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What is Gesamtkunstwerk?

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Gesamtkunstwerk is a German term for a design or creation that includes many forms of art. The term can be translated total artwork. Gesamtkunstwerk implies that a single artist or creative entity create the entire artwork.

Theoretical Example

A single person could in theory architect a theatre and design its interiors, furnishings, ornamental art and surrounding landscapes. To take Gesamtkunstwerk a step further, the artist could write a play to be performed in the theatre, compose any associated music, design the costumes, direct the production and act the leading role.

Practical Examples

Renaissance artist Michelangelo took on architecture, engineering, interior design, sculpture, painting and poetry. Although Michelangelo was unusually talented, there was no strong division between the arts during this period and artists commonly tackled diverse projects.
In the period 1900-1930 design communities such as Wiener Werkstätte and Bauhaus covered architecture, interior design including furniture, typography and graphic design.
Overview: Gesamtkunstwerk
A single artistic creation that spans many arts.
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