The term Gesamtkunstwerk indicates the ideal theatre where music, drama, dancing, poetry, and figurative arts coexist so as to create the perfect synthesis of these different art forms. This publication analyzes the evolution of the close bond between the arts starting from the nineteenth century, with the studies of Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Paul von Joukowsky, up to the early twenty-first century and across the entire history of twentieth-century art. The volume offers a selection of performances of fundamental importance: from avant-garde experimentation, with collaborations of artists such as Matisse, Kazimir Malevich, and László Moholy-Nagy, to post-war events staged by Oskar Kokoschka, Balthus, Salvador Dalí, and André Derain, up to experimentation in America by Willem de Kooning, Marc Chagall, Louise Nevelson, David Hockney, and the grand protagonists of 1990s performances like George Tsypin, Robert Wilson, and Achim Freyer. After a series of sections dedicated to contemporary works, this book ends with interviews by some of today’s key experimental artists: from Jan Fabre to Rebecca Horn, from William Kentridge to Anselm Kiefer, from Robert Longo to Daniel Richter.
Denise Wendel-Poray is a Canadian writer and critic holding degrees from Yale University in Connecticut, and McGill University in Montreal. Formerly an opera singer, she performed principal roles throughout Europe (Covent Garden, l’Opéra de la Bastille, Théâtre du Châtelet). She is the author of several books and essays concerning the relationship between art, theatre and music. (Frauen-Liebe und Leben, Hatje-Cantz, 2013) She has been curator and music adviser for the Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg, Germany, and guest lecturer on stage décor at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf. She lives and works in Paris.