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To pay tribute to a new ideal of beauty in 1897 Gustav Klimt, Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Koloman Moser, Carl Moll and several other artists became the founding fathers of an internationally recognized group of artists calling themselves the Vienna Secession, Klimt being their first President.

Breaking away from the official academies by young artists was a feature of the Arts in the 1890's, and in Munich, Berlin, Dresden, Dusseldorf, Leipzig and Weimar young artists protested

The Vienna Secession hosted 23 exhibitions from 1878-1905 in which they introduced the Viennese public to Impressionism, Symbolism, Post-Impressionism, Japanese art, Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau. From 1900 and the 8th exhibition the Secession introduced British art and the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

The Secessionists 14th Exhibition was a homage to Beethoven, and for this
Gustav Klimt contributed his Beethoven frieze.

Beethoven Frieze
Drawing his inspiration from Beethovens 9th symphony Klimt planned a total experience with the 4th movement of the symphony being played. This last movement sets to music Schiller's poem The Ode to Joy.

This major work of the Viennese Art Nouveau was a 34 metre long frieze, and it was planned to destroy it afterward, however the Beethoven Frieze was bought by a collector who cut it from the wall in 8 parts

In 1973 the Austrian Republic bought and restored it and in 1983 it was re-mounted and made accessible to the public at the Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna.

The 3 sections of the frieze form a narrative with the main character a knight - the left-hand wall being "Yearning for Happiness" - the Front wall "The Hostile Powers" where he confronts the forces of evil - - and the right-hand wall "The Longing for Happiness is fulfilled by "Poetry"" where he reaches the kingdom of Poetry and Art and finds True Love in a kiss.

 

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