The Stuttgart School, also referred to as Stuttgart Group, was an informal network that existed more or less by intellectual kinship only. Therefore it has always been debated, who did or did not belong to the school/group. However, the term was established for referring to those persons who did literary experiments, especially Concrete Poetry, typography, and research on semiotics or Information Aesthetics with Max Bense as mentor and driving force.
On the occasion of the opening of the exhibition “Max Bense. Texte / Bücher / Kunst / Theorie” in 1991 [Döhl, 2002], Elisabeth Walther and Reinhard Döhl agreed that there should be a distinction between:
- Stuttgart School: Those who worked and published on Exact Aesthetics or Semiotics. This would be, for example, Moles, Bense, Bense-Walther, Nake, and Nees.
- Stuttgart Group: Those who were connected to the publications augenblick, rot and futura, the Stuttgarter Studiengalerie or were ulteriorly connected to Bense. To the group belonged Döhl, Lutz, Ernst Jandl, and Diter Rot, for instance.
The activities of the group are, according to Reinhard Döhl [Döhl, 2002], dating back to 1955, when the first edition of augenblick was published. Nevertheless, the main time of activities was in the 1960s, the time when Bense and Döhl also wrote a short text called Zur Lage (1964), which can be seen as a kind of manifest for the Stuttgart School. In the beginning of the 70s the activities were dying away slowly. Bense and Walther, for example, were only concentrating on their research in relation to Semiotics and Information Aesthetics.
“The Stuttgart School’s main achievements included the theory of “concrete poetry” (poetry using onomatopoeia and the arrangement of letters on the page for effect), which Bense had founded. In concrete poetry, poetry is created not in but with language, and is rearranged according to mathematical principles. A further focus of the group was the promotion of “impersonal” and – in Bense’s terms – “artificial poetry”: so-called stochastic texts generated with the help of mainframe computers." [Uni Stuttgart, 2006]