Art and Visual Culture at the Turn of the Century

“To the Time its Art. To Art its Freedom.”

Monika Schwärzler-BrodesserFebruary 5 - 164 ECTS


The art course of the winter school will deal with the cultural and intellectual achievements of a number of prominent representatives from the fields of fine art and applied art. It is the aim of the course to provide a multifaceted picture of what happened at the time, when art slowly embarked on the project of Modernism. The course will draw a line from Historicism, the style prevailing in the second half of the 19th century, to Art Nouveau, the style of the young, and will end with an outlook on the Austrian type of Expressionism. All these phenomena and developments will be viewed in the wider context of European art and visual culture.


The following topics will be covered in the course:

  • Historicism: Hans Makart, his impact on the life style and aestetic preferences of the Viennese bourgeoisie; his history paintings, portraiture, and interior design projects.
  • Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) and its stylistic features. The Vienna Secession movement; its motto, artistic program, and most important shows.
  • Gustav Klimt: The scandal caused by his university paintings, his iconic images, and their reception.
  • The Vienna Workshop, its ideal of craftsmanship and the concept of the total work of art.
  • Female painters of the time: Broncia Koller-Pinell, Olga Wiesinger-Florian; their limited access to art education, their status in a highly patriarchic society.
  • Pictorialism: The aesthetic style prevailing in photography at the turn of the century. Madame d'Ora and her photo studio.
  • The Viennese salons as places of networking and cultural exchange. Famous “influencers” of the time and their promotion of aesthetic trends.
  • Austrian Expressionism: Egon Schiele; his anti-aestheticism as a slap in the face of the Viennese bourgeoisie.
  • Oskar Kokoschka: rebel, assailant of bourgeois values (“Murderer Hope of Women”), as well as emphatic painter of psychic realities.
  • Art Nouveau revival in the 60s. Turn of the century artists as soul mates of the Hippie generation.


Requirements: Attendance and participation (20% of the grade), reading (20%), project (20%) and final exam (40%).


Recommended Reading: A. Janik and S. Toulmin: Wittgenstein´s VIENNA. New York: Touchstone (1973); E.R. Kandel: The Age of Insight. New York: Random House (2012); C.E. Schorske: Fin-de-siècle Vienna. Politics and Culture. New York: Alfred A. Knopf (1980); K.A. Schröder: Egon Schiele. Eros and Passion. Munich and New York: Prestel Verlag (1995).