Reconstruction of the Founding Dates on the Secession’s Façade
On June 14, reconstructions of two historic inscriptions have been installed to the right and left of the art nouveau building’s main entrance. They indicate the two key dates in the history of the Secession’s founding:
On April 3, 1897, Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich, and other artists gathered for the constitutive meeting of the Vereinigung bildender Künstler Österreichs, or Union of Austrian Visual Artists, sealing their split from the Vienna Künstlerhaus and establishing a new progressive artists’ association.
On November 12, 1898, the new building, designed by Joseph Maria Olbrich and completed after a mere six months of construction, was formally dedicated and opened its doors to the public with the Secessionists’ second exhibition.
Herwig Kempinger, president of the Secession:
“When we more or less by chance spotted the inscriptions with our dates of foundation on the historic photographs, we were ecstatic. We’re enormously pleased that we can now complete the recreation of the façade as it originally appeared and enhance it with these references to the Secession’s early history.”
The 4.7-inch-tall golden letters complement the rich ornamentation of the Jugendstil façade with the symbolic laurel element, the oft-quoted epigraph “To every age its art, to art its freedom,” and the motto Ver Sacrum (“Sacred Spring”), which reflects the founders’ hopes for a new flourishing of the arts.
The reconstruction of the historic inscriptions are based on rediscovered contemporary photographs. The waterjet-cut and leaf-gilded brass letters were manufactured in consultation with the Federal Monuments Office and in cooperation with the Centre of Three-dimensional Design and Model Making at TU Wien.
The gilding was done by Kratochwill, Vienna; Robert Roidl at ARGE Kulturgut. Atelier für Restaurierung & Konservierung led the restoration project.
Photo: Hessam Samavatian