The Vienna Secession's Art Journal 'Ver Sacrum'

Cover Ver Sacrum, Organ der Vereinigung bildenden Künstler Österreichs, 1898, Vol.1, No 1 (1898)Secession

The Association of Visual Artists Vienna Secession published its own art journal, Ver Sacrum, from 1898 through 1903. The name comes from Latin and means "sacred Spring." The message goes: "The sacred spring of art began with the Secession!"

Ver Sacrum-Room at the II. Exhibition (1898)Secession

The Secession building had its own editorial office for the magazine, the "Ver Sacrum" Room. It was located on the left side of the basement and was furnished by Josef Hoffmann. Editorial meetings took place here regularly.

Subscription order card for Ver Sacrum, volume 1903 (1903)Secession

The magazine published 24 issues per year, i.e., 2 issues per month. In 1903, an annual subscription for all 24 issues cost 50 crowns. That was a pretty high price, considering that the annual salary of a school teacher at that time was only about 1,200 crowns.

Excerpt from the statutes and rules of procedure of the Association of Visual Artists Vienna Secession, in, Ver Sacrum, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 27, 1898 (1898)Secession

The journal saw its function to be the mouthpiece of all advocates of the secessionist movement. Many of the Secession members provided illustrations, and several important writers and lyricists were published in Ver Sacrum. Among them were Hermann Bahr, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Stefan Zweig.

Cover Ver Sacrum, Organ der Vereinigung bildenden Künstler Österreichs, 1898, Vol.1, No 1 (1898)Secession

The editor of the magazine was the well-known stage designer, Alfred Roller. He designed, among other things, the title page of the very first edition of Ver Sacrum of January 1898. It depicts an ornamental tree, the roots of which are bursting out of its artificial container, symbolizing the power of art.

Book illustration „Nuda Veritas“ by Gustav Klimt, in Ver Sacrum, 1898, Vol. 1, No 3, p. 12 (1898)Secession

Gustav Klimt also participated in the design of Ver Sacrum and created around 20 original designs for the magazine. For the third issue of the magazine's first year, 1898, he provided many illustrations, including a drawing of his newly completed painting "Nuda Veritas."

Book illustration „The Envy“ by Gustav Klimt, in: Ver Sacrum, 1898, Vol. 1., No 3, p. 12 (1898)Secession

In addition to the drawing of "Nuda Veritas," Klimt published a similar reproduction of "Envy" in the same issue. This also shows a standing female figure, but clothed. Unlike with "Nuda Veritas," a painted version of this piece is not known to exist in Klimt's oeuvre.

Book illustration by Gustav Klimt, in: Ver Sacrum, 1898, Vol. 1., No 3, p. 24 (1898)Secession

Also in the third issue of 1898 is another drawing of a figure by Klimt: a half visible, elegantly dressed lady. The motif, which has no title, was intended by Klimt to be more of a fashion accessory in the style of the Parisian Art Nouveau.

Calendar sheet „Salve Saturne“ by Gustav Klimt, in: Ver Sacrum, 1901, Vol. 4, No 1, S.2 (1902)Secession

The first issue of 1901 contains a calendar page for the month of January, which is also by Klimt. For this portrait, Klimt chose the Greek god, Saturn, to whom a nude woman—the New Year—turns, and from which a clothed woman—the Old Year—turns away.

Book illustration „Duchess and Footboy“ by Koloman Moser, in: Ver Sacrum, 1901, Vol. 4, No 21, p. 356 (1901)Secession

The most important illustrator and designer for the Ver Sacrum publications was undoubtedly Koloman Moser. More than 200 graphic designs are known to be by him. His illustration to accompany Rainer Maria Rilke's poem, "Early Spring," already illustrates moves towards a new radically geometric design.

IX. Exhibition, exhibition view with works by Auguste Rodin und Giovanni Segantini (1901)Secession

In addition to pure artistic enjoyment, Ver Sacrum also provided a lot of topical information. The journal reported on current Secession exhibitions and published photographs of the halls themselves, such as those from the ninth Secession exhibition, published in the fourth issue of 1901.

Book illustration „Engelhart-Moll-Jettel, Die Hängecomission“ by Friedrich König, in: Ver Sacrum, 1901, Vol.3, No 3, p. 51 (1901)Secession

The authors often allowed themselves certain poetic liberties in their commentary on the Secession exhibitions. Some artists even contributed mocking caricatures. Friedrich König, for example, mocked his colleagues Josef Engelhart, Carl Moll, and Eugen Jettel in caricatures.

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