How Roller’s succession heightened the Viennese Secession

cessetionThis is an image of Alfred Roller’s poster (1902) from the Gustav Mahler Exhibition – Vienna Secession.*

Austrian painter, graphic and set designer, Alfred Roller was born on 2nd October 1864, in Brünn, Mähren. Roller attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.

  • He co-founded the Viennese Secession with Koloman Moser, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Josef Hoffmann, Gustav Klimt, and various others (1897).
  • Two years later he became the Professor of Drawing at the University of Applied Arts, (Kunstgewerbeschule) in Vienna (1899); and President of the Secession (1902).
  • He designed numerous covers and vignettes for the pages of the Secessionist periodical Ver Sacrum, as well as posters for the 4th, 14th and 16th Secession Exhibitions and the designing of the layout of the exhibitions.
  • It was also in 1902, that Roller was introduced to the composer Gustav Mahler, who  decided to employ Roller to design the sets for a new production.
  • After this initial success, Roller continued to design sets for Mahler’s productions for many years.
  • Eventually Roller left the Secession and his teaching post at the Kunstgewerbeschule to be appointed Chief Stage Designer to the Vienna State Opera –  a position he held until 1909.

Alfred Roller died in Vienna on the 21st June, 1935.

*The Vienna Secession was the name given to a group of artists, architects and designers that broke away from the main establishment of Viennese artists to form their own group in 1897. Its radical period was brief. It was not characterized by any particular style, but it was linked closely with Jugendstil  (youth style), a German adaptation of Art Nouveau.

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