In 1898, Gustav Klimt designed a lithograph poster for the First Secession Exhibition in Vienna, which was the first exhibition of the Secession movement. The poster features an iconic fighting scene between Theseus and the Minotaur from Greek mythology. Klimt was a prominent member of the Secession movement, well-known for his symbolist paintings and frank eroticism.
Klimt’s poster was controversial as it featured mythological figures that represented the struggle between the Secession and established art world. The Secession movement rejected traditional academic art styles and aimed to promote new forms of art that were independent of government institutions. Klimt’s style drew inspiration from Japanese textile design and Byzantine mosaics.
The bold design of Theseus fighting the Minotaur with vibrant colors is characteristic of Art Nouveau style that was popular at that time. Despite its controversy, this poster became an instant icon for Viennese culture as it encapsulates their artistic vision in one striking image.
Today, replicas of Klimt’s “Poster for the First Vienna Secession Exhibition” can be found in many prints shops around Vienna as fine art reprints or giclee prints showcasing its popularity even after more than a century has passed since its creation.