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See also: gesamtkunstwerk


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Alternative forms[edit]


From German Gesamtkunstwerk (total artwork), synthesis of the arts; used by the composer Richard Wagner


Gesamtkunstwerk (plural Gesamtkunstwerks)

  1. Total artwork; an artistic creation such as an operatic performance that encompasses music, theatre and the visual arts.
    • 1993 January 21, Trip Gabriel, “Acquainted with the Light”, in New York Times, New York:
      Andre Emmerich, Mr. Hockney's longtime New York dealer, said: "There's a nice German word, gesamtkunstwerk. It means the entirety is a work of art."
    • 2008 September 14, Juliet Koss, “The Myth of the Gesamtkunstwerk”, in Der Tagesspiegel[1], Berlin:
      References to the Gesamtkunstwerk, or total work of art, abound in modernist discourse in the disciplines of art and architectural history ...

Usage notes[edit]

May be spelled in lower case (gesamtkunstwerk) in English.




Compound of gesamt (whole, total) +‎ Kunstwerk (piece of art).


  • IPA(key): /ɡəˈzamtˌkʊnst.vɛʁk/, /ɡəˈzamt.kʊnstˌvɛʁk/
  • (file)


Gesamtkunstwerk n (genitive Gesamtkunstwerks or Gesamtkunstwerkes, plural Gesamtkunstwerke)

  1. Gesamtkunstwerk (artistic creation that encompasses music, theatre and the visual arts)
    • Anke Finger, Das Gesamtkunstwerk der Moderne, 2006, 27.
      Begeleitend zu den Symbolisten möchte ich auch die Beziehung zwischen dem Gesamtkunstwerk und der Synästhesie betrachten, die zumindest Elemente des Gesamtkunstwerkverständnisses bis heute prägen.
      Concomitant with the symbolists I would also like to consider the relation between the Gesamtkunstwerk and synesthaesia, which characterise at least elements of the understanding of the Gesamtkunstwerk to date.
  2. (chiefly humorous) a dazzling or flashy personality, particularly one who wears extraordinary clothes, piercings, tattoos, etc.
    Peters Mutter mit ihrer Federboa und den anstößigen Witzen ist wirklich ein Gesamtkunstwerk.
    Peter’s mother with her feather boa and those objectionable jokes is really something else.
  3. (chiefly humorous) a place, scene, or idea, often seemingly chaotic, which is implied to have an underlying beauty
    Mein Arbeitszimmer ist keine Müllhalde, das ist ein Gesamtkunstwerk.
    My study is not a rubbish dump, it’s a piece of installation art.


Further reading[edit]