CreditsDirector/Writer: Folco Quilici
Catalog number # 457
60 minutes Color
Age Range: 15 to Adult
Closed Captions and Interactive Transcript
48hr Streaming Access
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And now ladies and gentlemen, the waltz! Please, Maestro. Waltz and 'Blue Danube'
Sumptuous halls and the Emperor
Debutantes in their flower-like dresses, their partners in tail coats. The bright sparkling chandeliers
Vienna, the symbol of Jahrhundertwend Of the century about to end. Of city life, alluring.
Tempting. All-important. Vienna, capital city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire: a mosaic of different peoples, languages,races. The new generations have grown-up during a long period of peace, that everyone is convinced will last forever.
Unrest? Social claims? (everything will be settled !!) In 70 years the inhabitants of Vienna have increased from 400 thousand to 2million 230.000 Czechs, Hungarians, Slovenians, Bohemians, Italians. Cafes are the heart of the city...
and the mind.
(its 'bourgeois* heart and mind.)
In cafes people meet, talk, play, read.
Listen to music, gossip.
To what's new.
Art breaks away from the past. Renews itself! Who has seen the Secession Exhibition? At the "Cafe de l'Europe" in Stephanplatz the international aristocracy and upper class members.
Artists met at the 'Grienssteidl'Kafee The 'Fledermaus' (the bat) was the meeting place for theatre and cabaret people, the avant-guarde, the provocators.
Privacy in public, the Viennese cafe. Warm, welcoming, discreet and animated.
There are even ladies alone. Why not?
Billiard tables, rooms where to play taroks. Chess, domino.
'Sex and character' by the young Otto Weininger. Sixteen editions in a few months.
Women - in his view - is a 'non-being' or mother, for the continuation of the species. Or hetaera.
With no individual character!
A similar opinion is unacceptable
It's a dead end philosophy in fact. He killed himself at 23. The street takes the leading role:
"Here the fortunate winners of the fight for survival are on show, here is the realm of the absolute present, gay, carefree" says Felix Salten.
Streets and squares of Mitteleurope are the settings of encounter and clash between the climbing social classes: the bourgeoisie and working class.
Face to face, in days of anger and days of rejoicing.
These are extremely rare pictures of a carnival at Antwerp at the turn of the century
People go out into the streets to celebrate
or to protest.
Strikes begin to be used as a formidable weapon. Workers are becoming aware of their power...
Many artists of the new movements side with them. 'A thousand hopes are being seeded' notes Octave Maus.
Young and indignant bourgeois intellectuals act as spokesmen for the workers claims.
They are lawyers, artists, architects.
The Belgian Socialist Party orders the erection of the 'Maison du Peuple' to a new and revolutionary architect: Victor Horta.
'an authentic home for workers, full of air and light' Horta wants it to be.
Something like a lay cathedral.
Resting on iron muscles, vibrant with a new line. Tense, nervous. Provocatory. In 1964 the Maison du Peuple is brought down, demolished.
Building speculation has won.
On the contrary, the opulent, pompous monuments of the time in Brussels are still standing.
Arcs de triomphe, marble covered buildings and colonnades.
Belgium of King Leopold, in short. Of the colonial adventure.
Of the Congo, the King's private property.
'Belgian military heroism wins over the Arabian slave driver' says the inscription on this forgotten monument, which is in New Art style....
In 1900 Brussels has grown to 800 thousand inhabitants: an economic and demographic explosion. The city expands.
The new architectural style is preferred by commissioners.
New buildings expand towards the woods on the outskirts of town.
Like this one, called La Foret, still almost intact.
Balconies, verandas, gates, iron-work, ceramics ....
Ornamental patterns suggested by the animal world.
Glass-work. Avenue Louise in the center of Brussels:
most of the houses and 'hotels particulaires' built at the beginning of the century in the new style, were demolished in the 'fifties to leave their place to skyscrapers.
Amongst the few that have survived, this splendid one built between 1899 and 1903 by Horta for Armand Solvay, the cosmopolitan and philantropic industrialist, holder of the patent for the production of washing soda.
'As precious as a sea-shell' it has been said about the Solvay Hotel.
The wall paintings project us towards an imaginary garden outside. The staircase in the center of the house as the connecting point of the whole building Light and color.
The windows filter a warm brightness from outside. At the age of 40, at the height of his success, Horta builds his own home at 25, Rue Americaine. Like all the others he has designed for his friends, it is a spectacle-house (as Paolo Portoghesi put it).
To be discovered bit by bit, like the plot of a novel. 'On peut vous suivre, Messieur Horta?' The son of a shoe maker, Victor Horta became the most costly architect in town.
"From my father I learned the pleasure of well turned-out work, and the sensibility of craftmanship."
Spaces communicating with each other. The staircase, nucleus of the building. And, on the staircase, pillars, lianas, vines.
Whiplash curves, whirls, movements opposing one-another. Communicating materials':
Iron, stone, wood, glass.
He advised his pupils to use their spare time to form a herbarium and collect insects.
Not photographic reproduction, but abstraction, stylization.
A pattern of mirrors splits up the light pouring in through the skylight on top.
A domestic artificial paradise.
'Home - life' - a portrait of the inhabitant. Architecture induced by the weather
It's always raining in Antwerp.
In opposition to the dreariness of the city, the new art introduces liveliness and color. In the elegant suburbs of the city there is a whole street (Avenue Coghel) built in Art Nouveau style.
Antwerp. The port. Rich overseas trading.
An unusual house survives, although in pieces. It's called the 'shipowner's house'.
Its balcony, overlooking the port, is the bow of a schooner.
A bow reminiscent of southern seas from where the city receives wood, minerals, diamonds, - riches in short.
The south seas: distant, unreachable like memories. Show-case houses. Picture poster houses.
In Brussels, at Rue de Francs 5, the painter Couchie's house...
on the front, under everyone's eyes, almost a set of examples of the man's work.
Inside, frescoes on the same subject:
It was known as 'La maison des Femmes' after the paintings all over the walls.
From the ground floor up to the third floor. Including the stairs.
The artist' women, perhaps he was a Liberty Don Juan.
Was his a sequel of conquests or an endless search? In no other place does the floral style become such part of people's life as in Brussels.
A style of life.
Cafes, restaurants, winter gardens
The florist Madame Isabelle in Avenue de la Reine.
Her shop is still intact.
Black and white, of course. But sometimes there would be someone who, wanting to return the colors of reality to the film, would painstakingly color it frame after frame with aniline paint. Vanity fleeting moments frames of mind
Seduction feminine charm, magic.
Shop signs, friezes ornamentation in a frenzy of floral abundance.
In provocating contrast with this luxuriant decorative liveliness, in the heart of Brussels the essential geometries of Maison Stoclet.
The exuberance of the new art compressed and stiffened in a different synthesis.
It's 1905. The bank owner and multi-millionaire coal mine owner Stoclet has called over from Vienna Joseph Hofmann, one of the promoters of the Austrian Secession.
The daring building arouses a storm of criticism on the part of well-to-do Belgian society. A close pattern of surfaces, of vertical and horizontal lines. Some-one has said:
'A space filled with sobriety'
For the bourgeois become a god
for the upper class man, educated and affluent, devotee of arts and culture, surrounding himself with refined art collections. These are Richard Luksch's sculptures. He is one of the numerous German artists in Hofmann's group engaged on the decoration of Maison Stoclet. Repeated ramifications and spirals.
Klimt too has come to Brussels with Hofmann, called by Stoclet.
'I don't talk about my painting'.
That painting of his that has already. Aroused considerable controversy in Vienna.
'Beethoven's frieze', inspired by the mosaics at Ravenna, is dated 1902. A stylized world, perfect. Precious. And inaccessible.
He visits Venice under high water.
He continues his journey over the estuary of the Po river under a full moon, as far as Ravenna. This is Gustav Klimt's destination.
The glittering gold mosaics in the basilica made a firm impression on his mind.
Gustav Klimt, son of a goldsmith (a craft he will not forget) was born in Vienna in 1862. To say Klimt is to say Sezession, the name the new art has taken in Vienna.
Vienna of composer Arnold Schomberg and of dodecaphonic music.
We are listening to a piece: 'Transfigured night'.
Figure and background.
Life and death.
Klimt's course runs both there and back.
Perpetually wondering, enquiring.
Global images and corpuscolar dispersion of marks. Psychological intensity of the human figure.
On the background of an enamel world, of precious and perfect shape.
Deaf. Indifferent to the passions of man. Schiller quotes about Klimt: 'You cannot please all with your art .... It is wrong to please many! 'Sezession'. Secession - breaking away. Refusal.
From the past. From classicism.
From stereotyped manners. Klimt - author of this golden fountain - together with the architects Olbrich, Hofmann and Wagner - author of this building, the Maiolikhaus and others, in June 1897 join to form a movement which they call 'Sezession'. A house was built designed by Joseph Maria Olbrich and entitled to the movement.
"To each era its own art, to art its own freedom." The Nazis will wipe out these words.
An open-work dome of laurel leaves, over geometrically perfect volumes. Like a tree, protective and reassuring. Vienna like Prague, like Budapest.
The capital cities of Mitteleuropa.
That Mitteleuropa in which the bourgeoisie, rich in thought and intolerant of the past, is preparing alternative lines of art, economics, politics.
These are Secession style buildings in Prague.
In Prague, as in Budapest, as in Vienna.
Literature is full of 'precociously old' young people
Like Ugo von Hofmannsthal 'old - it was said, in wisdom and understanding at 17 years of age.
We are invited to see his drama 'Titian's death'.
The great artist dies taking with him the secret of this art.
His pupils feel betrayed. Lonely.
A group of women, the healthy young people who are never dismayed - make fun of their anguish.
Claudio Magris has written: 'Death looms over all Hofmannsthal's characters, heroes of the Hasburgic twilight, a strange undecipherable death!
A new relationship between figure and background in Kolo Moser, another of the founders of Secession.
A wooden sculpture by Ferdinand Andri.
Herbert Boeckl. The anguish of Richard Gerstl. The allegorical opulence of Anton Hanak's 'Three Graces' And then art mixed with social commitment in this work on glass - German textile workers by Thorn Prikker Materials either new or needing renewal
Different means of expression, or to be used differently
A thousand urges, infinite outcomes. The new art!
Which in Germany is called Jugendstill. The architects of the new school plan and erect working class houses next to the fine upper class ones
these are at Hagen, in the Rhur. Jugendstill - after the name of the 'Jugend' magazine, issued in Munich. Jugend means young.
Youth. A need for new things, new air. A very short lasting movement - about 10 years - but intense.
It's the aesthetics of empathy - man projected into nature.
Frames of mind and patterns taken from nature.
The interior and the exterior.
'The Kiss' by Peter Behrens.
It shocked the public when it appeared on 'Pan', the movement's other magazine.
Interaction among different worlds: man, animal, botanical. The same nature Goethe had already investigated in its colors, forms, structures.
As if to understand (as Klimt also endeavored) its absolute sense. Its internal order.
The essence of existence.
Woman is the most investigated, represented, portrayed subject.
In a perpetual series of metamorphoses. Woman and animal, woman and plant, woman and flower water
Nymph, naiad Reminiscent of Germanic paganism:
Freia (the German Venus) goddess of love and fertility.
And from Freia: 'Freiheit', freedom.
The architect of the Secession building in Vienna is called to Darmstadt in Germany by the Granduke Ernst Ludwig who intended to make the town into a center of the arts, surrounded by nature.
Almost a contemporary acropolis on the summit of Mathildenhohe hill.
The orient, China, Japan, distant echoes . influences
India, Khmer art. Symbolism.
Religion of nature The Hochzeitsturm, tower of the wedding is the heart of the whole complex
Spaces for meeting, for exhibitions, for enjoyment.
Impetus and dynamics revitalize traditional structures. All one with nature.
Empathy again here, Einfuhlung. The artists' homes, designed by Olbrich himself, are in the woods all around.
Another architect, Peter Behrens, chose to design his own home. Clearness of conception.
Contrast between the naked surfaces and the ornamentation of the frames. "The house is in the embrace of the world" says the inscription.
Just opposite is the home of his rival from Vienna.
We are in Olbrich's house, which he has designed himself.
Referring to this house he used to say: 'I started building it from the inside, working outwards bit by bit'.... Everything, each object, each detail he has designed himself.
Even the piano, the clock Darmstadt and its learned, sensitive patron Ludwig
"the last granduke" he had been called his 'colony of artists': a utopia soon vanished.
From his Matildenhohe to the affluent Ruhr.
Where the patrons are members of the enlightened bourgeoisie
These are paintings from Karl Ernst Osthaus's art collection.
Manufacturing businessman, banker, great art collector. In the area of highest industrial concentration in Europe, the silence of nature even now still protects his burial place. In Hagen, in 1898, he had commissioned the Folkwang museum. Both family and individual vicissitudes, often crossing with historical events, have deprived the museum of many items it had held. 'The den of corrupt art' Hitler called it.
At the time Osthaus had called all the best-known artists to design and decorate the interiors.
'The fountain of kneeling people' and the other sculptures are by George Minne. A vase by Van de Velde
his style principle.
'A tense, joyful line'
'When I say that a line has energy I am stating something quite factual: it derives its force from the energy of the drawer'. 'Ugliness corrupts not only the eyes, but also the heart and the mind' Van de Velde has written.
The second world was has destroyed his greatest achievement: the theatre at Cologne. Van de Velde designed the villa for his patron Osthaus at Hagen.
The artist and his patron are made to understand each other well.
A patron is someone with faith in other people. An artist someone inclined to put his work at the other one's disposal.
This villa was to become a large cultural center for the avant-garde. An act of faith. In work. In art.
In man's creativeness.
The house for Van de Velde as a means of communication between spaces, between persons. A way of living together, as he himself says, as nomads in their tent.
Art as a project to live in. 'Total art'.
This desk, the wallpaper, the furniture and the whole of the interior are by Van de Velde.
The vast collection of books on art which Osthaus had started putting together since he was very young
On January 1, 1900, Osthaus inherited a million gold marks from his father, a textile manufacturer.
He invested it in the 'new art' giving financial aid for the development of his home town's museum.
Ferdinand Hodler painted the fresco entitled 'The young offspring' in the dining room. A chorus of muses protects the young favorite.
A frozen and freezing symbolism.
'I want to tell mankind what I feel about certain lines: a straight line is much less allusive than an irregular curve'.
Thorn Prikker, a friend of Van de Velde's, with whom he shared views on the symbolism of lines, has created this glass window.
The light from outside changes color at the different times of day. Also the clothes we are seeing were designed by Van de Velde as part of his concept of global art.
Communication seems possible between man and woman, man and nature, between different worlds.
Even staking place.
But is it really so?
In 1892 a young Norwegian artist by the name of Edvard Munch had exhibited his paintings in a gallery in Berlin. His exhibition caused such an uproar that it was closed. But after that his works were exhibited all over Europe.
Stirring up amazement.
'I don't believe in a form of art that does not stem from the need man has to open his heart' Munch has written.
A need for dialogue - for love.
Nothing and nobody answers.
Art nouveau lines which are anxious, mobile, portended and speeding, grow close together and still around Munch's figures. They form a barrier.
An impediment. Das Geschrei. The cry, his most prophetic painting. 'A cry piercing nature'
The representation of fear. The tormented individual anxiety to express what cannot be known is also found in the music we are listening to, by the Viennese composer Gustav Mahler, director since 1897 of the Vienna Opera House.
A dissonant and atonal music in the home of the waltz and operetta. Mahler: bourgeois genius. Bourgeois and revolutionary at the same time.
Harmony pursued within the contradictions of life.
Of nature. Of history.
Of the human mind. Music as a dream.
Dream as music.
Dreams, lapses, missed actions, the most insignificant details of behavior, oversights Behind the couch Dr. Sigmund Freud takes notes.
He joins together.
In Vienna, (Bergasse 12) psychoanalysis is born.
The conscious and the unconscious, ego and super ego, Oedipus and sense of guilt, freedom and compulsion to repeatS
A new map of the human mind. At the end of a century marked by positivism and science as a progressive conquest, the focus returns to the unknown regions of instinct
'The uneasiness of civilization' Freud will define it later. Egon Schlele had already shown it in his paintings. Suffering is the other plate of the balance.
Egon Schiele will say:
'I would like to open a passageway of light into the darkest eternity of our tiny world.'
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