Peter Behrens. The Kiss. 1898. Plate from the journal "Pan" (Vol. IV, No. 2, July-August-Sept 1898). The Baltimore Museum of Art: Collection of LeRoy E. Hoffberger and Paula Gately Tillman-Hoffberger, BMA 2017.18
Peter Behrens. The Kiss. 1898. Plate from the journal "Pan" (Vol. IV, No. 2, July-August-Sept 1898). The Baltimore Museum of Art: Collection of LeRoy E. Hoffberger and Paula Gately Tillman-Hoffberger, BMA 2017.18

BALTIMORE, MD (February 23, 2018)—The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) presents an exhibition of 15 beguiling Vienna Secession and Art Nouveau poster and prints thanks to the generosity of the late Baltimore philanthropist LeRoy E. Hoffberger. On view March 25 – July 29, 2018, Sacred Spring: Vienna Secession Posters from the Collection of LeRoy E. Hoffberger and Paula Gately Tillman Hoffberger brings together an array of styles by artists such as Gustav Klimt, Kolomon Moser, and Egon Schiele to advertise everything from food and furniture to exhibitions and entertainment. These late 19th- and early 20th-century artworks share a modern aesthetic that is echoed in the galleries by a selection of decorative objects from the same period.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Hoffbergers for their generosity,” said BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director Christopher Bedford. “Their gift beautifully complements the BMA’s already strong holdings of posters by artists Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Jules Chéret.”

Large-scale color lithograph posters abounded in late 19th- and early 20th-century Europe, and especially in urban centers, where this so-called “art of the street” literally became part of the city fabric. Jan Toorop’s design for Delft Salad Oil (1894) was so influential that the Art Nouveau movement in the Netherlands is often referred to as the Slaolie (Salad Oil) style. Many modern artists embraced the opportunity to design posters, creating visually arresting compositions with flattened forms, strong outlines, and areas of unmodulated color and/or pattern. Artists also drew upon an extraordinary array of typography/fonts that not only communicated relevant information but also served as decorative elements within their designs.

“We are excited to highlight the works on paper acquired in 2017 through the Hoffberger bequest in the Sacred Spring exhibition,” said Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings & Photographs Rena Hoisington. “These Austrian, Dutch, and German works expand upon and add a new dimension to the museum’s holdings of more than 1,000 late 19th-and 20th-century French and American posters.”

Many of the posters advertised art exhibitions in Northern and Central Europe, particularly in Vienna, the capital of Austria. There the Vienna Secession was founded in 1897 by an association of artists—including Josef Hoffmann, Gustav Klimt, Kolomon Moser, and Joseph Maria Olbrich—who sought to break away (or secede) from the art of the past. The Vienna Secession encompassed artists who worked in a wide range of styles. Several of these artists were involved with the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops) founded in 1903 by Hoffmann and Moser. This collective of artists and artisans subscribed to the concept of Gesamtskunstwerk (total work of art), whereby one aesthetic vision unified all of the arts. As with the Vienna Secession, the creations of the Vienna Workshops were synonymous with modernism. Their designs were rooted in the stylized forms of nature that were characteristic of the turn-of-the-century movement of Art Nouveau, yet were distinguished by their simplicity and geometric abstraction. The avant-garde style of the Vienna Workshops quickly gained an international renown, its products eagerly sought after by a wealthy and sophisticated clientele.

The majority of works on paper were acquired in 2017 through a generous bequest from the late Baltimore philanthropist LeRoy E. Hoffberger and his wife Paula Gately Tillman Hoffberger.

About the Baltimore Museum of Art

Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) inspires people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibitions, programs, and collections that tell an expansive story of art—challenging long-held narratives and embracing new voices. Our outstanding collection of more than 97,000 objects spans many eras and cultures and includes the world’s largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse; one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs; and a rapidly growing number of works by contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds. The museum is also distinguished by a neoclassical building designed by American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of modern and contemporary sculpture. The BMA is located three miles north of the Inner Harbor, adjacent to the main campus of Johns Hopkins University, and has a community branch at Lexington Market. General admission is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art.

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