Paradigms of the Arts in 19th-century German Aesthetics

A major premise of art in the 20th century is the notion of an irreparable rift within the system of the arts (architecture, sculpture, painting, music, literature). Additionally, the understanding of art was destabilized by new forms of expression (such as Conceptual Art, Performance Art, or Land Art). This focus on the theme of rupture in the 20th century, however, obscures the fact that a decisive reconfiguration in the arts with lasting effects on artistic production and reception had already taken place in the 19th century.

The project was based on the idea that literature, once considered the most complete and perfect art, was displaced through this reconfiguration of the hierarchy of the arts. Instead, music came to be viewed as the apex of art. The quest for an ‘absolute’ art—an art which contains aspects from all the other arts and therefore manifests itself as art writ large— brings together a set of widely differing conceptions: the romanticist (Schlegel) and idealist philosophy of the arts (Hegel, Solger, Schelling) on the one hand and the aesthetics of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Wagner on the other. Within this redefinition of the system of singular art forms, the ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ of the opera plays a significant role.

This project aimed at describing and analyzing the dynamics of this paradigmatic shift within the system of the arts. By examining the ways in which the system of the arts was restructured, the project also contributed to answering several questions of status and definability in present-day art.


Fig. above: Set design for Richard Wagner’s opera Der Ring des Nibelungen by Josef Hoffmann, 1876.

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Research Fellowship 2017–2018
Head researcher(s): Francesco Campana


Francesco Campana

  • La concezione hegeliana dell’ironia e il corso berlinese del 1828–29, in: Studi di estetica 1 (2020), 129–145
  • The End of Literature, Hegel, and the Contemporary Novel. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan 2019


12 Jul 2018 · 4.00 pm

Francesco Campana: Esiste una teoria hegeliana del romanzo?

University of Padova, Dipartimento di Filosofia, Sociologia, Pedagogia e Psicologia Applicata (FISPPA), Piazza Capitaniato 3, 35139 Padova, Sala Stefanini

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Conference in cooperation with Gabriele Tomasi (University of Padova)
14 Dec 2017 – 15 Dec 2017

Philosophy as/and/of Literature. On the Cognitive Value of Literature

University of Padova, Via 8 Febbraio, 2 - 35122 Padova (IT)

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27 Oct 2017 · 10.40 am

Francesco Campana: Hegel und Ariost

Villa Vigoni, Via Giulio Vigoni 1, 22017 Loveno di Menaggio (CO), Italien

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