This May, a large exhibition entitled “Vienna—nell’età della Secessione, 1885-1918” (“Vienna in the age of the Secession, 1885-1918”) opened in Venice, at the Palazzo Grassi, which overlooks the Grand Canal.[1] The show was organized by Maurizio Calvesi, the professor of the history of modern art at the University of Rome who is responsible for the visual-arts section of the Venice Biennale. More than a thousand works of art by more than a hundred artists were presented.

The “Secession” in the exhibition’s title refers to a movement of young European artists who, in the 1890s, “seceded” from the official, conservative artistic institutions of the time and formed their own, new associations. The first Sezession was founded in Munich in 1892. Its Viennese counterpart...


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