I went to the Neue Galerie yesterday, for the monthly two-hour window of free admission. I can’t believe I hadn’t been before- it features early twentieth century German and Austrian art— expressionism! Vienna Secession! I heard about it from an elderly woman at a showing of the movie Museum Hours, which, fittingly enough, centers around a famous museum in Vienna, the Kunsthistorisches Museum.
On the third floor, a massive definition for the word GESAMTKUNSTWERK is posted on the wall. It means "total work of art," which according to the wiki article I linked (haha), is a "work of art that makes use of many art forms." Not only were they doing portaiture, etc., it was basically a lifestyle. They were creating furniture, housegoods, designing achitecture… life didn’t imitate art— life was art . (Someone who I think represents this to an extreme, though he wasn’t in the same grouping as the guys at the Neue Galerie, was Sadakichi Hartmann, who I read about in Believer a couple months ago. Really worth reading).
My take away from the idea is that it’s more than aesthetics— it’s putting a sort of energy into every aspect of your life— not just passively existing.
Really like the above self-portrait by Schiele. Not really into his porny objectification of the female form, but I like his style.