19th Century

Secession

 

 

THE MUNICH SECESSION

When Wassily Kandinsky, coming from Moscow, arrived in Munich in 1896, Franz von Lenbach was the preeminent figure on the city’s arts scene; as the president of the Münchner Künstlergenossenschaft (Munich Artists’ Asso-ciation) and in other functions, he exerted a commanding influence until his death in 1904. The opposition to Lenbach’s predominance found expression in the establishment of the Munich Secession, which was founded in 1892 in direct response to the exhibition policies of the Künstlergenossenschaft. It was the first time that young artists in the German-speaking world made their dissociation from the larger mainstream arts scene official. The purpose of the new society was to promote an exhibition practice that would give equal consideration to art produced in Munich and the works of foreign artists solely on the basis of uniform criteria of artistic quality. The Secessionists sought to counteract the growing provincialism of the huge exhibitions held at the Glaspalast, but they did not champion a specific program of their own. Still, despite their explicit stylistic pluralism, they were united by their desire to overcome the prevailing historicism and develop a new artistic language; their art gradually coalesced around a flat and bright style. The Secession was thus instrumental to paving the way for modernism in the visual arts. The Secession set up its own gallery in 1906, endowing it with a collection intended to illustrate the history of the society and its contribution to the arts in selected works. The paintings and sculptures of the Munich Secession’s collection have been on permanent loan to the Lenbachhaus since 1976.