19th Century

Stuck and 'Jugenstil'

 

 

FRANZ VON STUCK AND THE MUNICH ‘JUGENDSTIL’

In the late nineteenth century, Munich became an early center of the international style generally known in the English-speaking world as Art Nouveau. Jugendstil, the German name of this innovative movement of artistic renewal, which soon breathed fresh life into all domains of visual life, derives from the magazine Jugend (Youth), which was founded in Munich in 1896. Eminent painters, artisans, and architects such as Thomas Theodor Heine, Leo Putz, Carl Strathmann, August Endell, Hermann Obrist, and Richard Riemerschmid contributed to Jugend. Their doyen was Franz von Stuck, who was an influential teacher at the Munich Academy for more than two decades; Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee were briefly among his students as well.

Franz von Stuck (1863 – 1928) emulated the model of Lenbach, his senior by a generation, but under more modern auspices. He created symbolist paintings, often based on motifs from mythology, that captured the spirit of the fin de siècle and showed affinities with the work of the Secessionists; he also socialized with dancers and actors and painted their portraits. The shift from historicism to a revival of classicism and the Jugendstil is evident in the magnificent residence and studio he built for himself; synthesizing the arts, the ensemble defined the image of the fashionable prince of painters in turn-of-the-century Munich. His painting Salome shows a femme fatale striking fear into the hearts of men. It is influenced by performances of contemporary dancers who shocked the public morals of the time with scanty dresses and explicit eroticism; they were inspired in turn by the 1904 Munich premiere of Oscar Wilde’s play Salome.

In 1896, the same year that the journal Jugend was founded, the painter, graphic artist, and writer Thomas Theodor Heine and the publisher Albert Langen launched the political satire weekly Simplicissimus. Heine’s extensive estate has been at the Lenbachhaus since the 1950s.