Synthesis of arts (German: Gesamtkunstwerk) is a work of art that makes use of all or many art forms or strives to do so. A Gesamtkunstwerk is a work that combines various arts such as music, poetry, dance / pantomime, architecture and painting. The compilation is not arbitrary and illustrative: the components complement each other necessarily.
Gesamtkunstwerk, which also means “total work of art”, “ideal work of art”, “universal artwork”, “synthesis of the arts”, “comprehensive artwork”, “all-embracing art form” or “total artwork”, refer to a type of autonomous artwork that integrates simultaneously and related to different media or artistic disciplines, the Gesamtkunstwerk has a “tendency to eradicate the boundary between aesthetic structure and reality” (Odo Marquard). It is not a reference to the divine creation, as was customary in art between Gothic and Baroque, but it claims its own validity.
The term was first used by the German writer and philosopher K. F. E. Trahndorff in an essay in 1827. However, the synthesis of the arts fusion has long appeared in history. The German opera composer Richard Wagner used the term in two 1849 essays, and the word has become particularly associated with his aesthetic ideals.
Since its minting, the term Gesamtkunstwer has been widely used in dramaturgy, fine arts and scenic arts, and in general to describe different artistic manifestations in which elements of various arts are combined. Film art and other audiovisual arts such as music videos or video games have also been described as “works of total art” because of their combination of theater, music, image, etc. In architecture this term is used to describe a building in which each part is designed to complement others within a whole.
In the twentieth century, some writers applied the term to some forms of architecture, while others have applied it to film and mass media.
The term was also used by artists belonging to the “Secession of Vienna” from the beginning of the 20th century, to describe its aesthetic objective.
Ancient synthesis of arts:
The traditions of Synthesis thinking and epistemological attitudes reach back to antiquity, manifesting itself in various symbolic languages (researchers point to eg Egyptian hieroglyphics). Already at that time, the link between words and images was revealed – in pictograms, which were the nucleus of modern visual literature as an integral combination of a variety of material and common meanings.
In Greek culture, it was significant to connect lyric and music and to treat the text as a melitic poem, which should always be associated with the melody and sung. For example, all preserved poems of Sappho have a melical character (the Greek melos means as much as the melody).
In Roman culture, the poet Horacy in his Letter to Pizzas (known as Poetic Art) included the famous phrase pictura poesis (Latin poetry like painting), used as inspiration in Renaissance aesthetics, eg by Leonardo da Vinci as the author of the Treaty of painting.
The idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk emerges in the Romantic era. The philosopher Friedrich Schelling, for example, emphasized the “necessary becoming of man” (Bruno or the divine and natural principle of things, 1802). This increased self-confidence made it possible to equate the artist’s work with the work of nature. The term itself is first used by the writer and philosopher Eusebius Trahndorff in his work Aesthetics or Doctrine of Worldview and Art (1827). In 1849 he reappears in Richard Wagner’s book The Art and the Revolution. Whether Wagner knew Trahndorff’s work is an open question.
Middle Ages synthesis of arts:
Apart from the ancient inspiration, the sensitivity to the community of arts was revealed by the Middle Ages, especially his ars moriendi (Latin art of dying) as a subject in the visual arts (captured in a narrative and “literary” way) .
Another area of mutual interpenetration was in the Middle Ages a manuscript. Blooming in the epoch, first in the Benedictine monasteries, regardless of their subject and artistic quality, promise aesthetics of the comic.
A versatile artist appeared in the Middle Ages, embracing and uniting many of his imagination – a woman, Benedictine and mystic Hildegard of Bingen: poet, painter, composer, also a theologian (woman-theologian) and philosopher (and a phytotherapist practicing natural medicine and a cook who values what the 20th century called organic food) .
The Renaissance synthesis of arts:
The Renaissance was interested in the imagination, which he treated as fantasizing, but also cognition . The theoretical foundations of the synthesis of arts (as referred to by Romanticism) were given by the philosophy and aesthetics of Florentine neoplatonism, especially Marsilio Ficino in extensive commentaries on the Feast of Plato and in the treatise Platonic Theology. The symbol of rebirth was also the subject of the revival. Gian Francesco Pico della Mirandola in his essay On Imagination, he pointed out symbolic paintings as beautiful and helpful in bringing up youth. Numerous lexicons of symbols have been published in this spirit.
Thanks to the invention of printing, books were already printed, and they gained (for the sake of the medieval tradition of manuscripts) a rich typographic setting, using graphics (usually woodcuts), which required the reader’s perception in the spirit of art synthesis. Such character was, for example, Santa Claus’s Santa Claus, containing engravings, as a kind of emblematic book. The volumes, in which the text was treated as a separate graphic material, also became popular; they were the nucleus of visual literature.
The search for a strictly understood artistic synthesis, however, was inhibited by Renaissance classicism, emphasizing the autonomy of each of the arts.
Baroque synthesis of arts:
It fully developed the thinking about community until the Baroque era, seeking universal knowledge and the spiritual and formal unity of all arts. The baroque dictionaries of symbols opened to the understanding of being as the unity of all its spiritual and material manifestations – the unity “captured” by the symbol . Cesare Ripa and his iconology were of particular significance – a broad, illustrated with woodcuts, a dictionary of notions covered in an emblematic way: as a symbolic image and a discursive commentary on it. In the Baroque era, the interdependence between nature and culture was also revealed. This had an impact on Baroque aesthetics.
Pole Sarbiewski in an essay On the advantages and disadvantages of elegy in the spirit of recognizing the uniformity of perception, he analyzed the emotional dimension of vowels, and in the extensive treatise Dii Gentium gave a dictionary of cultural myths, combining the ancient and Christian tradition .
Within the Baroque art, the fulfillment of the synthesis of arts has become an emblem as a genre from the borderline of literature and fine arts. There were also frequent works and books treated experimentally as a whole from the borderline of literature and visual arts, with a fanciful composition of the text, treated from the typographic side as a “painting”. The text took on the shape of a scepter, a tree, a large glass, etc. Baroque is, to this extent, a period of lush flowering of visual literature. In Poland, such forms were frequent in occasional literature, and examples are cross-shaped texts, sceptres, stars, an obelisk or a grave monument .
Most fully, however, the dream of a community of arts is realized by the opera, a genre created in the Baroque era, precisely in the search for synthesis, combining music (composition, creating sound foundation), literature (libretto sung), theater (staging) and painting (from which it draws the stage design) . The opera was formed in the Florentine Camerata circle (the theoretical background was given to the new aesthetic thinking by the Renaissance Vincenzo Galilei in the groundbreaking treatise Dialogo della musica antica e moderna), developed in Venice, and her first masterpieces were given by Claudio Monteverdi (in 1607 his Orpheus premieres as the beginning of the species ).
Baroque visionary, combining various materials and areas of perception allowed practically to fulfill the concept of the synthesis of arts.
The enlightenment synthesis of arts:
The exception was the opera, not the whole (often limited then to the vocal performance itself), but the one created by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Two of his most complete operatic works – Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute – create a perfectly harmonious combination of music, text, story and the game of imagination.
Romanticism synthesis of arts:
The period of renewal of old dreams and a new fascination with the synthesis of arts has become, renewing in this way old thinking, and reaching also to the Baroque masters (like Shakespeare), Romanticism. He also inspired the lectures on the aesthetics of Hegel, who treated art as a manifestation of the absolute in a sensual form, extensive reflections devoted to symbolic forms in art, the “romantic form of art” and particular types of art .
The philosophical and aesthetic thought of Romanticism has often focused on the spiritual unity of man and nature, including culture and nature, and the closeness of the human person and God, drawing a project of art that symbolically affects these affinities: Jean Paul Richter, Friedrich Schleiermacher wrote about it , painter Otto Runge (friend of the painter symbolically representing the landscape), also thinker Karl Trahndorff (1782-1863), who developed the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk (works of universal art or rather “total” – understood as a coherent combination of various arts: poetry, music, painting, dance) . Everywhere here art is conceived as a homogeneous language, in spite of the variety of material, revealing a being – a “total work” (Gesamtkunstwerk).
Fulfilling the synthesis of the plays was given by authors from the borderline of enlightenment and romanticism: Johann Wolfgang Goethe (in the tragedy of Faust) and, especially, versatile William Blake (mystic, poet, painter and graphic artist, harmoniously
In mature romanticism, the concept of the community of imagination and material was proclaimed and fulfilled, opening their work to the inspiration of other arts: the painter Eugène Delacroix and the Polish composer Fryderyk Chopin. Other Polish Romantics also shape the synthesis of plays: Juliusz Słowacki (especially in late works giving visionary unity of poetry and painterly and musical effects) and Cyprian Norwid (as a versatile artist: poet, painter and draftsman – “the magician”, as he called himself ).
The genre that was rich in this era in the great visions in the spirit of the synthesis of plays was drama, or more specifically the genre for the era idiomatic – a romantic drama. The romantic reception of the Baroque (not yet called it as an era), including Calderon, and especially Shakespeare, read as a visionary who teaches artistic freedom, combines various styles and materials of art, had a great role in its shape. The theoretical basis of the Romantic drama was formulated by Victor Hugo . A Goethean Faust, full of musical effects and, especially in Part II, almost “film” gave the syncretic vision and fulfillment of the synthesis of arts. Still in romanticism, these features have highlighted the operatic adaptations Charles Gounod (Faust) and Hector Berlioz (Faust’s Damnation) gave. Within the Polish romantic drama, Adam Mickiewicz in Dziady (especially in Part II ) and Juliusz Słowacki in dramas (most fully in the last one – Samuel Zborowski ) give syncretic visions.
The romantic opera renewed the original, shaped in Baroque, tradition of the genre as a syncretic form (Gaetano Donizetti and Łucja from Lammermoor, Modest Mussorgsky and Borys Godunov, mentioned Gounod and Berlioz), and above all Giuseppe Verdi and operas based on Shakespeare’s tragedies Macbeth and Otello). In France, a variation of the genre, unknowingly (without such aesthetic awareness) referring to the Baroque, became a grand opéra, whose representative was Giacomo Meyerbeer. Often, however, the romantic opera was focused too much around the spectacular vocal parts, losing the essence of the genre.
Of particular importance was the late romantic composer Richard Wagner, who formulated in the theories of the concept of musical drama (distinguished from the opera) . His works (such as Tristan and Isolde, the tetralogy of the Nibelung Ring), made of these assumptions, were a new fulfillment of the Baroque-Romantic conception of the cohesion of the material of various arts within one creative visual work. Wagner implemented the “total work” postulated by earlier theoreticians – Gesamtkunstwerk. He himself wrote a poetic libretto for his works .
Wagner and the Gesamtkunstwerk:
Some elements of opera reform, seeking a more “classical” formula, had begun at the end of the 18th century. After the lengthy domination of opera seria, and the da capo aria, a movement began to advance the librettist and the composer in relation to the singers, and to return the drama to a more intense and less moralistic focus. This movement, “reform opera” is primarily associated with Christoph Willibald Gluck and Ranieri de’ Calzabigi. The themes in the operas produced by Gluck’s collaborations with Calzabigi continue throughout the operas of Carl Maria von Weber, until Wagner, rejecting both the Italian bel canto tradition and the French “spectacle opera”, developed his union of music, drama, theatrical effects, and occasionally dance.
However these trends had developed fortuitously, rather than in response to a specific philosophy of art; Wagner, who recognised the reforms of Gluck and admired the works of Weber, wished to consolidate his view, originally, as part of his radical social and political views of the late 1840s. Previous to Wagner, others who had expressed ideas about union of the arts, which was a familiar topic among German Romantics, as evidenced by the title of Trahndorff’s essay, in which the word first occurred, “Aesthetics, or Theory of Philosophy of Art”. Others who wrote on syntheses of the arts included Gottfried Lessing, Ludwig Tieck and Novalis. Carl Maria von Weber’s enthusiastic review of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s opera Undine (1816) admired it as ‘an art work complete in itself, in which partial contributions of the related and collaborating arts blend together, disappear, and, in disappearing, somehow form a new world’.
Wagner used the exact term ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ (which he spelt ‘Gesammtkunstwerk’) on only two occasions, in his 1849 essays “Art and Revolution” and “The Artwork of the Future”, where he speaks of his ideal of unifying all works of art via the theatre. He also used in these essays many similar expressions such as ‘the consummate artwork of the future’ and ‘the integrated drama’, and frequently referred to ‘Gesamtkunst’. Such a work of art was to be the clearest and most profound expression of folk legend, though abstracted from its nationalist particulars to a universal humanist fable.
Wagner called the Attic tragedy the “great Gesamtkunstwerk”. In his work The Art of the Future, written shortly thereafter, Wagner expanded the meaning of the term. In his conception of an integral, diverse art work, which he described in detail in his extensive book Opera and Drama and was later addressed by others as a musical drama, Wagner subordinated the individual “sister arts” to a common purpose, the drama. From his point of view, the increasing division of labor (for example in the separation of theatrical divisions) and the egotistical isolation in society should be abolished. At the same time, as a role model and enemy, he envisioned the French grand opera, in which all the stage arts were already united on their latest technical stand. Wagner started from the conviction that the opera was on the wrong track if it set music absolutely and subordinated all other elements, above all the drama itself.
Wagner’s siblings had been actors, singers and dancers at the same time, which was no longer possible due to the specialization of the theater professions after 1850. In another way, this universality should be restored: through equal work of the performers in the work of art in the service of its author. Wagner spoke of a “cooperative of all artists”. He started out from the aesthetic ideas of the German Romantics as well as from the political and aesthetic discourses that were virulent in Paris around 1840 in the wake of the various revolutions and hoped to realize a social utopia by the means of aesthetics:
“The great work of art, which must embrace all the genres of art, so as to consume, as it were, each of these species as means in favor of the attainment of the collective purpose of all, namely, the unconditioned, immediate exposition of perfect human nature, – this great work of art he recognizes not as the arbitrarily possible act of the individual, but as the necessarily conceivable common work of the men of the future.
Wagner felt that the Greek tragedies of Aeschylus had been the finest (though still flawed) examples so far of total artistic synthesis, but that this synthesis had subsequently been corrupted by Euripides. Wagner felt that during the rest of human history up to the present day (i.e. 1850) the arts had drifted further and further apart, resulting in such “monstrosities” as Grand Opera. Wagner felt that such works celebrated bravura singing, sensational stage effects, and meaningless plots. In “Art and Revolution” Wagner applies the term ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ in the context of Greek tragedy. In “The Art-Work of the Future” he uses it to apply to his own, as yet unrealised, ideal.
In his extensive book Opera and Drama (completed in 1851) he takes these ideas further, describing in detail his idea of the union of opera and drama (later called music drama despite Wagner’s disapproval of the term), in which the individual arts are subordinated to a common purpose.
Wagner’s own opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen, and specifically its components Das Rheingold and Die Walküre represent perhaps the closest he, or anyone else, came to realising these ideals; he was himself after this stage to relax his own strictures and write more ‘operatically’.
Wagner gave great importance to environmental elements, such as lighting, sound effects or the arrangement of seats, to focus the attention of the viewer on the stage, thus achieving his complete immersion in the drama . These ideas were revolutionary at the time, but soon they were assumed by modern opera.
The term gesamtkunstwerk music indicated the ideal of theater in which music, drama, choreutics, poetry, and figurative arts converge, in order to achieve a perfect synthesis of the different arts. Moreover, this total work on the one hand will constitute the most profound expression of the soul of a people, on the other it will be projected into a field of universality. The supreme example of this conception was, for the composer of Bayreuth, the Attic and especially eskylean tragedy, whereas later, from Euripides to the operatic tradition, especially in Italy, the ideal of Gesamtkunstwerk underwent a progressive deterioration; Wagner’s intent was precisely that of re-establishing the total work of art and imposing it as a perfect and definitive artistic form. Shortly after Wagner, in fact, Aleksandr Skrjabin conceived his Prometheus or Poem of Fire, a grandiose artistic synaesthesia, for which he even designed an instrument that associated to each note a beam of colored light that would have to flood the hall. A project, this, so ahead of its time, that it was not possible to realize it.
The ideal of Gesamtkunstwerk is exalted by the figurative artists of the Viennese Secession including Gustav Klimt who design, sculpt, paint and decorate in view of an idealized fusion of the various arts.
Some architectural writers have used the term Gesamtkunstwerk to signify circumstances where an architect is responsible for the design and/or overseeing of the building’s totality: shell, accessories, furnishings, and landscape. It is difficult to make a claim for when the notion of the Gesamtkunstwerk was first employed from the point of view of a building and its contents (although the term itself was not used in this context until the late 20th century); already during the Renaissance, artists such as Michelangelo saw no strict division in their tasks between architecture, interior design, sculpture, painting and even engineering. It has been argued by historian Robert L. Delevoy that Art Nouveau represented an essentially decorative trend that thus lent itself to the idea of the architectural Gesamtkunstwerk. But it is equally possible it was born from social theories that arose out of a fear of the rise of industrialism.
However evidence of complete interiors that typify the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk can be seen some time before the 1890s. There was an increasing trend amongst architects in the 18th and 19th centuries to control every facet of an architectural commission. As well as being responsible for the structure they tried to extend their role to include designing (or at least vetting) every aspect of the interior work as well. This included not only the interior architectural features but was extended to the design of furniture, carpets, wallpaper, fabrics, light fixtures and door-handles. Robert Adam and Augustus Welby Pugin are examples of this trend to create an over-all harmonising effect which in some cases might even extend to the choice or design of table silver, china and glassware.
A distinctly modern approach to the concept of architectural Gesamtkunstwerk emerged with the Bauhaus school, first established in Weimar in 1919 by Walter Gropius. The school specialised in design, art and craftsmanship (architecture was not introduced as a separate course until 1927 after it had transferred to Dessau). Gropius contended that artists and architects should also be craftsmen, that they should have experience working with different materials and artistic mediums, including industrial design, clothes design and theatre and music. However, Gropius did not necessarily see a building and every aspect of its design as being the work of a single hand.
Canadian development corporation Westbank, founded by Ian Gillespie, uses Gesamtkunstwerk as the founding idea behind the company’s vision and philosophy for urban development.
Synthesis symbolism to modernism:
Impressed by the vision of the “total” work of Richard Wagner’s art, Charles Baudelaire considered music as a model for poetry expressing the most personal and elusive experiences and impressions. Such symbolic importance was given to musicians, because it was her – more effectively than the word, and even the image (then still realistic) – that stimulated feelings and triggered intuition . The famous sonnet Baudelaire Correspondances (in Polish translations it was given to equivalents or echos, although the title simply means Correspondence, in the sense of ‘mutual interaction’) from the volume Flowers of Evil, 1857) soon became a part of the return of corespondances des arts as a term in the field of aesthetics. Baudelaire depicted in this sonnet the spiritual affinity of man and nature, called the “forest of symbols.” From this romantic vision of nature, the poet drew a new concept of the symbol, as not so much a particle of a recognizable lexicon of meanings, but a deeply personal and incomprehensible vision. Baudelaire inspired symbolism as aesthetics and an artistic direction that opened up to the affinities of the arts and was heading towards a great syncretic vision. This is how Arthur Rimbaud wrote, which is expressed in his poetry and poetic prose, and programmatically the Sonoflu Sonnet (revealing the affinities between sound and image).
From the inspiration of the new symbolism, modernism as an epoch in literature and art reached for the synthesis of arts often. They were creatively developing composers Gustav Mahler (in his philosophy-rich symphonies) and Aleksandr Scriabin (combining sound and color within the performance – the famous concept of the “light piano”) . Among the artists of the Young Poland, Stanisław Wyspiański, a poet, painter and draftsman, realizes the most versatile art community – especially in the dramas of Noc listopadowa, Wesele and visionary Akropolis . The synthesis of plays is also performed by Tadeusz Miciński in – with the painterly and almost “film” panache – the tragedy of Basilis Teofanu ‘
The definitions of the synthesis of arts and the correspondence of arts are often used interchangeably, while they differ in the purposes and fields of art in which they were mainly manifested.
After the First World War, the poet Guillaume Apollinaire in the collection of Caligrams (1918) boldly treated the text as a free graphic composition, giving the whole character of visual poetry (eg in the work Mandolin, clove and bamboo) . Futurism also often experimented, trying to synthesize arts.
A new praise of the imagination was given by surrealism, somewhat programmatically open to the free field of associations and the combination of the material of various arts. The theoretician, André Breton, gave the Manifesto of Surrealism (1924) a program of liberated and phantasmagoric art . The artistic realizations of these assumptions were more modest. The exception was the silent film by Luis Buñuel, an Andalusian Dog from 1928 – a hallucinatory combination of drastic images (the famous scene of cutting the eye with a razor) with a vague symbolic meaning, especially erotic; but this was primarily a study of the subconscious. However, the significance of the idea of surrealism as an inspiration for later art is great – this is the consent (from the spirit of Baroque and Romanticism) to the creative freedom of the artist.
In the interwar period, the futuristic poet and painter, Tytus Czyżewski, took his works in a way close to visual poetry – these are the poems Poznań and Dom, the poem Electric visions . Tom Czyżewski Pastorałki achieves the effect of the synthesis of the arts by combining the poetic and stylized text into the old graphics by illustrations of Tadeusz Makowski. The closest to the synthesis of the arts are the two versatile artists: Witkacy and Bruno Schulz, both in terms of the extent of creative activities and the shaping of the material of works. Witkacy’s Pure Forms theory was also a project of a syncretically art that expresses (as he wrote) “metaphysical feelings”, combining the aesthetic and existential dimension, and constituting a cleansing catharsis. Witkiewicz gave his oil paintings from the period of formism a literary-visionary dimension (Tempting Saint Antoni), while in his dramas he shaped tensions full of tension, sophisticated composition, included in painting and film (Kurka Wodna, Matka, Sonata Beelzebub). Schulz created a framework based on the erotic plot of graphics (Xięga idwochwalcza), and prose was expressed as expressionistically built richly plastered images.
Postmodernity synthesis of arts:
Newer literature refers to the idea of the synthesis of arts, often on the occasion of the experiment. Jan Lechoń, a poet always sensitive to painting and music, Sarabanda’s poem for Wanda Landowska (from his last volume, Marble and Rose, 1954), he described as almost musical, according to the title, sarabande, whose rhythm resembles a harpsichord miniature. Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz still in the interwar period in Witkacy’s dedicated piece An Evening to Abdon (1922) built a moody story like a dream vision, a distinctive musical rhythm and a vivid clarity of layers of images . Years later, like the synthesis of psychological narrative, painted pictures and leitmotiv motifs of music (using Wagner’s compositions), he built the story of Dreams from the volume of Dreams. Gardens. Sérénité (1974). In the late volume of poetry and prose, the Tatra Album (1975) published a poem entitled Niebo written in rhythmic prose, initially commented that it is “an attempt to place the sonata form as closely as possible in the word” – the work is therefore a literary transposition of the musical form sonata.
In contemporary culture, the programmatic synthesis of arts was shaped by the composer Olivier Messiaen (endowed with syncretic imagination, “colorful hearing”, associating colors and sounds ), especially in the opera Saint Francis of Assisi and electronic music using Martenot waves. Various materials are also connected in operatic works by Krzysztof Penderecki, most fully in the sacra rappresentazione (a genre variety of the opera) Paradise lost, reaching straight to the baroque-romantic stylistic tradition.
The special individuality was the versatile Roland Topor, from the Baroque tradition and, in particular, Surrealism (he knew Breton personally), a graphic artist, playwright and story author deriving his work, also cooperating with film (magic lantern for Casanova Fellini).
The film created during the modern period as a technique of recording and visualizing movement, and with time and art, could build a syncretic vision as soon as the technical maturity of the message was achieved within the precision of sound and color. It happened in the years 50-60. The twentieth century. He built the greatest visions of film, Federico Fellini – the director of the painter’s imagination (and artistic talent), and also musically sensitive. He created a synthesis of plays throughout the whole work, culminating in selected sequences – in Giulietta’s films from ghosts (sensual and orgiastic episodes in the house of Suzy, the protagonist’s neighbor), Satyricon (homosexual lovers’ walk through the public house), Rome (church fashion show) , Casanova (magician of Topor’s project, sounding choral by Wagner’s music episode German), City of women (wife of the hero, singing in the house Snaporaza aria from Verdiowska La Traviata), And the ship is sailing (music by Verdi in the scattering of the ashes of the singer at sea and sinking).
A similar style was revealed by Luchino Visconti (who valued the opera and directed opera performances) in the films by Leopard and the Twilight of the Gods, but especially in the sated music of Wagner Ludwig (whose hero was the insane patron of the composer – King Ludwig Bavarian). The synthesis of plays is taken by Ken Russell, saturation of his films with the music of portrayed composers, also used in strictly visionary scenes (Lovers of music – about Tchaikovsky, Mahler), and in Devils giving a brutal and theatrical vision of the Baroque era. Russell made the Tommy film in 1975, which is a baroque, vivid adaptation of the musical – the synthesis of arts has entered the circle of mass culture. In turn, in the films of Andrey Tarkovsky (Andrei Rublev, Zwierciadło, Sacrifice), the synthesis of the arts is created by direct quotations from the works of painting, connected with the music of the great masters. A similar synthesis was obtained by Werner Herzog, associating the “pictorial” filmed landscape and sound (Glass Heart – with psychedelic rock music, Fitzcarraldo – with opera music).
In the exhibition “The Hang to Gesamtkunstwerk” by Harald Szeemann, which was shown in 1983 in the Kunsthaus Zürich, in the Museum of the 20th Century in Vienna and the beginning of 1984 also in Berlin Charlottenburg , various works of art were presented to the public: among others the Merzbau of Kurt Schwitters, the Goetheanum in Dornach, the cathedrals (like Sagrada Família) by Antonio Gaudi, the Monte Verità near Ascona, the Vittoriale degli italiani on Lake Garda. The exhibition has brought together European utopias since 1800 that do not want to limit themselves to a purely aesthetic meaning but have in mind a transformation of social reality into a renewed society.
More recently, the term Gesamtkunstwerk overlaps with that of (synthetic) intermediality. Whether works of art that address different senses at the same time, are free compositions in the sense of multimedia or mixed media, or whether they meet the requirement of unification into a Gesamtkunstwerk, is a matter of interpretation. Happening, Fluxus, Performance, Experimental Theater and other phenomena are also interpreted as variations of the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk.
A separate opera is occupied by an opera, which is an adaptation of the opera, but only when the director does not aim at realism, but draws the artistic consequences of meeting many plays within one work. That’s what Ingmar Bergman (Mozart’s The Magic Flute) and Andrzej Żuławski (Borys Godunov according to Mussorgsky) did. It is close to the European musical film, which deviates from the tradition of a realistically shaped musical – it is Jacques Demy and Parasolki of Cherbourg with Catherine Deneuve in the lead role and Legrand’s music, the film is sung entirely, but also full of tastefully colored frames.
Within the scope of painting and sculptures after World War II, the synthesis of the arts was revealed, moreover, often through the syncretism of form, and finally the departure from the finished, finished by the artist, works to show the creative process using the material of various arts. Such conceptual art as, related to it, performance improvising, showing art as a process – they use a variety of materials: painting, literary, but especially multimedia technology (especially video). Yes, with the use of electronic devices and digital technology, the old, centuries-long idea of the synthesis of arts takes shape.
Within the mass culture, the phenomenon emerging from, the simplest, synthesis of the material within the perception is a comic book. The more interesting and often sophisticated and artistically outstanding, practical manifestation of the synthesis of arts is a video clip – a phenomenon common in the popular musical culture, and based on the association of image and sound. Interpreting, or rather visualizing, a song, a music video hangs around the outline of the plot, puts on the performer the role of acting, gives meaning to the scenery, costumes, or even make-up characters. The assembly (usually its fast rhythm) is of special importance, as well as special visual effects obtained by computer. The whole resulting from this is a synthesis of arts. Pioneer achievements in this regard had the band Queen (in the video for the song “Save Me” animation was used for the first time). The original music videos were recorded by Madonna (“Music”, also “Hung Up” and “Sorry” – from the album Confessions on a Dance Floor). The master of this form was Michael Jackson, whose music video for the title song of the album Thriller is considered a masterpiece.