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The Arts

The Arts

Focus on Culture - The Arts


The Arts

The Arts explore ideas and are an expression of culture, a creative response to whatever motivated the composer, artist, choreographer, designer, writer etc. Artists reflect and respond to the times. Each new style is built on what has come before, it involves thinking differently, being bold to try something new, searching for meaning, rebelling against the past or the present, imagining the future, exploring new concepts to express ideas and emotions. In short - being creative. German-speaking composers, musicians, artists, playwrights, poets and writers are some of the most well-known throughout the world.

Many Australian artists, musicians and performers leave these shores to take up positions and opportunities in German-speaking countries, where the support for the Arts remains strong.

Creative Expression on Show

The Goethe-Institut link for 'The Arts' includes: Architecture, Dance, Design and Fashion, Film, Literature, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts

Goethe-Instiut Australia publish the magazine Kultur, and supports many artists, performers, authors and exhibitions to travel to Australia. The Berlin Dayz festival in 2010 celebrated 20 years of German Reunification and was a cultural highlight for Australians.


Music is a language that crosses cultural boundaries with universal emotional appeal. Music styles are influenced by the events of the times, experiences and skill of the individual/s who compose the music.

Many of the western music traditions are integrally linked with German-speaking composers like Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. People associate these names with high culture. Mozart was born in 1756 and was a bit of a rebel and what we would call a star in his day. He died at the age of 35, and yet his music continues to be played throughout the world. He is nothing less than a superstar!  

A modern industrial world produced electronic music and led to Techno. What music styles of the early 21st century will be remembered? Will they be as successful as Mozart 250+ years later?

Music through the Ages


Land von Dichter und Denker - a saying earned long ago in reference to the German writers and philosophers who established an ongoing literary tradition and interest in exploring and writing about human experience.

Australians are familiar with German-speaking writers, usually in translation. Children the world over know the fairy tales collated by the Grimm brothers.

German is ranked 5 in terms of books published in the world, many of of these are not translated.

German ranks 2nd as the most frequently used language on the Internet after English.

Australian Authors

  • Colin Thiele (1920 -2006) - Born in Eudunda in South Australia and only spoke German when he went to school, he served in the Australian Army and was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1977 for his services to literature and education.
  • Anna Funder - Author of Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Wall. Anna studied in Berlin in 1994 as a recipient of a DAAD Scholarship and in 1995 received a scholarship from the Australian-German Assocation (AGA)

Elizabeth Honey (Richmond, Melbourne) and Heike Brandt (Berlin) collaborated to co-author the children's book To the Boy in Berlin with accompanying website. It explores the relationship between Australia and Germany over time, and includes some intercultural insights into the life and language used in both countries.

Philosophy on the Human Condition

  • Friedrich Nietzsche - German philosopher, poet and philologist
  • Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels - Political thinkers
  • Sigmund Freud - An Austrian who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis
  • Carl Jung - Swiss psychiatrist
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein - An important contemporary Austrian philosopher in relation to use of  language
  • Lou Andreas-Salomé - A  writer and psychoanalyst, and a muse and confidant to Friedrich Nietzsche, Rainer Maria Rilke and Sigmund Freud. Lou had one parent of northern German descent and lived much of her life in Germany.
  • Clara Zetkin - A German socialist and fighter for women's rights

Film and Photography

Cinema of Australia has a long history. Australia was a pioneer in the production of feature films, beginning with The Story of the Kelly Gang in 1906 and has produced many internationally recognised films, actors and filmmakers.

The Audi Film Festival first screened in 2001 in Australia and has grown to be the biggest German film festival outside of Germany. German films are screened regularly in Australia.

Goethe-Institut Australia has hosted a Film Festival for students of German in schools since 2003. Students from Early, Middle and Later Years make a film no longer than 4 minutes.

Wilhelm Lindt was one of Melbourne's most famous early photographers. He was born in Frankfurt am Main in 1845 and arrived in Australian in 1963. He photographed the capture of the Kelly Gang in 1880.

German-speaking Europe has an equally long history and interest in the power of the lens of the camera. There is a vibrant film industry today.

Painters, Sculptors and Designers

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' ancestors produced some of the earliest known cave paintings in the world. Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art is highly valued around the world.

Hans Heysen (1877–1968) was born in Hamburg and migrated with his family in 1884. He is one of Australia’s best-known landscape painters. He changed the way we view the Australian landscape, with his distinctive gum trees having now become a part of our national imagery.

German art treasures in Australia, especially in Victoria

German-speaking artists in Europe

Museums and Galleries

The Arts in Oz

Historical Periods and Art Movements of Western Culture

Understanding the historical setting of artworks provides insights into the inspiration for the work as well as historical references within. A selection of periods is provided below.