The Nazarenes: Romantic Avant-Garde and the Art of the Concept by Cordula GreweThe Nazarenes: Romantic Avant-Garde and the Art of the Concept by Cordula Grewe

The Nazarenes: Romantic Avant-Garde and the Art of the Concept

byCordula Grewe

Hardcover | April 23, 2015

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In The Nazarenes, Cordula Grewe presents a timely revisionist account of the Nazarenes, a group of early nineteenth-century German artists who have been occasionally reviled, but more often ignored, in the history of modern art. Viewing critically the effects of a century of skeptical Enlightenment and decades of political revolution, the Nazarenes committed themselves to a reenchantment of the modern world and a revitalization of contemporary art through a return to the plainspoken piety and stylistic simplicity of medieval and early Renaissance art. The Nazarene style soon became commonplace across Europe and the United States, and its popularity in Bible illustrations and devotional print culture continues today. Despite, or perhaps because of, this success, modern accounts have commonly dismissed this art as hackneyed, kitsch, or hopelessly conservative. Grewe argues that such dismissal overlooks the complexity and quintessential modernity of the Nazarenes’ revivalism. Exploring the Nazarenes’ vanguard beginnings, Grewe considers their intellectualized approach to art and art-making in the context of the longer history leading up to conceptual art. Tracing what Grewe calls the Nazarenes’ “art of the concept,” a phrase that instructively labels an encompassing history in which to situate the origins of the conceptual art movement, The Nazarenes reveals an alternative side of modernity, one manifested in a historicism born from religious revival, a side well explored in the fields of history and sociology but, until now, largely ignored by art historians.

Cordula Grewe teaches art history at the University of Pennsylvania.Cordula Grewe teaches art history at the University of Pennsylvania.
Title:The Nazarenes: Romantic Avant-Garde and the Art of the ConceptFormat:HardcoverDimensions:400 pages, 10.26 × 9.32 × 1.25 inPublished:April 23, 2015Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271064145

ISBN - 13:9780271064147


Table of Contents


List of Illustrations


A Note on the Text


Part 1 The Nazarene Resurrection

1 Secession

2 Collectivism

3 Avant-garde

Part 2 The Nazarene Creed

4 Reflection

5 Art

6 Historical Symbolism

7 Hieroglyph

8 Nature

9 Appropriation

10 Objectified Subjectivity

11 Emulation and Epigonality

12 Coda: Anamnestic Totalization

Part 3 The Nazarene Divide

13 Toward a Naturalist Idealism

14 The Word Made Flesh

15 Portraiture as History





Editorial Reviews

“After two centuries of negative critical reception of this artistic movement, [this book] presents a compelling revisionist account that succeeds in recapturing the radicalism of what Johann Wolfgang von Goethe disdainfully described in 1817 as ‘neo-German, religious-patriotic art’.”

—Frédérique Baumgartner, Burlington Magazine