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By Rogoyska, Jane; Bade, Patrick; Klimt, Gustav

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The vision is chaotic, almost hellish. Its skulls, wrinkled elderly figures and mass of human bodies speak of human suffering, not of its cure. Music I 1895 Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich 46 47 The viewer’s eyes are drawn inevitably to the two striking female figures at the bottom and top left of the painting. Clearly the figure at the bottom represents Medicine itself – the traditional symbol of the serpent suggests this – but this art nouveau woman, enlaced in gold ornament, looks more like a priestess likely to sacrifice a sick person than to heal them.

The Love 1895 oil on canvas, 60 x 44 cm Museum der Stadt Wien, Vienna 44 45 The first appearance of the unfinished Medicine in the following year caused even greater controversy. It is difficult to fathom precisely what Klimt meant to say about medicine in this painting. The vision is chaotic, almost hellish. Its skulls, wrinkled elderly figures and mass of human bodies speak of human suffering, not of its cure. Music I 1895 Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich 46 47 The viewer’s eyes are drawn inevitably to the two striking female figures at the bottom and top left of the painting.

Ancient Greek Art I 1890-1891 Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 34 35 The Secession was a great success, holding both a first and a second exhibition in 1898. The movement made enough money to commission their very own building, designed for them by the architect Joseph Maria Olbrich. Above the entrance was their motto: ‘To each age its art, to art its freedom’. Egyptian Art II 1890-1891 Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 36 37 The Secession not only came to represent the best of Austrian art, but was able to bring to Vienna French Impressionist and Belgian Naturalist works, which had never before been seen by the Austrian public.

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