About art and antiquity

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About art and antiquity is an art-critical and cultural-political oriented journal by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe , published in six volumes between 1816 and 1832. It is part of Goethe's late work and his aesthetic writings and is probably his most elaborate publication in terms of its size. The originally regionally oriented typeface increasingly directed its focus beyond national borders and became a forum for international art, a European cultural magazine as it sees itself. Goethe coined the concept of world literature in it and saw it himself as a medium to work artistically and scientifically across nations.

Goethe himself was the editor and main author of the magazine; In addition to him, his close friends and colleagues were involved in the creation of the magazine as authors, especially the co-editors Heinrich Meyer , Johann Peter Eckermann and Sulpiz Boisserée . A wide variety of poetic and prosaic types of text can be found as contributions under the title of the magazine, from essays and reviews to letters and poems. Measured against the complete works of Goethe, the magazine received comparatively little attention. However, it is of great value as the most comprehensive testimony to the intellectual and aesthetic basic convictions of its editor and ultimately also to their failure to meet the new ideals of Romanticism .


Johann Joseph Schmeller , Goethe dictating to his scribe John , 1834

The magazine as such was still a young medium at the beginning of the 19th century. However, Goethe had already participated in trend-setting periodicals, especially in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung and Friedrich Schiller's literary magazine Die Horen . A direct forerunner of Über Kunst und Altertum was the magazine Propylaen , which Goethe published together with Meyer between 1798 and 1800.

The first volume of Goethe's second major magazine project appeared in 1816 and still had the full title Ueber Kunſt und Alterthum in der Rhein and Mayn areas . The following issues of the journal appeared irregularly in a total of six volumes of three issues each. Goethe recorded the creation process of the editions meticulously in his diaries and letters: In general, he dictated his own contributions to his colleagues, Lohn and Schuchardt, and then revised the manuscripts to be published several times. The last issue of the last volume appeared posthumously at the end of 1832, published according to the dedication by the Weimar Art Friends , a cipher by Heinrich Meyers. At the time of going to press, however, Meyer had also died.

Content orientation

In On Art and Antiquity, Goethe takes a critical look at the aesthetic ideals of his time, especially those of Romanticism . Already in the Italian Journey , which appeared parallel to the first issue of the magazine, Goethe had again programmatically committed himself to classicism and thus failed to fulfill the hopes of some of his contemporaries for a romantic turn.

In art and antiquity he also tried to mediate, but especially with his essay on New German Religious-Patriotic Art , which he wrote together with Meyer, he aroused the anger of romantics like Jacob Grimm , who in addition to the polemical tone, above all also the eulogy accused classicists like Heinrich Tischbein . Goethe also used the magazine for the subsequent publication of writings that he had developed together with his colleague Friedrich Schiller , who died in 1805 ; In the sixth volume in 1827, for example, the correspondence on epic and dramatic poetry with its antiquated aesthetics from 1797 appeared for the first time in print.

The basic idea of ​​the magazine was that of cosmopolitanism , to which Goethe now added that of world literature . While he stressed his "anti-romantic propaganda" increasingly was offside, was the development of the concept of world literature in a time writing characteristic of the epoch in which numerous neologistic world and time-compound words such as world politics, world public spirit and sense of time express the widespread impression of spatial and temporal compression.

In at least eleven articles in his magazine, Goethe gave extensive lectures from the French literary magazine Le Globe , which appeared between 1824 and 1832 and which in turn had repeatedly published reviews of his works. The increasingly broad conceptual orientation of Über Kunst und Antiquity is essentially due to this influence. Above all , he valued Victor Cousin's philosophical contributions to the magazine, and at the same time he must have been personally flattered by the extensive and positive reception of his own works by Le Globe .



  • Karl-Heinz Hahn: Goethe's magazine about art and antiquity. In: Karl-Heinz Hahn (Ed.): Goethe-Jahrbuch 92, Hermann Böhlau, Weimar 1975, pp. 128-139.
  • Friedmar Apel, Stefan Greif: About art and antiquity. In: Bernd Witte, Peter Schmidt (Ed.): Goethe Handbook. Volume 3: Prose Writings. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 1997, pp. 619-639.
  • Christine Tauber: About art and antiquity. In: Andreas Beyer , Ernst Osterkamp (Ed.): Goethe Handbook. Supplements. Vol. 3: Art. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2011, ISBN 978-3-476-02163-2 , pp. 414-429.

Individual evidence

  1. Wilhelm Vosskamp: “Everyone is a Greek in his own way! But it is. ”On Goethe's criticism of romanticism in the magazine Ueber Kunst und Alterthum. In: Walter Hinderer (Ed.): Goethe and the age of romanticism . Königshausen and Neumann, Würzburg, pp. 121–132.
  2. As described by Christine Tauber: About art and antiquity. In: Andreas Beyer, Ernst Osterkamp (Ed.): Goethe Handbook. Supplements. Vol. 3: Art. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2011, ISBN 978-3-476-02163-2 , p. 428.
  3. Manfred Koch: Goethe's "World Literature" - an ambivalent concept of expectation. In: Bettina Heintz, Richard Münch, Hartmann Tyrell (eds.): Weltgesellschaft. Theoretical approaches and empirical problem areas. Lucius and Lucius, Stuttgart 2005, p. 53.
  4. A complete list can be found in Heinz Hamm : Goethe and the French magazine "Le Globe". A reading under the sign of "world literature". Böhlau, Weimar 1998, p. 497f.
  5. Jost Schillemeit: Studies during the time of Goethe. Wallstein, Göttingen 2006, pp. 254ff.