The Important Artists and Works of Gesamtkunstwerk
This photograph depicts the exterior of The Red House, named for the red brick used for its walls and the red tiles of its roofing. Morris saw the house as "very mediaeval in spirit" and the sloping and overhanging gables, prominent chimneys, and combination of round and narrow vertical windows reflect the influence of early English Gothic architecture. Innovative in its rejection of any architectural decorative elements, the building's design was, as J. W. Mackail wrote, "plain almost to severity, and depended for its effect on its solidity and fine proportion". Every element, from the site, which was then a rural setting in Kent on the outskirts of London, to the interior fittings, were designed to create a singular work of art.
Following his marriage, Morris built this house with Philip Webb, and the design, materials, and building methods reflected his emphasis on traditional handcrafts and utility. Built upon a L-plan, Morris designed the windows, employing a number of different types and shapes, to suit the layout and purpose of the rooms. He also worked with a wide range of other artists on the property, including Burne-Jones who created a selection of stained glass, Dante Gabriel Rossetti who produced painted panels and other elements were designed by Ford Madox Brown, Elizabeth Siddal, and Jane Morris. Designing the garden, Morris emphasized its integration with the house and he saw the building and grounds, and the collaborative approach they had employed to make it, as an artistic statement of his vision of "the future we are now helping to make". He also noted that "If I were asked to say what is at once the most important production of Art...I should answer, A beautiful House". During the five years that Morris lived in The Red House, it became an active center of the arts, informing both the Arts and Crafts movement and the Pre-Raphaelites, while also having a significant influence as a pioneering example of Gesamtkunstwerk. In the 1950s the architects Edward and Doris Hollamby renovated The Red House, which had fallen into disrepair, and it again became an important hub for artists and thinkers.
The façade of the Bayreuth Theatre reflects late-19th century fashions in architecture, with its columns and geometric patterns of light-colored stone framing the central entrance. Imposing, and referencing the appearance of a classical temple, it rises on a small hill above a garden laid out in a geometric design which reflects the decoration on the frontage. Richard Wagner built the theatre as a venue for the performance of his opera cycles at the annual Bayreuth Festival, officially titled Richard-Wagner-Festspielhaus, which still continues today. As such, the theatre and its performances embodied his vision of Gesamtkunstwerk, with every element combining to create a total aesthetic experience.
The foundation stone for the building was placed on Wagner's birthday in 1872 and Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung,) Wagner's cycle of four operas opened the theatre in 1876. To integrate the presentation of the operas with the building, Wagner pioneered a new design, including continental seating (a seating layout without a central aisle), a double proscenium, and a recessed orchestral pit. He also primarily used wood for the interior to improve acoustics. The continental seating, arranged in a single wedge, meant every seat had a clear view of the stage. The double proscenium created what Wagner called a "mystic gulf" between the stage and the audience, enhancing the dreamlike and mythic quality of his operas. At the same time, the orchestra pit, hidden under the stage, was invisible and let the audience focus entirely on the opera. Many theatres subsequently adopted these features.
This townhouse, considered to be one of the first complete examples of an Art Nouveau building, was revolutionary in its architectural techniques and its fluid, open style. Innovating with modern materials, particularly steel and glass, Horta emphasized organic, curving lines, so the façade flowed both vertically and horizontally. He pioneered the use of thin iron columns, rather than conventional stone, allowing for the large windows. Horta also designed the interior, giving the property an open floor plan and emphasizing natural light, so that the total effect of the building was of a fully-integrated, light-filled space. The wider design was complemented by details such as the light fixtures, window frames, door handles, and stair railings which imitated sinuous plant-like forms, defining both the wider Art Nouveau aesthetic as well as creating a cohesive decorative and architectural scheme throughout the property.
Along with Horta's Hôtel Solvay, Hôtel van Eetvelde, and Maison & Atelier Horta, this building was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000 and cited, as "some of the most remarkable pioneering works of architecture of the end of the 19th century. The stylistic revolution represented by these works is characterised by their open plan, the diffusion of light, and the brilliant joining of the curved lines of decoration with the structure of the building."