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Weltkunstbücher der 1920er-Jahre

Zur Ambivalenz eines publizistischen Aufbruchs

Ernst Fuhrmann, Reich der Inka,
Band 3: Kulturen der Erde. Material zur Kultur- und Kunstgeschte aller Völker,
Folkwang-Verlag, Hagen und Darmstadt 1922.

Um 1900 erschienen im deutschsprachigen Raum die ersten Kompendien und Handbücher über sogenannte Weltkunst, etwa Karl Woermanns Geschichte der Kunst aller Zeiten und Völker (1900). Nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg explodierte dann die Anzahl der Publikationen über außereuropäische Künste. Diese fanden auch sogleich Eingang in die 1919 neu etablierte Bauhaus-Bibliothek.1 Zu diesen Büchern zählt etwa auch die von Paul Westheim herausgegebene 20-bändige Reihe Orbis Pictus/Weltkunst-Bücherei (1920–1935)2 oder, ebenfalls 20-bändig, Kulturen der Erde. Material zur Kultur- und Kunstgeschichte aller Völker (1919–1923)3, herausgegeben vom sozialrevolutionär gesinnten Ernst Fuhrmann, der selbst die meisten Einleitungstexte schrieb. Der Name Orbis Pictus lässt bereits die Programmatik solcher Reihen erkennen: Den gesamten „Weltkreis“ umfassend, trägt sie den Namen des ersten, mit zahlreichen Holzschnitten versehenen Schul- und Lehrbuchs, Orbis sensualium pictus des Humanisten Johann Amos Comenius. Dieses gedachte über die Kombination von Text und Bild zu erziehen und erschien erstmalig 1658. Die Reihe Orbis Pictus war ebenfalls als Lehr- und Bilderbuch konzipiert. Auch wenn die Einleitungstexte der Bücher die Bedeutung der jeweiligen Artefakte zu erklären versuchen, lassen diese Buchreihen erkennen, unter welchen Bedingungen nichteuropäische Kunst in den 1920er-Jahren rezipiert wurde: als Inspirationsmaterial, als Ausdruck der Kanonkritik an einer europäischen Hochkunst und als Plädoyer für die Aufhebung zwischen Kunst und Kunsthandwerk, aber vor allem auch welches Verständnis von „Welt“ hier reproduziert wurde. In erster Linie war es die „Welt“ und damit die Perspektive der damaligen Völkerkundemuseen,4 deren Sammlungen größtenteils im Zuge der Kolonialismus entstanden waren.

Ernst Fuhrmann, Peru II, Band 2: Kulturen der Erde. Material zur Kultur- und Kunstgeschte aller Völker, Folkwang-Verlag, Hagen und Darmstadt 1922.

Diese sehr breite Öffnung der Kunstgeschichte bedeutete gleichzeitig die Einschreibung der Gegenstände in Kunstbegrifflichkeiten, nicht zuletzt aufgrund bestimmter institutioneller Rahmungen, materieller Reproduktionsbedingungen bis hin zu geschichtsphilosophischen Narrativen. Die häufige Diagnose des Verfalls etwa der durch ihre Künste repräsentierten außereuropäischen, gegenwärtigen wie antiken Gesellschaften folgte dabei einem biologistischen Geschichtsmodell, das davon ausging, dass Gesellschaften einen Zyklus von Aufstieg, Blüte und Verfall durchlaufen, wobei diese Geschichte nie eine spezifische, sondern immer eine menschheitsgeschichtliche war. „Im vorderen Orient hat die Menschheit im Ablauf von 4000 Jahren die erste Epoche ihrer Geschichte vollendet.“5 Mit diesem Satz beginnt etwa Otto Weber seine Einleitung zu Hethitische Kunst. Und Carl Einstein, der seine Position später radikal korrigieren sollte, schrieb in derselben Reihe über Afrikanische Plastik: „Die alte Überlieferung zerbröckelte unter der Kolonisierung[…] Es scheint, dass afrikanische Kunstfertigkeit im letzten Verfall steht.“6 Für andere, wie dem zunächst sozialistischen, dann zunehmend kultur-pessimistisch und in den 1950er-Jahren religiös argumentierenden Kunsthistoriker Wilhelm Hausenstein, bedeuten diese Künste in Bild und Gemeinschaft. Entwurf einer Soziologie der Kunst (1920) ein kollektivistisches, urdemokratisches Modell, im Namen derer er sich gegen die moderne Arbeitsteilung und das Individuationsprinzip richtete. In Barbaren und Klassiker. Ein Buch von der Bildnerei exotischer Völker (1922) wird er zwei Jahre später seiner im Spengler’schen Duktus vorgetragenen Diagnose einer tragischen Ermüdung Europas die Vitalität exotischer Masken entgegenhalten.

Klassisch/antiklassisch war dabei eine der am weitesten verbreiteten Unterscheidungen und von all denjenigen vorgetragen, die sich über die Rezeption nichteuropäischer Künste von einem Narrativ der Herkunft jedweder Kultur aus dem klassischen Griechenland befreien wollten.7 Diese antiklassische Orientierung konnte dabei in zwei hier nur grob skizzierte politische Richtungen gehen: diejenigen, die damit eine sozialistische Relativierung der eigenen Kultur anstrebten und für ein antinationales Gemeinschaftsdenken im Sinne einer Volkskultur plädierten, wie der Kunsthistoriker Oskar Beyer in Welt-Kunst. Von der Umwertung der Kunstgeschichte (1923); und diejenigen, die gegen Griechenland zugunsten völkischer Blutsgemeinschaften oder eines nordischen Geistes argumentierten, etwa der Kunsthistoriker Josef Strzygowski, der schließlich eine nationalsozialistische Kunstgeschichte vertrat.

Neben solchen Einordnungen in kulturhistorische Narrative, erfuhren die Objekte vor allem durch ihre Musealisierung – und das bedeutet auch immer Besitzerwechsel – sowie durch die Inventarfotografie eine radikale Transformation. Abgelichtet vor möglichst neutralem Grund, wurden die einstmals meist rituellen Objekte zu Skulpturen transformiert. Mit dem grundlegenden Faktum neuer Besitzverhältnisse, ging damit auch eine neue Warenförmigkeit sowie die Ausbildung von kunsthistorischer Kennerschaft einher.8 Analog zum Fetischbegriff von Karl Marx notiert Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie: „This dispensation renders the real producers of african artworks invisible[…].“9 Die Effekte einer solchen De- und Rekontextualisierung waren gemäß Ogbechie Isolierung, Monumentalisierung, Individualisierung, Formalisierung, Identifizierung von „Meisterwerken“ und nicht zuletzt Normalisierung dieser neuen Objektkategorie über die Verbreitung durch Fotografien. Dies zeigt sich nicht nur an der oben genannten Objektverschiebung, sondern mit dem Stil und Präferenz von Form auch eine Betrachtung solcher Künste als Ornamente, die nicht zuletzt aufgrund ihrer Überführung in die Zweidimensionalität10 durch europäische Techniken des Abzeichnens, des Stechens, des Reproduzierens die Muster der Buchcover bildeten, wie etwa in Kulturen der Erde, wobei diese sogenannten Ornamente in ihren jeweiligen Herkunftsgesellschaften komplexe Codierungsformen waren und sind. In den 1930er-Jahren, hatte Einstein diese Formalisierung bereits kritisiert: „Diese Isolierung des Kunstgeschehens bewirkte einen geschichtlich unzureichenden, nur ästhetischen Standpunkt, wodurch die Geschichte zu einer Art Mechanik der Formen und Stile gemindert wurde.“11 Demgegenüber forderte er eine komplexe kulturhistorische Betrachtung dieser Gegenstände.

Ernst Fuhrmann, Mexiko III, Band 13: Kulturen der Erde. Material zur Kultur- und Kunstgeschte aller Völker, Folkwang-Verlag, Hagen und Darmstadt 1922.

●Footnotes
  • 1 Zur Bauhaus-Bibliothek vgl. Michael Siebenbrodt, Frank Simon-Ritz (Hg.): Die Bauhaus-Bibliothek. Versuch einer Rekonstruktion, Bauhaus-Universität, Weimar 2009.
  • 2 Die Reihe Orbis Pictus, erschienen im Ernst Wasmuth Verlag, enthält folgende Bände 1 Indische Baukunst, 2 Altrussische Kunst, 3 Archaische Plastik der Griechen, 4 Die chinesische Landschaftsmalerei, 5 Asiatische Monumentalplastik, 6 Indische Miniaturen der islamischen Zeit, 7 Afrikanische Plastik, 8 Altmexikanische Kunstgeschichte, 9 Die Kunst der Hethiter, 10 Älteste deutsche Malerei, 11 Mittelalterliche Elfenbeinarbeiten , 12 Chinesische Kleinplastik, 13 Masken, 14 Islamische Architektur, 15 Klassizismus in Frankreich, 16 Der frühe japanische Holzschnitt, 17 Nordwest-amerikanische Indianerkunst, 18 Die Altfranzösischen Bildteppiche, 19 Assyrische Plastik, 20 Deutsche Steinbildwerke der Frühzeit.
  • 3 Erschienen im Verlag Folkwang, Hagen i.W., initiiert von Karl Ernst Osthaus, Museumsgründer in Hagen, geführt von Ernst Fuhrmann. In den frühen 1920er-Jahren gehörte dem Folkwang-Archiv die größte Bildersammlung zu nicht-europäischen Künsten. Hier reicht die geografische Spannbreite ebenfalls über u.a. China, Ostgotland, Mexiko, Indonesien, Persien.
  • 4 In den Bildunterschriften finden sich u.a. folgende Museen: Berlin, Museum für Völkerkunde; Museum Folkwang Essen; Leipzig, Museum für Völkerkunde; Wien, Naturhistorisches Museum; Darmstadt, Museum für Völkerkunde: Frankfurt, Völkerkundemuseum; Lübeck, Museum für Völkerkunde; Bremen, Städtische Museum etc.
  • 5 Otto Weber: „Einleitung“, in: Die Kunst der Hethiter, Ernst Wasmuth, Berlin o.J., (Orbis Pictus, Bd. 9), S. 5–19, hier S. 5.
  • 6 Carl Einstein: Afrikanische Plastik, Ernst Wasmuth, Berlin o.J., (Orbis Pictus, Bd. 7), S. 5 Es ist interessant dass Einstein hier den Kolonialismus kritisch hinterfragt.
  • 7 Vgl. hierzu ausführlicher: Susanne Leeb: Die Kunst der Anderen. „Weltkunst“ und die Konfiguration der anthropologischen Moderne, b-books, Berlin 2015.
  • 8 Vgl. dazu Sylvester Ogbechie: „Transcultural Interpretation and the Production of Alterity: Photography, Materiality and Mediation in the Making of ,African Art‘“, in: Gabriele Genge, Angela Stercken (Hg.) Art History and Fetishism Abroad. Global Shiftings in Media and Methods, transcript, Bielefeld 2014, S. 113–128, hier S. 113.
  • 9 Ebd.
  • 10 Das erste Kompendium dieser Art ist Owen Jones’ Grammer of Ornaments, London 1856. Konstitutiv hierfür war die Loslösung von einem materiellen Träger (Körper im Fall von Tätowierungen, Häuser, rituelle Objekte etc.) und aus dem sozialen Gebrauch hin zur Übersetzung in die Zweidimensionalität mit dem Ziel eines Musterbuchs zu Dekorationszwecken.
  • 11 Carl Einstein: „Handbuch der Kunst“ (1930er-Jahre), Typoskript (Anfang der Erläuterungen zu Bd. V „Die gesamte Kunstgeschichte in einem Band von 300 Seiten Text“), Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Carl-Einstein-Archiv Nr. 219.
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