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The Aesthetic Revolution in Germany

1750–1950 – From Winckelmann to Nietzsche – from Nietzsche to Beckmann

Meindert Evers

The Aesthetic Revolution in Germany refutes the stereotypical image of Germany as the country of romantic but unworldly poets and thinkers. In 1750, an aesthetic revolution takes place in Germany, at the beginning of which stands J.J. Winckelmann. The romantic movement (Schiller, Hölderlin, Kleist) paves the way for this aesthetic revolution, which Heine is one of the first to criticise. Since then, criticism has never fallen silent. Opposing the rationalisation of the world (Wagner), the aesthetic revolution climaxes in the philosophy of Nietzsche. During the 1920s and 30s, it becomes a conservative revolution (George, Spengler, Th. Mann, Benn) and fails inevitably. Beckmann and M. Walser show that particularly after 1945 the aesthetic perspective is still necessary.

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