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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.

Accusative phrases with wünschen

Frohes neues Jahr from our team here at Yabla German!

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Unfortunately, the newsletter is not in time to wish you guten Rutsch this year (see this lesson for more information on that), but we hope you had a lovely Sylvester.

 

Have you ever wondered how the adjectival endings on phrases such as these are formed? In the examples below, you can see the full versions of these expressions. In the first one, Ich is the subject, das Jahr is the direct object, and Ihnen und Ihren Familien is the indirect object. All adjectives pertaining to das Jahr have the appropriate accusative case ending for a neuter noun, as does the indefinite article ein.

 

Ich wünsche Ihnen und Ihren Familien ein frohesgesundes und gesegnetes neues Jahr zweitausendzwölf!

I wish you and your families a happyhealthy and blessed New Year two thousand twelve!

Captions 36-37, Angela Merkel - Neujahrsansprache - Part 2

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Similarly, in the following sentence, der Rutsch is the direct object, and all articles and adjectives (ein, gut) receive the accusative ending for a masculine noun.
  

Ich wünsch' euch auch einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr.

I also wish you all "a good slide" into the New Year.

Caption 100, Silvester - Vorsätze für das neue Jahr - Linkenheim

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Of course, this is not at all restricted to New Year’s expressions. All of the basic phrases that you already know also follow this rule, for example, Guten Tag and Schönen Tag noch (der Tag), Guten Abend (der Abend), Gute Reise (die Reise), and Gute Nacht (die Nacht). Understanding why these expressions include the adjective endings they do unlocks a very essential aspect of German grammar. 

 

Dann wünsch' ich dir noch einen schönen Tag.

Then I wish you a nice day.

Caption 45, Jenny interviewt - Sabine

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Einen schönen guten Abend aus Karlsruhe.

A pleasant good evening from Karlsruhe.

Caption 1, Architektur - der Stadt Karlsruhe

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Further Learning
We hope that you will take special note of these and other phrases when you see them on Yabla German in the future. If you want some practice with your direct and indirect objects, write some sentences about the presents you gave to various people this year, for example: Ich (subject) habe meiner Mutter (indirect object) einen Schal (direct object) geschenkt

How bitte and bitten differ from “please” and “to please”

The adverb bitte is probably used much more often in German than “please” is in English. This is because it has many different meanings, from “you’re welcome,” “pardon,” “may I help you” and “here you go” all the way back to simple “please.” On the other hand, the verb “to please” has a number of German equivalents, but the German verb bitten does not mean “to please,” but rather “to ask,” “to request,” “to beg” or “to plead.” So be aware that while these aren’t exactly false friends, they’re not completely equivalent.  

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The adverb, please!

 

Let’s first check out the different ways bitte is used: Bitte is very commonly meant as “you’re welcome,” the standard response after somebody has thanked you for something: 

 

Also, vielen herzlichen Dank, dass ich heute mit dabei sein durfte! -Bitte, bitte

So, many heartfelt thanks that I was allowed to be here today! -You're welcome, you're welcome!

Captions 56-57, Selbst versucht - Gepäckabfertigung bei Fraport

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When you go into a restaurant or shop, often the first thing the waiter or salesperson will ask you is bitte schön or sometimes merely bitte, which in this case means “may I help you?” The second bitte is “please” again!

 

Ja, bitte schön. -Ich möchte zwei Brotchen und ein Dinkelbrot, bitte

Yes, may I help you? -I would like two rolls and a spelt bread, please.

 

Next up, a Yabla example of bitte in the sense of “here you are,” a commonplace usage when, for instance, a waiter hands you a menu in a restaurant. Note that the first use of bitte in this example is the standard meaning “please.”

 

Genau. -Speisekarten bitte! So, bitte sehr.

Exactly. -Menus please! So, here you are.

Captions 6-7, Melanie und Thomas - im Restaurant

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Lastly, the adverb bitte can also be used in the sense of “pardon”:

 

Ich heiße Angela Merkel. -Wie bitte? -Ich sagte, „Ich heiße Angela Merkel”.

My name is Angela Merkel. -Pardon me? -I said, “My name is Angela Merkel.”

 

Although at first it may seem a bit confusing with so many possible meanings for bitte, the contexts will give you a very good indication of meaning!

 

The verb “to please”

 

As we discussed, the German verb bitten means “to ask,” “to plead,” “to entreat,” or even “to beg.” So how do we “please” someone in German? The German sich freuen, zufrieden sein, and zufriedenstellen are all used in various ways “to please.” Here someone is pleased to greet another person:

 

Ich bedanke mich und würde mich freuen, Sie mal persönlich hier bei uns begrüßen.

I thank you and I would be pleased to greet you personally here with us.

Captions 55-56, Architektur - der Stadt Karlsruhe

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And here someone is pleased with the city:

 

Ich bin extrem zufrieden mit Offenburg, wirklich.

I am extremely pleased with Offenburg, really.

Caption 8, Barbara Schöneberger - Bambi-Verleihung backstage

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And here a person is pleased with a film:

 

Die abwechslungsreichen Kurzfilme werden an Orten gezeigt, die auch Besucher mit ästhetischem Anspruch äußerst zufriedenstellen.

The varied short films are being shown at places that please visitors supremely with an aesthetic claim.

Captions 3-4, Kurzfilm-Festival - Shorts at Moonlight

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Learning suggestions:

 

Some other words meaning “to please,” which have varied shades of meaning such as “to make happy” and “to like,” are beglücken, behagen, and zu Gefallen sein. See if you can find a variety of these usages on Yabla and also check out Linguee, a great language resource site that takes published translations and posts them side by side with the original language so that you can see some real-world examples of words in different contexts. Ich denke, es wird euch gefallen!

Expressions

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