This concluding chapter argues that the idea of the total work of art can be described as both specter and founding myth of aesthetic modernism, the redemptive dream of the avant-gardes that brought the totalizing aesthetic and political revolutions of the first third of the twentieth century into the closest proximity. It then looks back over the 150 years from the French Revolution to the German revolution and discusses fundamental features of the total work that stand out: (i) the total work as the product of the historical caesura of the French Revolution and as the response to the secularization of religion, and to politics, in the modern period; (ii) the total work as organon of philosophies of history; (iii) the total work as the performative re-fusion of art, religion, and politics; (iv) the total work as the bearer of holistic, redemptive-revolutionary visions of modernity; and (v) the translation of the idea of the total work from the Old to the New World after the Second World War as signifying a rebirth of the total work under the new conditions of mass culture.
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