London

“The Romantic Spirit in German Art 1790–1990”

Hayward Gallery

Though assembled under the sign of Romanticism, “The Romantic Spirit in German Art: 1790–1990,” was not exclusively, or even principally, about the Romantic period in German art and its legacy; it was really about the recent reunification of Germany. Here Romanticism has been transformed into a Masonic cult, a kind of Virtual Romanticism—more an agent of German simplification than unification. This is not to deny that Romanticism figured as a source of expression for artists far afield of the period from the late 18th to the early 19th century, but such an argument is anything but self-evident from the works on view; so you had better buy the catalogue and study it. Those who selected work for this show (Professor William Vaughan, Dr. Keith Hertley, Dr. Peter-Klaus Schuster, and Henry Meyric Hughes) do mention the political context of Romanticism, that is, how some artistic currents took

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