiles.
In 1907, the Wiener Werkstätte took over distribution for the Wiener Keramik, a ceramics workshop headed by Michael Powolny and Berthold Löffler.
And in the same year Moser, embittered by the financial squabbling, left the Wiener Werkstätte, which subsequently entered a new phase, both stylistically and economically.

'Fin de Siecle' in Germany

Berlin 1900
By the turn of the century, Berlin had become an industrial city with 800,000 inhabitants.
Improvements to the infrastructure were needed; in 1896 the construction of the subway (U-Bahn) began and was completed in 1902.
The neighborhoods around the city center (including Kreuzberg, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain and Wedding) were filled with tenement blocks.


'Schauspielhaus' - Berlin
The surroundings saw extensive development of industrial areas East of Berlin and wealthy residential areas in the South-West.

In terms of high culture, museums were being built and enlarged, and Berlin was on the verge of becoming a major musical city.
Berlin dominated the German theater scene, with the government-supported Opernhaus and Schauspielhaus, as well as numerous private playhouses included the Lessing and the Deutsches theatres.


Berliner Secession

'Verein Berliner Künstler'
The Berlin Secession was an art association founded by Berlin artists in 1898 as an alternative to the conservative state-run 'Verein Berliner Künstler' (Association of Berlin Artists).
That year the official salon jury rejected a landscape by Walter Leistikow, who was a key figure among a group of young artists interested in modern developments in art.
Sixty-five young artists formed the initial membership of the Secession.
Max Liebermann was the Berlin Secession’s first president, and he proposed to the Secession that Paul Cassirer and his cousin Bruno act as business managers.


'Im Schwimmbad' - Max Liebermann
Max Liebermann (July 20, 1847 – February 8, 1935) was a German painter and printmaker, and one of the leading proponents of Impressionism in Germany.
He used his own inherited wealth to assemble an impressive collection of French Impressionist works. He later chose scenes of the bourgeoisie, as well as aspects of his garden near Lake Wannsee, as motifs for his paintings. In Berlin, he became a famous painter of portraits; his work is especially close in spirit to Édouard Manet.
From 1899 to 1911 he led the premier avant-garde formation in Germany, the Berlin Secession. Beginning in 1920 he was president of the Prussian Academy of Arts..
Together with Lovis Corinth and Max Slevogt, Liebermann became an exponent of German Impressionism.

In 1901 Bruno Cassirer resigned from the Secession, so that he could dedicate himself entirely to the Cassirer publishing firm.
Paul took over the running of the Cassirer gallery, and supported various Secessionist artists including the sculptors Ernst Barlach and August Gaul.
Notable members of the Secession included: Max Beckmann, Lovis Corinth, Lyonel Feininger, Georg Kolbe, Käthe Kollwitz, Julie Wolfthorn, Hermann Struck, Adolf Eduard Herstein, Ludwig Dettmann and Max Slevogt


Selbstporträt - Lovis Corinth
'Gekreuzigt Dieb'
Lovis Corinth
Lovis Corinth (21 July 1858 – 17 July 1925) was a German painter and printmaker whose mature work realized a synthesis of impressionism and expressionism.
Corinth studied in Paris and Munich, joined the Berlin Secession group, later succeeding Max Liebermann as the group's president.
His early work was naturalistic in approach. Corinth was initially antagonistic towards the expressionist movement, but after 1911 his style loosened and took on many expressionistic qualities.
His use of color became more vibrant, and he created portraits and landscapes of extraordinary vitality and power. Corinth's subject matter also included nudes and biblical scenes.



Münchner Secession

Franz Ritter von Stuck
Glaspalast - München
Berlin, however was a relative newcomer to the cultural and artistic scene (Kunst-und Kulturszene) - Munich had long been Germany's artistic capital.
The Münchner Sezession grew out of a dispute between the Munich 'Künstlergenossenschaft' with the 'Allgemeine Deutsche Kunstgenossenschaft' in 1893.
The  Münchner Sezession is the earliest schism of a group of artists in protest against an existing artists' association, but other Secessions followed in Vienna, Berlin (see above).



Münchner Sezession
The first  Münchner Sezession catalogue was issued on 15 July 1893.
At that time some Berlin artists, both sculptors and painters, belonged to the  Münchner Sezession  out of which the Berliner Secession would grow in 1899.
Like the Wiener and Berliner Secessions, the Münchner Secession embraced all the various art forms,including fine art (painting and sculpture), architecture, graphic art, and industrial art (furniture, interior decoration etc.)
Prominent German artists included Paul Hoecker (1854-1910), Leopold von Kalckreuth (1855-1928), Christian Landenberger (1862-1927), Max Liebermann (1847-1935), Hans Olde (1855-1917), Franz von Stuck (1863-1928) and the architect Peter Behrens (1868-1940).
Possibly the most well known of these artists at the turn of the century was Franz Stuck - also one of Adolf Hitler's favourite artists, and in 1892 Stuck co-founded the Münchner Sezession.

Villa Stuck - München - 1897-98
Franz Stuck (February 24, 1863 – August 30, 1928), ennobled as Franz Ritter von Stuck in 1906, was a German symbolist/Art Nouveau painter, sculptor, engraver, and architect.
Stuck was born at Tettenweis, in Bavaria. To begin his artistic education he relocated in 1878 to Munich, where he would settle for life. From 1881 to 1885 Stuck attended the Munich Academy.
In 1889 he exhibited his first paintings at the Munich Glass Palace, winning a gold medal for The Guardian of Paradise.
In 1897 began work designing his own residence and studio, the Villa Stuck. His designs for the villa included everything from layout to interior decorations and furniture.
Stuck's subject matter was primarily from mythology, inspired by the work of Arnold Böcklin. Large forms dominate most of his paintings and indicate his proclivities for sculpture. His seductive female nudes are a prime example of popular Symbolist content. Stuck paid much attention to the frames for his paintings and generally designed them himself with such careful use of panels, gilt carving and inscriptions that the frames must be considered as an integral part of the overall piece.
One of Stuck's best-known paintings The Wild Chase depicts Wotan (Odin) on horseback leading a procession of the dead. It was completed about 1889, the year of Hitler's birth, and it has acquired a kind of semi-legendary status as the face of Wotan in the painting greatly resembles Hitler's.


Peter Behrens
AEG Turbine Factory - Peter Behrens
Peter Behrens (14 April 1868 – 27 February 1940) was a German architect and designer. He was important for the modernist movement.
He was one of the leaders of architectural change at the turn of the century and was a major designer of factories and office buildings in brick, steel and glass.






AEG Poster
In 1903, Behrens was named director of the Kunstgewerbeschule in Düsseldorf, where he implemented reforms. In 1907, Behrens and ten other people (Hermann Muthesius, Theodor Fischer, Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Bruno Paul, Richard Riemerschmid, Fritz Schumacher, among others), plus twelve companies, gathered to create the Deutscher Werkbund  As an organization, it was clearly indebted to the principles and priorities of the Arts and Crafts movement, but with a decidedly modern twist. Members of the Werkbund were focused on improving the overall level of taste in Germany by improving the design of everyday objects and products. This very practical aspect made it an extremely influential organization among industrialists, public policy experts, designers, investors, critics and academics. Behrens' work for AEG was the first large-scale demonstration of the viability and vitality of the Werkbund's initiatives and objectives.





Deutscher Werkbund


Hermann Muthesius
Deutscher Werkbund
The Deutscher Werkbund (German Work Federation) was a German association of artists, architects, designers, and industrialists.
The Werkbund was to become an important event in the development of modern architecture and industrial design..
Its initial purpose was to establish a partnership of product manufacturers with design professionals to improve the competitiveness of German companies in global markets.
The Werkbund was less an artistic movement than a state-sponsored effort to integrate traditional crafts and industrial mass-production techniques, to put Germany on a competitive footing with England and the United States.
Its motto 'Vom Sofakissen zum Städtebau' (from sofa cushions to city-building) indicates its range of interest.


'Festspielhaus Hellerau' - Dresden - Heinrich Tessenow
Heinrich Tessenow
The Werkbund was founded in 1907 in Munich at the instigation of Hermann Muthesius, and existed until 1934.
The organization originally included twelve architects and twelve business firms.
The architects include Peter Behrens, Theodor Fischer (who served as its first president), Josef Hoffmann, Bruno Paul, and Richard Riemerschmid.
Another highly influential architect affiliated with the project was Heinrich Tessenow - who taught Albert Speer.

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FIN DE SIECLE ÖSTERREICHISCHE KUNST



'Die Niljagd der Kleopatra' - 'Cleopatra's Nile Hunt'
Hans Markart 



'Der Tod Der Kleopatra' - 'The Death of Cleopatra'
Hans Markart 




'Abundantia' - 'Die Gaben der Erde'
Hans Makart 





'Das Urteil des Paris'
Anselm Feuerbach






'Ein Wiederfinder'
Eduard Veith

Eduard Veith (born March 30 1858 in Neutitschein , crown land Moravia , † March 18 1925 in Vienna ) was an Austrian landscape - genre - and portrait painter .
Eduard Veith, the carpenter's son Julius Veith (1820-1887) and Susanna, born Grinding (1827-1883), was a pupil of Ferdinand Laufberger at the Imperial School of Applied Arts of the Imperial Austrian Museum for Art and Industry and received his education in Paris from . Study tours took him to Italy , Belgium and Tunis .






'Die Seelen am Acheron'
Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl



'Ahasver am Ende der Welt'
Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl

Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl (1860–1933) was an Austro-Hungarian artist known for historical and mythological painting, particularly of subjects pertaining to ancient Rome.
Although he was one of the most successful artists of fin-de-siècle Vienna, these circumstances, along with the rise of Gustav Klimt and the Vienna Secessionists, put his reputation in eclipse.
Hirémy-Hirschl was born in Timișoara, at that time a part of Hungary, but at an early age went to Vienna to study. He received a scholarship to attend the Akademie der bildenden Künste in 1878.
He won his first prize two years later with 'Farewell: Scene from Hannibal Crossing the Alps', followed in 1882 by a prize that allowed him to travel to Rome.
His time in Rome was a major influence on his choice of subject matter.
After returning to Vienna, he produced the acclaimed large-scale canvas 'The Plague in Rome' (1884), a work that is now lost.
He enjoyed a successful career with numerous commissions and high praise for his historical and allegorical works, culminating in the Imperial Prize in 1891.
In 1904, seventy of his works were exhibited at a retrospective.
He was admitted to the Accademia di San Luca in 1911.







'Idylle'
Gustav Klimpt 




WIENER SEZESSION KUNST




'Hygieia - Allegorie der Medizin'
Gustav Klimpt 

Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918) was an Austrian symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches, and other objets d'art. Klimt's primary subject was the female body; his works are marked by a frank eroticism.
He remained with the Secession until 1908. The group declared no manifesto and did not set out to encourage any particular style—Naturalists, Realists, and Symbolists all coexisted. 




'Der Kuss' - 'The Kiss'
Gustav Klimpt







'Am Teich'
Alexander Rothaug (1870 - 1946)

Alexander Rothaug (1870 Vienna - 1946 Vienna) was a very well known Austrian painter, stage designer, illustrator and graphic artist who was active during the late 19th - early 20th century.
In 1885-1892 he studied at the Vienna Academy and later in Munich. Rothaug began exhibiting around the year 1900 in Munich where he worked for a few years as an illustrator of the magazine "Fliegende Blaetter".
In ca. 1910 he moved back to Vienna.
Rothaug was strongly influenced by the works of Franz von Stuck.




Artemis
Alexander Rothaug (1870 - 1946)




'Die Walkure'
Alexander Rothaug (1870 - 1946)



'Europa und der Stier'
Alexander Rothaug (1870 - 1946)






'Die Abscheidung' - (1874)
Arnold Böcklin - (1827–1901)

Arnold Böcklin (16 October 1827 – 16 January 1901) was a symbolist painter, and one of Adolf Hitler's favourite artists.
Influenced by Romanticism his painting is symbolist with mythological subjects often overlapping with the English Pre-Raphaelites.
His pictures portray mythological, fantastical figures along classical architecture constructions (often revealing an obsession with death) creating a strange, fantasy world.
Böcklin is best known for his five versions (painted in 1880-1886) of ' Die Toteninsel' (Isle of the Dead).
In 1933, the painting was put up for sale, and a noted Böcklin admirer, Adolf Hitler, acquired it. He hung it first at the Berghof in Obersalzberg and, then after 1940, in the New Reich Chancellery in Berlin.
Böcklin's work is one of the most consummate expressions of all that was later disliked about the latter half of the nineteenth century.



'Medussa'
Arnold Böcklin - (1827–1901)




'Die Klagelieder der Maria Magdalena auf dem Körper des Christus'
Arnold Böcklin - (1827–1901)



'Amaryllis'
Arnold Böcklin - (1827–1901)






'Tod von Caesar'
Max Klinger

Max Klinger (February 18, 1857 – July 5, 1920) was a German Symbolist painter, sculptor, printmaker, and writer.
Klinger was born in Leipzig and studied in Karlsruhe.
An admirer of the etchings of Menzel, he shortly became a skilled and imaginative engraver in his own right.
He began creating sculptures in the early 1880s.
From 1883-1893 he lived in Rome, and became increasingly influenced by the Italian Renaissance and antiquity.
Klinger traveled extensively around the art centres of Europe for years before returning to Leipzig in 1893. From 1897 he mostly concentrated on sculpture; his marble statue of Beethoven was an integral part of the Vienna Secession exhibit of 1902



'Das Urteil des Paris'
Max Klinger



'Venus in der Muschel Warenkorb'
Max Klinger



'Die Götter in der Brandung'
Max Klinger





MÜNCHNER SECESSION



'Amor'
Franz Ritter von Stuck

Franz Stuck (February 24, 1863 – August 30, 1928), ennobled as Franz Ritter von Stuck in 1906, was a German symbolist/Art Nouveau painter, sculptor, engraver, and architect.
Stuck was born at Tettenweis, in Bavaria.
To begin his artistic education he relocated in 1878 to Munich, where he would settle for life. From 1881 to 1885 Stuck attended the Munich Academy.
In 1889 he exhibited his first paintings at the Munich Glass Palace, winning a gold medal for The Guardian of Paradise.
In 1897 began work designing his own residence and studio, the Villa Stuck. His designs for the villa included everything from layout to interior decorations and furniture.
Stuck's subject matter was primarily from mythology, inspired by the work of Arnold Böcklin. Large forms dominate most of his paintings and indicate his proclivities for sculpture.
His seductive female nudes are a prime example of popular Symbolist content.
Stuck paid much attention to the frames for his paintings and generally designed them himself with such careful use of panels, gilt carving and inscriptions that the frames must be considered as an integral part of the overall piece.
One of Stuck's best-known paintings 'Der Wilde Jagd' (The Wild Chase) depicts Wotan (Odin) on horseback leading a procession of the dead.
It was completed about 1889, the year of Hitler's birth, and it has acquired a kind of semi-legendary status as the face of Wotan in the painting greatly resembles that of Adolf Hitler.



'Nackte Junge mit einem Schwert'
Franz Ritter von Stuck




'Kämpfe Amazone'
Franz Ritter von Stuck



'Reitende Amazone'
Franz Ritter von Stuck




'Die Sünde'
Franz Ritter von Stuck




'Der Geist des Sieges'
Franz Ritter von Stuck




'Kreuzigung'
Franz Ritter von Stuck





Studie zum Kreuzigung
Franz Ritter von Stuck




'Pieta'
Franz Ritter von Stuck




'Pallas Athene' - 1898
Franz von Stuck




'Der Wilde Jagd'
Franz von Stuck

One of Stuck's best-known paintings 'Der Wilde Jagd' (The Wild Chase) depicts Wotan (Odin) on horseback leading a procession of the dead.
It was completed about 1889, the year of Hitler's birth, and it has acquired a kind of semi-legendary status as the face of Wotan in the painting greatly resembles that of Adolf Hitler.




'Medusa' - 1892
Franz Ritter von Stuck

Painted in 1892, Von Stuck’s 'Medusa' arrests the viewer at first gaze.
Writhing, sinuous snakes crown the Gorgon while she stares out at the world with mesmerizing eyes.
Limpid and reflective, her irises are set within a feminine visage.
Von Stuck focused the viewer’s attention to the eyes in order to convey the petrifying power behind them. August Kubizek related in his memoirs, Adolf Hitler, 'Mein Jugendfreund', that he had visited a gallery with the young Adolf Hitler.
The future Führer of the Third Reich gazed at Von Stuck’s Medusa and suddenly exclaimed, “Those eyes, Kubizek ! Those were my mother’s eyes”.
The similarity is remarkable when one views a photograph of Klara Hitler.
Von Stuck’s oneiric visions were both extraordinary and prescient.



Klara Hitler




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