This seminar will consider the representation of artists in Germany, a country that has long held the "Künstler" (artist) in unusually high regard. Today, although Germany spends four times more than the United States on arts funding, German artists enjoy a largely unconditional freedom of expression. Our class will analyze primary materials in which German writers, actors, directors, musicians, and visual artists ponder their purpose. We will explore major concepts (e.g., the Künstlerroman, the Gesamtkunstwerk), and the influence of German aesthetics beyond German borders and across a range of disciplines (including readings from philosophy, biography, history, and sociology). We will track recurring “German Artist” tropes through artists like Dürer, Goethe, Beethoven, Wagner, Brecht, Mann, Beuys, and Fassbinder. Then we will focus on three recent periods: the 1920’s creative explosion; the 1940’s exile experience; and the position of artists during the East/West division that followed WWII. The semester will conclude with activities that encourage students to look for connections to and breaks with the past in the work of contemporary Berlin artists. Students will develop an individualized final project that may combine artistic and scholarly work.
Global Programs (IDSEM-UG)