Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people and with few permanent ties. It involves musical, artistic, literary, or spiritual pursuits. In this context, Bohemians may or may not be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds.
This use of the word bohemian first appeared in the English language in the 19th century to describe the non-traditional lifestyles of marginalized and impoverished artists, writers, journalists, musicians, and actors in major European cities.
Bohemians were associated with unorthodox or anti-establishment political or social viewpoints, which often were expressed through free love, frugality, and—in some cases—simple living or voluntary poverty. A more economically privileged, wealthy, or even aristocratic bohemian circle is sometimes referred to as haute bohème(literally "high Bohemia").
The term bohemianism emerged in France in the early 19th century, when artists and creators began to concentrate in the lower-rent, lower class, Romani neighborhoods. Bohémien was a common term for the Romani people of France, who were mistakenly thought to have reached France in the 15th century via Bohemia (the western part of modern Czech Republic).
Literary and artistic bohemians were associated in the French imagination with the roving Romani people. Not only were Romani called bohémiens in French because they were believed to have come to France from Bohemia,but literary bohemians and the Romani were both outsiders, apart from conventional society and untroubled by its disapproval. Use of the French and English terms to refer to the Romani is now old-fashioned and archaic, respectively, and both the French and English terms carry a connotation of arcane enlightenment (and are considered antonyms of the word philistine) and the less frequently intended, pejorative connotation of carelessness about personal hygiene and marital fidelity.
The title character in Carmen (1876), a French opera set in the Spanish city of Seville, is referred to as a "bohémienne" in Meilhac and Halévy's libretto. Her signature aria declares love itself to be a "gypsy child" (enfant de Bohême), going where it pleases and obeying no laws.
The term bohemian has come to be very commonly accepted in our day as the description of a certain kind of literary gypsy, no matter in what language he speaks, or what city he inhabits .... A Bohemian is simply an artist or "littérateur" who, consciously or unconsciously, secedes from conventionality in life and in art.
Henri Murger's collection of short stories Scènes de la vie de bohème (Scenes of Bohemian Life), published in 1845, was written to glorify and legitimize the bohemian lifestyle.Murger's collection formed the basis of Giacomo Puccini's opera La bohème (1896).
In England, bohemian in this sense initially was popularised in William Makepeace Thackeray's novel, Vanity Fair , published in 1848. Public perceptions of the alternative lifestyles supposedly led by artists were further molded by George du Maurier's romanticized best-selling novel of Bohemian culture Trilby (1894). The novel outlines the fortunes of three expatriate English artists, their Irish model, and two colourful Central European musicians, in the artist quarter of Paris.
In Spanish literature, the Bohemian impulse can be seen in Ramón del Valle-Inclán's play Luces de Bohemia , published in 1920.
In his song La Bohème, Charles Aznavour described the Bohemian lifestyle in Montmartre. The film Moulin Rouge! (2001) also reflects the Bohemian lifestyle of actors and artists in Montmartre at the turn of the 20th century.
In the 1850s, aesthetic bohemians began arriving in the United States.In New York City in 1857, a group of 15 to 20 young, cultured journalists flourished as self-described bohemians until the American Civil War began in 1861. This group gathered at a German bar on Broadway called Pfaff's beer cellar. Members included their leader Henry Clapp, Jr., Ada Clare, Walt Whitman, Fitz Hugh Ludlow, and actress Adah Isaacs Menken.
Similar groups in other cities were broken up as well by the Civil War and reporters spread out to report on the conflict. During the war, correspondents began to assume the title bohemian, and newspapermen in general took up the moniker. Bohemian became synonymous with newspaper writer.In 1866, war correspondent Junius Henri Browne, who wrote for the New York Tribune and Harper's Magazine , described bohemian journalists such as he was, as well as the few carefree women and lighthearted men he encountered during the war years.
San Francisco journalist Bret Harte first wrote as "The Bohemian" in The Golden Era in 1861, with this persona taking part in many satirical doings, the lot published in his book Bohemian Papers in 1867. Harte wrote, "Bohemia has never been located geographically, but any clear day when the sun is going down, if you mount Telegraph Hill, you shall see its pleasant valleys and cloud-capped hills glittering in the West ..."
Mark Twain included himself and Charles Warren Stoddard in the bohemian category in 1867.By 1872, when a group of journalists and artists who gathered regularly for cultural pursuits in San Francisco were casting about for a name, the term bohemian became the main choice, and the Bohemian Club was born. Club members who were established and successful, pillars of their community, respectable family men, redefined their own form of bohemianism to include people like them who were bons vivants, sportsmen, and appreciators of the fine arts. Club member and poet George Sterling responded to this redefinition:
Any good mixer of convivial habits considers he has a right to be called a bohemian. But that is not a valid claim. There are two elements, at least, that are essential to Bohemianism. The first is devotion or addiction to one or more of the Seven Arts; the other is poverty. Other factors suggest themselves: for instance, I like to think of my Bohemians as young, as radical in their outlook on art and life; as unconventional, and, though this is debatable, as dwellers in a city large enough to have the somewhat cruel atmosphere of all great cities.
Despite his views, Sterling associated with the Bohemian Club, and caroused with artist and industrialist alike at the Bohemian Grove.
Canadian composer Oscar Ferdinand Telgmann and poet George Frederick Cameron wrote the song "The Bohemian" in the 1889 opera Leo, the Royal Cadet .
The impish American writer and Bohemian Club member Gelett Burgess, who coined the word blurb, supplied this description of the amorphous place called Bohemia:
To take the world as one finds it, the bad with the good, making the best of the present moment—to laugh at Fortune alike whether she be generous or unkind—to spend freely when one has money, and to hope gaily when one has none—to fleet the time carelessly, living for love and art—this is the temper and spirit of the modern Bohemian in his outward and visible aspect. It is a light and graceful philosophy, but it is the Gospel of the Moment, this exoteric phase of the Bohemian religion; and if, in some noble natures, it rises to a bold simplicity and naturalness, it may also lend its butterfly precepts to some very pretty vices and lovable faults, for in Bohemia one may find almost every sin save that of Hypocrisy. ...
His faults are more commonly those of self-indulgence, thoughtlessness, vanity and procrastination, and these usually go hand-in-hand with generosity, love and charity; for it is not enough to be one’s self in Bohemia, one must allow others to be themselves, as well. ...
What, then, is it that makes this mystical empire of Bohemia unique, and what is the charm of its mental fairyland? It is this: there are no roads in all Bohemia! One must choose and find one’s own path, be one’s own self, live one’s own life.
In New York City, pianist Rafael Joseffy formed an organization of musicians in 1907 with friends, such as Rubin Goldmark, called "The Bohemians (New York Musicians' Club)".Near Times Square Joel Renaldo presided over "Joel's Bohemian Refreshery" where the Bohemian crowd gathered from before the turn of the 20th century until Prohibition began to bite. Jonathan Larson's musical Rent , and specifically the song "La Vie Boheme," portrayed the postmodern Bohemian culture of New York in the late 20th century.
In May 2014, a story on NPR suggested, after a century and a half, some Bohemian ideal of living in poverty for the sake of art had fallen in popularity among the latest generation of American artists. In the feature, a recent graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design related "her classmates showed little interest in living in garrets and eating ramen noodles."
The term has become associated with various artistic or academic communities and is used as a generalized adjective describing such people, environs, or situations: bohemian (boho—informal) is defined in The American College Dictionary as "a person with artistic or intellectual tendencies, who lives and acts with no regard for conventional rules of behavior."
Many prominent European and American figures of the 19th and 20th centuries belonged to the bohemian subculture, and any comprehensive "list of bohemians" would be tediously long. Bohemianism has been approved of by some bourgeois writers such as Honoré de Balzac [ citation needed ], but most conservative cultural critics do not condone bohemian lifestyles [ citation needed ].
In Bohemian Manifesto: a Field Guide to Living on the Edge, author Laren Stover, breaks down the bohemian into five distinct mind-sets or styles, as follows:
Aimée Crocker, an American world traveler, adventuress, heiress, and mystic, was dubbed the "queen of Bohemia" in the 1910s by the world press for living an uninhibited, sexually liberated, and aggressively non-conformist life in San Francisco, New York, and Paris. She spent the bulk of her fortune inherited from her father Edwin B. Crocker, a railroad tycoon and art collector, on traveling all over the world (lingering the longest in Hawaii, India, Japan, and China) and partying with famous artists of her time such as Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, the Barrymores, Enrico Caruso, Isadora Duncan, Henri Matisse, Auguste Rodin, and Rudolph Valentino. Crocker had countless affairs and married five times in five different decades of her life, each man being in his twenties. She was famous for her tattoos and pet snakes and was reported to have started the first Buddhist colony in Manhattan. Spiritually inquisitive, Crocker had a ten-year affair with occultist Aleister Crowley and was a devoted student of Hatha Yoga [ citation needed ].
Maxwell Bodenheim, an American poet and novelist, was known as the king of Greenwich Village Bohemians during the 1920s and his writing brought him international fame during the Jazz Age.
In the 20th-century United States, the bohemian impulse was famously seen in the 1940s hipsters, the 1950s Beat generation (exemplified by writers such as William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti), the much more widespread 1960s counterculture, and 1960s and 1970s hippies.
Rainbow Gatherings may be seen as another contemporary worldwide expression of the bohemian impulse.An American example is Burning Man, an annual participatory arts festival held in the Nevada desert.
In 2001, political and cultural commentator David Brooks contended that much of the cultural ethos of well-to-do middle-class Americans is Bohemian-derived, coining the oxymoron ''Bourgeois Bohemians" or "Bobos". A similar term in Germany is Bionade-Biedermeier, a 2007 German neologism combining Bionade (a trendy lemonade brand) and Biedermeier (an era of introspective Central European culture between 1815 and 1848). The coinage was introduced in 2007 by Henning Sußebach, a German journalist, in an article that appeared in Zeitmagazin concerning Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg lifestyle. The hyphenated term gained traction and has been quoted and referred to since. A German ARD TV broadcaster used the title Boheme and Biedermeier in a 2009 documentary about Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg. The main focus was on protagonists, that contributed to the image of a paradise for the (organic and kid raising) well-to-do, depicting cafés where Bionade-Biedermeier sips from Fair-Trade .
Ina Donna Coolbrith was an American poet, writer, librarian, and a prominent figure in the San Francisco Bay Area literary community. Called the "Sweet Singer of California", she was the first California Poet Laureate and the first poet laureate of any American state.
The Czech lands or the Bohemian lands are the three historical regions of Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia. Together the three have formed the Czech part of Czechoslovakia since 1918 and the Czech Republic since 1 January 1969, which became independent on 1 January 1993.
Prenzlauer Berg is a locality of Berlin, forming the southerly and most urban district of the borough of Pankow. From its founding in 1920 until 2001, Prenzlauer Berg was a district of Berlin in its own right. However, that year it was incorporated into the greater district of Pankow.
The Bohemian Club is a private club with two locations: a city clubhouse in the Union Square district of San Francisco, California and the Bohemian Grove, a retreat north of the city in Sonoma County. Founded in 1872 from a regular meeting of journalists, artists, and musicians, it soon began to accept businessmen and entrepreneurs as permanent members, as well as offering temporary membership to university presidents and military commanders who were serving in the San Francisco Bay Area. Today, the club has a membership of many local and global leaders, ranging from artists and musicians to businessmen.
George Sterling was an American writer based in the San Francisco, California Bay Area and Carmel-by-the-Sea. He was considered a prominent poet and playwright and proponent of Bohemianism during the first quarter of the twentieth century. His work was admired by writers as diverse as Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Theodore Dreiser, and Sinclair Lewis, but is largely neglected today.
The Golden Era was a 19th-century San Francisco newspaper. The publication featured the writing of f.e.g. Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Charles Warren Stoddard, Fitz Hugh Ludlow, Adah Isaacs Menken, Ada Clare, Prentice Mulford, Dan De Quille, J.S. Hittell and some women such as Frances Fuller Victor. Stoddard recalled the newspaper as "the chief literary organ west of the Rocky Mountains".
The Biedermeier period refers to an era in Central Europe between 1815 and 1848, during which the middle class grew in number, and arts appealed to common sensibilities. It began with the time of the Congress of Vienna at the end of the Napoleonic Wars and ended with the onset of the European Revolutions of 1848. Although the term itself is a historical reference, it is used mostly to denote the artistic styles that flourished in the fields of literature, music, the visual arts and interior design. It has influenced later styles, especially those with origins in Vienna.
Louis-Henri Murger, also known as Henri Murger and Henry Murger was a French novelist and poet.
The word grisette has referred to a French working-class woman from the late 17th century and remained in common use through the Belle Époque era, albeit with some modifications to its meaning. It derives from gris, and refers to the cheap grey fabric of the dresses these women originally wore. The 1694 edition of the Dictionnaire de l'Académie française described a grisette as simply "a woman of lowly condition". By the 1835 edition of the dictionary, her status had risen somewhat. She was described as:
a young working woman who is coquettish and flirtatious.
Xavier Martínez was a California artist active in the late 19th and early 20th century. He was a well-known bohemian figure in San Francisco, the East Bay, and the Monterey Peninsula and one of the co-founders of two California artists' organizations and an art gallery. He painted in a tonalist style and also produced monotypes, etchings, and silverpoint.
Overland Monthly was a monthly magazine based in California, United States, and published in the 19th and 20th centuries.
In modern use, the term "Bohemian" is applied to people who live unconventional, usually artistic, lives. The adherents of the "Bloomsbury Group", which formed around the Stephen sisters, Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf in the early 20th century, are among the best-known examples. The original "Bohemians" were travellers or refugees from central Europe.
Bionade [ˌbi.(j)oˈnaːdə] is a German range of non-alcoholic, organic fermented and carbonated beverages. It is manufactured in the Bavarian town of Ostheim vor der Rhön by the Peter beer brewery. Sales started in 1995 and Bionade is now available in most European countries. Until 2018 Bionade GmbH was a subsidiary of Radeberger, a group of breweries which is a division of Dr. Oetker. Now Bionade is part of the Hassia Group.
The Romani people are also known by a variety of other names; in English as gypsies or gipsies and Roma, in Greek as γύφτοι (gíftoi) or τσιγγάνοι (tsiggánoi), in Central and Eastern Europe as Tsingani, in France as gitans besides the dated bohémiens, manouches, in Italy as zingari and gitani, in Spain as gitanos, and in Portugal as ciganos.
The Pleiades Club was an association of artists and those with artistic interests in the area of Greenwich Village in New York. It was founded in 1896, was incorporated in 1902, and continued until the 1930s. The Club held weekly dinners and performances, and granted scholarships to budding artists. It published a yearbook, The Pleiad.
James F. Bowman was a journalist and poet in Northern California, and a co-founder of the Bohemian Club. Bowman served on several newspapers in Placerville, Sacramento and San Francisco during a 24-year career. Through his contacts among San Francisco journalists, Bowman befriended Mark Twain, artist William Keith, critic Ambrose Bierce and a great many others.
The San Francisco Art Association (SFAA) was an organization that promoted California artists, held art exhibitions, published a periodical, and established the first art school west of Chicago. The SFAA – which, by 1961, completed a long sequence of mission shifts and re-namings to become the San Francisco Art Institute – was the predecessor of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Over its lifetime, the association helped establish a Northern California regional flavor of California Tonalism as differentiated from Southern California American Impressionism.
The Saturday Press was the name of a literary weekly newspaper, published in New York from 1858 to 1860 and again from 1865 to 1866, edited by Henry Clapp, Jr.
Aimée Isabella Crocker was an American princess, mystic, Bohemian, and author. She was known for her cultural exploration of the Far East, for her extravagant parties in San Francisco, New York and Paris, and for her collections of husbands and lovers, adopted children, Buddhas, pearls, tattoos and snakes.