Special Issue

From Pure Art to Sheer Luxury: Magazines as Ornamental Constellations and the Emergence of Aesthetic Capitalism in the Early Twentieth Century

Authors
  • Daniela Gretz (University of Cologne)
  • Marcus Krause (University of Cologne)

Abstract

The concept of ‘ornamental constellations’ introduced in the following article highlights the structural relationships of decorative elements and miscellaneous content in magazines and the importance of the reader’s perspective for their interpretation. ‘Ornamental constellations’ are considered one of the most important media devices of emerging aesthetic capitalism, as they produce economies of attention and affect and establish a visual connection between the basic concept of a magazine, its individual contributions, and the readership addressed, thus promoting a specific aesthetic lifestyle. Their respective staging value is illustrated by analysing two complementary magazines and their constellation techniques: the elitist art magazine Blätter für die Kunst with its ‘strategic arrangement’ of literary and programmatic contributions and the creation of ‘resonances’ between them and the popular sports and society magazine Sport im Bild with its hybridizing flow of texts, images, and advertisements. Despite all the differences, it becomes clear that these are two quite compatible projects within the framework of an emerging aesthetic capitalism: whereas the Blätter für die Kunst staged and materialized the idea of pure art as an exclusive aesthetic lifestyle, the Sport im Bild made the desired aesthetic way of life also attainable by non-artists (with enough money) by associating it with the idea of an aesthetic capitalism.

Keywords: ornamental constellations, staging value, aesthetic capitalism, little magazine, petite revue, Blätter für die Kunst, sports magazine, Sport im Bild, Stefan George, Robert Walser

How to Cite:

Gretz, D. & Krause, M., (2023) “From Pure Art to Sheer Luxury: Magazines as Ornamental Constellations and the Emergence of Aesthetic Capitalism in the Early Twentieth Century”, Journal of European Periodical Studies 7(2), 74–96. doi: https://doi.org/10.21825/jeps.84789

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Published on
08 Feb 2023
Peer Reviewed