Living a Utopia. The Artist’s House as a Total Work of Art

Magdalena Schulz-Ohm


In the late 19th and early 20th century Richard Wagner’s concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) was very popular. It aimed for an overall creation that should finally lead to an ideal society. During the 1920s some artists –like Johann Michael Bossard (1874-1950), Wenzel Hablik (1881-1934) and Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)– tried to just actualize Wagner’s utopia by (re-)designing their homes and thus giving an example of a future way of life.

These artists’ houses belong to the finest and most complete representatives of the Gesamtkunstwerk tradition. At home Bossard, Hablik and Schwitters were able to realise their individual utopia. Their houses prove to be extraordinary designs for a total building, creating an all-embracing medial unification and an idealistic social microcosm in a way that could not be surpassed by any other attempted total artwork. Here the utopia of a new society became probably more concrete and vivid than ever before (or afterwards).

Palabras clave

Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art); Richard Wagner; Johann Michael Bossard; Wenzel Hablik; Kurt Schwitters; the artist’s house

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