They did not photograph,
They had visions.
Instead of the rocket they created the perpetual state of excitement."
- Kasimir Edschmid, quoted in The Writer In Etremis by Walter H. Sokel, Stanford University Press: 1959.
The first issue, appearing in January 1898, did go off like a rocket. Hermann Bahr denounced "actionless routine and ossified Byzantianism" in the visual arts while Adolf Loos castigated the bourgeois culture of the Rigstrasse for hiding its modernity, commercialism, and poverty behind a facade of pseudo-historic architecture. Koloman Moser contributed such strong works to the magazine that his images converted the adjective decorative into the highest compliment (see Impudent Weather, for example).
The Viennese perplex has always been about adjectives. Was this a vibrant culture breaking out or a nervous illness? All the discussions about lack of civic engagement by the middle classes and exploitation of the poor cannot put that question to rest because the artists weren't trying to answer it.
As the first president of the Vienna Secession, Gustav Klimt was hardly an unknown artist when he was commissioned to produce a series of murals for the University of Vienna. Eros, androgyny, and homosexuality were not new either, but their heady mixture ias filtered through Klimt's provocative style was disquieting - even as sketches that appeared in Ver Sacrum in 1902. The issue was confiscated by the Viennese authorities on the charge of "offending public morals".
1. Max Behmer "Mt. Pele", 1903.
2. Nora Exner - fish, 1903.
3. Jutta Sika - owls, 1903.
4. Koloman Moser "Impudent Weather", 1903.
5. Victor Schufinsky - poor mother and children, 1903.
6. Gustav Klimt - sketch for Beethoven frieze , November 1902.
7. Wilhlem Laage, 1901.
8. Koloman Moser - Muse, 1901.
9. Marcus Behmer - skeleton perched in a tree, 1902.
9. Leopold Stolba - little man, 1903.
10. Fanny Zakucka - Puss in boots, 1902.
11. Irma von Dutczynska - sailing ship, 1903.
Ver Sacrum is available online, in its entirety, at the websites of the Austrian National Library. and the University of Heidelberg Digital Archive.
For further reading: Fin-de-siecle Vienna by Carl Schorske, New Tork, Random House: 1979. remains the best single book you can read.