Munich Secession

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Poster by Secession member Franz von Stuck for the VII International Art Exhibition in Munich, 1897

The Munich Secession is an association of visual artists that was formed in 1892 as a spin-off from the Munich Artists' Cooperative in order to defend itself against the paternalism of the state art industry and its conservative exhibition policy, as well as the traditional founding period, which was shaped by the Munich painter prince Franz von Lenbach . It acted as an artists' cooperative, serving economic interests and promoting social contacts, but also pursued its own artistic goals, such as striving for the further development of historicism . In 1901 the artist group Phalanx emerged from the Munich Secession , and in 1913 the Munich New Secession split off.

In the course of the "cultural cleansing" during the National Socialist era , the Munich Secession was dissolved in 1938, but resumed its activities in 1946 after the Second World War . In 1992 the association celebrated its 100th anniversary.


At the end of the 19th century there were more visual artists living in Munich than in the imperial cities of Vienna and Berlin combined. However, Munich art was dominated by the conservative attitude of the state art industry and the Munich artists' association and shaped by the artistic models of the "painter prince" of the founding period, Franz von Lenbach . The art policy of the Bavarian Prince Regent Luitpold and the art foundation he founded in 1891 promoted the leading role of the traditional genre of history painting , which was anchored in historicism and was often used as a carrier of national and nationalistic content. On the one hand a high artistic level has been reached, as the Munich school was famous, but on the other hand, new directions of import and Expressionism of plein air painting or Symbolism met with little open-mindedness.

In 1888 the Munich artists' cooperative organized an art exhibition in the Munich Glass Palace , at which the Munich artists suffered major financial failures, which led to bitter debates. A style dispute arose among them, which was accompanied by great public interest and in which even the State Ministry intervened.

To counteract this situation, a group of artists from the naturalistic school founded the Munich Secession in 1892 in the run-up to the Chicago World's Fair. They separated from the Munich artists' cooperative and demanded a change in the understanding of art, whereby the artists were given the right to self-determination. For the first time, they were able to work directly in public.

"You should see art at our exhibitions and every talent, whether older or newer, whose works do credit to Munich, should be able to flourish."

In this demand of their memorandum formulated in 1892, the artists demonstrated their art-political claim: the renunciation of outdated art principles and the conservative conception of art.

Members of the Secession founded the Association of the XI and the Free Association of the XXIV in 1892 . These groups were later mainly from Berlin and active on behalf of German Impressionism .


On April 4, 1892, 96 members who had left the Munich Artists' Cooperative (MKG) founded the Verein bildender Künstler München e. V. , which after a few months changed its name to the Association of Visual Artists Munich Secession e. V. and soon became popular under the short form Secession .

With the decision to break new ground beyond the established art business, the Secession significantly prepared the path to modern art.

The founding members include Max Liebermann , Franz von Stuck , Hugo von Habermann , Reinhold Lepsius , Rudolf Maison , Wilhelm Trübner , Lovis Corinth , Walter Leistikow , Peter Behrens , Hans Olde , Anton von Stadler , Josef Block , Adolf Brütt , Ludwig Dill . Bruno Piglhein was elected as the first president and Paul Hoecker as the first secretary .

In its founding phase, the Secession was funded and financially supported mainly by the art collector and publisher of the youth , Georg Hirth , the socialist leader Georg von Vollmar and Count von Toerring-Jettenbach .

In the same year, by the way, another group of artists left the MKG and founded the Luitpold Group ; In 1899 another separatist artists' association was formed under the name Gruppe G, which shortly thereafter renamed itself to Scholle , and in 1913 the Munich New Secession was founded .


The name is derived from the Latin term secessio for separation, splitting off and should underline the turning away from the dominant traditional art business.

The Munich Secession was the first artists' association to be called that. It was followed by the Vienna Secession in 1897 and the Berlin Secession in 1898. In 1903, the Secessions founded the German Association of Artists as an umbrella organization. In 1904 , a total of 219 works by 130 painters, sculptors and graphic artists were shown in the royal art exhibition building on Königsplatz (opposite the Glyptothek ) at the Xth exhibition of the Munich Secession , which was also the first annual exhibition of the DKB .


For the newly founded artists' association it was initially difficult to find an exhibition building in Munich. The city of Frankfurt, on the other hand, offered the Secession exhibition rooms in their city and 500,000 gold marks if the association were ready to move to Frankfurt.

A first exhibition took place in 1893 in the state exhibition building at Lehrter Bahnhof in Berlin .

The most important sponsor of the Secession was the publisher Georg Hirth , editor of the Münchner Neuesten Nachrichten and the youth . A part of social and artistic life in Munich at that time crystallized around him. Building councilor Franz von Brandl provided a plot of land free of charge on Munich's Prinzregentenstrasse at the corner of Pilotystrasse, on which a separate building was built and where the first international art exhibition was opened on July 16, 1893 in a provisionally completed section.

The response was strong. 297 artists exhibited over 876 works, and on the first Sunday of the exhibition alone over 4000 visitors came.

After an agreement with Franz von Lenbach, an international exhibition was organized in 1897 together with the Munich artists' cooperative. Subsequently, the art exhibition building on Königsplatz (today the Staatliche Antikensammlungen ) was transferred to the Secession, while the artists' cooperative moved to the Old National Museum on Maximilianstrasse (now the Museum of Five Continents ) and in 1900 the Künstlerhaus opened as a general meeting place and festival location for Munich artists.

Goals and development

The Munich Secession brought together established artists such as Hans Thoma , Wilhelm Trübner , Fritz von Uhde , Franz von Stuck and Max Liebermann with avant-garde artists such as Lovis Corinth , Otto Eckmann and August Endell . Naturalistic as well as stylizing tendencies were taken into account.

The Munich Secession also contributed to the spread of international modern art that it presented at its exhibitions. It paved the way for the emerging Art Nouveau (also known as the secession style in Austria ) and other artistic uprising movements. Beyond all the stylistic differences between the members of the Secession, the Munich Secession aimed at realizing the ideal of artistic freedom.

The most famous artist of the Munich Secession was Franz von Stuck , who caused a few scandals with his erotically charged symbolist art. He designed his Villa Stuck, conceived as a total work of art, on Munich's Prinzregentenstrasse as a counterpart to Franz von Lenbach's house ( Lenbachhaus ) and to demonstrate their contrary conceptions of art.

A Pallas Athene , created in 1897 by Franz von Stuck, who was also admired by Hitler, became a symbol of the Munich Secession.

From 1933 the National Socialists pursued the aim of their art and cultural policy to subject all areas of artistic production to their control in order to “cleanse” them of the “corrosive influence on our people's life”. For the comprehensive cleansing and harmonization of German art, artists of all branches of art were forced into chambers controlled by the Nazi state , on whose membership their further activity depended. Anyone who was not admitted to a chamber for political, racial or art-political reasons was banned from painting, performing, exhibiting, or banning publications and lost their professional position. In 1938, in the course of the “cultural cleansing” of the “Third Reich”, the Munich Secession was dissolved.

After the Second World War, in 1946, its members got together again, joined forces with the artists' associations Neue Gruppe and Neue Münchner Künstlergenossenschaft, which had been founded after the war, and became the driving force behind the establishment of the Federal Association of Visual Artists (BBK) .

In 2017 the Secession celebrates its 125th anniversary.

Honorary members of the Munich Secession are Ernst Eichinger and Georg Riedl.

Founding members on the board of the Secession

Further founding members

Benno Becker , Carl Johann Becker-Gundahl , Peter Behrens , Josef Block , Jorgos Busianis , Lovis Corinth , Paul Eduard Crodel , Friedrich Eckenfelder , Hermann Eichfeld , Otto Hierl-Deronco , Adolf Hölzel , August Hoffmann von Vestenhof , Leopold von Kalckreuth , Christian Landenberger , Max Liebermann , Hans Olde , Leo Samberger , Hermann Schlittgen , Christian Speyer , Toni Stadler , Fritz Strobentz , Wilhelm Trübner , Fritz Voellmy , Wilhelm Volz , Viktor Weishaupt , Sion Longley Wenban .

Berlin artists in the Munich Secession

Cover of the 1904 exhibition catalog

The first catalog of the Munich Secession was issued on 15 July 1893, when many Berlin artist, sculptor and painter, this new movement belonged to ( Adolf Brütt , Nicholas Geiger , Christian Krohg , Max Kruse , Walter Leistikow the (later the Berlin Secession founded ), Reinhold Lepsius , Lesser Ury , Max Liebermann , Ludwig Manzel , Friedrich Stahl , Wilhelm Trübner , Heinrich von Zügel ) and independent artists such as Hans Olde .

For the Xth exhibition, which was organized jointly with the Deutscher Künstlerbund in 1904, the more modern version of Secession was used as an exception in the official catalog, which was also printed by the F. Bruckmann publishing house , instead of the seemingly outdated spelling Secession .


  • Official catalog of the International Art Exhibition of the Association of Fine Artists Munich (A.V.) "Secession" 1898. Fourth edition. Bruckmann, Munich 1898. - Full text .
  • Official catalog of the International Art Exhibition of the Association of Fine Artists Munich (E.V.) "Secession" 1906. Second edition. Bruckmann, Munich 1906. - Full text .
  • Official catalog of the International Art Exhibition of the Association of Fine Artists Munich (E.V.) "Secession" 1908. Second edition. Bruckmann, Munich 1908. - Full text .
  • Munich art exhibition in 1917, combined with an arts and crafts department for the benefit of the national collection for the relatives of the fallen warriors in the royal glass palace. Organized by the Munich Artists' Cooperative and the Secession, July 1st to the end of September. Official catalog . Verlag der Münchener Künstlergenossenschaft and Secession, Munich 1917. - .
  • Bernd Dürr: Leo Putz, Max Feldbauer and the circle of “ Scholle ” and “ youth ” in Dachau around 1900 . Catalog for the exhibition on the occasion of the Upper Bavarian Culture Days in Dachau 1989. District and Stadtsparkasse Dachau-Indersdorf, Dachau 1989.
  • Markus Harzenetter : To the Munich Secession. Genesis, causes and objectives of this intentionally new Munich artists' association . Miscellanea Bavarica Monacensia, Volume 158, ZDB -ID 846909-x . Commission publishing house UNI-Druck, Munich 1992, ISBN 3-87821-281-X . (At the same time: Dissertation. University of Bamberg, Bamberg 1991).
  • Maria Makela: The Munich Secession. Art and Artists in Turn-Of-The-Century Munich . Princeton University Press, Princeton (NJ) 1992, ISBN 0-691-03982-8 . (Also: Dissertation. Stanford University, Stanford CA 1987).
  • Norbert Hierl-Deronco, Otto Hierl-Deronco (Ill.): Munich Secession 1892. Otto Barone Hierl-Deronco, painter and co-founder, 1859–1935 . Hierl-Deronco, Krailling before Munich 1994, ISBN 3-929884-04-6 .
  • Ruth Stein: The Munich Secession around 1900 . Exhibition catalog. Konrad Bayer Gallery, Munich 1996.
  • Jochen Meister (ed.), Bettina Best (text contributions), Andreas Strobl (text contributions): Munich Secession. Past and present . Prestel-Verlag, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-7913-3877-4 .
  • Michael Buhrs (ed.), Bettina Best (text): Secession 1892–1914. The Munich Secession 1892–1914 . Edition Minerva, Wolfratshausen 2008, ISBN 978-3-938832-33-2 . - Table of contents (PDF).

Web links

Commons : Association of Fine Artists Munich Secession  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Rita Hummel: The Beginnings of the Munich Secession . Writings from the Institute for Art History at the University of Munich, Volume 46, ZDB -ID 57236-6 . Tuduv-Verlags-Gesellschaft, Munich 1989, ISBN 3-88073-345-7 . (Also: diploma thesis, University of Munich).
  2. ^ Clelia Segieth: Memorandum of the Association of Visual Artists Munich . In: Buhrs, Best: Secession 1892–1914 , pp. 20–24.
  3. Exhibition catalog X. Exhibition of the Munich Secession: The German Association of Artists (in connection with an exhibition of exquisite products of the arts in the craft) , Verlaganstalt F. Bruckmann, Munich 1904 (73 photographic images)
  4. a b Helmut Kästl: History of the Munich Secession . In: , accessed on June 22, 2012.
  5. Stefan Schweizer: "Giving our worldview visible expression". National Socialist historical images in historical parades on the "Day of German Art" . Wallstein-Verlag, Göttingen 2007, ISBN 3-8353-0107-1 , p. 80.
  6. Hermann Glaser : How Hitler Destroyed the German Spirit. Cultural Policy in the Third Reich . Ellert & Richter, Hamburg 2005, ISBN 3-8319-0227-5 .
  7. Honorary Members of the Munich Secession, accessed on August 20, 2014