Download Hundreds of Issues of Jugend, Germany’s Pioneering Art Nouveau Magazine (1896–1940)

It’s an ungain­ly word for Eng­lish speak­ers, which is maybe why we do not hear it often: Gle­ich­schal­tung. Yet the con­cept remains cen­tral for a clear view of what hap­pened to Ger­many in the 1930s. In 1933, the nation com­plete­ly trans­formed, seem­ing­ly overnight, through “a con­cert­ed pol­i­cy of ‘coor­di­na­tion’ (Gleis­chal­tung),” the U.S. Holo­caust Muse­um writes. “Cul­ture, the econ­o­my, edu­ca­tion, and law all came under Nazi con­trol.” Those artists and orga­ni­za­tions that were not purged had their essen­tial char­ac­ter changed to reflect an entire­ly dif­fer­ent set of artis­tic and polit­i­cal val­ues. One pub­li­ca­tion, espe­cial­ly, serves as an exam­ple of the Naz­i­fi­ca­tion of cul­ture.

The arts jour­nal Jugend (Youth), writes Messy ’N Chic, “had been turned large­ly into pro­pa­gan­da” between 1933 and 1940, its final year. But pri­or to the regime’s takeover, Jugend show­cased the most avant-garde, “degen­er­ate” artists of the era, and might have been “the ‘braini­est’ peri­od­i­cal of the day,” as one crit­ic wrote in a 1904 issue of The Yale Lit­er­ary Mag­a­zine. “There is no mag­a­zine pub­lished in Eng­land or in this coun­try which is at all like it.”

You can take a look yourself—browse, search, and down­load hun­dreds of scanned issues of Jugend at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hei­del­berg’s dig­i­tal archive, thou­sands of pages in PDF form, span­ning the mag­a­zine’s forty-four year his­to­ry. You can also see images at Flickr.

As in Eng­land, France, Aus­tria, and the U.S., the Art Nou­veau move­ment in Ger­many emerged from a whirl­wind of post-Impres­sion­ist paint­ing, Ori­en­tal­ist motifs, folk art, mod­ernist art and adver­tis­ing, book illus­tra­tion, and graph­ic and indus­tri­al design. Appro­pri­ate­ly, giv­en its perch on the thresh­old of a new mil­len­ni­um, Art Nou­veau looked both backward—to the medieval, goth­ic, and Romantic—and for­ward toward a more mod­ernist, urbane, and urban­ized sen­si­bil­i­ty.

So influ­en­tial was Jugend that Art Nou­veau in Ger­many became known as Jugend­stil. The Oxford Crit­i­cal and Cul­tur­al His­to­ry of Mod­ernist Mag­a­zines writes, “Among Jugend’s most impor­tant qualities—indeed, an essen­tial aspect of Art Nou­veau and its Ger­man equiv­a­lent Jugend­stil—was its bril­liant escapism.” Found­ed in 1896 by writer George Hirth, the mag­a­zine was “from the start a venue to pro­mote the new cul­tur­al Renais­sance with­out recourse to the estab­lished ‘vin­tage’ art.” (See its very first cov­er right above.)

Jugen­stil was pri­mar­i­ly based in Munich, where most of its artists, design­ers, and writ­ers lived and worked, until the turn of the cen­tu­ry, when, notes the Art Ency­clo­pe­dia, “the Munich group dis­persed, head­ing for Berlin, Weimar and Darm­stadt.” Art Nou­veau in Ger­many devel­oped in two phas­es, “a pre-1900 phase dom­i­nat­ed by flo­ral motifs, them­selves root­ed in Eng­lish Art Nou­veau and Japan­ese art,” and a “post-1900 phase, marked by a ten­den­cy towards abstract art.”

While we know the names of many Art Nou­veau artists from else­where in Europe—Henri Toulouse-Lautrec in France, Aubrey Beard­s­ley in Eng­land, Gus­tave Klimt in Aus­tria, for exam­ple— Jugend­stil in Ger­many pro­duced few inter­na­tion­al stars. Many of the artists pub­lished in its pages were rel­a­tive­ly unknown at first. But its shock­ing­ly bril­liant cov­ers and rad­i­cal edi­to­r­i­al tone put it at the fore­front of Ger­man arts for decades. “Jugend’s polit­i­cal and social plat­form,” wrote the The Yale Lit­er­ary Mag­a­zine crit­ic, “is one of opposition—opposition to every­thing.”

In 1933, how­ev­er, the mag­a­zine was forced to com­ply with the kind of dour con­ser­vatism it had arisen explic­it­ly to protest. Its wild cov­ers and proud­ly orig­i­nal con­tents turned som­bre and neo­clas­si­cal, as in the bust of Niet­zsche on the cov­er above from 1934. Many of its artists dis­ap­peared or went into exile. But as we observe this trans­for­ma­tion hap­pen­ing abrupt­ly in the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hei­del­berg archive, we still see a mag­a­zine whose edi­to­r­i­al staff held fast to notions of artis­tic qual­i­ty, as they were forced to turn away from every­thing that had made Jugend excit­ing, cut­ting-edge, and wor­thy of its title.

via Messy ’N Chic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load Influ­en­tial Avant-Garde Mag­a­zines from the Ear­ly 20th Cen­tu­ry: Dadaism, Sur­re­al­ism, Futur­ism & More

Down­load 36 Dadaist Mag­a­zines from the The Dig­i­tal Dada Archive (Plus Oth­er Avant-Garde Books, Leaflets & Ephemera)

Exten­sive Archive of Avant-Garde & Mod­ernist Mag­a­zines (1890–1939) Now Avail­able Online

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (4)
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  • dirk holger says:

    Indeed: “JUGEND” (“youth”) was the most rev­o­lu­tion­ary and refresh­ing­ly lib­er­al counter voice
    to the soon-com­ing return to “all things con-ser­v­a­tive”, artis­ti­cal­ly and,of course, with
    the rise of Adolf H. — politically…Each and any coun­try, if it intends to reju­ve­nate it-
    self, n e e d s such a ‘tool’, a ‘mag­a­zine’, a ‘move­ment’, a ‘group of artists’ whose
    sole goal is to BREAK with the OLD, throw it over­board and start…you guessed it.…some-
    thing NEW and.…yes, please: provocative.…(yet, not insult­ing or crazy or ugly or just
    for the ‘fun’ of being sense­less.…). With “new forms” (of artis­tic expres­sion) a new
    spir­it m u s t come along or it will all go down into the “ORKUS” (look it up…). DH

  • Rocio Salazar says:

    Dear sirs

    I am a painter and I love cul­ture and your web site is awe­some

  • C Warren says:

    You show me tal­ent, cre­ativ­i­ty, courage, etc., like Leonar­do, Michae­lan­ge­lo, Rafael, Klimt, Schiele,Picasso, Degas, Van Gogh, Whistler, John Singer Sargeant,
    On and on…It’s OK to pos­sess youth­ful rebel­lion but learn the rules first, use the mas­ters to learn how to draw and paint, have a foun­da­tion, respect tal­ent and you might pro­duce some­thing good…I taught and 99.9% of stu­dents go on to van­ish into obscurity…sad but true.

  • mika says:

    Still, 0.1% suc­ceed despite the harsh con­di­tions of enjoy­ment.

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