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  • Secession: Breaking the standards of its time

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Secession: Breaking the standards of its time

The largest collection of Klimt paintings ever presented in Berlin, Secession is now on display at the Alte Nationalgalerie.

Max Kurzweil, Dame in Gelb, detail, 1899, oil on canvas © Birgit and Peter Kainz, Wien Museum

It’s not often the case that the museums of Vienna allow their precious Gustav Klimt collection to leave the country. It’s the Austrian equivalent of China’s panda diplomacy, but instead of fluffy bears we’re getting gold-leaf women, symbols of femininity that appear both archaic and strikingly contemporary, such as paintings like ‘Judith’ from 1901 – the first time the artist began incorporating gold-leaf in his so-called gold period.

His gloriously kitschy paintings … represent the very idea of euphoria.

As the exhibition’s name suggests, the artists of the Secession broke from the European standards of academic art and brought a forward-thinking approach that embraced an international pluralism, ushering in modern art. Regardless of what the Austrians want in return, the upcoming exhibition at Alte Nationalgalerie marks the largest collection of Klimt paintings ever assembled in Berlin.

Judith, 1901, oil on canvas. Photo: Johannes Stoll

Of course, he is not the only artist from the Secession, but his gloriously kitschy paintings are by far the most well-known and, in the minds of many, represent the very idea of euphoria. What makes this exhibition stand out is its focus on the major art metropolises at the turn of the century, plucking a representative artist from each: Franz von Stock from Munich, Klimt from Vienna and our very own, desperately underappreciated Max Liebermann from Berlin.

As the president of the Berliner Secession, Liebermann has a number of paintings in the exhibition alongside works by Ferdinand Hodler, Edvard Munch and Käthe Kollwitz.

  • Alte Nationalgalerie,  Bodestr. 1-3, Mitte, Jun 6 through Oct 22. Get more information here.