“Der zeit ihre kunst. Der kunst ihre freiheit”
“To every age its art and to art its freedom”
Vienna city (Austria) of 20th century inherits a rich architectural heritage representing many periods and styles ranging from elaborate baroque, gothic, renaissance to twentieth century innovations. Once the seat of the mighty Hapsburg Empire, Vienna is now home to countless palaces, historical churches, museums, opera houses, and the remains of Roman ruins as well as exciting new architectural endeavors.
Ringstrasse (meaning Ring route) is a circular road surrounding the inner district of Vienna which was the central district in 16-19th century. It boasts of some of the most beautiful building and monuments in the world and is permanent tourist attraction. While roaming on and around the Ringstrasse, I came across this building with distinct architecture that was different from the surrounding structures. The guidebook told me it was the Secession building.
The Vienna Secession (also known as the Union of Austrian Artists, or Vereiningung Bildender Künstler Österreichs) was formed in 1897 by a group of Austrian artists who had resigned from the Association of Austrian Artists, housed in the Vienna Künstlerhaus. In 1898, the group’s exhibition house was built in the vicinity of Karlsplatz. The exhibition building soon became known simply as “the Secession” (die Sezession). This building became an icon of the movement.
Secession artists were concerned, above all else, with exploring the possibilities of art outside the confines of academic tradition. They hoped to create a new style that owed nothing to historical influence. Therefore, above the entrance of the building is carved the phrase:
“Der zeit ihre kunst. Der kunst ihre freiheit” which means “To every age its art and to art its freedom”.
This phrase is haunting me since then. I always kept asking myself, what is the meaning of art and why does it need freedom?
Some amount of googling told me that “art” lacks a satisfactory definition. It is easier to describe it as: the way something is done — “the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others” — rather than what it is. An object regarded as “Art” today may not have been perceived as such when it was first made, nor was the person who made it necessarily regarded as an artist.
If that is the case, we can see “to art its freedom” actually happening today in the digital world of social networking like blogging, flickr, picasa web and myriad other web-sites. So many “secessions” are getting created every day, every minute. In that sense, we have arrived at “to art its freedom” state in the world of social networking through digital media.
But hold on for a second. Is that freedom limited only to the digital world? If art is described as the way something is done in aesthetic manner using skill and imagination, irrespective of whether it is perceived as “art” today, why not turn every second of our life into art? Each one of us has that freedom and no one ever needs any media other than our own body and mind to become an artist.
I guess I have found answer to my question.
(1) Various on-line dictionaries