Cultural Transfers in Weimar Classicism

Cultural Transfers in Weimar Classicism

The three-year research project, planned by the German Center for Art History in cooperation with the Klassik Stiftung Weimar explores Weimar Classicism with regard to its aesthetic positioning, appropriation, and translation in the context of a transnational, intermedial, and performative cultural transfer. An exhibition associated with the research project will be presented in Paris and Weimar in 2012/13. In an initial part of the project, Goethe’s house in Weimar, as a concrete example of lived cultural translation, clearly illustrates the fundamental importance held by reflected aesthetic experience in Weimar Classicism. The arrangement of the rooms alone reveals the tension surrounding the house’s purpose as a space for daily living and work on one hand and, on the other, as an expression of the poet and privy councilor’s self-image.  

This “phenomenology of living” is a vivid translation of representation and private expression at the intersection of a self-contained and yet worldly Weimar society. The second part of this project is concerned with a further dimension of aesthetic translation: writing and its presentation in Weimar Classicism. In writing as a cultural technique, the practical execution, physical mechanics, and discursive functionalization of writing are inextricably linked. The technique of writing particular to Weimar Classicism is characterized by two separate objectives: on the one hand, the forgoing of taking personal notes in favor of dematerialized dictation and, on the other hand, the importance given to collecting autographs, which is possibly the most radical form of concentrating on the sensorial-material aspect of writing. In the repertoire of writing forms, a culture of writing emerges that blends literary imagination with the material locality of Weimar Classicism.

Lastly, the third part of the project is dedicated to the paths of cultural translation based on the example of cultural transfer between Weimar and Paris. The interaction between French metropolis and Thuringian province was not only defined by literary interactions. Along with Goethe’s reading of the newspaper Le Globe and Germaine de Staël’s Weimar portrait, it was, to an even greater extent, material forms that functioned as supports for cultural transfer—media of popular culture such as graphic prints and newspapers—that seemed to stand in opposition to the cult of the original. Parisian culture at that time—elegant living, museum collection politics, philosophical debate—represented a backdrop before which the Weimar model aesthetically positioned itself between fascination and repulsion.

Project start
Project end



Prof. Dr. Andreas Beyer

Former Director of the DFK Paris (2009–2014)

Dr. Johannes Grave

Former Deputy Director of the DFK Paris (2009-2012)

Research Associates


Dr. Boris Roman Gibhardt

Research fellow / until 2012