Vienna's best Gesamtkunstwerk meaning total or universal artwork.
The Secession embodies the concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk, and is a “must see”, even if only from the outside. This was not the case when it was first built. It was derided by most and had some incredibly derogatory nick-names thrown at it, of which “crematorium” was the least offensive. Still today it is often referred to as “goldenes Krauthappel”, meaning gilt head of cabbage, due to the shape of the gilded domed roof. Even the slogan above the entrance didn't help the general understanding of this new style of architecture: "Der Zeit ihre Kunst. Der Kunst ihre Freiheit" (For each era its art. For art its freedom). Originally it was built as a temporary exhibition hall which, strangely enough, goes for the world famous Beethoven Frieze by Gustav Klimt in the basement, too – and both have survived, the frieze, however, is fragmented. Nowadays this building is seen as the key work of the Jugenstil movement in Vienna.
Artist colleagues were in awe of Klimt's Beethoven Frieze but the general public were not, who reacted with disgust and declared the whole to be obscene and pornographic. I can only smile at the outrage of those days. Today the Beethoven Frieze is considered one of Klimt's most important works and a high point of Viennese Art Nouveau.
Still in the spirit of Secessionism roughly 20 contemporary exhibitions are shown here throughout the year.