The Vienna Secession group’s construction of its own building, in 1897–98, epitomized the city’s importance as a center of opposition to the established artistic order. The group of young painters, sculptors, and architects associated with the venue were committed to the unification of different art forms through a holistic aesthetic. Olbrich, for example, designed both the building itself and its graphic representation on this poster, which publicized the group’s second exhibition. Although Harlfinger’s poster was made fifteen years later, for a 1913 exhibition of Secession posters, it communicates a similar control of line and austerity of decoration. Its vibrant contrasting colors and rectilinear arrangement, anchored by a labyrinthine “S,” express the geometric and antihistoricist language of the Vienna Secession.
Gallery label from Shaping Modernity: Design 1880-1980, December 23, 2009–July 25, 2010 .