Gesamtkunstwerk

Last updated
Stairway of the Hotel Tassel, an early example of Gesamtkunstwerk. Tassel House stairway.JPG
Stairway of the Hôtel Tassel, an early example of Gesamtkunstwerk.

A Gesamtkunstwerk (German: [gəˈzamtˌkʊnstvɛɐk] , literally "total artwork", frequently translated as "total work of art", [1] "ideal work of art", [2] "universal artwork", [3] "synthesis of the arts", "comprehensive artwork", or "all-embracing art form") is a work of art that makes use of all or many art forms or strives to do so. The term is a German loanword accepted in English as a term in aesthetics.

Contents

Background

The term was developed by the German writer and philosopher K. F. E. Trahndorff in an essay in 1827. [4] The German opera composer Richard Wagner used the term in two 1849 essays, and the word has become particularly associated with his aesthetic ideals. [5] It is unclear whether Wagner knew of Trahndorff's essay.[ citation needed ]

In the 20th century, some writers applied the term to some forms of architecture, while others applied it to film and mass media. [6]

In opera

Before Wagner

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.[ citation needed ]

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. [7] 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'. [8]

Wagner's ideas

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", [9] where he speaks of his ideal of unifying all works of art via the theatre. [10] 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'. [7] Such a work of art was to be the clearest and most profound expression of folk legend.[ citation needed ]

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 unrealized, ideal.[ citation needed ]

In his extensive book Opera and Drama (completed in 1851), Wagner 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.[ citation needed ]

Wagner's own opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen , specifically its components Das Rheingold and Die Walküre , represent perhaps the closest he, or anyone else, came to realizing these ideals. [11] After this stage, Wagner came to relax his own strictures and write more conventionally 'operatically'. [12]

Arts and Crafts movement

William Morris (1834 – 1896), a British textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist, was associated with the British Arts and Crafts movement, largely influenced by the ideas of John Ruskin, who believed that industrialization led to a qualitative decline in artistically crafted goods. For him, a home must nurture harmony as well as infuse its inhabitants with a creative energy.

"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful" is the famous quote of William Morris that epitomized his own way of living of Gesamtkunstwerk.

Morris' and Philip Webb's Red House, designed in 1859, is a major example, as well as the Blackwell House in the English Lake District, designed by Baillie Scott. Blackwell House was built in 1898–1900, as a holiday home for Sir Edward Holt, a wealthy Manchester brewer. It is situated near the town of Bowness-on-Windermere with views looking over Windermere and across to the Coniston Fells.[ citation needed ]

In architecture

Stoclet Palace, 1905-1911. Woluwe-St-Pierre - Hoffmann 050917 (1).jpg
Stoclet Palace, 1905–1911.

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. [13] 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.[ citation needed ]

Historian Robert L. Delevoy has argued that Art Nouveau represented an essentially decorative trend that thus lent itself to the idea of the architectural Gesamtkunstwerk. Of course, it is equally possible it was born from social theories that arose out of a fear of the rise of industrialism. [14]

Nonetheless, evidence of complete interiors that typify the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk can be seen from some time before the 1890s. An increasing trend among architects in the 18th and 19th centuries was to control every facet of an architectural commission. As well as being responsible for the structure itself, they tried to extend their role to also include designing (or at least vetting) every aspect of the interior work. This included not only the interior architectural features but also the design [15] of 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.[ citation needed ]

Art Nouveau

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". [25]

In Switzerland, Bruno Weber Park, a sculpture garden by artist Bruno Weber, is a later example of an Art Nouveau piece inspired by Gesamtkunstwerk. [26]

Kirche am Steinhof (or the Church of St. Leopold), designed by the architect Otto Wagner, is the Roman Catholic oratory of the Steinhof Psychiatric Hospital in Vienna, Austria. The building is considered one of the most important Art Nouveau churches in the world. Dedicated to Saint Leopold, it was built between 1903 and 1907, and includes mosaics and stained glass by Koloman Moser, and sculptural angels by Othmar Schimkowitz. The great majority of the other smaller details are the work of Otto Wagner himself. The statues on the two external towers represent Saint Leopold and Saint Severin (l. & r. respectively: they are the two patron saints of Lower Austria) and are the work of the Viennese sculptor Richard Luksch.[ citation needed ]

Modernism

The architectural movement of Modernism also saw architects implementing this principle of Gesamtkunstwerk. Centre Le Corbusier is an example by famed Modernist architect Le Corbusier. [27] The Villa Cavrois mansion in France is another example of modernist Gesamtkunstwerk, designed by French architect Robert Mallet-Stevens.

In art

Hanover Merzbau, a mixed media installation by Dadaist Kurt Schwitters in his apartment, Hanover, 1933 Hanover Merzbau.jpg
Hanover Merzbau, a mixed media installation by Dadaist Kurt Schwitters in his apartment, Hanover, 1933

The multi-media style pioneered by Dadaists such as Hugo Ball has also been called a Gesamtkunstwerk. [28] 'Towards the Merz Gesamtkunstwerk' was a University of Oregon graduate seminar that explored themes of Dadaism and Gesamtkunstwerk, especially Kurt Schwitter's legendary Merzbau. [29] 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". [30] [31]

In 2011, Saatchi Gallery in London held Gesamtkunstwerk: New Art from Germany, a survey exhibition of 24 contemporary German artists. [32]

An exhibition entitled Utopia Gesamtkunstwerk, curated by Bettina Steinbrügge and Harald Krejci, took place from January to 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", [33] 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. [34] There was an accompanying book produced with the same name exploring the topic. [35]

Many reviews have characterized the contemporary art exhibition the 9th Berlin Biennale as a gesamtkunstwerk. [36] [37] [38] [39]

In 2017, prominent visual artists Shirin Neshat and William Kentridge directed operas at the Salzburg Festival. [40]

Other applications

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. [41]

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. [42]

Canadian development corporation Westbank, founded by Ian Gillespie, uses Gesamtkunstwerk as the founding idea behind the company's vision and philosophy for urban development. [43] [15]

Related Research Articles

Casa Milà Building in Barcelona, Spain

Casa Milà, popularly known as La Pedrera or "The stone quarry", a reference to its unconventional rough-hewn appearance, is a modernist building in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It was the last private residence designed by architect Antoni Gaudí and was built between 1906 and 1912.

Art Nouveau Style of art and architecture about 1890 to 1911

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 català 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.

<i>Modernisme</i> Architectural and artistic movement originating in late-19th-century Catalonia, Spain

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 revindication 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 Spanish architect (1850–1923)

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.

Josep Maria Jujol

Josep Maria Jujol i Gibert was a Catalan 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.

Stoclet Palace Building in Brussels by Josef Hoffmann

The Stoclet Palace is a mansion in Brussels, Belgium. It was designed by Austrian architect Josef Hoffmann for Belgian financier Adolphe Stoclet. Built between 1905 and 1911 in the Vienna Secession style, it is located on Avenue de Tervueren in the Woluwe-Saint-Pierre municipality of Brussels. Considered Hoffman's masterpiece, the residence is one of the most refined and luxurious private houses of the twentieth century.

Church of Colònia Güell

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. 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.

Culture of Barcelona

Barcelona'sculture stems from the city's 2000 years of history. To a greater extent than the rest of Catalonia, where Catalonia's native Catalan is more dominant, Barcelona is a bilingual city: Catalan and Spanish are both official languages and widely spoken. Since the arrival of democracy, the Catalan culture has been promoted, both by recovering works from the past and by stimulating the creation of new works.

Joan Martorell

Joan Martorell i Montells was a Catalan architect and designer. He was an uncle of the architect Bernardí Martorell i Puig.

Casa Lleó Morera

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.

Joan Rubió

Joan Rubió y Bellver was a Spanish architect famous for his contributions to the Catalan Modernista movement.

Antoni Gaudí Spanish architect

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet was a Catalan architect known as the greatest exponent of Catalan Modernism. Gaudí's works have a highly individualized, sui generis style. Most are located in Barcelona, including his main work, the church of the Sagrada Família.

Gaudí House Museum historic home museum in Barcelona, Spain

The Gaudí House-Museum, located within the Park Güell in Barcelona, is a historic home museum that houses a collection of furniture and objects designed by the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí. It was the residence of Antoni Gaudí for almost 20 years, from 1906 till the end of 1925. On 28 September 1963 it opened as a historic home museum.

<i>Confidant from the Batlló House</i>

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.

Aleix Clapés

Alex Clapés was a Catalan modernisme artist. He was one of the less known painters in the 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.

Outline of Barcelona Overview of and topical guide to Barcelona

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Barcelona:

Art Nouveau in Brussels

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 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.

The Timeline of Art Nouveau shows notable works and events of Art Nouveau as well as of local movements included in it.

Whiplash (decorative art) Curved linear motif

The whiplash or whiplash line is a motif of decorative art and design that was particularly popular in Art Nouveau. It is an asymmetrical, sinuous line, often in an ornamental S curve, usually inspired by natural forms such as plants and flowers, which suggests dynamism and movement. It took its name from a woven fabric panel called "Coup de Fouet" ("Whiplash") by the German artist Hermann Obrist (1895) which depicted the stems and roots of the cyclamen flower. The panel was later reproduced by the textile workshop of the Darmstadt Artists Colony.

References

  1. Millington (n.d.), Warrack (n.d.)
  2. Oxford English Dictionary, Gesamtkunstwerk
  3. ArtLex Art Dictionary Archived 2016-08-14 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Trahndorff (1827), Ästhetik oder Lehre von Weltanschauung und Kunst
  5. Wolfman, Ursula Rehn (12 March 2013). "Richard Wagner's Concept of the 'Gesamtkunstwerk'". Interlude. Retrieved 2016-05-08.
  6. For discussions of architecture as Gesamtkunstwerk, see the relevant section of this article. For discussions of film and mass media, see for instance Matthew Wilson Smith, The Total Work of Art: From Bayreuth to Cyberspace. New York: Routledge, 2007; Carolyn Birdsall, Nazi Soundscapes: Sound, Technology, and Urban Space in Germany, 1933–1945. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2012. pp. 141–72; and Jeongwon Joe, "Introduction: Why Wagner and Cinema? Tolkien Was Wrong." In Wagner and Cinema, edited by Jeongwon Joe and Sander L. Gilman, 1–26. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2010.
  7. 1 2 Millington (n.d.)
  8. Strunk, Oliver (1965). Source Readings in Music History: The Romantic Era. New York. p. 63. Archived from the original on 2005-05-02. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
  9. Wagner (1993), p. 35, where the word is translated as 'great united work'; p. 52 where it is translated as 'great unitarian Art-work'; and p. 88 (twice) where it is translated as 'great united Art-work'.
  10. Warrack (n.d.), Gesamtkunstwerk is incorrect in saying that Wagner used the word only in "The Artwork of the Future"
  11. Grey (2008) 86
  12. Millington (1992) 294–95
  13. Michael A. Vidalis, "Gesamtkunstwerk – 'total work of art'", Architectural Review, June 30, 2010.
  14. Robert L. Delevoy, 'Art Nouveau', in Encyclopaedia of Modern Architecture. Thames & Hudson, 1977.
  15. 1 2 "Home". GESAMTKUNSTWERK. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  16. "Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels)". UNESCO World Heritage Centre .
  17. 1 2 Ouvrage collectif sous la direction de Philippe Roberts-Jones, Bruxelles fin de siècle, Flammarion, 1994, p.182
  18. Schoonbroodt, B, Art Nouveau Kunstenaars in Belgie, 2008: p. 196
  19. Metdepenninghen, Catheline; Celis, Marcel M. (2010). Pieter Braecke, beeldhouwer 1858-1938. Als de ziele luistert (in Dutch). Agentschap erfgoed van de Vlaamse Overheid. p. 56. ISBN   9789040302947.
  20. "Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona". UNESCO World Heritage Centre . Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  21. "Works of Antoni Gaudí". UNESCO World Heritage Centre . Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  22. Cèsar Martinell. Gran Enciclopèdia Catalana, 2007
  23. 1 2 "Stoclet House". UNESCO World Heritage Centre . Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  24. "Palais Stoclet ist Weltkulturerbe". OE24 . 2009-06-27. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  25. "Museum Villa Stuck". Bureau Borsche. Retrieved 2019-11-28.
  26. "Bruno Weber Park". Gardens of Switzerland. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  27. Molloy, Jonathan C. (2013-01-24). "AD Classics: Centre Le Corbusier (Heidi Weber Museum) / Le Corbusier". ArchDaily . Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  28. John Elderfield, “Introduction”; Flight out of Time by Hugo Ball; University of California Press, 1996; xiii-xlvi.
  29. "About · Towards the Merz Gesamtkunstwerk". digitalarthistory607.omeka.net. Retrieved 2019-11-28.
  30. "DADA Manifesto Berlin April 1918 (Huelsenbeck)". Colloquium Urbanités Littéraires. Retrieved 2019-11-28.
  31. "Exhibition Introduction". Towards the Merz Gesamtkunstwerk. Retrieved 2019-11-28.
  32. Michael, Apphia (2011-11-17). "'Gesamtkunstwerk' show at Saatchi Gallery, London". Wallpaper* . Retrieved 2019-11-27.
  33. "Utopie Gesamtkunstwerk / Utopia Gesamtkunstwerk". YouTube . Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  34. "Utopie Gesamtkunstwerk". Belvedere . Retrieved 2019-11-27.
  35. Utopia Gesamtkunstwerk. Krejci, Harald., Husslein-Arco, Agnes., Steinbrügge, Bettina., 21er Haus (Österreichische Galerie Belvedere). Köln: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König. 2012. ISBN   978-3-86335-140-3. OCLC   785864884.CS1 maint: others (link)
  36. "Drag Race". Artforum. June 12, 2016.
  37. Smith, William S. (September 1, 2016). "Biennials: Mixed Messages". Art in America. Archived from the original on June 21, 2017. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  38. Malick, Courtney (July 2016). "9th Berline Biennale: The Present in Drag". Art Papers. Archived from the original on 2017-02-23. Retrieved 2017-07-13.
  39. Bock, Stefan (August 18, 2016). "The Present in Drag". der Freitag.
  40. "The Return of the Gesamtkunstwerk? Why Artists Are Flocking to the Opera House". artnet News . 2017-08-23. Retrieved 2019-11-27.
  41. Nancy Pedri and Laurence Petit (Editors), Picturing the Language of Images; Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013; pp. 360, 365.
  42. Groĭs, Boris. The total art of Stalinism : avant-garde, aesthetic dictatorship, and beyond. ISBN   978-1-78168-972-1. OCLC   1052165084.
  43. Perkins, Martha (2014-03-20). "Vancouver House introduces gwerk to the world". Vancouver Courier .

Bibliography