This book tells the story of Germany's rich, flourishing, and diversified world of art in the last decades of the nineteenth century--a world that has until recently been eclipsed by the events of the twentieth century. Basing her narrative on a close reading of contemporary periodicals, and lavishly complementing it with cartoons and other illustrations from these publications, Beth Irwin Lewis provides the first systematic, comprehensive study of that German art world. She focuses on how critics and the public responded to new forms of painting that emerged in the 1880s, when the explosive growth of art exhibitions supported by local governments across a recently united Germany was accompanied by skyrocketing attendance of a new mass public.
Describing the rapid critical acceptance and dominance of the new modern art in the 1890s, Lewis analyzes these developments within a complex interweaving of social, cultural, and economic factors. Although critics had hoped for a unified new art for the new nation, the success of modern art fragmented the art world, as modern artists and their supporters turned away from the often unreceptive mass public of the great exhibitions. Lewis's approach through the popular journals reveals the public's growing alienation from modern artists and an increasing contempt for the public on the part of these artists and their supporters--all of which prefigured tensions in the contemporary art world. Her wide-ranging text examines not only the various ways art was promoted to and received by the public, but also anti-Semitism, the role of women artists, and changes in style of both art and criticism.
Well documented, engagingly written, and vividly illustrated, this book will interest not only scholars and students but all readers interested in German cultural history and art history.
"Basing her study on a wide reading of what critics wrote on German art journals and magazines, Lewis fills an important void in our knowledge of the German art scene of the 1880s and 1890s, which set the stage for later shocks and public alienation."--Choice
"Art for All? Is an incredibly prodigious work of detailed scholarship, unerring detective labor, and brilliant visual analysis. . . . Lewis's years of painstaking research, reflective analysis, and disturbing conclusions about modernism in Wilhelmine Germany undoubtedly will be an invaluable, indeed, an indispensable guide to our understanding of a critical period of cultural history."--Marion F. Deshmukh, Central European History
"With the publication of this lavishly illustrated book by Beth Irwin Lewis, we have now available a wealth of images through which to familiarize ourselves with the look of late nineteenth-century Germany, along with equal riches of historical analysis with which to understand their significance. Every page expands our visual sense of the era."--Celia Applegate, Journal of Modern History
"This book is an accomplishment of which I am truly envious. It is easily the most innovative book on German art written in the last decade or so, and will certainly be the one that sets the standards while also formulating the questions for future studies. Art for All? sets itself a highly ambitious task and fulfills it superbly. There is no other book like it, neither in English nor in German."--Reinhold Heller, University of Chicago
"There is no question that this well-written and well-organized book is a boon for the history of German art and for art history in general. It revives a forgotten but rich discussion by focusing on the role of exhibitions, journals, and leading critics of the time, and on the social aspects of the making and distribution of the era's art, including art by women."--Ekkehard Mai, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum--Foundation Corboud, Cologne
Table of Contents:
PROLOGUE: APE, APOTHEOSIS, AND SCANDEL 8
PART I: THE TRIUMPH OF MODERN ART, 1885-1892 26
CHAPTER 1: CONTEMPORARY ART FOR THE MODERN NATION 28
CHAPTER 2: CARRYING ART TO THE PUBLIC 93
PART II: THE PUBLIC AND THE CRITIC 140
PART III: THE FRAGMENTING OF ART AND ITS PUBLIC, 1893-1899 184
CHAPTER 4: MODERN ARTISTS: PAUPER, DILETTANTE, AND PRINCE 186
CHAPTER 5: MODERN ART FOR ELITE PUBLIC 238
CHAPTER 6: MODERISM: ACCEPTANCE AND RESISTANCE 267
EPILOGUE: JEW, EMPEROR, AND PARANOIA 312
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 413
PHOTOGRAPHY CREDITS 447