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Ferdinand Avenarius on the Fine Arts: Inaugural Issue of Der Kunstwart (October 1, 1887)

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Not yet – for it seems quite obvious to us that a turn for the better is discernible in our poetry. Joyfully we welcome one thing above all. The playful sort of literature – the sort that displays its wit on a superficial level and has been nurtured to maturity by the feuilleton – is being increasingly disparaged by the educated segment of art lovers, regardless of whether this literature assumes the form of a poem, a story, or a stage drama. Additionally, the creators of art themselves exhibit a greater seriousness, a fuller consciousness of the enormous tasks that today’s poetry will have to solve if it indeed aspires to be the poetry of our day. This consciousness has its share of errors of thought; it also has a sentiment that, having grown on the tree of our art, might yield only stunted boughs. But it also has powerful branches that generate new green leaves year after year, as well as freshly sprouted young shoots that are full of sap.

Thus, no art form, if we disregard only the withered art of dance – and today we have practically been weaned from thinking of it as art – gives us the right to look discontentedly at its creative activity. And best of all, wherever we do not yet find health, we at least find signs of recovery. Only when our nation arrives at an ever-greater understanding of how much inner strength it stands to gain from a full-fledged realization of a truly robust art can we look forward joyfully to the path ahead of us.

Source: Ferdinand Avenarius, “Unsere Künste: Zum Überblick” [“Our Arts. An Overview”] Der Kunstwart. Rundschau über alle Gebiete des Schönen [The Guardian of Art: A Review of all Areas of Beauty] (Dresden), vol. 1 (1887): pp. 1-4.

Translation: Erwin Fink

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