Secessionist Prague Architecture
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A Change in Direction
What you now have to realize is that the last thousand years of design and architecture has been dominated either by Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance or Baroque, each holding for no less than 200 years apiece. That’s a lot of history and religion. Note that I now run a Prague Architecture Tour for people who want to really get into who built this city and why.
In Vienna, for many years either the birthplace or ruling location for the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor a group of artists and architects make a complete break with all previous forms of accepted artistic content.
Secession was basically a separation. It was also called “Jungendstil” (the style of the young). These “young guns” were determined to pursue a new course, one that explored different styles of art and design. There was grandeur but not excessive. There was colour and style but not religious. Take a close look and you’ll see themes from this period repeating again and again through Art Nouveau, Cubism and Modernism.
Prague Secession was fairly limited compared with Vienna but still there’s a clear attempt at dropping the curly Baroque decor and grandeur.
Where to See Prague Secession
I walk down two streets as part of my Old Town and Jewish Quarter walking tour. The first is “Elišky Krasnohorské”. As you would learn from the tour, this street is bordered on both sides by what is considered to be a late version Jungendstil as many of the buildings are @1913. No Art Nouveau even though it’s in the same period. Look for the ceramics and coloured glass. The other is Stupartska (the road behind the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn). At the church end it’s clearly Gothic but as you pass “Mala Stupartska” the left side of the block it vitally attractive to look at. Three blocks which have the Prague Secession look using coloured ceramic tiles and coloured glass to a different extent. Not immediately ornamental but let your eyes roam over them for 30 seconds or so and the decoration slowly appears.
The next era – ART NOUVEAU