KUNSTKRITIK ALS KONVERSATION: DAS JOURNALISTISCHE AUSSTELLUNGSGESPRÄCH, 1804-1826
My thesis proceeds from the observation that a formation of a specific group of texts, in which fictional groups of bourgeois gallery visitors converse about the paintings on display at the Dresden and Berlin art academy exhibits, occurred in early nineteenth-century German periodicals. Drawing on research by Albert Dresdner, Jürgen Habermas, Margrit Vogt and others, I argue that such journalistic gallery conversations imitate the contemporary entertaining and critical conversation culture in the exhibit halls to offer the readership a reading experience that is just as entertaining and informative as an actual gallery visit. In my analyses of four fictional conversations published between 1804 and 1826, I show that the texts function as a subgenre of contemporary journalistic art criticism and must be read as an immediate outcome of the emergence of modern art criticism as journalistic practice out of the public display and public critique of art: In accordance with the ‘art criticism in conversation’ that developed in gallery settings and lead to the emergence of the general public as critical authority, journalistic gallery conversations establish a fictional gallery audience as art critics. Combining description and critique, the lively conversations of the fictional beholders inform the readership about the exhibits and bring the artworks vividly before the eyes of the readership, thereby fulfilling the two primary objectives of contemporary journalistic art criticism. The first comprehensive study on the journalistic genre of gallery conversations in the German context, my dissertation contributes to an understanding of early nineteenth-century journalistic art criticism and of the important role that the public held as critical authority at that time.