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  • Print publication year: 2002
  • Online publication date: February 2013

Art and Architecture 1900 and 2000

from II - Arts and Culture


“Hüllt unser Volk in eine österreichische Schönheit ein!”

With these words, Hermann Bahr (1863–1934), writer, critic, playwright and journalistic provocateur, invoked Vienna's artists at the end of the nineteenth century. Bahr foresaw the rise of a new ideal of beauty, which he proclaimed in apocalyptic terms: “Die Gerechtigkeit wankte und die Sitte ward erschüttert und der Glaube brach. Und alles ward neu. Und eine neue Schönheit ging mit jeder neuen Sonne auf, mit fremdem Namen und mit fremdem Antlitz und befremdsam geschmückt.”

Though seemingly novel, the “neue Schönheit” had theoretical underpinnings in Kant's eighteenth-century doctrine of the autonomy of aesthetic standards. Over time, Kant's theories were given form in England by the Romanticists, the Pre-Raphaelites and the aestheticists. By the beginning of the twentieth century the preciosity, symbolism and decorative use of organic forms of the New Beauty were internationally dominant. In France and America it was called Art Nouveau, in Spain Modernismo, in Italy Stile Floreale and in Germany Jugendstil, after the Munich periodical Die Jugend, which featured art nouveau designs.

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Literature in Vienna at the Turn of the Centuries
  • Online ISBN: 9781571136077
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