The Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico currently shows Decay and Revolution : Art in Vienna, 1890-1910. The Exhibition consists of 36 works from the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna, Austria, and represents different aspects of artistic creation during one of the most vibrant periods in the history of Western art. It brings the art of the Secession movement to Puerto Rico for the first time.
Decay and Revolution aims to expand the public's knowledge of the Secession by exploring ist diversity of artistc languages. The exhibtion is an attempt to present a more nuanced overview of this artistic movement, which did not propose any single style or aesthetics. Decay and Revolution features chief Secession artists such as Rudolf Bachner, Rudolf Jettmar, Franz Metzner, Koloman Moser, and Ernst Stöhr to explore their different, sometimes opposing visions, ranging from Impressionism to Realism, Symbolism, or Art Noveau.
The exhibition adresses the complex relationship between Secession artists and their predecessors: while rejecting the historicism in which most of them had been trained, they turned out to art from the past in search of qualities, that were congenial to their individual artistic outlooks . Allegory, history painting, and the nude, which had been turned into meaningless, purely academic exercises, were the stalest of the genres. Yet, artists seized them as opportunities to create brazen images of the modern inner landscape, in which erotic or sinister, often disturbing forces lurk just behind a decorative surface. Budding puberty and impending day, modernity and tradition, sexual desire and death are some of the contrasting opposites that create the tension on which these artists thrived. Secession artists admired the work of eesthetic and pre- Raphaelite painters, finding direct inspiration in their symbolists, rendering of mythical and literary subjects, in their exploration of the themes of sleep and dreams, and in the attitudes and types they preferred when depicting women.
Visitors are able to learn about these connections in rooms adjacent to Decay and Revolution, which will be installed with paintings from the permanent collection of the museum. The layout of the exhibition will be organized following thematic and chronological criteria. Visitors will have at their disposal wall texts and labels with intepretive keys to enhance their experience. The museum will also make available to the public educational resources such as a catalogue, and a series of lectures, activities, and gallery tours. In addition the museum will carry out workshops related to the works of art and themes in Decay and Revolution.