Middlebury College Museum of Art

News & Events

This Fall, a Brief Flowering of Viennese Optimism

August 9, 2016

Bloom and Doom: Visual Expressions and Reform in Vienna 1900
September 6–December 11, 2016

For immediate release: 8/9/16
For further information contact: Erin Sassin, Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture, at esassin@middlebury.edu or (802) 443-5830

Middlebury, VT— “To each age its art, to art its freedom.” This proclamation emblazoned across the façade of the Viennese Secession Building encapsulates the artistic search for what constituted the modern at the turn of the twentieth century in Vienna. Why does the brief flowering of the visual arts in Vienna—a world that came to an abrupt end with the outbreak of the First World War and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that followed—still feel relevant more than one hundred years later?  The controversies and publicity surrounding the restitution of Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (“The Woman in Gold”) to the sitter’s heirs do not tell the entire story.

Co-curated by Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture Erin Sassin and the students in her spring 2016 course “Bloom and Doom: Visual Expressions and Reform in Vienna circa 1900,” this exhibition features lesser known works by Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt, along with prints, drawings, and posters created by other members of the Viennese Secession. Bloom and Doom illuminates how these individuals challenged the artistic and social establishment by rejecting the traditional academic system and turning to new means of expression, often attempting to reunify art and life in a “total work of art,” before giving into cultural pessimism and withdrawing from public life.

Bloom and Doom, which will be on view in the museum’s Overbrook Gallery through Sunday, December 11, is the final installment in a series of three exhibitions organized in collaboration with the Sabarsky Foundation. As part of this three-year initiative, the Foundation has made works from its large collection of German and Austrian art available to Middlebury students and faculty so that a class taught in the spring semester would have a chance to work directly with the art and have a voice in the curation of an exhibition to open the following fall.

Students were intrinsically involved in the planning of this exhibition, from devising the layout and color scheme to drafting wall labels. The students also curated a digital exhibition entitled “Virtual Vienna,” which will allow visitors to explore the relationship between the built environment of Vienna circa 1900 and the larger artistic and cultural scene.

The Middlebury College Museum of Art, located in the Mahaney Center for the Arts on Rte. 30 on the southern edge of campus, is free and open to the public Tues. through Fri. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sat. and Sun. from noon to 5 p.m. It is closed Mondays. The museum is physically accessible. Parking is available in the Mahaney Center for the Arts parking lot. For further information and to confirm dates and times of scheduled events, please call (802) 443–5007 or TTY (802) 443–3155, or visit the museum’s website at museum.middlebury.edu.