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The Kuenstlerhaus Lukas:
the place for creativeness of painters, writers and composers

Composer Oleg Paiberdin in the Kuenstlerhaus LukasThe history of the artists' colony and the artists' village Ahrenshoop covers more than 100 years. In 1892, Paul Mueller-Kaempff built the first painter's cabin in Ahrenshoop. Therefore, he is regarded as being the founder of the artists' colony Ahrenshoop even though the painters Carl Malchin and Anna Gerresheim should have worked on the peninsula Darss before him.

They were followed by numerous artists who also were attracted by the magic of the landscape: Elisabeth von Eicken, Fritz Grebe, Heinrich Schlotermann, Theobald Schorn, Friedrich Wachenhusen and others. After this generation of founders, various artists belonging to the movements “Blauer Reiter”, “Bruecke” and “Novembergruppe” brought modern art to the narrow coastline surrounded by the sea. All of them were stimulated by the changing nature which can be seen in their works. In contrast to the founders, these new artists did not settle here but stayed in Ahrenshoop and its surrounding villages especially in the summer. This was a result of modern society which had become more mobile at the beginning of the 20th century. It led to the artists' colony becoming an open place reflecting the German history of arts of the 20th century. For example, George Grosz visited the peninsula several times in order to meet, among others, Otto Dix or Max Pechstein.

From 1933 to 1945 during the Nazi regime and even later in the GDR, the secluded coast line used to be a retreat for intellectuals and artists who wanted to work beyond doctrinaire influence. One of them was the sculptor Gerhard Marcks who lived here between 1933 and 1946 after his dismissal as professor at the Kunsthochschule (College of Art and Design) Burg Giebichenstein. Also, the painter Max Schwimmer, who had given up his teaching post at the beginning of the 1950s as a result of the debate on formalism at that time, came to stay close to his friend Theodor Schulze-Jasmer in neighbouring Prerow.

The government of the GDR made Ahrenshoop to become an artists' resort (Bad der Kulturschaffenden). The Kulturbund (Association of Culture) with people like the poet Johannes R. Becher, the pastor Karl Kleinschmidt from Schwerin and the writer Willi Bredel discovered Ahrenshoop after 1945 as a summer residence. In Uwe Johnson's novel “Jahrestage” (“Anniversary”), the main character Gesine Cresspahl says, “The peninsula Darss was prescribed to the intellectuals in the Soviet zone like medicine, after 14 days they had to make room.” Ahrenshoop became a favourite holiday resort of many intellectuals and artists and therefore has always been a place of interesting meetings and discussions.

The artists at Ahrenshoop used to live in a rather bohemian way and therefore were looked on with suspicion by others. In 1989, the political change for a while brought an end to this way of life.

Today, you can find contemporary art of the most different kinds in numerous galleries and exhibitions halls: Kunstkaten (Arts Cottage), Kuenstlerhaus Lukas (Artists' House Luke), Neues Kunsthaus Ahrenshoop (New Arts House), Gallery Peters-Barenbrock, Dornenhaus (Thorns House), Strandhalle (Beach Hall)—these are places of lively discussion about the arts. Plurality and mutual tolerance of different aesthetic conceptions distinguish Ahrenshoop. There, a museum is being founded that will work on systematizing artistic developments and collections. It shall become permanent residence of the changing history of the artists' village.

The Kuenstlerhaus LukasThe Kuenstlerhaus Lukas (Artists' House Luke) has been part of this history for more than 100 years.

The Kuenstlerhaus Lukas (Artists' House Luke) is one of the oldest artists' houses in Germany. More than one hundred years ago, it was founded by the co-founder of the artists' colony Ahrenshoop, the painter Paul Mller-Kaempff. It was built as a boarding house and atelier for his students and named after the patron of fine arts, St. Luke.

Between 1895 and 1914, the house was open especially to future female artists because at that time, they were not admitted to train at the academies of arts. Until 1908, Mueller-Kaempff himself was the director of the boarding house. Between 1908 and 1914, he rented “St. Lucas” to Lady von Schack from Schwerin who wanted to be addressed as “Froeulein” (miss) and who—according to the local historian Friedrich Schulz—run the house perfectly well. The next lady in charge of the house did not have much luck during the years of World War I, and so Mueller-Kaempff sold it to the hairdresser Bernhard Saatmann. The new owner set up his business in the house and additionally continued the “St. Lucas” which was very popular with artists and writers.

In 1944/45, many refugees of war found a first place to stay in this house. In 1946, family Saatmann reopened the boarding house, and again a lot of artists came to stay at the “St. Lucas”. Saatmann run the hairdresser's until his death in 1966. However, already in 1959, the management of the boarding house was taken over by the Department of Culture of the GDR. By May 1979, the “Haus Lukas” had lost its holyness and became property of the Kulturfonds (culture foundation) of the GDR. From that time onwards until 1990, it was used exclusively for the recreation of artists (Kulturschaffende) of the GDR.

Ahrenshoop, situated between the towns Rostock and Stralsund, on the peninsula Fischland between the open Baltic Sea and a still part of it, next to the peninsula Darss and Zingst, had long been famous for the artists who settled here at the end of the 19th century: Anna Gerresheim, Paul Mueller-Kaempff, Elisabeth von Eicken, Theobald Schorn and others. They had founded the tradition of Ahrenshoop being a place of the arts. The charming landscape and the historic places of the first generation of artists have always attracted artists. Even though there is no consensus on the question of who turned Ahrenshoop into a resort of artists (Kulturschaffende) in the GDR, the founder of the Kulturbund (culture association), the poet Johannes R. Becher was among those who gave Ahrenshoop a second name: the “resort of intellectuals”.

After the unification of Germany in 1990, the Kulturfonds of the GDR was replaced by the Stiftung Kulturfonds, a foundation for the promotion and financing of works of culture. It arranged for the Kuenstlerhaus Lukas (Artists' House Luke) to become a work place for artists now from the whole Germany.

Between the early summers of 1994 and 1996, the Artists' House was led by the theorist of drama, Ursula Hahlweg-Elchlepp. At that time, its name was “Kuenstlerhaus ‘Haus Lukas’”.

These years saw the first cooperation with the other local arts houses as well as the first “Open Day” which has become a tradition ever since. The work of the holders of scholarship has been given publicity through exhibition cooperation and the monthly opening of the ateliers.

The first director was followed by the literary scientist Gwendolyn Mertz. She fulfilled the function for almost a year and intensified cooperation with other cultural institutions in Ahrenshoop and the district of Rostock. This cooperation enabled the holders of scholarship of the Kuenstlerhaus Lukas (Artists' House Luke) to publicize their artistic work in exhibitions, concerts and readings apart from the “Open Days”.

In 1997/98, the Kuenstlerhaus Lukas (Artists' House Luke) had to be closed because of extensive renovations. Each of the five apartments was equipped with bathroom and toilet, the common kitchen was completely refurbished, the lounge got a library and a piano and the basement was sunk in order to set up a sculptor's studio.

In the summer of 1998, the fine artist Inga Rensch took over the direction of the reopened Kuenstlerhaus Lukas (Artists' House Luke) for five years. During this period, artists from the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea were included into the work. Its combination of different genres resulted in the EDITION HOHES UFER AHRENSHOOP which was founded together with the Neues Kunsthaus Ahrenshoop (New Arts House) following the Edition Kunsthaus (Arts House) Guttenberg. Travelling exhibitions which came into existence in cooperation with the Neues Kunsthaus Ahrenshoop (New Arts House), small exhibitions in our house and a close cooperation with the FilmKunstFest Schwerin (International Festival of Film and the Arts) were incorporated. These new developments supported the programme of combining different genres which characterized the house's public relations.

For more than one year, the literary scientist Ursula Vogel took over the direction of the house. This period saw the beginning of the cooperation with the Literaturhaus Kuhtor (Literature House) in Rostock.

In December 2004, the Stiftung Kulturfonds had to end its financial support which resulted in the closing of the Kuenstlerhaus Lukas (Artists' House Luke). In 2005, the federal state of Mecklenburg/Western Pomerania took over the house in order to continue the international promotion of artists of different genres. The association “Kuenstlerhaus Ahrenshoop” (Artists' House) was appointed to direct artistically the Kuenstlerhaus Lukas (Artists' House Luke). From February 2006 onwards, the association continues and expands the successful work with new cooperation partners. The municipality of Ahrenshoop provides for the maintenance of the building.

The association “Kuenstlerhaus Ahrenshoop” (Artists' House) followed the association “Kunsthaus” (Arts House) which ran the Neues Kunsthaus Ahrenshoop (New Arts House) from 1998 onwards. Thanks to the preservation and continuation of both institutions' successful work—Kuenstlerhaus Lukas and Neues Kunsthaus Ahrenshoop—the discussion on the latest artistic tendencies will be pursued with high intensity in Ahrenshoop. A new concept supports regional and international cooperation of artists working in different genres and national as well as international promotion of contemporary arts will stimulate each other. In contrast to other resorts, Ahrenshoop managed to develop individual tourism according to its history and present as an artists' village and uses this tourism for the promotion of arts.

Several institutions have helped and influenced this development positively: the Stiftung Kulturfonds arranged for the reopening of the Kuenstlerhaus Lukas as a work place for artists, the federal government of Mecklenburg/Western Pomerania was clearly in favour of the continuation of its work and the municipality and private initiatives committed themselves to its preservation.

The charming landscape of the former artists' colony and present Baltic Sea resort, the historical places of the first generation of artists, the traces of personalities of arts like George Grosz, Johannes R. Becher, Edmund Kesting, Uwe Johnson or Hans Kinder that came to Ahrenshoop in the eventful following years as well as several very active houses of arts and galleries—like the Kunstkaten (Arts Cottage), the Neue Kunsthaus (New Arts House) Ahrenshoop, the Gallery Peters-Barenbrock, the Strandhalle (Beach Hall) or the Dornenhaus (Thorns House)—attract numerous visitors every year. The Kuenstlerhaus Lukas (Artists' House Luke) has a part in this development because it invites artists from different genres and different countries to stay and work at Ahrenshoop and make their artistic results public.

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