Fest des Lebens und der Kunst. Eine Betrachtung des Theaters als höchsten Kultursymbols (Celebrations of Life and Art. Contemplating Theatre as Highest Cultural Symbol)
Darmstadt: C. F. Winter'schen Buchdruckerei, 1900. First edition. Softcover. Quarto. 25 (1)pp. Re-cased with new endpapers, retaining original gilt-illustrated gray original wraps. Black publisher's device and lettering on cover framed by gilt Jugenstil flowers. Illustrated title page and decorative dedication page. Text pages with delicate Jugendstil frames, printed in pale blue, heightened crimson initial and linear paragraph breaks, text in brown. Dedicated to the Künstler-Kolonie Mathildenhöhe near Darmstadt. Behrens was a member of the Kolonie.
"They fret, those false prophets, for their wisdom is proven wrong: there will be no new style in art, it has to evolve from the old, one can't invent it. As for the last point they were correct. Now there are signs, that it will come, not emerged from the old, but that it is here already, at least a beginning. One has to have open eyes, be good hearted, believe in beauty. Only then one will realize that something is emerging, that corresponds deeper to our life than those bizarre sought after forms which appear "modern" externally but are flimsy goods of people, mostly, who will turn the New quickly into a money machine..."
Scathing Behrens critique of contemporary conditions and theater, favoring amphitheatrical configurations. Jugendstil manifesto and critique of the naturalist theater of the 19th century. 'The actor's task is to give more than just an exact rendition of nature... become the creator of culture on stage, become an artist who is his own material... creates that which is more than nature, is noble.'
Building on Wagner's idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk (Total work of art) Behrens suggests for the theater (the Highest Cultural Symbol) to integrate all arts under a single roof. Behrens wrote the essay in June of 1900 and it was printed and typographically designed at the C.F. Winter'schen Printing Shop in Darmstadt. Aynsley, Graphic Design in Germany, page 61: "(Behrens) gave equal consideration to typographic composition, letter initials and illustrations, as well as paper quality and binding."
Text in German. Light wear along edges of wraps and chipping along spine of re-cased wraps with small indentation on front cover at upper edge of gilt flowers on left half of cover. Light age-toning of block. g+. Item #48259