The history of the artists’ colony and the artists’ village of Ahrenshoop covers more than 100 years. In 1892, Paul Müller-Kaempff built the first painter’s cabin in Ahrenshoop. Therefore, he is regarded as the founder of the artists’ colony of Ahrenshoop even though the painters Carl Malchin and Anna Gerresheim had already worked on the peninsula Darss before him. They were followed in the founding year 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 the founding generation, various artists at the beginning of the 20th century belonging to the movements "Blauer Reiter", "Brücke" and "Novembergruppe" brought modern art to the narrow coastline surrounded by the sea. They did not establish themselves in Ahrenshoop for the long term.

In contrast to the founders, these new artists did not settle here but stayed in Ahrenshoop and its surrounding villages only in the summer.  All of the artists were stimulated by the changing nature which can be seen in their works.  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 DDR, the secluded coast line was used as 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 position 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 neighboring Prerow.

The government of the DDR made Ahrenshoop an artists’ resort (Bad der Kulturschaffenden). The Kulturbund (Association of Culture) discovered Ahrenshoop after 1945, along with people like the poet Johannes R. Becher, the pastor Karl Kleinschmidt from Schwerin, and the writer Willi Bredel and created a place for 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 favorite holiday resort of many intellectuals and artists and therefore has always been a place of interesting meetings and discussions.

Today, you can find contemporary art of the most different kinds in numerous galleries and exhibitions halls: Kunstkaten (Arts Cottage), Künstlerhaus 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 will become permanent residence describing the changing history of the artists’ village.

The Künstlerhaus Lukas (Artists’ House Luke) has been part of this history for more than 100 years. You will find more information about its beginnings until its lively present starting in 1994 under the archives section.

Pictures: Paul Müller-Kaempff: "Net boat on blossoming dunes" (left)
Cornelia Gross: detail from "The far war" (right)