An important, but underexplored, part of art history enjoys a rare piece of the limelight at the Leopold Museum. The Hagenbund exhibition features the same-named artists’ association known for their modernism and openness of artistic spirit.
- Group of progressive artists formally active from 1900 to 1938
- Features over 180 works
- Traces the artistic highlights of the Hagenbund story
- Runs Sept 16, 2022 – Feb 6, 2023
- See also:
From moderate to radical modernism
(Georg Jung, Festspielauffahrt, 1929 © Privatsammlung Salzburg; photo: Privatsammlung Salzburg © Bildrecht, Wien 2021)
The history Gods are fickle beasts, wielding the paintbrush of memory selectively.
When people talk of artist groups around 1900 in Vienna, thoughts usually turn to Gustav Klimt and the Secession, who broke with the established Künstlerhaus association in 1897. They went on to write new chapters of art in big (possibly black and gold) letters.
But just a couple of years after the Secessionists stormed out, another group formed within (and soon left) the Künstlerhaus.
The Leopold Museum shines a deserved light on the progressive art and artists of the Hagenbund, who have sometimes struggled to emerge from the long shadow cast by Klimt and friends.
Irked by the conservatism of their colleagues, the Hagenbund artists’ association pursued a course that took them, as the title of this exhibition says, From Moderate to Radical Modernism.
Indeed, one notable 1912 exhibition proved so progressive that the group subsequently found themselves evicted and temporarily banned from their home venue.
The association soon began to serve as a breeding ground and showcase for young contemporary artists. Their exhibitions drew in such names as Schiele, Gütersloh and Kokoschka. And their members exhibited internationally, rejecting a parochial approach to art.
An absence of a formalised artistic manifesto, for example, allowed Hagenbund members to develop different styles and avoid self-imposed organisational limits to innovation.
Despite this, threads did emerge in their work, such as post expressionism and Neuer Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity).
Sadly, the arrival of the Nazis in Austria brought an end to the Hagenbund story after some 40 years of existence.
(Robert Kloss, Terzetta, 1922 (Detail) © Sammlung Oesterreichische Nationalbank; photo: Graphisches Atelier Neumann)
The fascist authorities dissolved the association in 1938 as art came under centralised control (a topic of a recent exhibition at the Wien Museum MUSA).
Many former members were forced to flee the country on account of, for example, their progressive approaches, left-wing politics and/or Jewish ancestry. Some were denied even that, and murdered in concentration camps.
The exhibition covers the (artistic) highlights of the Hagenbund story: more details once I’ve had a chance to visit.
Tickets, dates & tips
Enjoy a deep dive into this artist association between September 16th, 2022 and February 6th, 2023. A ticket for the Leopold Museum includes the exhibition.
(Booking service provided by Tiqets.com*, who I am an affiliate of)
For more on the modernist side, though, be sure to investigate the Leopold Museum’s permanent Vienna 1900 exhibition. And both the Secession and Künstlerhaus continue as going concerns in today’s Vienna with their own contemporary art exhibitions.
And if radical modernism leaves you hungry and thirsty, the surrounding MuseumsQuartier has various cafés and restaurants, not to mention a winter outdoor event if you happen to be there during the Advent season.
How to get there
See the main Leopold Museum article for public transport tips.
Address: Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna