Lebenskünstler

What might it mean?

The word is “Lebenskünstler.” It is a German word and connotes a person who approaches life with the zest and inspiration of an artist, although he or she may not be working recognizably as an artist.
via: http://www.iwwg.com/index.php?section=words [interesting award concept]

Lebensfreude = joy of living
Lebenskunst = art of living
Lebenskünstler = master of the art of living
via: http://www.heilkunst.com/rebuttal.html [not a useful site]

* Lebenskünstler (“life artist”, someone who masters life in a somewhat eccentric way)
* -meister (primarily satirical usage)
via: http://www.hongfire.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2621&page=83 [nothing else relevant]

Going back to the 1970s – or maybe even to the 1910s – there has existed a decadent, artistic underground here which has placed little value on “making it” for the sake of making it. The king of decadent Berlin is the “poor but sexy” Lebenskünstler, an archetype who has had a huge influence on culture and nightlife here till this day. The Lebenskünstler cares little about his next record deal or art opening or publishing deal. Instead, life is his art. Only “now” matters and how you can make the most out of each moment. Screw success and any concept of “the future” because for decades Berliners – think of WWII, the Cold War etc. – have felt there is NO tomorrow (and they are right of course – we will all die).

The Lebenskünstler’s dilettantish self-expression might have no audience other than his circle of friends or 30 people in some tiny Kleinkunst venue.
via: http://www.exberliner.com/blogs/the-blog/easyjet-lebenskuenstler/

connoisseur of the art of living – Lebenskünstler {m}
via: http://www.dict.cc/english-german/c264.php [only relevant portion]

Imagine making art, not with paint or clay, but with life itself as your medium. A “life artist,” or “Lebenskuenstler” as the Germans would say, is someone who finds beauty in the colors life puts at their disposal, someone who makes do with the brushes they’ve got and doesn’t pout over a few mistaken strokes.
via: http://www.dw-world.de/popups/popup_imagegalleryimage//0,,3577395_gid_2235205_lang_2_page_1,00.html

Oscar Wilde once purportedly said “I put my talent into my work, but my genius into my life.” A suitable introduction to this week’s entry, Lebenskünstler. Literally translated, it means “life-artist.” … He is a Lebenskünstler. Someone who pieces together his living from various activities that, collectively, bring in just enough money to live. No office, no suit, no boss, no rules. German has a word for such people, and English doesn’t. There’s even a higher form of Lebenskünstler, and that is the Überlebenskünstler, or “survival artist.”
via: http://andrewhammel.typepad.com/german_joys/2006/02/german_word_of_.html [best portion here]

Lebenskünstler – someone who knows how to live, survivor, a person who always knows to make the best of things, bon vivant.
via: http://forum.leo.org/archiv/2005_07/01/20050701115507e_en.html [brief discussion of how to translate]

Lebenskünstler – one who recognizes opportunities in life and takes advantage or makes use of those opportunities to make the most out of one’s own life; one who lives life deliberately and to the fullest capacity (concept from Henry David Thoreau of “living deep and sucking out all the marrow of life”); one who gambles with the outcome of his/her own life by seizing opportunity; one who makes living an art.

Lebenskunstler – artist of life

Lebenskunstler – an architect of his own achievements
via: http://www.theharmonicaman.net/lebenskunstler.htm [a bit more there - but sourced from a neo-nazi site!]

Lebenskünstler (life artist): someone who manages to get his living in an eccentric way (such as through piecing together odd jobs, mooching, etc. — think of Kramer on Seinfeld)
via: http://kellysearsmith.livejournal.com/tag/words [only relevant portion]

The Germans have a wonderful word Lebenskunstler which means ‘an artist of life’. It acknowledges that being an artist is not, in the first instance, about what you produce, but about your contribution to your environment based on the way you live. As creative entities, we can share our creativity in many ways. By how we dress or decorate our homes, by what we cook, by how we educate our children or entertain our friends, by how we dance and make love, by how we speak about our lives.
via: http://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/994069

Lebenskünstler – chilled-out dude
via: http://www.proz.com/glossary-translations/german-to-english-translations/2 [obviously not very helpful]

Leben means “life” and a Künstler is an artist. Lebenskünstler refers not so much to people who turn their life into a piece of art than to people able to face whatever life throws at them with equanimity and a minimum of fuss. It’s not so much that they see something positive in every situation (a form of self-delusion); rather, they always seem to find a way out of problems they encounter without kvetching and self-dramatization. It’s also not a matter of “grace under pressure”—Lebenskünstler don’t let pressure get to them in the first place. via: http://krautblog-ulrich.blogspot.com/2011/08/word-of-month.html

It is not for nothing that Berlin has been dubbed a graveyard for ambition. The German capital has a particularly impressive record of attracting those eager to make a living as artists, many of whom succumb to the many initiative-numbing charms and morph into Lebenskünstler , making an art out of living and devising projects that are for projecting, not realising. via: http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/art-and-design/irish-art-on-berlin-s-blank-canvas-1.1363365

3 Responses

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  1. [...] is crawling with lebenskünstlers – so-called “life artists” who put their talent into their work and their genius [...]

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by jayne rodgers, Bibi Rae. Bibi Rae said: @janeydodge – a whole article on it, joy! http://randallszott.org/lebenskunstler/ [...]

  3. lebenskunstler said, on 04/26/2011 at 00:38

    All right! I just quit my job, thanks.


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