A Gesamtkunstwerk (German: [gəˈzamtˌkʊnstvɛʁk] , translated as "total work of art", "ideal work of art", "universal artwork", "synthesis of the arts", "comprehensive artwork", "all-embracing art form" or "total artwork") is a work of art that makes use of all or many art forms or strives to do so. The term is a German word which has come to be accepted in English as a term in aesthetics.
The term was developed by the German writer and philosopher K. F. E. Trahndorff in an essay in 1827.The German opera composer Richard Wagner used the term in two 1849 essays, and the word has become particularly associated with his aesthetic ideals. It is unclear whether Wagner knew of Trahndorff's essay.
In the twentieth century, some writers applied the term to some forms of architecture, while others have applied it to film and mass media.
Some elements of opera, seeking a more "classical" formula, had begun at the end of the 18th century. After the lengthy domination of opera seria, and the da capo aria , a movement began to advance the librettist and the composer in relation to the singers, and to return the drama to a more intense and less moralistic focus. This movement, "reform opera" is primarily associated with Christoph Willibald Gluck and Ranieri de' Calzabigi. The themes in the operas produced by Gluck's collaborations with Calzabigi continue throughout the operas of Carl Maria von Weber, until Wagner, rejecting both the Italian bel canto tradition and the French "spectacle opera", developed his union of music, drama, theatrical effects, and occasionally dance.
However these trends had developed fortuitously, rather than in response to a specific philosophy of art; Wagner, who recognised the reforms of Gluck and admired the works of Weber, wished to consolidate his view, originally, as part of his radical social and political views of the late 1840s. Previous to Wagner, others who had expressed ideas about union of the arts, which was a familiar topic among German Romantics, as evidenced by the title of Trahndorff's essay, in which the word first occurred, "Aesthetics, or Theory of Philosophy of Art". Others who wrote on syntheses of the arts included Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Ludwig Tieck and Novalis.Carl Maria von Weber's enthusiastic review of E.T.A. Hoffmann's opera Undine (1816) admired it as 'an art work complete in itself, in which partial contributions of the related and collaborating arts blend together, disappear, and, in disappearing, somehow form a new world'.
Wagner used the exact term 'Gesamtkunstwerk' (which he spelt 'Gesammtkunstwerk') on only two occasions, in his 1849 essays "Art and Revolution" and "The Artwork of the Future",where he speaks of his ideal of unifying all works of art via the theatre. He also used in these essays many similar expressions such as 'the consummate artwork of the future' and 'the integrated drama', and frequently referred to 'Gesamtkunst'. Such a work of art was to be the clearest and most profound expression of folk legend.
Wagner felt that the Greek tragedies of Aeschylus had been the finest (though still flawed) examples so far of total artistic synthesis, but that this synthesis had subsequently been corrupted by Euripides. Wagner felt that during the rest of human history up to the present day (i.e. 1850) the arts had drifted further and further apart, resulting in such "monstrosities" as Grand Opera. Wagner felt that such works celebrated bravura singing, sensational stage effects, and meaningless plots. In "Art and Revolution" Wagner applies the term 'Gesamtkunstwerk' in the context of Greek tragedy. In "The Art-Work of the Future" he uses it to apply to his own, as yet unrealised, ideal.
In his extensive book Opera and Drama (completed in 1851) he takes these ideas further, describing in detail his idea of the union of opera and drama (later called music drama despite Wagner's disapproval of the term), in which the individual arts are subordinated to a common purpose.
Wagner's own opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen , and specifically its components Das Rheingold and Die Walküre represent perhaps the closest he, or anyone else, came to realising these ideals;he was himself after this stage to relax his own strictures and write more 'operatically'.
Some architectural writers have used the term Gesamtkunstwerk to signify circumstances where an architect is responsible for the design and/or overseeing of the building's totality: shell, accessories, furnishings, and landscape.It is difficult to make a claim for when the notion of the Gesamtkunstwerk was first employed from the point of view of a building and its contents (although the term itself was not used in this context until the late 20th century); already during the Renaissance, artists such as Michelangelo saw no strict division in their tasks between architecture, interior design, sculpture, painting and even engineering. It has been argued by historian Robert L. Delevoy that Art Nouveau represented an essentially decorative trend that thus lent itself to the idea of the architectural Gesamtkunstwerk. But it is equally possible it was born from social theories that arose out of a fear of the rise of industrialism.
However, evidence of complete interiors that typify the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk can be seen some time before the 1890s. There was an increasing trend amongst architects in the 18th and 19th centuries to control every facet of an architectural commission. As well as being responsible for the structure they tried to extend their role to include designing (or at least vetting) every aspect of the interior work as well. This included not only the interior architectural features but was extended to the designof furniture, carpets, wallpaper, fabrics, light fixtures and door-handles. Robert Adam and Augustus Welby Pugin are examples of this trend to create an overall harmonising effect which in some cases might even extend to the choice or design of table silver, china and glassware.
Gesamtkunstwerk was typical for Art Nouveau artists. Belgians Victor Horta and Henry Van de Velde, Catalan Antoni Gaudí, French Hector Guimard, Scottish Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Austrian Josef Hoffmann, Russian German Franz (Fyodor) Schechtel, and many other architects also acted as furniture and interior designers. Also, many of Art Nouveau masterpieces were results of cooperation of artists of different fields:
Museum Villa Stuck is the work of artist Franz von Stuck and "was celebrated as a marvelously modern yet curious construction. Built along his guiding principle of the "Gesamtkunstwerk" the Villa Stuck combined all aspects of architecture, art, music, theatre, and life within its walls and garden".
In Switzerland, Bruno Weber Park, a sculpture garden by artist Bruno Weber, is a later example of an Art Nouveau a piece inspired by Gesamtkunstwerk.
Similarly, Centre Le Corbusier is an example by famed Modernist architect Le Corbusier.
The multi-media style pioneered by Dadaists such as Hugo Ball has also been called a Gesamtkunstwerk. 'Towards the Merz Gesamtkunstwerk' was a University of Oregon graduate seminar that explored themes of Dadaism and Gesamtkunstwerk, especially Kurt Schwitter's legendary Merzbau . They cite Richard Huelsenbeck in his German Dada Manifesto: "Life appears as a simultaneous confusion of noises, colours and spiritual rhythms, and is thus incorporated — with all the sensational screams and feverish excitements of its audacious everyday psyche and the entirety of its brutal reality — unwaveringly into Dadaist art" .
Saatchi Gallery in London held a survey exhibition of 24 contemporary German artists in 2011, it was titled: Gesamtkunstwerk: New Art from Germany
An exhibition titled Utopia Gesamtkunstwerk, curated by Bettina Steinbrügge and Harald Krejci, took place January – May 2012 at the 21er Haus in Belvedere, Vienna. "A contemporary perspective of the historical idea of the total work of art" was presented and included a "display" by Esther Stocker which was based on the idea of "the untidy nursery", it housed works by Joseph Beuys, Monica Bonvicini, Christian Boltanski, Marcel Broodthaers, Daniel Buren, Heinz Emigholz, VALIE EXPORT, Claire Fontaine, gelatin, Isa Genzken, Liam Gillick, Thomas Hirschhorn, Ilya Kabakov, Martin Kippenberger, Gordon Matta-Clark, Paul McCarthy, SUPERFLEX, Franz West, and numerous others . There was an accompanying book produced with the same name exploring the topic .
In 2017 prominent visual artists Shirin Neshat and William Kentridge directed operas at the Salzburg Festival.
The Catholic Mass has been cited as an example of a Gesamtkunstwerk, and if such a correlation is deemed valid then one could rightly consider various liturgical expressions to be similar examples.
The Total Art of Stalinism: Avant-Garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship, and Beyond is a 2011 book by Boris Groys which explores the comprehensive aesthetic reorganization of society in the USSR under Stalin's totalitarianism.
Canadian development corporation Westbank, founded by Ian Gillespie, uses Gesamtkunstwerk as the founding idea behind the company's vision and philosophy for urban development.
Performer, video producer, and "bureaucratic wunderkind"Brian David Gilbert of the video game website Polygon cited Gesamtkunstwerk as an inspiration in foundational technique in his rendition of the PokéRAP .
Art Nouveau is an international style of art, architecture and applied art, especially the decorative arts, known in different languages by different names: Jugendstil in German, Stile Liberty in Italian, Modernisme in Catalan, etc. In English it is also known as the Modern Style. The style was most popular between 1890 and 1910. It was a reaction against the academic art, eclecticism and historicism of 19th century architecture and decoration. It was often inspired by natural forms such as the sinuous curves of plants and flowers. Other characteristics of Art Nouveau were a sense of dynamism and movement, often given by asymmetry or whiplash lines, and the use of modern materials, particularly iron, glass, ceramics and later concrete, to create unusual forms and larger open spaces.
The Palau Güell is a mansion designed by the architect Antoni Gaudí for the industrial tycoon Eusebi Güell and built between 1886 and 1888. It is situated on the Carrer Nou de la Rambla, in the El Raval neighbourhood of the city of Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Works of Antoni Gaudí".
Modernisme, also known as Catalan modernism, is the historiographic denomination given to an art and literature movement associated with the search of a new entitlement of Catalan culture, one of the most predominant cultures within Spain. Nowadays, it is considered a movement based on the cultural reivindication of a Catalan identity. Its main form of expression was in architecture, but many other arts were involved, and especially the design and the decorative arts, which were particularly important, especially in their role as support to architecture. Modernisme was also a literary movement.
Lluís Domènech i Montaner was a Spanish architect who was highly influential on Modernisme català, the Catalan Art Nouveau/Jugendstil movement. He was also a Catalan politician.
Casa Vicens is a house in Barcelona, designed by Antoni Gaudí, now a museum. It is located in the neighbourhood of Gràcia on Carrer de les Carolines, 20-26. It is considered one of the first buildings of Art Nouveau and was the first house designed by Gaudí.
Franz Metzner was an influential German sculptor, particularly his sculptural figures integrated into the architecture of Central European public buildings in the Art Nouveau / Jugendstil / Vienna Secession period. His style is difficult to classify.
Josep Maria Jujol i Gibert was a Spanish architect. Jujol's wide field of activity ranged from furniture designs and painting, to architecture. He worked with Antoni Gaudí on many of his most famous works. Among Jujol's projects are Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, Park Güell, and Our Lady of Montserrat, and among his design styles are Modernisme and Art Nouveau.
The Stoclet Palace is a mansion in Brussels, Belgium. It was built by architect Josef Hoffmann for banker and art lover Adolphe Stoclet between 1905 and 1911 in the Viennese Secession style and is located in the Woluwe-Saint-Pierre municipality of Brussels. Considered Hoffman's masterpiece, the Stoclet's house is one of the most refined and luxurious private houses of the twentieth century.
The Church of Colònia Güell is an unfinished work by Antoni Gaudí. It was built as a place of worship for the people on a hillside in a manufacturing suburb in Santa Coloma de Cervelló, near Barcelona. Colònia Güell was the brainchild of Count Eusebi de Güell; who enlisted the help of architect Antoni Gaudí in 1898. However, work was not started until 1908, 10 years after commission. Gaudí was a famous architect, and rightfully so. The plan for the building consisted of constructing two naves, an upper and a lower, two towers, and one forty-meter-high central dome. In 1914, the Güell family halted construction due to the death of Count Güell. At the time, the lower nave was almost complete so between the years of 1915 and 1917, it was completed and readied for use.
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The Casa Lleó Morera is a building designed by noted modernisme architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, located at Passeig de Gràcia 35 in the Eixample district of Barcelona. In 1902 Francesca Morera assigned Lluís Domènech i Montaner to remodel ancient "casa Rocamora", built in 1864. She died in 1904, and the building was named after her son, Albert Lleó i Morera. The building is located on the corner of Carrer del Consell de Cent, and is one of the three important buildings of Barcelona's Illa de la Discòrdia, and it is the only building of the block awarded Barcelona's town council's Arts Building Annual Award, obtained in 1906. The building lost some of its most representative elements, such as the tempietto on its top and the ground floor and mezzanine's architectural sculpture. The building is also known as the residence of Cuban-Catalan photographer Pau Audouard.
The major town houses of Victor Horta are four houses in the city of Brussels in Belgium which have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. All four houses were designed and built by the Belgian architect Victor Horta (1861–1947) who pioneered the Art Nouveau style during the mid 1890s.
Antoni Gaudí i Cornet was a Catalan architect known as the greatest exponent of Catalan Modernism. Gaudí's works have a highly individualized, one-of-a-kind style. Most are located in Barcelona, including his main work, the church of the Sagrada Família.
Güell or Guell may refer to:
The Confidant from Casa Batlló, also known as the Double Sofa or Banc de dues places , is a furniture piece designed by Antoni Gaudí. Originally designed for the dining room of Casa Batlló on Barcelona's Passeig de Gràcia, the chair is currently exhibited in the Modern Art collection of the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya and at Casa Museu Gaudí in Barcelona. Replicas are displayed at the Gaudí-designed Casa Batlló and Casa Milà.
Lluís Graner i Arrufí, or Arrufat in Spanish (1863–1929) was a Catalan painter in the Realistic style.
Alex Clapés was a Catalan modernisme artist. He was one of the most unknown painters at in late 19th century and early 20th century in Catalonia, Spain. He was born in Vilassar de Dalt on September 10, 1850. He died in Barcelona in 1920. He is most known for performing some commissions for the Güell family, thanks to his friend and colleague, Antoni Gaudí.
The Art Nouveau movement of architecture and design first appeared in Brussels (Belgium) in the early 1890s, and quickly spread to France and to the rest of Europe. It began as a reaction against the formal vocabulary of European academic art, eclecticism and historicism of the 19th century, and was based upon an innovative use of new materials, such as using iron and glass to open larger interior spaces and provide maximum light; curving lines such as the Whiplash line; and other designs inspired by plants and other natural forms.
Timeline of Art Nouveau shown notable works and events of Art Nouveau as well as of local movements included in it.