About this work
Rob Madole, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.
Hans Mardersteig and Carl Georg Heise, friends at the University of Kiel, conceived Genius as a journal that would provide critical reactions to contemporary art alongside art historical studies of established works. The two presented their idea to literary publisher Kurt Wolff. Despite his reservations about the Expressionist movement, Wolff began publishing Genius in 1919, under the stipulation that it also include a literary section.
By furnishing examples of canonical artwork alongside essays on contemporary artists, Genius presented itself as a prudent cultivator of good taste, forging the critical link between art of the past and art of the future. In Heise's words: "The revolutionary spirit must not be satisfied with blind devotion to everything new. While its high responsibility is to bring these fermenting ideas to their zenith, at the same time it must protect the new from smugness and empty advances, through self-reflection and critical hindsight."
Each volume of Genius was composed of two books, the first dedicated to "the developing arts" and second to "poetry and humanity." Original prints by artists such as Karl Schmidt-Rotluff, Franz Marc, and Erich Heckel were accompanied by valuable literary contributions from writers connected to Wolff's publishing house, including Franz Kafka, Maxim Gorky, Alfred Döblin, and Hermann Hesse.