Guides through the Labyrinth
Painting of the Present Day: Neomannerism
From Surrealism to Meditation
by Gustav René Hocke, Limes, 1975
On the triumphal progress of the fantastic. Gustav René Hocke became well-known for his sensational studies of Mannerism in art and literature. In Der Neomanierismus he produced a no less important work on important trends in contemporary art: an imaginary seminar devoted to Neomannerism as modern art’s route from surrealism to meditation. It is a fact that present-day artists, writers and composers who put more faith in the power of imagination than in mere imitation of nature are being increasingly discussed and acknowledged in all world cultures. The subjective creative achievements of fantastic and visionary art, that is to say, those that derive from inner experience, are definitely gaining importance. G. R. Hocke begins his review of the Neomannerist age with 21 illustrated monographs on representative artists. The volume concludes with a bibliography that bears witness to the intensity attained by Idea-Kunst in almost every continent. With 33 colour plates and 85 monochrome illustrations.
On the cover: Woman-shell by Baruch Elron
The volume dedicates an entire chapter to the art of Baruch Elron.
About Gustav René Hocke
Journalist and art historian; employed Geistgeschichte mode in his philological and art-historical studies of Mannerism. Hocke studied in Bonn under the literary historian Ernst Robert Curtius (1886-1956) (whose grandfather was the archaeologist/art historian Ernst Curtius, q.v.), under whom he wrote his dissertation in 1934. As a journalist for the Cologne newspaper, he observed of the rise of national socialism, and, as their correspondent in Italy, observed fascism there as well as the Roman underground. After the Second World War, he again worked again as a journalist in Italy. He published a novel, Der tanzende Gott (The Dancing God), in 1948. His interest in primary source documentation resulting in the following year’s publication of artist’s letters, Europäische Künstlerbriefe. In 1957 he published his Die Welt als Labyrinth his theory of the continual resurfacing of Manneristic tendenices in European art. The book was highly influential for subsequent art historians such as Jacques Bousquet (q.v.).
Throughout his writing, Hocke employs a Geistgeschichte approach to his art history. This was the belief that an art object reflects an artist’s personal expression, not a struggle between, for example, abstraction and naturalism. Geistgeschichte was most fully developed through the Vienna-school art historian Max Dvořák (q.v.), whom Hocke seems to have used in his conception of the Italian Mannerists as a decline in form reflecting a decline in their spirit(uality).