The Munich Secession and America

First Exhibition in 100 years Tells Story of Revolutionary Art Movement
The Munich Secession and America
Jan. 24–April 12, 2009


The Munich Secession, founded in 1892, was the first in a series of Secession movements that were to sweep across Europe and lay the foundation for the emergence of the avant-garde in the twentieth century. From January 24 through April 12, 2009, the Frye Art Museum will present The Munich Secession and America, a major survey of the leading artists of the Munich Secession, and of the Munich Künstlergenossenschaft, the influential artists’ association which preceded it.

Curated by Frye Foundation Scholar Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, director emerita of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich, the exhibition will present masterworks of the Munich Secession and include a number of works which were shown in the Secession’s inaugural exhibition in 1893. Loans from leading museums and private collections in Germany as well as key works from the Frye Art Museum’s own Founding Collection will provide the first overview of the Munich Secession in America since a groundbreaking exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago in 1909.

Now, 100 years later, the Frye offers the only opportunity to see this exhibition and its key European loans in the U.S. In addition, the Frye Art Museum is committing all of its galleries to this exhibition and the companion exhibition Transatlantic: American Artists in Germany, evidencing the importance of, and providing a broad historical context for, the Frye Founding Collection.

The majority of the Frye galleries will be transformed to mirror the very first 1893 Munich Secession exhibition which revolutionized the presentation of art with “modern”, spare installations, large expanses of white wall space between artworks, and a golden frieze designed by one of the founders of the Munich Secession, the Symbolist Franz von Stuck.

The Munich Secession and America will above all illustrate the Secessionists highly diverse avant-garde techniques and philosophies which, along with those of the subsequent Berlin and Vienna Secessions, laid the foundation for modernist movements such as Symbolism, Abstraction, socially motivated Realism and Jugendstil. In an atmosphere of plurality, the Secessionists struggled for excellence and held sophisticated discussions on issues of difference. They were also committed to an international approach to art and invited as “guests” the leading artists of the day from Europe, and from America, to participate in their annual exhibitions.

The exhibition allows for the first time a differentiated look at the Frye Founding Collection itself, examining its history, and its ties to some of the leading American collections of the period. It also allows the Frye to showcase many of its premier works by founding members of the Munich Secession such as Franz von Stuck, Fritz von Uhde, and Hugo von Habermann, as well as exemplary works by leading figures of the preceding artists’ association, the Künstlergenossenschaft, such as Franz von Lenbach and Friedrich August von Kaulbach.

The Munich Secession and America was organized by the Frye Art Museum in collaboration with the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich and has been generously supported by loans from the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Neue Pinakothek and the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich; the Berlinische Galerie – State Museum Berlin and Art Library of the State Museums of Berlin, The Landesmuseum Mainz, The Kunstmuseum Krefeld, The Municipal Gallery Dresden– Museums of the City of Dresden, private collections in Germany and Italy, and the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle.

The exhibition, featuring over seventy works of art, begins by focusing on the artists’ association which preceded the Munich Secession, the Munich Künstlergenossenschaft, which, founded in 1858, organized annual exhibitions at the Glaspalast. Included are Founding Collection works by artists such as Friedrich August von Kaulbach, Franz von Lenbach and Mihály de Munkácsy.

The Munich Secession itself will be presented in the three Foundation Galleries and in the large Greathouse Gallery. The work of two of the founders of the movement, Franz von Stuck and Fritz von Uhde, will be highlighted. As well, three paintings from the first Secession exhibition will be included: Max Slevogt’s modern masterpiece Wrestling School, Franz von Stuck’s iconic Sin and the marvelous Evening Sky by the great innovator of Jugendstil art, design and architecture, Richard Riemerschmid. The original Secession’s exhibition promotional poster, designed by Franz von Stuck, will also be on view.

The remaining exhibition galleries will present masterpieces of German Impressionism, Symbolism and Jugendstil (a specifically German development of art nouveau). Included are works by Ludwig Dill, Hugo von Habermann, Thomas Theodor Heine, Ludwig von Hofmann, Albert von Keller, Gabriel von Max, Leo Putz, Hans Thoma and Wilhelm Trübner.

Among the distinguished “guests” to the Munich Secession are the American artist Childe Hassam and French impressionists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and the French-born Alfred Sisley.

The Munich Secession and America is accompanied by a 300-page catalogue edited by Michael Buhrs and published by Edition Minerva, which presents new scholarship in essays by specialists in the field: Bettina Best, Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, Margot Th. Brandlhuber, Horst G. Ludwig and Clelia Segieth. The catalogue is available in the Museum Store for $55.

Frye Art Museum