I really like this book because, for the most part, its messages still ring true today (go figure, right?).
In The Artwork of the Future, 19th-century poet-composer Richard Wagner lays out the blueprint for what he has deemed a "Gesamtkunstwerk" or total artwork. From what I understand so far, the Gesamtkunstwerk is an artwork that can and does realize itself in as many forms as possible in relation to what he calls Dance (not ballet, but rhythmic motions generally), Poetry (that is, structured words), and Tone (like voices or sounds). This may seem a little abstract so I'll give you what I think is probably the best modern-day example:
When you read the words "Star Wars", what came to mind? Was it the films? Was it the score? Yoda? Was it some weird toy your mom bought you at a thrift store when you were eight? Maybe it was the sound of Darth Vader breathing; maybe it was the never-should've-been Jar Jar Binks and how much of a blemish he is on the whole story. Light sabers? I don't know, but the point is Star Wars is a prime example of a Gesamtkunstwerk as are the bulk of Hollywood films in our time.
As we move forward as artists today, I think it’s vital that we understand this “total-ness” of artwork necessary to endure (this blog hopefully being one of them); I look forward to making our own little Gesamtkunstwerks with you all here and into the future!