Hagenbund: An International Network
(1900 to 1938)

Sponsored by the Austrian National Bank’s Jubilee Fund

The Secession, Künstlerhaus, and Hagenbund were the three major artist associations that defined art and culture in Vienna up until the start of World War II. Of these, the Hagenbund was by far the most varied, even embracing fringe groups that were marginalized – politically and socially – due to their nationality, gender, religion, age or simply their preferred style. This unique mix of members was a factor behind the Hagenbund’s success, both at home and abroad. 1938 saw the end not only of the association itself, but also the destruction of its archive. What has survived intact are the complete catalogues from the Hagenbund’s extensive biannual exhibitions and their newspaper reviews. In addition, parts and fragments of some members’ estates are distributed among public and private collections. Researchers have been drawing on these sources since the rediscovery of the Hagenbund in the 1970s.

 

International Network

A striking but previously unresearched phenomenon is the Hagenbund’s national and international positioning from the year Gustav Klimt and others left the Secession until it was disbanded by the Nazis in 1938. Today we refer to the Hagenbund as an international network that was formed regionally and operated internationally. There has been little research into contacts with artists from today’s Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, Germany, Slovakia, and Slovenia. As a result, their influence on the styles of different Viennese artists has yet to be meticulously researched or appraised by art historians. Indeed, an in-depth study of the sources concerning various international artist networks and the critics, art historians, and columnists connected with the Hagenbund is needed before we can gain a new and wider perspective on the development of art in Austria and Vienna.

 

Network Analysis

Combining methodologies from art history and sociology has provided a method based on network analysis to examine the sources. This approach has been adopted in art history for a number of years and enables differentiated insights into the social dynamics of the art scene as well as offering a suitable tool for art-historical analysis and appraisal. 

Following over thirty years of research into the Hagenbund, Secession, Künstlerhaus, and the gallery scene, the projects’ goal is to gain new perspectives in the study of the Hagenbund artist association through comprehensive basic research and a critical analysis of known sources. In recent years, art history has shown a general interest in researching networks per se (Burcu Dogramaci and Karin Wimmer [eds.], Netzwerke des Exils. Künstlerische Verflechtungen, Austausch und Patronage nach 1933, Berlin 2011).

The aim is to convey an in-depth picture of the connections both among the Hagenbund artists themselves and also with other institutions in Vienna and throughout Europe. This is because a detailed picture of the relationships between the artists themselves on the one hand, and the artists with critics, journalists, exhibition organizers, and cultural politicians on the other, can clarify the issue of why a certain art movement – such as Expressionism, New Objectivity, Magic Realism or abstract art – came to the fore at a particular time. This should counter the rather rudimentary treatment of the Hagenbund since 1993, despite initial early studies. Updated biographies of certain artists and a virtually complete clarification of the Hagenbund’s exhibitions and activities should thus shed new light on a significant chapter in Austrian art history.

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