digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















A Gesamtkunstwerk (translated as total work of art,[1] ideal work of art,[2] universal artwork,[3] 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 first used 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. It is unclear whether Wagner knew of Trahndorff's essay. The word has become particularly associated with Wagner's aesthetic ideals.

In the twentieth century, some writers applied the term to some forms of architecture.

Before Wagner[edit]

Some elements of opera reform, 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 Gottfried Lessing, Ludwig Tieck and Novalis.[5] 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'.[6]

Wagner's ideas[edit]

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",[7] where he speaks of his ideal of unifying all works of art via the theatre.[8] 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'.[9] Such a work of art was to be the clearest and most profound expression of a folk legend, though abstracted from its nationalist particulars to a universal humanist fable.

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;[10] he was himself after this stage to relax his own strictures and write more 'operatically'.[11]

Gesamtkunstwerk in architecture[edit]

Some architectural writers have used the term Gesamtkunstwerk to signifiy circumstances where an architect is responsible for the design and/or overseeing of the building's totality: shell, accessories, furnishings, and landscape.[12] 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 was equally born from social theories that arose out of a fear of the rise of industrialism.[13]

Frank Lloyd Wright: Interior of the Robie House, Chicago, 1909.

A distinctly modern approach to the concept of architectural Gesamtkunstwerk emerged with the Bauhaus school, first established in Weimar in 1919 by Walter Gropius. The school specialised in design, art and craftsmanship (architecture was not introduced as a separate course until 1927 after it had transferred to Dessau). Gropius contended that artists and architects should also be craftsmen, that they should have experience working with different materials and artistic mediums, including industrial design, clothes design and theatre and music. However, Gropius did not necessarily see a building and every aspect of its design as being the work of a single hand.[14]


  1. ^ Millington (n.d.), Warrack (n.d.)
  2. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, Gesamtkunstwerk
  3. ^ ArtLex Art Dictionary
  4. ^ Trahndorff (1827)
  5. ^ Millington (n.d.)
  6. ^ Strunk, Oliver (1965). Source Readings in Music History: The Romantic Era. New York. p. 63. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 
  7. ^ 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'.
  8. ^ Warrack (n.d.), Gesamtkunstwerk is incorrect in saying that Wagner used the word only in "The Artwork of the Future"
  9. ^ Millington (n.d.)
  10. ^ Grey (2008) 86
  11. ^ Millington (1992) 294–5
  12. ^ Michael A. Vidalis, "Gesamtkunstwerk - 'total work of art'", Architectural Review, June 30, 2010.
  13. ^ Robert L. Delevoy, 'Art Nouveau', in Encyclopaedia of Modern Architecture. Thames & Hudson, 1977.
  14. ^ Arnold Wittick, Encyclopaedia of Modern Architecture. Thames & Hudson, 1977.

Further reading[edit]

  • Finger, Anke and Danielle Follett (eds.) (2011) The Aesthetics of the Total Artwork: On Borders and Fragments, The Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Grey, Thomas S. (ed.) (2008) The Cambridge Companion to Wagner, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-64439-6
  • Koss, Juliet (2010) Modernism After Wagner, University of Minnesota Press, ISBN 978-0-8166-5159-7
  • Millington, Barry (ed.) (1992) The Wagner Compendium: A Guide to Wagner's Life and Music. Thames and Hudson Ltd., London. ISBN 0-02-871359-1
  • Millington, Barry (n.d.) "Gesamtkunstwerk", in Oxford Music Online (subscription only) (consulted 15.9.2010)
  • Trahndorff, Karl Friedrich Eusebius (1827) Ästhetik oder Lehre von Weltanschauung und Kunst
  • Wagner, Richard (1993), tr. W. Ashton Ellis The Art-Work of the Future and Other Works. Lincoln and London, ISBN 0-8032-9752-1
  • Warrack, John (n.d.) "Gesamtkunstwerk" in The Oxford Companion to Music online, (subscription only) (consulted 15 September 2010)

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gesamtkunstwerk — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
7967 videos foundNext > 

Dopplereffekt ‎- Gesamtkunstwerk [Full Album]

Gesamtkunstwerk [1999] © International Deejay Gigolo Records. Tracklisting: 00:00 - Cellular Phone 04:38 - Infophysix 08:30 - ...

Dopplereffekt - Gesamtkunstwerk

"Gesamkunstwerk" by Dopplereffekt from the album Gesamtkunstwerk (1999)

GESAMTKUNSTWERK - TACI (official video)

Produzione: Filmaut Regia: Andrea Battaglini Aiuto regia: Alfredo Confessore Direttore della fotografia: Alessandro Di Mario Operatore Crane: Alessandro Di M...

GesamtKunstWerk - 2mila11 | demo ver.

Questo è il link alla versione definitiva ed ufficiale della canzone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ct1fFC_IXe8 GesamtKunstWerk - 2mila11 " prendere il sole...

GesamtKunstWerk - Valeria e i Poliziotti

Calde Correnti Chimiche presenta: GesamtKunstWerk - Valeria e i Poliziotti Visual by: MaMo www.myspace.com/gesamtkunstwerk gkwband@gmail.com 329/8746907 Lyri...

SALZBURG - Teil 1 "Das Gesamtkunstwerk Salzburg" ÖSTERREICH - AUSTRIA

Erleben Sie die Prachtstadt Salzburg und ihre zum Weltkulturerbe gehörende Altstadt. Bummeln Sie mit REISEKINO im Teil 1"Gesamtkunstwerk Salzburg" durch eine...


Saatchi Gallery Exhibition Video Tour GESAMTKUNSTWERK: NEW ART FROM GERMANY 18th Nov 2011 - 15th Apr 2012.

Gesamtkunstwerk Expressionismus. Kunst, Film, Literatur, Theater Tanz und Architektur 1905-1925

Der Film zur Ausstellung Gesamtkunstwerk Expressionismus auf der Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt. 24.Oktober 2010 bis 13. Februar 2011.

Gesamtkunstwerk - Meine Stadt (Auletta Cover)

GesamtKunstWerk - L'estate sta finendo - live kollatino underground


7967 videos foundNext > 

721 news items

Vorarlberger Nachrichten

Vorarlberger Nachrichten
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 14:22:30 -0700

Für Rüdisser, der seit Jahrzehnten als Beamter wie als Politiker mit den Gastronomen zu tun hat, ist der „Vorarlberger Tourismus auch ein Gesamtkunstwerk“. Hohes Niveau gebe es in allen Bereichen, so der Wirtschaftspolitiker.

Badische Zeitung

Badische Zeitung
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 03:18:45 -0700

EMMENDINGEN. Die Sopranisten Carmen Fuggiss hat eine enorme Bühnenpräsens. Mit ihrer unnachahmlichen Gestik und Mimik unterstreicht sie jedes Lied und macht daraus ein kleines Gesamtkunstwerk, gewürzt mit einer guten Portion Humor. So klingt ...


Thu, 07 Aug 2014 07:26:15 -0700

Ingo Röder ist Hobbykünstler durch und durch. Der 62-Jähriger dekoriert sein Reich im Stil Friedrich Hundertwassers. Share on Facebook · Share on Twitter · Next stop Pinterest · Share on google+. Kommentare. 0. vergrößern. 1 von 3. Der österreiche ...
Tue, 05 Aug 2014 22:07:00 -0700

„Inzwischen ist ,Leer maritim' ein Gesamtkunstwerk geworden – bestehend aus Teetied, Kinderstadtfest, Kunst- und Handwerkermarkt, Schlemmermeile und Drachenbootrennen“, zählt Kellner das Programm rund um das Tourenskippertreffen auf. „Wir bieten ...

The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 10:26:46 -0700

What We See is not always a two-channel Gesamtkunstwerk: sometimes the lamination between word and picture part and the images are reduced to providing inflection to aphorisms. We get a picture on this spread because elsewhere we have pictures, ...
Herald Scotland
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 19:03:45 -0700

Sometimes it seems as if the ideal children's book festival event is some kind of kid-friendly gesamtkunstwerk involving singing, talking, reading, drawing, and possibly glue. James Mayhew, the illustrator in residence, is also a musician who dresses ...
neues deutschland
Sun, 03 Aug 2014 12:31:40 -0700

Lautstark und bunt protestierten über 1000 Bürger am Samstag gegen den Aufmarsch von 195 Neonazis in Bad Nenndorf. Zu Blockaden und Auseinandersetzungen mit der Polizei kam es nicht. Ein kleiner gelber Luftballon, von einem Nenndorfer zur ...

Vancouver Sun (blog)

Vancouver Sun (blog)
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 09:25:34 -0700

Think of what Vancouver House has done with the vertical space on its site. That's the 52-storey tower by the Granville Street Bridge (the one marketed initially under the name Gesamtkunstwerk) designed by Bjarke Ingels Architects. Westbank Projects ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Talk About Gesamtkunstwerk

You can talk about Gesamtkunstwerk with people all over the world in our discussions.

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!