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Art movements flourished in the late 19th to early 20th century in Vienna as artists sought new forms of expression that stepped beyond traditional media definitions of painting, sculpture, decorative arts, design and fashion. Through their efforts they began what would become the highly decorative, glittering splendor of a uniquely Viennese cultural form. Major artists emerged in all genres during this fin de siècle period, including painters such as Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), Egon Schiele (1890-1918), and Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980), the architect Otto Wagner (1841-1918), Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956), Adolf Loos (1870-1933), and the designer Koloman Moser (1868-1918), heralding a golden age of modern art and design. This flourishing occurred not only in the visual arts, it can also be found in music, psychology and other fields.
This exhibition examines Viennese fin de siècle culture from the vantage point of “the path to modernization,” as it experiments with a new type of exhibition. Previous studies have rarely noticed that Viennese fin de siècle culture did not appear out of nowhere. Rather, we can say that various seeds planted in the 18th century blossomed and came to fruition at the end of the 19th century. The enlightenment philosophy of the 18th century reign of Empress Maria Theresia developed during the Biedermeier period, a time that can be seen as the nascence of Viennese modernist culture, and linked to the glittering splendor of late 19th century art movements.
This exhibition unites masterpieces of the second half of the 18th century and the Biedermeier period with works by such major fin de siècle artists as Klimt, Schiele, the Viennese Secessionists, Kokoschka, Otto Wagner, the Wiener Werkstätte and Adolf Loos. The unprecedented gathering of works includes a selection of 74 oil paintings, plus numerous decorative artworks, graphics and textiles. Approximately 400 works will be displayed in Tokyo. Indeed, this exhibition’s definitive display will foster an understanding of Vienna’s abundant cultural riches.