Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Art History



First Advisor

Kelly Scheffer

Second Advisor

Meghan Gray

Third Advisor

Danielle Hampton


Set against the backdrop of the segmented power of the Double Monarchy of the Austro- Hungarian Empire, artistic Secession movements reminiscent of the influential movement in Vienna took shape in the smaller cities of the Southern Slavic crownland territories of the Empire. However, despite strong cultural ties to Vienna and other large artistic centers like Munich, Secession took on different ideological and artistic forms in Zagreb and Ljubljana than in the imperial capital. As the Hungarian-administered capital of Croatia-Slavonia, Zagreb was an early adopter of educational and cultural infrastructure, like schools of applied arts and new theaters, that doubly demonstrated an imperial interest to improve the cultural status of the city, but also offered an outlet by which Croatian artists could express nationalistic and generally anti- Hungarian sentiments. In Ljubljana, the Carniolan capital, Secession took on a more theoretical manifestation, considering a distinct lack of exhibiting space and cultural infrastructure. Still, despite local administrative support for Secession, a strong national style would not develop until 1900 and onward. Also complicating matters was the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s agenda of cultural unification, which seemed to ensnare the smaller regional capitals into a double-sided relationship which centered cultural affairs in Vienna and Budapest, but also enabled Croatian and Slovenian artists to grow artistically, bringing innovation and modernity back to their home regions. This cultural homogeneity is best demonstrated through the design aesthetics of Viennese theatre architects Fellner and Helmer, whose designs were executed and evoked in numerous iterations in both Vienna and the regional centers of the Empire. A broadly Marxist and post-structuralist approach assists in taking into consideration the influence of transnational identities and a complex political environment on artistic and cultural movements within the Empire. Ultimately, this paper seeks to understand the cultural interplay between Empire and the numerous national identities within it, concluding that while Austro-Hungarian cultural consolidation had lasting effects, it ultimately failed to quell nationalistic desires expressed through Secession.