The glorious avant-garde degeneracy of Jugend magazine before the Nazis made it “pure”. Part 1, 1897-1904
Jugendstil, the German Art Nouveau movement, was named after a hedonistic literary and arts magazine called Jugenda. The Jugendstil movement embraced all areas of the arts from graphic design and architecture to ceramics and clothing. It promoted art as a total way of life. Founded in the late nineteenth century, Jugenda – ‘Youth’ in German – heavily promoted the aesthetic and the lifestyle within its sumptiously illustrated pages and on its lavishly designed covers. The magazine was a creative platform for the cream of Germany’s avant-garde Art Nouveau artists who it celebrated and nurtured.
With the rise of the Nazi party in the 1930s came Gleichschaltung, “a concerted policy of ‘coordination’. When Hitler – a miserable failure as an artist himself – took complete control in 1933 art and artists were either purged as “degenerate” or had to change. Jugenda complied completely with Nazification, taking on the kind of sombre, conservative artistic and political values it was created to protest. Jugenda, once so independent, spontaneous and vibrant became part of the Nazi propaganda machine. Its outrageous covers and proudly original contents turned serious and neoclassical. Its artists went into exile or disappeared completely.
The following covers are from the period 1897-1904. They come from a time on the cusp of a new millennium when Art Nouveau looked both back to the medieval, gothic and Romanticism of the past and forward toward a more modernist, urbane, and urbanized sensibility.
They still manage to retain their fresh, eclectic, cutting-edge feel today.