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The Visual Arts in German

The arts are basically divided into three different categories: the Visual Arts (die bildende Kunst), Literature (die Literatur), and the Performing Arts (die darstellende Kunst). Of course, there are art forms that combine the different categories—as well as art that is very difficult to categorize at all—but let's stick to the basics!

 

Today we'll focus on the Visual Arts. The first type of art in this category is architecture (die Architektur). The professional title of a person who creates architecture is an architect (der Architekt / die Architektin).

 

Architektur ist eben die Reflexion eines Zeitgeistes.

Architecture is simply a reflection of a spirit of the times.

Caption 38, Architektur der Stadt: Karlsruhe

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Mit dem namentlichen Gedenken möchte Architektin Barbara Willecke einerseits den Ort der Synagoge wieder sichtbar machen

With memorialization by name, architect Barbara Willecke would like, on the one hand, to make the site of the synagogue visible again

Captions 65-66, Holocaust-Gedenktag: Gedenkstätte am Michelsberg

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The next type of art in the visual arts is ceramics (die Keramik), which is classified in German culture as an artisanal handicraft (das Kunsthandwerk). Works of art made of ceramic are also called pottery (die Töpferware). You call a person who makes ceramics a ceramicist (der Keramiker / die Keramikerin) or a potter (der Töpfer / die Töpferin).

 

Und das ist jetzt auch aus Keramik produziert? -Das ist aus Keramik.

And this is also produced now out of ceramic? -This is made of ceramic.

Caption 48, Karlsruher Stadtgeburtstag: die Majolika-Manufaktur

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Das hat 1936 die Keramikerin Else Bach kreiert.

That was made in 1936 by the ceramicist Else Bach.

Caption 7, Majolika Karlsruhe: Der Bambi-Filmpreis

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The next type of art in the visual arts category is drawing (das Zeichnen), and the drawing that results is called die Zeichnung. A person who creates drawings is called a drawer (der Zeichner / die Zeichnerin) or an illustrator (der Illustrator / die Illustratorin), but many people working in the visual arts also use drawings as preliminary sketches.

 

Warum haben Sie meine Zeichnung gefälscht?

Why did you forge my drawing?

Caption 39, Großstadtrevier: Nicht mit mir

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Die Zeichner legen viel rein und du siehst es auch einfach.

The illustrators put a lot into it, and you notice that too.

Caption 54, Manga-und-Anime: Treffen in Mainz-Kastell

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Now we come to painting (die Malerei), a field practiced by painters (der Maler / die Malerin; also der Kunstmaler, die Kunstmalerin), which is probably the traditional art form that most people think of when they think about art. The work resulting from an artist in this field is a painting (das Gemälde).

 

Die Malerei macht glücklich und beruhigt die Seele.

Painting makes me happy and soothes my soul.

Caption 41, Malerei: Ernst Mente

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So kamen auch zwei Kunstwerke des italienischen Malers Gennaro Greco ins Haus.

By this means, two artworks by the Italian painter Gennaro Greco also came into the house.

Caption 12, Restituierung von Raubkunst: aus der Nazi-Zeit

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Next comes photography (die Fotografie), practiced by photographers (der Fotograf / die Fotografin), which has many aspects that are not generally considered fine art, such as photojournalism for the news and commercial photography for advertising. The picture taken by a photographer is called a photograph (das Foto, or less commonly, das Lichtbild). The German word for "photographer," der Fotograf, sounds very similar to the English word "photograph," so beware of this false friend! Note too that with most of the German words above, it is acceptable German spelling to substitute most instances of "f" with "ph": die Photographie, der Photograph, and die Photographin. The tricky word Foto, however, may not be written with "ph"!

 

Wann hast du angefangen, dich für die Fotografie zu interessieren?

When did you start to get interested in photography?

Caption 5, Der Fotograf: Sven Siegrist

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Was ist denn da genau als Fotograf zu beachten?

What exactly is there to consider as a photographer?

Caption 41, Der Fotograf: Sven Siegrist

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The last form of visual arts is conceptual art (die Konzeptkunst), which may be defined as any contemporary art that does not use only the traditional visual art skills of painting or sculpture and so forth. A person who practices this art form is a conceptual artist (der Konzeptkünstler / die Konzeptkünstlerin). Since conceptual art may take the form of an installation, or a form that is not easily sold (in the way an object like a painting or sculpture can be sold), most conceptual artists live from art grants and other forms of financial support.

 

... hier bei der Eröffnung der aktuellen Ausstellung zur Konzeptkunst

... here at the opening of the current exhibition about conceptual art

Caption 8, Museum für Moderne Kunst

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and watch the videos above relating to art forms and professions. Find a tandem partner in your class and make up some sentences in German using these art words, then compare what you both came up with.

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