The dream of the Gesamtkunstwerk – the total work of art uniting forms of art and redeeming culture – can be followed in many movements of modern art, design and architecture. There seems to be far from Richard Wagner’s festivals in Bayreuth to the many experiments of the avant-garde as ephemeral visions for a future society, but they share the idea of activating all artistic means and transgress the border between art and life. The wagnerian concepts live on in the writings and experiments of artists as different as Kandinsky, Taut and Schwitters, and the examination of the development spans from scenic art and poetry to artists colonies and garden cities, factories and corporate identities. This tradition leads all the way to late Bauhaus concepts like total design-for-life, optical culture and total architecture by Moholy-Nagy and Gropius.
Aarhus University Press, in Danish with an English summary, 665 pages. The research generously funded in part by a three-year post-doctoral grant from the Carlsberg Foundation, Denmark.