On the City Pattern Project: The Secession Building


In which The Gay Recluse dreams of decorating garden walls and office spaces.


While in Vienna, we visited the Secession Building. According to Wikipedia: “The Vienna Secession was founded on 3 April 1897 by artists Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Max Kurzweil, Otto Wagner, and others…In 1898, the group’s exhibition house was built in the vicinity of Karlsplatz…Secession artists were concerned, above all else, with exploring the possibilities of art outside the confines of academic tradition. They hoped to create a new style that owed nothing to historical influence.”


Looking at this, we thought of our own garden walls and how boring they are in comparison. Now every time we look at them, we’re going to wish they were covered with the same little leaf indentations as the Secession Building.


The fonts were already mod in 1898!


For years at work, we had always dreamed of painting our office walls with designs and patterns; we were sure this would make us much more “productive.” Before we visited the Secession Building, we were never sure of the exactly what this would look like.


What if we said to our boss: do you think we could allocate some of our marketing $$ to gold paint and stencils? (Maybe if we worked at Google circa 2k6.)


Did the world always seem so prohibitively expensive? For example, it cost us $_____ just to enclose our garden with cinder block walls faced with stucco. Of course we wish we had more $$ to fritter away on useless but beautiful things like this, but don’t you h8 when you’re watching teevee and Suze Orman comes on and starts yelling at some five-year old to start saving?


“To every age its art, to art its freedom.”


We would like to tell all children to spend $$$ on their own secession building, before they’re too old and it’s too late.


We got together a few months ago with a group of our fellow artists and built our secession building under the George Washington Bridge overpass, because that was the only place we could get for under $700/sf. We too hoped to create a new style that owed nothing to historical influence. Do you think ours will last until 2108, and tourists will take shots for their blogs?


“To every age its art, to art its freedom.”


4 Responses to “On the City Pattern Project: The Secession Building”

  1. 1 c.

    I’ve always been fascinated by this edifice, and love it more with the passing years. It celebrates modernism without sacrificing craft or respectful regard for the natural world, and foreshadows Wright, Deco, Biba, and other 20th-century goodies. Thanks so much for the first-hand images. (Are there more posted anywhere?)

    (Do you know what the words below the dome read?)

    As for your NY version: perhaps sometimes a decent budget, in addition to vision, is necessary, in order to contribute to posterity. However, the structure does seem as reflective of modern-American culture right now, as the Secessionist building was of its moment.

  2. Wow — I had never even heard of this edifice. What a delight to see it — and so beautifully photographed, too (did you take the pix or purchase them?)! Two thoughts occur: “They hoped to create a new style that owed nothing to historical influence.” Well, there ain’t nuttin’ that owes nuttin’ to historical influence. Even their “reaction” is owed to historical influence, or the artists would not be reacting. Plus, I’ll bet art historians can find all sorts of links from the old style to the new. “We’re all connected” as someone (was it the phone company?) used to tell us. Secondly, is it just me, or does Klimt’s work seem to take precedence over eveyone else’s here? Maybe it’s because his name and style have become and remained more known than most of the others connected to the project. Whatever – this was a real treat, Mr. Matt! (But, no, I think perhaps your new-style hovel will not last quite so long nor be remarked upon in decades to come.)

  3. Thanks for the comments, guys! Yes the photos are all mine (as if I would purchase photos — really now, lol) and the translation is: “To every age its art, to art its freedom.” Jim, I think Klimpt was influential but I think he was also influenced, sort of like that whole Picasso/Braques thing…

  4. what a unique gorgeous structure. This is the kind of architecture i can fall in love with. It’s story is still being told, it’s magic still intrigues. I like the fact that it lacks many windows. LOVE the golden leaves forming an orb; that’s the kind of office i’m talking about! lol. it makes me ache, i want once again live in a world where we experiment with space like this…

    As for the secession building-wahi style…the peep hole on the door appears to be raised quite high. I’m no mini, but i’d still need a booster box to use it…lol.

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