Frühlingsreigen or A Song of Spring

MAXIMILIAN LENZ (1860-1948) Biography
SYMBOLISM (founded 1886) Biography

Frühlingsreigen or A Song of Spring (Austria, 1913)

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Oil on canvas
Signed and dated 1913; inscribed and dated on labels on the reverse

Dimensions

162.00cm high
201.00cm wide
(63.78 inches high)
(79.13 inches wide)
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Literature

The Studio Magazine, London, 1913, illustrated on the cover in colour and on page 70

Exhibition History

Vienna, Vienna Secession, 1913

Description / Expertise

Maximilian Lenz, a native Viennese, was a founder member of the Vienna Secession. He was a great friend of Gustav Klimt and his intimate walking companion.

Like themes within Klimt's art, Frühlingsreigen is essentially symbolic, invoking a sense of rejuvenation and innocence. The dancers in their flowing white dresses float through warm spring breezes in a ritual celebration that is as old as mankind. They personify the season of birth, youth and the dawn of a new day, calling to mind the freeform dance and costume of Isadora Duncan, who had lived in Vienna during 1904. Isadora had caused a sensation amidst the stringent Viennese society, dancing with veils whose sweeping motions evoked cosmic rhythms. She defined her movement through natural and spiritual laws, her breathing technique on the ebb and flow of ocean waves and her costume on the virginal dresses of the Middle Ages. In her performances, she leaped and skipped over the stage, just as Lenz's women run carefree over new spring grass. Isadora's pioneering couture became the height of fashion in the smartest avant-garde boutiques of Vienna.

Dance itself became a crucial thread in the tapestry of Symbolist iconography, from Gustave Moreau's The Dance of Salome (1876) to Franz von Stuck's Serpentine Dancers (1894-95). The dance represented liberation, transcendence, sensuality and the cosmos. The very joy and purity of the dance in Frühlingsreigen came to symbolise the end of an era, for in the autumn of the next year came the cataclysmic events of the First World War. Not until the Flower Power movement of the late 1960's would such primeval innocence find its voice again.