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Author Wieber, Sabine
Title Designing the nation: Neo-Northern Renaissance interiors and the politics of identity in late nineteenth-century Germany, 1876--1888
Descript 340 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 65-03, Section: A, page: 0735
Adviser: Reinhold Heller
Thesis (Ph.D.)--The University of Chicago, 2004
In 1876, Munich hosted the new German Empire's first national art and design exhibition, the Erste Allgemeine Kunst- and Kunstindustrie Ausstellung alter and neuer deutscher Meister Bowie der Kunstschulen. Occasioned by the Bavarian Applied Arts Association's twenty-fifth anniversary, the exhibition featured a broad selection of contemporary decorative arts as well as historical artifacts. The historical works were displayed in a separate exhibit entitled Unserer Vater Werke, which showcased primarily Northern Renaissance objects, while the contemporary sections promoted a revived Neo-Northern Renaissance aesthetic. Together, they introduced an innovative and powerful presentation opportunity---unified architectural environments filled with furniture, flatware, fabrics, paintings, prints, and sculpture arranged according to stylistic criteria. Long before the Bauhaus or the Wiener Werkstatte, the 1876 Exhibition's new exhibition concept of so-called Gesamtarrangements underscored the reciprocal relationship between art and design practices
This unprecedented coexistence of historical and contemporary objects in an exhibition was recognized by critics as a defining moment in the development of Germany's decorative arts and celebrated as an important physical manifestation of Vorbilderwesen, a way of learning by visual example advocated since the late 1850s by leading decorative arts reformers. While rooted in earlier pedagogy, the exhibition's unique displays also posed a particularly contemporary problem of authenticity and historicity, complicated by issues of German patriotism at this time
The display of contemporary Neo-Northern Renaissance art and artifacts as stylistically unified, historically situated interiors also carried powerful ideological and nationalistic claims regarding the formation of German identity. The spatio-temporal interplay between historical and contemporary interiors at the Munich exhibition was designed to construct a genealogy that linked contemporary cultural, social, and political concerns to a now-celebrated historical period, namely, Germany's last experience as a relatively united European power in the under the auspices of the Holy Roman Empire. This ideological relationship based on historical precedent could only be activated, however, by the audiences' engagement with the material world at display in the 1876 Exhibition's Gesamtarrangements
School code: 0330
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 65-03A
Subject Art History
Design and Decorative Arts
Alt Author The University of Chicago
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