Due to the society’s increasing complexity and the rapidly developing technology the lamenting for the “good old times” is getting louder. Those, who are unable to cope with these facts, mostly refer to that part of european history when the “Biedermeier” was at it’s zenith.
Gottlieb Biedermaier was an ingenious and bourgeois creation who first appeared in 1847 in this poem of Ludwig Pfau. From 1855 on Ludwig Eichrodt and Adolf Kussmaul published with this alias poems in the munich‘ „Fliegenden Blättern“.
This name is a mixture of two figuers in poems of Joseph Victor von Scheffel, Biedermanns Abendgemütlichkeit (evenings comfort) and Bummelmaiers Klage (lament).
Until the 20th Century „Biedermeier“ was a taunt and mockery, from there on it was a definition for a specific style. The essence of “Biedermeier” never left the arts. It has been romanticised, interpreted and broached the issue consistently, thus the intensity of the civic varied in fine arts, writing and performing arts.
After the napoleonic wars and the Wiener Kongress europe was rearranged, strong shaped by Fürst von Metternich. With the „Restitution“ he gave back the lordship to the nobility and excluded the commons from political power. Liberal tendencies were suppressed, a police state spied on, controlled and detained its own people. Censorship and confinement of civil freedom was a daily routine, in modern terms, violation of human rights under the name of national security was a common thing.
Hence people retreated in their homes and sought relief in their family. Private life was most important, people avoided and even refused public attention and action.
In literature the desire for simple life prevailed, the appreciation of solitude, loners and misfits foregrounded. Many storylines were set in the proximate environment of the authors and poets.
The fine arts was dictated by domestic scenes and surrounding landscapes, interior design and white goods were of great significance.
To escape the daily grind, to ease social and political anxieties, people gave great attention to the arts and cultural activities. The concept of “leisure time” is rooted in this era. People met at home or in a cafè, they went out for dancing or had picknicks in the countryside.
All this sounds very familiar.
Today we live in a new era of the biedermeier, the neobiedermeier.
Endless DIY-leads, grow-your-own-food campaigns, ideas for decorating your home, slow movement and meditation-sites, and, most important, wiseassed wordly wisdom that’s gonna save the world along with Coelho’s semi-enlightened prudence, all this mixes up with reports about data preservation, closed borders, police brutality and corrupt politicians.