Developments in the 19th Century


Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map




German - speaking

Countries and Scandinavia

(Between Romanticism and Expressionism)


See on the next page:  Gustav Klimt "All Art is Erotic"




C o n t e n t s:
The Great Upheaval
Great Britain and the United States
Belgium and the Netherlands
German - speaking Countries and Scandinavia
The Slav Countries
The Mediterranean Countries



Arnold Bocklin
Ferdinand Hodler
Max Klinger
Julius Klinger
Otto Greiner
Franz von Stuck
Carlos Schwabe
Gustav Klimt
Alfred Kubin
Axel Gallen Kallela
Hugo Simberg


German - speaking

Countries and Scandinavia


Max Klinger, though twenty years younger than Bocklin, expressed his admiration by dedicating a sequence of prints to him. Klinger completed his studies in Karlsruhe, then travelled to Berlin, Munich and Brussels. He spent three years (1883-1886) in Paris and two more in Italy before returning to settle in his native Leipzig. There he enjoyed tremendous prestige; his home became the centre of the city's social and artistic life. Himself inspired by Goya, he, in his turn, exercised a beneficial influence on Otto Greiner and Alfred Kubin. Klinger's work revealed the power of art to Kubin at the time of the latter's great existential crisis; it led him to conclude that "it was worth devoting one's entire life to such creations".


Max Klinger

born February 18, 1857, Leipzig
died July 5, 1920, near Naumburg, Germany

German painter, sculptor, and engraver, whose art of symbol, fantasy, and dreamlike situations belonged to the growing late 19th-century awareness of the subtleties of the mind. Klinger's visionary art has been linked with that of Arnold Böcklin; the expression of his vivid, frequently morbid imaginings, however, was not noted for technical excellence. His work had a deep influence on Giorgio de Chirico.
Klinger, who had received some training at the Karlsruhe art school, created a sensation at the Berlin Academy exhibition in 1878 with two series of pen-and-ink drawings—Series upon the Theme of Christ and Fantasies upon the Finding of a Glove. Their daring originality caused an outburst of indignation; nonetheless, the Glove series, on which Klinger's contemporary reputation is based, was bought by the Berlin National Gallery. These 10 drawings (engraved in three editions from 1881) tell a strange parable of a hapless young man and his obsessive involvement with a woman's elbow-length glove.
In 1887 The Judgment of Paris caused another storm of protest because of its rejection of all conventional attributes and its naively direct conception. In his painting Klinger aimed at neither classic beauty nor modern truth but at an impressive grimness with overtones of mysticism. His Pietà (1890) and Christ in Olympus (1896) are also characteristic examples of his work.
Klinger's leanings toward the gruesome and grotesque found further expression in his series of etchings inspired by the work of Francisco de Goya, including Deliverances of Sacrificial Victims Told in Ovid (1879), Fantasy on Brahms (1894), Eve and the Future (1880), A Life (1884), and Of Death (part 1, 1889; part 2, 1898–1909). In his use of the etching needle he achieved a unique form of expressiveness.
Klinger's late work was primarily sculpture. Interested in materials and colour, he executed polychromed nudes possessing a distinctly eerie quality, as well as statues made of varicoloured materials in the manner of Greek chryselephantine sculpture (e.g., Beethoven [1902], Salome [1893], and Cassandra [1895]). His last project, a colossal monument to the German composer Richard Wagner, remained unfinished at his death.


Max Klinger

(see collection)

Max Klinger
The Statue of Beethoven
Various kinds of marble, 310 cm high
Museum der Bildenden Kiinste, Leipzig


Max Klinger and Otto Greiner

Two Engraved Frontispieces, one dedicated by Klinger to Arnold Bockhn, the other by Greiner to Max Klinger, c. 1880

Klinger was a fine engraver who revered Goya and was attracted by the fantastic.
His engravings are characterised by the development of an imaginary world which is both realistic
and yet slightly out of kilter with reality, thus giving an impression of the uncanny.
 Klinger influenced Otto Greiner,
a less gifted student, and, above all, the astonishing Alfred Kubin.


Max Klinger

Paraphrase on the Discovery of a Glove


Series of etchings and aquatints, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich

1. Place; 2. Action; 3. Desires; 4. Salvage; 5. Triumph;

6. Homage; 7. Anguish; 8. Tranquillity;  9. The Seizure; 10. Love


This remarkable series of engravings constitutes a veritable comic-strip.
Well-dressed people roller-skate in the opening frame.
There follow visions of barely-veiled eroticism in which the glove,
saved from the ocean and borne aloft in triumph,
is finally carried off by a sardonic pterodactyl.
Klinger has cunningly drawn the frames of the broken window intact;
the reptile in flight is therefore purely imaginary.


1. Place


2. Action


3. Desires


4. Salvage


5. Triumph


6. Homage


7. Anguish


8. Tranquillity


9. The Seizure


10. Love



Franz von Stuck (1863-1928), the son of farmers from Lower Bavaria, settled in Munich and soon became the city's dominant artistic figure, the 'prince of painters'. A teacher at the Academy, he counted Kandinsky, Klee and Albers among his pupils. He himself was influenced by Bocklin, peopling his paintings with male and female fauns and centaurs. For a number of years, starting in 1892, when he contributed to the creation of the Munich Secession, he painted works of Symbolist content such as Sin (1893,), The Kiss of the Sphinx (1895) or The Wild Hunt (1899).

Sin is probably his best-known work; its notoriety today may be gauged from the fact that a reproduction of it hangs in the bar of the "Mexiko" station of the Berlin metro. In a procedure not unusual for von Stuck, the moralising subject - yet another femme fatale - is the pretext for a handsome nude. The splendid body is caught in a loop of light, while the woman's dark eyes scrutinise the viewer from a pool of shadow; she is wrapped in the coil of an enormous snake whose snarling gaze has a disagreeable intensity. The painting's "moral" is simplistic at best, but the design and unaffectedly academic execution are impressive.


Franz von Stuck

(see collection)

Franz von Stuck
Water and Fire


Franz von Stuck
The Kiss of the Sphinx




Carlos Schwabe (1866-1929) was the most "international" of the artists quoted in this chapter: a Swiss citizen, born in Germany, he spent most of his life in France and regularly took part in the Rose+Croix Salon, for which he designed the first poster in 1892. He displays admirable craft in his water-colours, but when he touches upon religious and edifying subjects his excessive sweetness of tone is typical of the sentimental and commercial "religious art" of the period.
Throughout the period which concerns us, the power of Germany was on the rise and that of Austria was waning. Beset with irreconcilable conflicts born of the aspirations of its peoples, the Austrian Empire descended into instability. The resulting cultural climate received its definitive portrayal in Robert Musil's Man without Qualities. The lack of all coherent policy accompanied the collapse of political will in an atmosphere that favoured world's end expectations; Hermann Broch described it as a "Joyful Apocalypse". Once the war had finally come, this same Apocalypse, no longer joyful, was described by the formidable critic, Karl Kraus, in a collage play entitled The Last Days of Mankind. And they were indeed the last days of a way of life. But the period with which we are concerned is the entertainment before the storm. It is, to adopt another metaphor, the sanatorium of Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain; the visiting Hans Castorp is caught up in the sanatorium for seven years and freed from the enchantment only by the outbreak of war.

Carlos Schwabe

(see collection)

Carlos Schwabe
The Grave-Digger's Death


Carlos Schwabe
The Wave

Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) first made himself known by the decorations he executed (with his brother and their art school companion F. Matsch), for numerous theatres and above all (on his own this time) for the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, where he completed, in a coolly photographic style, the work begun by Makart. At the age of thirty he moved into his own studio and turned to easel painting. At thirty-five he was one of the founders of the Vienna Secession; he withdrew eight years later, dismayed by the increasingly strong trend towards naturalism.
The coruscating sensuality of Klimt's work might seem in perfect accord with a society which recognized itself in those frivolous apotheoses of happiness and well-being, the operettas of Johann Strauss and Franz Lehar. Nothing could be further from the truth. Far from being acknowledged as the representative artist of his age, Klimt was the target of violent criticism; his work was sometimes displayed behind a screen to avoid corrupting the sensibilities of the young. His work is deceptive. Today we see in it the Byzantine luxuriance of form, the vivid juxtaposition of colours derived from the Austrian rococo - aspects so markedly different from the clinical abruptness of Egon Schiele. But we see it with expectations generated by epochs of which his own age was ignorant.
For the sumptuous surface of Klimt's work is by no means carefree. Its decorative tracery expresses a constant tension between ecstasy and terror, life and death. Even the portraits, with their timeless aspect, may be perceived as defying fate. Sleep, Hope (a pregnant woman surrounded by baleful faces) and Death are subjects no less characteristic than the Kiss. Yet life's seductions are still more potent in the vicinity of death, and Klimt's works, though they do not explicitly speak of impending doom, constitute a sort of testament in which the desires and anxieties of an age, its aspiration to happiness and to eternity, receive definitive expression. For the striking two-dimensionality with which Klimt surrounds his figures evokes the gold ground of Byzantine art, a ground that, in negating space, may be regarded as negating time - and thus creating a figure of eternity. Yet in Klimt's painting, it is not the austere foursquare figures of Byzantine art that confront us, but ecstatically intertwined bodies whose flesh seems the more real for their iconi-cal setting of gold.


See on the next page:  Gustav Klimt "All Art is Erotic"



Gustav Klimt


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