Jugendstil in Germany, Art Nouveau and „Fin de siecle” in France, Modern style in England, Secession in Austria (also called Viennese Secession), Liberty style in Italy, Modernism in Spain and Sapin style in Switzerland, Tiffany in the USA are names of the same artistic direction from the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th century. The peak in the development of the style are the years 1890-1905. This coincides largely with Belle Époque (the wonderful age), a conditional name for the historical period 1890-1914. This term was born after the First World War as a nostalgic memory of the years before the terrible European catastrophe. The Eiffel Tower was built in the White Age. In any case, the visual form of the white epoch is secession. Suffragettes, an organization for granting women’s suffrage, appear in politics. In response to 19th-century academic art, the style features flat decorative forms; intertwined shapes of the whip curve; asymmetry; highlighting handmade items as an opposition to factory production; extensive use of new and often expensive materials; attention to detail and workmanship; rejection of previous styles in art. Particularly characteristic of Art Nouveau are all sorts of wavy shapes – tendrils, flames, waves, lush, fluttering stylized women’s hair. Based on the English School of Crafts and Japaneseism, he also patronized decoration primarily in architectural terms. The presence of creeping plant motifs is intensified. Balconies and bay windows are supported not only by atlases, but also by tree branches made of stone, cement, plaster. Plant and animal motifs adorn the arches and frames of windows and doors, similar to a much earlier example – Manueline architecture. The direct predecessor of the style is considered to be the Arts and Crafts Movement, which originated in England with the most prominent representative William Morris and with European lines such as the Deutscher Werkbund with the most prominent representative Henri van de Velde. These schools emerged in response to Victorian eclectic solutions and turned to industry as an inspiration for new forms, praising the machine-made products of the Industrial Revolution as a natural product of the era. In any case, these schools consciously apply the same principles in design, architecture, decorative products and interiors. Several illustrations by William Morris and van de Velde will show the connection between their ideas and secession.

Names such as Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), Otto Wagner (1841-1918), Victor Horta (1861-1947), Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939, by the way, founder of Czech Freemasonry), Charles Mackintosh (1868-1928) and Louis Tiffany (1848-1933) are significant for secession. Although it does not create new architectural types, this style manages to introduce a cult of industrial products in the sometimes pretentious decorativism.

Interior of a Horta hotel in Brussels and Macintosh furniture
Lamp and stained glass by Tiffany, 1902 and an image by Alphonse Mucha
House by Otto Wagner
Pavilion in Hitzig by Otto Wagner, 1899
House in Varna and hotel in Brussels by Paul Hankar, 1897


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