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21. Christ, Art And The Nation. The Berlin 'Christ Exhibition' Of 1896 And The Search For A Protestant Identity In Wilhelminian Germany

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Chapter Summary

This chapter singles out the Berlin Christ exhibition 'Das Christusideal in der deutschen Kunst' of 1896 as an exemplary endeavour that rooted in debates promoting an artistic renewal. Aiming at a liberal, cultural-Protestant public, it was deliberately organised opposing artistic convention and calling for a fundamental reorientation of religious values. The arrangement of the exposition, the shown images and resulting debate provide interesting source material on complex use of art and images in fin-de-siècle Protestantism. The symbolic forms of communication, by which religious debate in the Kaiserreich negotiated the fundamentals of cultural and ethical norms as well as the deep rifts that divided liberal and traditional Protestants become palpable in the discussion of presented images. Images can be explored as part of the cultural practices that structure human everyday life and influence social communication and interaction. The Berlin exhibition shows how images were used as arguments in a religious-ideological discourse.

Keywords: Berlin Christ exhibition; cultural practices; fin-de-siècle Protestantism; Kaiserreich; Protestant identity; religious values; religious-ideological discourse; Wilhelminian Germany



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