P. 1
Outlines of the Artwork of the future by Richard Wagner (1849)

Outlines of the Artwork of the future by Richard Wagner (1849)

|Views: 724|Likes:
Published by Creandoaves
A short essay about Wagner's vision of the arts. How arts should be integrated in a single total artwork.
Un pequeño ensayo donde se muestra la visión que Wagner tenía sobre el arte.

Como las artes debían ser integradas en una sola pieza de arte total que abarcara todos los medios posibles.
A short essay about Wagner's vision of the arts. How arts should be integrated in a single total artwork.
Un pequeño ensayo donde se muestra la visión que Wagner tenía sobre el arte.

Como las artes debían ser integradas en una sola pieza de arte total que abarcara todos los medios posibles.

More info:

Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Creandoaves on Apr 13, 2011
Copyright:Public Domain


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





"Dutlines of the Artwork

of the Future," The ArtwDrk of the Future (1849)

\\ Whereas the public/ that representation of daily life! forgets the confines of the auditorium! and lives and breathes now only in the artwork which seems to it as Life itself/ and on the stage which seems the wide expanse of the whole

World. I!



« For Richard WZlgner, the "Artwork of the Future+represented a rejection of lyric opera, which the German composer considered hopelessly superficial, a tired showcase for pompous divas. Yet the implications of this landmark publication go well beyond the transformation of opera. Wagner believed that the future of music, music theater, and all the arts lay in an embrace of the "collective art-work." a fusion of the arts that had not been attempted on this scale since the classic Greeks. In this essay, we find the first comprehensive treatise arquing for the synthesis of the arts. 0", as Wag net' defines it, the GesamtkulJst\verk, the total artwork.

Wagner was convinced that the separate branches of art-music, architecture, painting, poetry} and dance- would attain new poetic heights when put to the service of the drama, which he viewed as the ideal medium for achieving his vision. H is totalizing approach to music theater also foreshadowed the experience of virtual reality. Scenic painting} lighting effects, and acoustical design were intended to render an entirely believable "virtual" world, in which the proscenium arch serves as the interface to the stage environment. In 1876, twenty-seven years after The Artwork of the Futu(c .. VI/agnel' took this approach even further when he opened the famous Festpielhaus Theater in Bayreuth, Germany, where his theatrical innovations included darkening the house, surround-sound reverberance, the orchestra pit, and the revitalization of the Greek amphitheatrical seating to focus audience attention onto the stage.

While Wagner's hyperromantic rhetoric may seem archaic today, there is acumen and foresight in his approach to the GesamtkulIstl,verk and the synthesis of the arts, which illuminates contemporary notions of multimedia. »

... Artis tic .Man can only fully content himself by ullitin~ ever~' branch of Art into the common Artwork: in every segregatioJl of his artistic hlenIties he is 1lI/[rcc, not fully that which he has power to be; whereas in the common Artwork be isfrtf, and fully that which he has power to be.

The tT7U' endeavour of Art is therefore all-embracing: each unit who is inspired with a true art-instinct develops to the highest his own particular Iaculties, not for the glory of these special bcultil's~ hilt fi)r the :slory of ,[!/llt'ml Manhood in Art.

The highest conjoint work (If art is the Drama: it can only be at liaud in all

its possible Iulncss. when in it each separate branch «[o rt is at klild ill its ouu utIJI os tfu / JZ 1'.\,'''.

'The true Drama is oIlly couceivable as proceeding Iro m a (OI!UIIOIi UJ'{!,'flIC(, (:/ C(1('1} art towards the most direct appeal to a common. public. III this Drama. each separate art CJD only bare its utmost secret to their common public throu~h:l mutual parleying with the other arts; for the pm'pose of each separate branch ofart call o,lly be fully attained by the reciprocaillgrcclllcilt and co-operation ofall the branches in their common lllessa~e.

Arcluled ur« can set bclore herself no higher task than to lramc tCIl' a fellowship of artists. who ill their own persons portray the life of Muu. the special SUI'rouncliugs necessary lor the display of the Human Artwork. Ollly that edifice is huilt accordill~ to i\'ecessity, which answers IIlO:-;t beflttiugly all aim of man: the hi~hcst aim of man is the artistic aim: the hi~hcst artistic' aini --lhe Drama. III buildin~s reared lor (bily usc. the builder has only to answer to the lowest aim of men: beauty is therein a luxury. III bllildin~s reared for luxury. he has to satislv au lI11ncccss~lry and unnatural need: his Etshiolling tlierctore is ('(I}>rici()us, unproductive, and unlon:ly. 011 the other hand. in the coustructiou ofthat edifice whose e"cry part shall answer to a common and artistic aim alouc-+thus iii the buildin~ of the j 'hcatrr, the master-builder needs only to comport himself (IS artist, to ktep a single eye upon the art-iooilt. In (t perfect thcurrical edifice: Ar(s need alone ~i\'es law and measure. dtl\\'11 even t() the smallest detail. This necrl


is t\\'()folcl~ that ()fgi'cIllp; and tiiar of J'uIi1'illp .. , \\hich reciprocally pervade and condition one another. Tile S(('JlC has firstly to comply with all the couditious (If "space" imposed hv tile joint ({!,'tmn'usrun) dramatic action to he displ<l>red thereon: but secondly: it has to fulfil those cnnclitiuns ill the sense ofbrill~in~ this dr.unati« action to the ey't' and car of the spectator ill illtelligihlc bshioll. III tilt' an;ulgelllellt of the ,\!)(/cc.!c1l' t/u spectators, the need f()r optic and acoustic UIldcrst'IHlin~ of the artwork \vin give the necessary law, which Gill only be ohserved by a union of beauty and fitness ill tl Ie proportions: for the clemancl of the collective (f!.,RlIIrill,'iflm) audience is the demalld lor the artuvnl: t() whose coiuprehension it must he distinctly led by e\er>·thin:..; that meets tlIe e>e.1 '}'tllls the spectator transplants himselfupou the sta~e~ 1>y means of all his visua' and ~llIr~d laculriex: while the performer becomes au artist only by complete absorption into the puhlic. EverytbiI1g~ that breathes and 1I10\TS llpon the stage~ thus breathes and lIIoves alouc from dlll}llellt desire to impart. to he seell and heard within those walls which. however ci rc: nnscribrd their space. seeIn to tile actor lrotu h.s scenic standpoint to embrace tl re whole of huma: ik iud: whereas the pllbl1c. that

reprcscutativc of dail:' lifl:~ tor~ets the couliucs of the auditorium. and lives and breathes 110\\' ollly ill the artwork which seems tu it as Life itself and 011 the slage wluch seems the wide expanse of the whole \Vorld ....

l Ierc I.alld.\C{1j}('-j)(fiJlIi'JI,f!,' enters. sunuuoued bv a CO 111 mor I need which she alone can salisf)'. \Vltal the pailltcr\ expert eye has seen in )Jature. wliat he 110\\'. as artist. would fail) display filr the artistic pleasure of the lull conununitv, be dovetails into tlie united work oLd1 the arts. as his own ahunclant share. 'rhroll~1t him the scene takes on complete artistic truth: his dra\\-in~: his C01011L his glowiIl~ breadths of !i~hL compel Dame Nature to serve the hiJ.!;hcst claims of Art. That \vhich the landscape-painter, ill !tis stt'Ll~t;lc to impart what he had seen and fathomed. had erstwhile breed into the narrow lramcs of palle!-picturcs~- -what he had hlln~ up on the e:soist\ secluded chamber-walls. or had made i.t\vay to the inconsequent, dislractin~ medley ora picturc-banl.-fllf'l'{'ll,dh wi]] he henceforth fill the ample Iraincwork of the Tra?:;ic stage, calling the wlio!e ex.panse of scene as witness to liis I)oWlT ()f re-creating Nature. The illusiou which his brush and finest hlend or colours could only hint at, could ollly distantly approach. he will here bring to its cousununation by artistic practice of every known device oloptics, by use of all tlie art of' ;;liglttiJlg.'~ The apparent roughlless of his tools, the sceruing ?:;r()tcsquelless olthc method of so-called "scene-pain ting.~' will not ()f~ knd lum: fill' he \vill reflect that even the finest c.uncls-hair brush is but a hullIiliatillg instrument, when comparee! with the perfect Artwork: and the artist bas no right to In-ide until he isjrrc, i.c. .. until Ilis artwork is completed and alive, and lit! wit]: all his helping tools. has hccu absorbed into it. But the fillished artwork that greets him lroru the s/{/,?/ will, set within this k1JlH.' aile! held helorc tile COIllmon ~aze of lilll pllblicitr inuueasurahly more content him than did his earlier work. accomplished with more delicate tools. He will not. forsooth~ repent I he right to lise this scenic space to llw benefit of such an artwork. Ior sake of his earlin dispositioJl ola nat-laid scrap olcanvas! For as, at the \cry worst., his wor], remains the same 1I() matter what the lrame from which it looks. provided ollly it bring its subject to iutelligiblc s!JO\y: so will his artwork. ill this Iraining, at any rate cfl<xt a livelier impressiun, a greater <lud more universal unrlerstandiug, than [he whilom landscape picture.

The organ lor all understanding of Xature, is .\bll: the landscape-painter had not oulv to impart to I lie II this unrlerstaudiua. hut [0 make it lor the iirst tnuc plain to them hy depicting Man in the midst ()f ~,Ittlre, No\\' bv setting his artwork ill the frame of the Tragic stagc~ Ite will cxpdlld the inclividual man. to whom he would address hilllself to the associate manhood oi'fidJ publicity, and reap the satisfaction ofh(l\-illg spread his llJldcrstalldillg out to that. and made it

"Outl ines of tile A:Tl-m rk of the Futui'e," i/)p Ar1h'ork oft/)[: FuturE' 7

partner in his joy. But he cannot fully bring about this public understanding until he allies his work to ajoint and all-intelligible aim ofloftiest Art; while this aim itself will be disclosed to the common understanding, past all mistaking, by the actual bodily man with all his warmth of life. Of all artistic things, the most directly understandable is the Dramatic-Actiou [Handlung], for reason that its art is Hot complete until every helping artifice be cast behind it, as it were, and genuine life attain the faithfullest and most intelligible show, And thus each branch of art can only address itself to the understanding in proportion as its corc+whose relation to Man, or derivation [rom him, alone can animate and justify the artwork--is ripening toward the Drama. In proportion as it passes over into Drama: as it pulses with the Drama's lighL will each domain of Art grmv allintelligible, completely understood and justified. 2

On to the stage; prepared by architect and painter: now steps Artistic Man, as Natural Man steps on the stage of Nature. What the statuary and the historical painter endeavoured to limn on stone or canvas, they now limn upon themselves, their form, their body's limbs; the features of their visage, and raise it to the consciousness of full artistic life. The same sense that led the sculptor ill his grasp and rendering of the human figure; now leads the Mime in the handling and demeanour of his actual body, 'The same eye which taught the historical painter, in drawing and in colour, in arrangement of his drapery and composition of his groups, to find the beautiful, the graceful and the characteristic, now orders the whole breadth of act ual human shoio. Sculptor and painter once freed the Greek Tragedian from his cothurnus and his mask: upon and under which the real man could only move according to a certain religious convention. Withjustice, did this pair of plastic artists annihilate the last disfigurement of pure artistic man, and thus prefigure in their stone and canvas the tragic Actor of the Future. As they once descried him in his uudistorted truth, they now shall let him pass into reality and bring his form, in a measure sketched by them, to bodily portrayal with all its wealth of movement.

Thus the illusion of plastic art will turn to truth in Drama: the plastic artist will reach out hands to the dancer, to the mime, will lose himself in them, and thus become himselfboth nurne and clancer.-So far as lies within his power, he will have to impart the inner man his f"Celing and his \vill-ing, to the eye. The breadth and depth of scenic space belong to him for the plastic message of his stature and his motion, as a single unit or in union with his fellows, But where his power ends, where the Iulness of his will and feeling impels him to the uttering of the inner man by means ufStJCech, there will the \Vonl proclaim his plain and conscious puq,)()se: he becomes a Poet and, to be poet., a tone-artist (7(mkiinst1rr)_

But as dancer, tone-artist. and poet; he still i~ one and the same thing: nothing other than rwnifrnif,. a rtistic Man. ioho, 'in thcfullcst measurc ofhisfaculties, imjJarts himsclfto the highest expression ofrt(('jdru(' /){)ZLlCI'.

It is in him, the immediate executant. that the three sister-arts unite their Iorces in one collective operation, in which the hip;hest faculty of each comes to its highest ullf()ldill)!;. By W(}Cbllgill COil uuon , each one of them attains the power to he ami do the very tIling which, of her own and inmost essence, she lonp;s to do and be. Hereby: that each, where her own pc)\vcr ends, can be absorbed within the other, whose PO'WCI commences where he!'~!; ellds~--she maintains her own purity and freedom, her independence as that which she is. The mimetic dancer is stripper! of his impotence. so 80011 as he can sing and speak; the creations of 'lone win all-explaining meaning through the mime. as well as through the poet's word, and that exactly in degree as TOlle itself is able to transcend into the moLion or the mime and the word of the poet: while the Pod first becomes a ~LUI through his translation to the tles]: and blood of the Pnjfn'Jtu'J': Ior though he metes to each artistic factor the guiding purpose which binds them all into a common whole. yet this purpose is first changed [rom "will" to "can" b,1,' the /)oeh I/I'il! d(,\'(('//(/inp: to ihr actor's Can.

Not oue rich f~lcuhy of the separate arts will remain unused in the United Anwork of the Future: iull will each attain its first complete appraisement. Thus, especially, will the manifold developments of Tone, so peculiar to our instrumental music. llu(iJld their utmost wealth within this Artwork: nav, Tone will in-

, , i ..

cite the mimetic art of Dance to entirely new discoveries, andno less swell the breath of Poetry' to unimagined fill. For Music ill her solitude, bas fashiolled fin' herself all orgall which is capable of the hihhest reaches or expression. This or,gan is the Orchestra. The tone-speech ofBeethoven. introduced into Drama by the orchestra. marks an entirely fresh departure fi)!' the dramatic artwork. While Architecture and. more cspcciallv. scenic Landscape--painting have power to set the cxccutant dramatic Artist ill the surroulldiJlp;S of physical Nature, and to dower him from the exhaustless stores of natural phenomena with an ample and significant h3ckp;round--so in the Orchestra, that pulsing body of many-coloured harrnonv, the personating individual Man is given, for his support, a stanchlcss elemental spring, at once artistic: natura], and human.

The Orchestra is: so to speak, the loam of endless: universal Feeling, from which the individual feeling of the separate actor draws pO\vcr to shoot aloft to f1.1UCSt height ofgr<)\\'th: it, ill a sense, dissolves'> the hard immobile ground of the actual scene into a fluent. clastic. impressionable a-ther, whose unmeasured bottom is the ~n.:at sea of Feelillg it.self. Thus the Orchestra is Eke the Earth Irom

"Dull ines of the Artwork of li1e Future'," The Arh.;ork of the Future 9

which Antzeus, so soon as ever his foot had grazed it, drew new immortal lifeforce. By its essence diametrically opposed to the scenic landscape which surrounds the actor, and therefore, as to locality, most rightly placed in the deepened ({)reground outside the scenic frame, it at like time forms the perfect complement of these surroundings; inasmuch as it broadens out the exhaustless ph}s£cal element of N ature to the equally exhaustless emotional element of artistic Man, These elements, thus knit together, enclose the performer as with an atrnospheric ring of Art and Nature, in which, like to the heavenly hodies,he moves secure in fullest orbit, and whence, withal, he is free to radiate on every side his feelings and his views oflife-broadened to infinity, and showered, as it were, on distances as measureless as those on which the stars of heaven cast their rays of light ....

The place in which this wondrous process comes to pass) is the Theatric stage; the collective art-work which it brings to light of day, the Drama. But to force his own specific nature to the highest blossoming of its contents in this one and highest art-work, the separate artist, like each several art, must quell each selfish, arbitrary bent toward untimely bushing into outgrowths unfurthersome to the whole; the better then to put forth all his strength fen reaching of the highest common purpose, which cannot indeed be realised without the unit, nor, on the other hand, without the unit's recurrent limitation.

This purpose of the Drama, is withal the only true artistic purpose that ever can be fullv realised: whatsoever lies aloof from that, must necessarily lose itself

I J ';

in the sea of things indefinite, obscure, unfree. This purpose) however, the separate art-branch will never reach alone;' but only all together; and therefore the most unioersal is at like time the only real, free, the only universally intelligible Art-work,


You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->