‘Secession’ was a significant rift between avant-garde artists and the conservative European academics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In art history, ‘secession’ refers to a significant rupture between a group of avant-garde artists and the conservative European proponents of academic and official art in the late 19th and early 20th century. The term was first proposed by Georg Hirth, the editor and publisher of the influential German art magazine ‘Jugend’ (Youth), which also lent its name to Jugendstil, emphasising the radical departure from traditional art as it was being reimagined.

Among the various secession movements, the Vienna Secession (1897) stands out as the most influential. Led by Gustav Klimt, who favoured the ornate Art Nouveau style over the prevailing styles of the time, it drew inspiration from the Munich Secession (1892) and the nearly contemporaneous Berlin Secession (1898). These movements collectively gave rise to the term ‘Sezessionstil’, or ‘Secession style’.

Other words in the glossary

Building your collection? We can help.

Your questions, answered

Parra's studio, with Parra at the centre, his back to the camera as he works on the large painting takes centre stage, showing a faceless blue woman in a striped dress, painted in red, purple, blue and teal. The studio is full of brightly coloured paints, with a large window on the right and a patterned rug across the floor under the painting.