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Hubert van den Berg

Abstract

In 1937 the German artist Kurt Schwitters went into exile in Norway with his son Ernst. They had to go for political reasons: their involvement in resistance activities in Germany and the increasingly difficult situation under Nazi rule for modern art persecuted as “entartete Kunst”. In Norway landscape painting became a major focus in Schwitters’s artistic production, which seems to represent a departure from his previous avant-garde Merzkunst. A large part of his Norwegian landscapes were intended to meet the demand for conventional and kitsch landscapes among the tourist market in western Norway – his main source of income. In his landscape painting, however, an abstract idiom can still be observed. His previous work and reflections in the context of the Bauhaus functionalist constructivism indicate that Schwitters saw this painting not as a departure from “new art” but as a continuation in line with his previous avant-garde work. The abstract landscapes were a painterly translation of functionalist–constructivist photography into so-called “New Vision”. Through the obvious absence of “Nordic” iconography and elements popular in völkisch Nordicist representations of Norway, his landscapes also had an implicit political dimension by virtue of their clear contrast with this Nordicism, which was a major vein in the Nazi campaign against “degenerate art”, but also in conservative and fascist conceptions of a Norwegian national art. Being a victim of the Nazi campaign himself, Schwitters had been a firm opponent of nationalism and “national art” since the early 1920s. In Norway he had to abstain from politics in order not to endanger his exile status. His abstract Norwegian landscapes speak a clear language, though, not by what they say but what they omit.

Series:

Edited by Hubert van den Berg and Ralf Grüttemeier

Dem hier präsentierten Band liegt die These zugrunde, daß die Anfänge der Praxis, kunstprogrammatische Texte als Manifest zu bezeichnen, und die anschließende Hoch-konjunktur in der avantgardistischen Nomenklatur vor dem Hintergrund der problematisch gewordenen Intentionalität im Dreieck Künstler, Kunstwerk und Publikum gesehen werden muß. Den Beleg dafür tritt der vorliegende Band von drei Ansätzen aus an: Interpretation, Funktionalität und Strategie.
Dabei wird ein Korpus aus verschiedenen Kunstsparten behandelt, das von literarischen Deklarationen der russischen Moderne ab 1893 bis zu postmodernen Manifesten reicht, mit einem besonderen Schwerpunkt auf den Manifesten der historischen Avantgarde. Damit ist das vorliegende Buch auch als ein Beitrag zur Historiographie der Bezeichnung von Texten der Avantgarde als Manifeste, der Rolle von Manifesten in der Avantgarde und letztlich auch der Textproduktion der Avantgarde insgesamt zu verstehen.

Edited by Hubert van den Berg, Axel Goodbody and Marcel Wissenburg

The series Nature, Culture and Literature is dedicated to publications approaching literature and other forms of text-based communication from an ecological standpoint. It provides a platform for the practice of ecocriticism in the broadest sense, understood as an issue-driven field of cultural enquiry comprising critical textual analysis and theorising on human/nature relations.
The series publishes single-author monographs and thematically focused collections of essays, on literature across languages, cultures and periods, and on other forms of writing. It is open to scholars working in green media studies, environmental history, philosophy, social and cultural theory, and linguistics, as well as national literatures and comparative literature.
Nature, Culture and Literature embraces a range of different approaches, and explores phenomena observable in Europe, America and beyond in their international extension as well as in their national and regional peculiarities.
Individual volumes focus on a specific area of research. They may examine the work of a single author or the characteristics of the environmental imagination in a particular culture; they may map one of the themes central to popular understandings of nature and explore their creative reconfiguration (e.g. nature and national/regional identity, human/ animal relations, or climate change); or they may develop and illustrate a particular theoretical approach (for instance in ecolinguistics, energy humanities, or econarratology / ecopoetics).

The series aims to publish an average two volumes per year. All volumes are peer reviewed.