Berlin Secession

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Berliner Secession (also: Berliner Sezession ) is the name of a German group of artists . Founded on May 2, 1898 as a counterpoint to the academic art business that had dominated up until then, it has become the leading art association since the move of Munich artists, which is now stylistically referred to as Berlin Impressionism and is of outstanding importance in German Impressionism .



Preparing the exhibition for the Berlin Secession, board and hanging committee at work, from left Willy Döring , Bruno Cassirer , Otto Heinrich Engel , Max Liebermann , Walter Leistikow , Kurt Herrmann, Fritz Klimsch , 1904
Jury for the exhibition of the Berlin Secession, from left Fritz Klimsch , August Gaul , Walter Leistikow , Hans Baluschek , Paul Cassirer , Max Slevogt (seated), George Mosson (standing), Carl Max Kruse (standing), Max Liebermann (seated), Emil Rudolf Weiß (standing), Lovis Corinth (standing), 1908
Erich Büttner : Session of the Berlin Secession, from left Wilhelm Kohlhoff, Erich Büttner, Friedrich Scholz, Ernst Fritsch, Leo von König, Lovis Corinth, Ernst Oppler , Emil Orlik , Bruno Krauskopf, Charlotte Berend-Corinth , Erich Waske, Franz Heckendorf, 1921

The upheavals that were to lead to the formation of the Berlin Secession and other artist groups began as early as 1891 on the occasion of the Great International Art Exhibition in Berlin. The dispute was about the department of Norwegian artists, which came to a head the following year after the commission of the Berlin Artists Association had rejected Edvard Munch's pictures (" Munch case "). In February 1892, under the leadership of Walter Leistikow , Franz Skarbina and Max Liebermann, some painters joined together to form a "free association for the organization of artistic exhibitions" and in spring 1892 organized an art exhibition as Die Elf , without, however , leaving the Association of Berlin Artists or to avoid the annual salon - the Great Berlin Art Exhibition. The Free Association of XXIV was founded in Munich and exhibited under this name in Berlin.

A revision of the statutes of the Allgemeine Deutsche Kunstgenossenschaft by Anton von Werner and Hugo Schnars-Alquist still held the trade association together in October 1892. But in November 1892 a scandal broke out when an exhibition of the works of Edvard Munch was closed this time by a majority of the members of the Berlin Artists Association and Munch's pictures were described as "repulsive, ugly and mean". The opposing group of painters was not yet strong enough to leave the established exhibition system. So the "Free Berlin Art Exhibition 1893" took place parallel to the Great Berlin Art Exhibition, which in turn included the Munich Secession , which a number of artists had since joined (including Adolf Brütt , Max Kruse , Walter Leistikow , Reinhold Lepsius , Lesser Ury and Max Liebermann).

A landscape painting by the painter Walter Leistikow was rejected by the jury of the Great Berlin Art Exhibition in 1898. Now the proof was finally given that “modern art” could not expect any support from the existing organizations. As a result, 65 artists founded the Berlin Secession with Walter Leistikow as organizer. Among the 65 founding members were three artists , among them Julie Wolfthorn and Käthe Kollwitz . The term Secession is derived from the Latin term secessio and means “separation” or “split off”. Max Liebermann was elected President. In addition to President Liebermann and Walter Leistikow, the board of directors was made up of the artists Otto Heinrich Engel , Ludwig Dettmann , Oskar Frenzel , Curt Herrmann and Fritz Klimsch .

Liebermann demanded a separate room for the Secession at the Great Berlin Art Exhibition in 1899. After this was rejected, the members of the Secession left the Association of Berlin Artists. From then on, it was necessary to find suitable exhibition rooms that the Secession wanted to rebuild and operate.

Liebermann recruited the art dealers Bruno and Paul Cassirer and offered them to become executive secretaries of the Secession. They joined the new association in 1899 and together had a seat on the board, but without voting rights. They were responsible for the planning and execution of the building, which was actually built in a short time according to plans by Hans Grisebach at Kantstrasse 12 (corner of Fasanenstrasse ).

1899, 1900

On May 19, 1899, the building was opened in the Charlottenburger Kantstraße with an exhibition of 330 pictures and graphics as well as 50 sculptures . Of the 187 exhibitors, 46 lived in Berlin and 57 in Munich. Foreign contributions were still missing, but should follow in a later edition. The audience of 2000 invited guests was impressed, the exhibits were perceived as overcoming the prevailing mediocrity.

For the second exhibition, the international claim was met; of the 414 exhibits, over ten percent were by foreign artists, including Pissarro , Renoir , Segantini and Whistler . In addition to the summer exhibitions, there were also winter exhibitions that were reserved for graphics under the title "Black and White Exhibitions".

1901, 1902

In 1901 the Ecession took place again in the new exhibition building. Works by Kandinsky , Manet , Monet and Munch were shown for the first time at the 1902 exhibition. For the first time, the trend emerged that Berlin was taking its place as the art metropolis of Germany.

From 1903

When Germany wanted to participate with art in the 1904 World Exhibition in St. Louis , the commission around Anton von Werner and the Kaiser could not come to an agreement with the quarreling Berlin Secession.

In 1905 the move took place in the then larger building at Kurfürstendamm 208, the place where the Theater am Kurfürstendamm is today. This year's jury members were Heinrich Reifferscheid, Philipp Franck, Leo von König, Lovis Corinth and Ernst Oppler. In the same year Gerhart Hauptmann was made an honorary member.

On May 5, 1909, the Russian court ballet gave a private performance in the Kroll Opera House . Among the visitors were Max Slevogt, Georg Kolbe, Fritz Klimsch and Ernst Oppler, as well as representatives of the press. The ballet and the tennis courts were among the most popular motifs of the Berlin Secession.

Conflicts and Divisions

Poster for the 1912 exhibition

The Berlin Secession had developed from the counter-movement to the recognized size of the art business, this went hand in hand with commercialization.

In 1902, 16 artists, including Karl Langhammer, Max Uth and Max Schlichting, left the Secession on the grounds that they did not do enough to promote artistic diversity. Nevertheless, well-known artists continued to join the Secession, in 1906 it was August Kraus, in 1907 it was Max Beckmann , Bernhard Pankok , Hans Purrmann , and Emil Rudolf Weiß , 1908 Ernst Barlach , Wassily Kandinsky and Emil Orlik , 1909 Lyonel Feininger , 1910 Rudolf Großmann and 1911 Hans Meid . Around 1909 the Berlin Secession consisted of 97 members. There was still criticism from conservative circles who viewed Berlin Impressionism as decadent and as a threat to German art, for example from the nationalist Werdandi Bund . From an artistic point of view, the Secession was relatively tolerant, also towards opposing positions: Paul Baum's turn to pointillism based on French Post-Impressionism was not judged negatively by any of the representatives of the Secession who were close to German Impressionism .

The success was accompanied by economic interests and the despotic behavior of the art dealer Paul Cassirer . It is said of Emil Nolde that Cassirer called the artists his slaves. In particular, artists who did not have a chance to exhibit at Cassirer believed they would have disadvantages in the Secession's exhibition operations.

After 27 mostly Expressionist artists had been rejected by the jury, there were resignations in 1910, including Max Beckmann. On the initiative of Georg Tappert , Heinrich Richter-Berlin and others, including Otto Mueller and Max Pechstein , through whom the Dresden artist group Brücke was added, formed a new group, the New Secession . In May she opened her first exhibition "Rejected by the Secession Berlin 1910". Pechstein was elected president and Tappert chairman. After a violent dispute from Emil Nolde against President Max Liebermann, Nolde was expelled from the Secession, and a little later Liebermann and his closest colleagues resigned from their board functions. Liebermann's successor was Lovis Corinth in 1911 . After he suffered a stroke, he was no longer able to take up office.

On May 8, 1911, the commission refused to show works by Max Schlichting and Hans von Petersen in an exhibition, both of whom had once left the Secession.

Numerous artists were dependent on sales through the art dealers Bruno and Paul Cassirer, and sometimes they even made a living through this route. Paul Cassirer ran and was elected 1st chairman. He organized the summer exhibition of 1913. This was very successful, but he had also not had 13 (mostly younger) members exhibited. They then organized their own exhibition and did not follow the invitation to leave the Secession. In order to solve the problems, a. Max Neumann, Ernst Oppler, Adolph Herstein and Max Liebermann in his studio. They agreed that Cassirer should be voted out of office on June 6, 1913. Oppler recorded the scene in his work Advice in the Atelier . The art critics interpreted the picture as planning the break with Cassirer. In fact, the people portrayed Struck, Emil Pottner , Bischoff-Culm, Max Neumann and Herstein, along with Corinth, were those members who remained loyal to the Secession. Even though Lovis Corinth took over the presidency again, the break could no longer be stopped. Around 40 artists left the Secession, including Slevogt and Liebermann and even Paul Cassirer. In March 1914, some who had left founded the Free Secession, which existed until 1924, with Max Liebermann as honorary president. A little later the “ Jury-Free Art Exhibition ” opened, which made a picture market possible without any jury, art dealers or groups. Oppler did not resign from the Secession, but in future he refrained from participating in the annual exhibitions of the Berlin Secessionists, who had meanwhile turned to Expressionism .


Building of the Berlin Secession in Tiergartenstrasse 21a

In 1915, the company moved into a new exhibition center at Kurfürstendamm No. 232, which was donated by the AEG . The Secession artists then put together a portfolio with works for the director of the AEG Heinrich Hirschberg as a gift . The spring and autumn exhibitions were now regularly held in the building. Meetings were also held. From then on, new members were accepted with a three-quarters majority. Corinth remained president of the association until his death in 1925. Thereafter, no more president was elected at the request of Charlotte Corinth; the business was conducted by several equal board members. In 1928 the Berlin Secession moved into new rooms at Tiergartenstrasse 21a, which were redesigned by Leo Nachtlicht . From 1931 to 1933 rooms on one floor of the Romanisches Haus on Budapester Strasse served as exhibition space. After that there was no longer a fixed address, but rooms were rented for exhibitions. On April 19, 1934, a president, Leo von König, was re-elected, as the last entry in the record book shows.

The Berlin Secession in the time of National Socialism

Memorial plaque for the Berlin Secession on Kurfürstendamm  208

After the First World War had already had a negative impact on the Secession, cultural policy during the Nazi era led to lasting damage that made the once influential artists' association meaningless.

After the seizure of power of the Nazis , the artists of the Association elected a new Board in February 1933 to, among others, Max Pechstein, Eugene Spiro , Magnus Zeller , Hans Purrmann , Bruno Krauskopf and Rudolf Belling belonged. At the meeting on March 10, 1933, Pechstein spoke about the position of some members on the Secession and emphasized that no politics should be brought into the Secession. A week later, however, a possible cooperation with the Nazi regime and the Kampfbund für deutsche Kultur was discussed. Eugene Spiro resigned from the board of directors, and further resignations followed in April 1933. At an important meeting on April 25, 1933, Pechstein read a declaration to the government in which the Berlin Secession committed itself to helping to build the new Germany . Emil van Hauth , a member of the Secession since 1932, read out a program designed by him that was in the spirit of the National Socialist Kampfbund. According to this, Jewish artists and those who were disparagingly called Bolsheviks were no longer allowed to be members of German artists' associations. At the same time he called for a reshaping of the Secession in the spirit of the new state and its so-called German art . The bill was adopted by 27 votes to 2 with one abstention.

Thereupon the statutes were changed and on May 2nd Emil van Hauth, Artur Degener and Philipp Harth were elected to the new board. All three were members of the Kampfbund for German Culture . At a meeting in the Prussian Ministry of Culture , as it turned out later, van Hauth defamed the Secession as an assembly with a Marxist attitude and wanted to achieve its dissolution. In the Secession, however, van Hauth reported that the Berlin Secession was no longer desired by the government and that the Gestapo could liquidate it. On June 16, 1933, the board was expanded, but no chairman was elected. Emil van Hauth left the community on September 28, 1933. On October 12, 1933, the liquidation of the association was discussed, but many artists who were interested in its continued existence refused.

At another meeting in the Ministry of Culture, the board member Adolf Strübe succeeded in convincing the responsible officer that there had never been any anti-subversive or political tendencies on the part of the artist community and that the association was loyal to the Hitler government. In April 1934 Ernst Barlach , Lyonel Feininger and Erich Heckel were elected to the community. The log book was kept from 1915 to April 19, 1934. A document, a page of the Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger from January 26, 1936, reports on the annual meeting of the Berlin Secession, at which Adolf Strübe was re-elected chairman and the painter Franz Lenk was appointed as his deputy . The sculptor Ernesto de Fiori and Herbert Garbe were also on the board. Lenk and Fiori were artists of the new objectivity . Garbe, initially a member of the November Group , joined the NSDAP in 1933 . The Berlin Secession presumably continued to exist after 1936.

Members (selection)


sorted alphabetically by authors / editors

  • Anke Daemgen and Uta Kuhl: Liebermann's opponents - the New Secession in Berlin and Expressionism . Exhibition catalog. Wienand, Cologne 2011. ISBN 978-3-86832-046-6
  • Werner Doede: The Berlin Secession. Berlin as the center of German art from the turn of the century to the First World WarThe Berlin Secession . 2nd Edition. Propylaea, Frankfurt am Main 1981, ISBN 3-549-16618-4
  • Walter Stephan Laux: Waldemar Rösler. A study on the art of the Berlin Secession = manuscripts for art history in the Wernersche Verlagsgesellschaft 24. Wernersche Verlagsgesellschaft, Worms 1989. ISBN 978-3-88462-923-9
  • Anke Matelowski: Art History in the Protocol. New records on the Berlin Secession . In: Museumsjournal 12 of July 3, 1998. ISSN  0933-0593 , pp. 42-45.
  • Anke Matelowski: The Berlin Secession 1899–1937. Chronicle, context, fate . Source studies on art, Volume 12, Nimbus, Wädenswil am Zürichsee 2017, ISBN 978-3-03850-033-9
  • Peter Paret: The Berlin Secession. Modern art and its enemies in Imperial GermanyUllstein book 36074. Ullstein Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1983. ISBN 3-548-36074-2 .
  • Rudolf Pfefferkorn: The Berlin Secession. An epoch of German art history . Haude & Spener, Berlin 1972. ISBN 3-7759-0150-7

Web links

Commons : Berliner Secession  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. accessed on November 3, 2010
  2. ^ Berliner Secession 1901 , in: Berliner Architekturwelt , 1902. Issue 7 (exhibition examples by sculptors and painters).
  3. Catalog of the Berlin Secession 1901, 1902. At
  4. website. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
  6. Museums Journal , No. 11, Issue 25, p. 38, 1997
  7. ^ Peter Paret: The Berlin Secession: Modernism and Its Enemies , p. 90, 1980
  8. ^ The Corinth case and the contemporary witnesses , Wellner, p. 140
  9. The Berlin Secession in a new building . At: Heidelberg University Library
  10. ( Memento from September 15, 2016 in the Internet Archive ; PDF)
  11. ^ Siegfried and Dorothea Salzmann: Oskar Moll - Life and Work , Munich 1975, p. 63;
    Michael Kirchner: Oskar Moll - paintings and watercolors . Exhibition catalog, Landesmuseum Mainz, Mainz 1997, Chronology of life and work, p. 9