The Secession Building is one of the foremost examples of Art Nouveau in Vienna, completed by Joseph Maria Olbrich in 1898, it was designed as an exhibition hall for artist Gustav Klimt and his contemporaries to exhibit their rule-breaking paintings in the new ‘Secession’ style. The squat, gleaming white hall is adorned with gilded patterns and resembles an Egyptian temple with a lacy globe of golden leaves on top. The motto “To each time its art. To art its freedom” is inscribed in gilt over the main entrance. Now regarded as the greatest symbol of Art Nouveau styling in Vienna and included on many architectural walking tours of the city, the building was originally considered scandalous for its modernistic design, which contrasted with the Baroque and Neo-classical beauty of the Imperial palaces and mansions.
The basement of the Secession Building now houses Klimt’s ethereal green-and-gold Beethoven Frieze, which was painted in 1902 as a visual interpretation of the German composer’s Ninth Symphony. The vast painting is full of twisting, elongated female figures and adorns three walls; it measures in at 111.5 ft (34 m) in length. Elsewhere in the light-flooded gallery are temporary exhibitions featuring the experimental work of contemporary artists.
Friedrichstrasse 12, Vienna. Open Tue–Sun 10am–6pm. Admission adult €9.50; seniors, students & children €6. Metro Lines U1, U2 or U4 to Karlsplatz.