Utopia: Gesamtkunstwerk

Utopia Gesamtkunstwerk attempts to analyse a phenomenon, which has been hotly debated for more than 100 years. Avant-garde art, in which the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk (total/universal art-form) came into bloom, has installed a first shift in meaning of the term as a unit of art and life.The desire to make society more worth living in and the question, which life concepts are still or again valid, always have been at the centre of attention of modernist artistic work. With all due scepticism, contemporary art as well as its theory have increasingly undertaken a re-reading of modernism, seizing the figure of thought of the Gesamtkunstwerk and redefining the project.Especially the younger generation of artists scrutinises its own artistic existence from an ethical viewpoint and discusses a new sense of responsibility in art. The question of the Gesamtkunstwerk, its new or re-interpretation, is both an art historical as well as a social concern, which can give new impetus.This publication on the exhibition Utopia Gesamtkunstwerk begins where Der Hang zum Gesamtkunstwerk ended (Harald Szeemann’s landmark show he curated in 1983), and based on more than 50 artists from the 1950s until today presents a new view on the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk gained from contemporary positions was well as their formation over the last sixty years.Published on the occasion of the exhibition Utopia Gesamtkunstwerk at 21er Haus, Vienna, 20 January – 20 May 2012.