Politics of the Image: The Portrait of the Author as Iconic Authorisation

Term: September 2013 – February 2019



Image politics in Weimar around 1800 (Klassik Stiftung Weimar)

Alexander Trippel, portrait bust of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, cast of original replica from 1790. © DLA Marbach

The goal of this sub-project is to provide a comprehensive interpretation of the image politics of Classical Weimar. Goethe, Herder, Wieland, Schiller, Duke Carl August, his mother Anna Amalia and the entrepreneur Friedrich Justin Bertuch belonged to a narrow circle of individuals, from whom arose artistic and commercial strategies which served to highlight Weimar’s artistic and cultural significance. The focus lies on portrayals of Goethe, particularly those produced in connection with his travels to Italy, which continue to serve as reference points for portraits of many other writers even today.

Dr Sophie Borges

An Essay from Prof. Dr. Christian Hecht "Alexander Trippels Goethebüste“ (in german only)

Poets and scholars in photography (German Literature Archive Marbach)

Rilke at the Hotel Biron, 1908/9. © DLA Marbach

This sub-project in Marbach investigates the relationship of literary and philosophical writers and their images. From the beginnings of early photography to the present day, scholars have been intrigued by the staged and coincidental forms of genius expressed in photographic media, the marketing strategies employed by writers, and the influence which publishers and heirs exert on cultural and commemorative politics. This project comparatively analyses pictorial and written sources, iconographic traditions and poetological intensions. The project particularly focuses on the interplay between poetic “imago” and image, as well as the media-related aspect of artistic image-building and the creative effect of surprise.

Essay by Dr. Ellen Strittmatter "Ich ist ein anderer – W. G. Sebalds Porträts aus dem Nachlass“ (in german only)