• Criticizing the Crisis: Intellectual Labour and Artistic Radicalism in Late Weimar Germany

    Nikos Pegioudis (see profile)
    Art, Twentieth century, History, Arts, Handicraft, Germany, Area studies
    Item Type:
    art and politics, artistic radicalism, German visual culture, intellectual labor, Walter Benjamin, 20th-century art, Art history, Arts and crafts, German studies, Visual culture
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    This paper seeks to shed new light on artistic radicalism by drawing attention to the debate on the crisis of intellectual labor in capitalism. The latter was a hot issue in turn-of-the-century Germany, intrinsically connected with a state-sponsored social reform aiming at the reorganization of the institutions for artistic education and training and the development of applied arts in the country. The investigation of this reform can provide an important link to post-WWI developments in the field of cultural production. I follow this thread by examining the Association of Revolutionary Visual Artists of Germany (Assoziation Revolutionärer Bildender Künstler Deutschlands/ARBKD), a group of radical artists institutionally affiliated to the Communist Party of Germany, and Walter Benjamin. If I make this seemingly paradoxical association, it is to underline how the issue of radical artistic form was interwoven with issues revolving around the role of the intellectual in capitalism and in the working-class movement, with capitalist production and technological reproduction and finally with the issue of agency. Holding a marginal position in their respective fields, ARBKD members in the German art scene and Walter Benjamin among the German intelligentsia, they both approached radical positions, welcoming the technology’s potential for a deskilling of artistic labour or a drastic debilitation of the role of the intellectual as cultural mediator.
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    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    5 years ago
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