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Resurrections in a Modernist Mode: Greeks, Spartans, and Wild Savages, or the Restoration of Civilization’s Shattered Gaze

Resurrections in a Modernist Mode: Greeks, Spartans, and Wild Savages, or the Restoration of Civilization’s Shattered Gaze

Chapter:
(p.348) Twenty Resurrections in a Modernist Mode: Greeks, Spartans, and Wild Savages, or the Restoration of Civilization’s Shattered Gaze
Source:
The Conquest of Ruins
Author(s):
Julia Hell
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226588223.003.0021

Pursuing her study of the creation of the Nazi empire’s neo-Roman imaginary, the author analyzes Leni Riefenstahl’s Prologue in Images and essays by Gottfried Benn. She argues that these artists participated in the resurrection of the Greco-Roman past using modernist techniques. In both cases, the act of visually imagining the ancient Greco-Roman world is tied to a fortified imperial gaze that seizes its objects. The author complements her reading of Riefenstahl’s introduction to her film about the 1936 Olympics with an analysis of the architecture of the Olympic sports complex, drawing attention to the skene or scene-building of the outdoor theater. She also puts Benn’s essays in the context of debates about Sparta. In both cases, ancient Greek society and art are refashioned to conform to the Roman image.

Keywords:   Fortified gaze, Gottfried Benn, Leni Riefenstahl, 1936 Olympics, modernist resurrectional techniques, Sparta, Dietrich-Eckart

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