Belvedere “Dekadenz” exhibit

In the Lower Belvedere, I got to see an exhibit of evolving styles of art in Vienna in the 20th century until the Anschluss. This room featured the Austrian symbolist movement, and others showed “Dekadenz”-proper (or improper, as the case may be!), impressionism, and Jugendstil. A few Klimt and Schiele pieces were brought down from their usual spots in the upper Belvedere to join this exhibit. In some ways these movements in art were parallel to, if not directly influenced by, Freud and the turn to the interiority of psychology especially after the collapse of liberalism and then the severe deprivations during and after WWI. Artists turned away from social, political, and the popular historicist style of previous decades, having lost faith in the polis, and turned toward an examination of surfaces, of inner psychic life, and also mysticism and symbols of the afterlife. Moving through the galleries created an oddly dreamlike experience. There was ambient sound, and shifting wall colors and lighting from room to room, which created a rather other-worldly feeling throughout. For more on this exhibit see:—positionen-des-oesterreichischen-symbolismus-e78119.


About pcooperwhite

Christiane Brooks Johnson Professor of Psychology and Religion, Union Theological Seminary, New York NY
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