Artibus et Historiae no. 18 (IX)

1988, ISSN 0391-9064

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MARC-JOACHIM WASMER - Gerhart Hauptmann and Jacopo Tintoretto

In 1937 Gerhart Hauptmann discovered, in a monographic exhibit in Venice, Tintoretto to be his spiritual kin, and consequently sketched in a literary portrait of the artist from his paintings. In this aesthetic testament, so far largely neglected by research, the poet linked his fin-de-siecle understanding of art, permeated with topoi and his cult of genius, with what was later to be his mythical world view: with Tintoretto being the embodiment of the Dionysian artist, who by means of the creative process in bringing a painting into existence makes a fusion of art and life into a higher unity, with the contrast of light and darkness of forms symbolizing the dialectical conflict of the primeval forces. Venice, as crossroads of East and West, of antiquity and Christianity, offered this Übermensch an ideal hothouse cultural atmosphere. His essay is an interpretation based on creative experience, with the psychology of a confession, bound up with the Romantic philosophy of art, and belongs to a tradition of poets expressing their thoughts on the fine arts. In Hauptmann's other works, too, meaningful connections can be seen to date back to what happened in Venice in 1897. Influences can be also detected from Jakob Böhme mysticism of light, Hippolyte Taine's milieu theory, and Henry Thode's Wagnerian concept of the total art work, as well as from contemporary liteary research as seen by Wilhelm Dilthey, Oskar Walzel, and Friedrich Gundolf.

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