Universität Wien
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080086 SE Symbolism and Neo-Symbolism (2021W)

Continuous assessment of course work

gem. mit Mag. Dieter Ulrich (Universität Luzern, CH)


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 20 participants
Language: German


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

3 introductory lessons October 2021
Short presentations beginning/mid November 2021
Block dates with presentation of the videos beginning/mid-January 2022

Tuesday 05.10. 09:00 - 10:30 Digital
Tuesday 12.10. 09:00 - 10:30 Digital
Tuesday 19.10. 09:00 - 10:30 Digital
Tuesday 09.11. 09:00 - 10:30 Digital
Tuesday 16.11. 09:00 - 10:30 Digital
Tuesday 23.11. 09:00 - 10:30 Digital
Saturday 08.01. 09:00 - 18:00 Digital
Sunday 09.01. 09:00 - 18:00 Digital
Saturday 15.01. 09:00 - 18:00 Digital
Sunday 16.01. 09:00 - 18:00 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

Symbolist Art since the First World War

Doors that were opened at some point, thoughts that were thought, can no more be undone than that first time when they were able to recognise both heads at the same time in the famous conundrum painting "Duck or Rabbit?": they will never again be able to see only one of the two animal heads!

Just as in the decades before World War 1 the view of art history and the still young field of psychology fundamentally expanded to include the art and literature of their present, their understanding of works of art from past epochs also opened up irreversibly: In the masterpieces of Piero della Francesca, Bosch and through Giorgione to Goya, it discovered symbolisms of every kind and hue and created a novel facet of art historical approach that is indispensable in today's panorama of iconographic explanations.
This almost implies that in the future, too, there can hardly be any art in which this fundamental question will not arise, or in which this question would not have to be asked: is what we see exclusively what is meant to be shown to us, or is the visible only the surface of an image carrier, a reference, as it were, behind which a truth wants to hide or reveal itself that is meant to go beyond the visibility of the real by trying to make a personal pact with its viewer?

If we look back through the past century from this point of view, we will have to ask ourselves whether the art of an Anselm Kiefer and a Beuys are not much more closely related than they would perhaps like? - On the other hand, whether the superficially visible kinship and origin from the same group of artists in Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko does not insinuate a closeness that collapses on closer inspection if we measure the two artists by the completely divergent demands their paintings make on the viewer?
And with what models do artists as different as Ernst Fuchs and HR Giger see themselves quite effortlessly under the same hat?
Have you ever wondered in what broader context Fantastic Realism can be placed with its centre in Vienna and why its most important exponents always saw themselves as "visionary artists", while art history rather saw them as a German derivative of Surrealism? - And where could this Surrealism be rooted at all, have a developmental logic, if we do not understand it as the - perhaps illegitimate, but extremely logical - child of Dadism and Symbolism? Why did Marcel Duchamp, so ingeniously at home in all alleys, never want to be understood as a Dadaist or Surrealist, but at the same time clearly expressed his deep admiration for Gustave Moreau and his circle?

After the First World War, had the mycelium that seemed to connect the art of Symbolism worldwide but covertly around 1900 perhaps developed into a rhizome that keeps producing new visible shoots whose subterranean connection remains hidden from most viewers?
Thus, it seems to us today as if art history, due to self-imposed guidelines, had categorically excluded an invaluable reservoir of expressive forms for decades when considering, analysing and judging more recent art movements - a neglect that continues to cloud the intellectual connections and roots of many works of art and hinders their deeper understanding to this day.

Assessment and permitted materials

Active participation in the discussion, presentation of 20 minutes video documentary (audio presentation, photos, films, interviews, animations etc.), term paper (approx. 40,000 signs). By registering for this course, you agree that the automated plagiarism-checking software Turnitin will check all written partial performances submitted by you in moodle.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Minimum requirement:
Frequent participation. In case of absence due to illness or extraordinary family business written proof must be provided.
For a successful completion of the course all partial requirements must be performed.
Term paper: To ensure good scientific practice the course leader can invite the student to a grade-relevant discussion after the term paper has been submitted which must be completed positively.

Assessment criteria:
- active participation in discussions 10 %
- video presentation 40 %
- consolidation in the form of a term paper 50 %

Examination topics

Reading list

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Fr 12.05.2023 00:14