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February 09, 2009

Secession in Seattle

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

One war the French won had to do with art history. French Impressionism triumphed and most contemporary European art fell into relative obscurity, an injustice Your Faithful Blogger has been attempting to rectify for nearly four years.

One of the casualties of the French Kulturschlacht was the reputation of Munich as a leading center of art and art training. These days only cognoscenti seem to be aware that, in the mid-to-late 1800s, young artists flocked there almost as readily as they did to Paris. Perhaps the best known American painter who trained in Munich was William Merritt Chase.

Near the end of the 19th century Germanic art centers became secession-happy. Probably the best-known is the Vienna Secession, this due in part to the latter day fame of one of its instigators, Gustav Klimt. There also was a Berlin Secession. But the original secession occurred in Munich more than five years before Vienna and Berlin officially got into the act.

(Yes, there were a number of artistic rebellions in the 19th century. But use of the term "secession" seems to be largely a Germanic phenomenon.)

Exhibits of Munich art from the secession era are rare. However, one was held last fall at Munich's Villa Stuck -- an appropriate setting because a major secession sparkplug was Franz von Stuck himself. I have visited the Villa Stuck and recommend it to any art fan visiting the city.

A modified version of that exhibit is showing in the United States until 12 April, 2009. Also appropriately, it is housed in Seattle's Frye Art Museum whose "founding collection" is largely comprised of Munich-originated paintings from around the turn of the 20th century (along with a couple of Bouguereaus and other art of the period). Below is an example from the Frye.

"Head of a Woman" - Hugo, Freiherr von Habermann (1849-1929)

The Seattle version lacks some of the paintings in the Villa Stuck show, but includes items from the Frye collection. Here, the exhibit is titled "The Munich Secession and America".

I enjoyed the exhibit greatly and learned about some interesting painters I had been ignorant of; I'll write about some of them in the coming weeks.



posted by Donald at February 9, 2009



When I read the heading "Secession in Seattle" I thought that the city had joined the movement to secede from the United States.

Once again, thanks for your campaign to help cure blindness — toward everything except Impressionism in the late 19th century and art nouveau and cubism in the early 20th century.

Posted by: Rick Darby on February 9, 2009 12:35 PM

I myself like Franz Marc Chagall. I presume he seceded at some point.

Posted by: margaret on February 10, 2009 12:05 AM

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