The Association of Visual Artists Vienna Secession is the world’s oldest independent exhibition institution specifically dedicated to contemporary art. The program of ten to fifteen exhibitions per year is drawn up by the members of the board of the Association of Visual Artists in a democratic process and solely on the basis of artistic criteria. The primary objective is to present relevant current tendencies in international and Austrian art and to support experimentation in art.
The Secession was founded in 1897 by a group of artists led by Gustav Klimt who had split off from the conservative Künstlerhaus. Klimt became the first president of the Association of Visual Artists; other founding members included the painters Kolo Moser and Carl Moll and the architects Josef Hoffmann and Joseph Maria Olbrich. In 1898, Olbrich designed the Secession’s home as a built manifesto; the structure advertised the new association’s commitment to cutting-edge modernist ideas. Another central vehicle for the Secessionist movement was the association’s art magazine Ver Sacrum (Sacred Spring), whose programmatic title adorns the facade in gold letters to this day.