Art and Memoria

The material estate of the Weimar Nietzsche-Archiv

The focus of this case study is the material estate of the Nietzsche-Archiv in Weimar and the development of Nietzsche iconography until 1945. It explores a subject that wasn’t considered in the previous (third-party funded) project on Nietzsche’s library and literary estate, namely, the fine arts, material culture, and the history of the institutionalised cultivation of Nietzsche’s legacy in Weimar.

In view of the extensive and interconnected Nietzsche-related items stored at the Klassik Stiftung Weimar, i.e. the Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv (GSA), the museums department, the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek (HAAB) and the department of Castles, Buildings, Gardens (on the architectural history of the archive), the case study addresses two core topics:

1. The image of the philosopher in photography and art until 1913 (to be continued for later years)

2. The historic residential and collection rooms on the first floor of the Nietzsche-Archiv

The early phase of the philosopher’s artistic stylisation is essential for understanding the “image politics” promoted by Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche. Her influence has often been overshadowed by the “classical” era of the Nietzsche-Archiv, characterised by the rooms on the ground floor designed by Henry van de Velde and Max Klinger’s monumental Nietzsche herm. The rooms on the first floor, which underwent a radical renovation in the 1970s, by no means reflect only Förster-Nietzsche’s taste. They also contain numerous authentic souvenirs and important artworks. Until 1945, these rooms enjoyed the same personal commemorative status as the living quarters and death rooms of Goethe and Schiller. And for the research group “Space”, they represent an important subject of study.

The high density of Nietzsche holdings in Weimar and their distribution among three or four departments of the Klassik Stiftung Weimar, each with their own catalogues and finding aids, make this case study predestined to be a model of a collection index catalogue (SEK). The collection pieces must be presented synchronically (items which objectively belong together) and diachronically (items which were found together). In addition to various technical challenges, the genuine research achievement lies in the intensive indexing of the holdings, as the relevant relationships do not yet exist in the prospective databases. Analogue authority data for the works, collections and provenances can only be created on the basis of corresponding basic research.

A strategic step toward creating an SEK is the presentation of relatively inaccessible image sources on Nietzsche on an independent web portal called NietzschePics. Wherever text references to photos and artworks exist, NietzschePics will provide details regarding their location on “Nietzsche Source” and in the archival database. An interlinked database already exists for collection items predating 1903. An image-driven user interface for this case study is currently being developed for the Virtual Research Room in cooperation with the Urban Complexity Lab at the University of Applied Science in Potsdam.