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German ExpressionismDer Blaue Reiter and its Legacies$
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Dorothy Price

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526121622

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526121639

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PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 29 July 2021

The ‘primitive’ and the modern in Der Blaue Reiter almanac and the Folkwang Museum

The ‘primitive’ and the modern in Der Blaue Reiter almanac and the Folkwang Museum

(p.51) 3 The ‘primitive’ and the modern in Der Blaue Reiter almanac and the Folkwang Museum
German Expressionism

Katherine Kuenzli

Manchester University Press

This chapter investigates formal pairings of modern and ‘primitive’ art in Der Blaue Reiter almanac (1912) and the Folkwang Museum in Hagen. Designed in 1902 by Henry van de Velde for Karl Ernst Osthaus, the Folkwang was the first museum of modern art and also the first institution to display so-called primitive objects as art. Influenced by the writings of Julius Meier-Graefe, Osthaus installed art objects in ahistorical and strikingly visual displays grounded in the theory and practice of the Gesamtkunstwerk (‘total work of art’). Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc and August Macke adopted some of the Folkwang’s display strategies in Der Blaue Reiter almanac, which featured pairings of modern and ‘primitive’ art alongside musical compositions, poems and a theatre script. However, a close analysis of the almanac’s illustration programme reveals inconsistent understandings of the ‘total work of art’ and its relationship to the primitive. Exploring the points of overlap as well as difference between the Folkwang Museum and Der Blaue Reiter almanac underlines the significance of the Gesamtkunstwerk to European primitivism around 1900.

Keywords:   Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, August Macke, Folkwang Museum, primitivism, Karl Ernst Osthaus, Gesamtkunstwerk/’total work of art’, Henry van de Velde, Julius Meier-Graefe

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