Artist group

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An artist group is an open or permanent association of artists to form a group with a name. The founders and initiators of artist groups are mostly well-known artists around whom similarly thinking artist personalities are grouped. Many groups of artists had and still have a great and significant influence on the various epochs of art history . In a broader sense, literary groups and group formations of musicians can also be referred to as artist groups.


The aim of the artistic initiatives was and still is to get in contact with other artists in order to point out avant-garde or redefined endeavors in art in the broadest sense, in order to break away from traditional, academic approaches, to break new ground and on them for example by organizing joint exhibitions. The boundaries between all areas of fine and applied arts are fluid.

In contrast to the mostly programmatic artist groups, only the costs for the use of common workspaces or artist houses are usually shared in studio communities . Due to long-term friendships, thematic group exhibitions and the inevitable examination of the work of the other members, however, mixed forms can develop that go beyond the pure community of convenience.

Between artist duo and artist colony

The transition from artist group to artist colony is also fluid . One speaks of the latter when it comes to extensive establishments of artists in the same direction. Examples of this are the Nazarenes in Rome , the Barbizon School or the Worpswede artists' colony . The decisive factor here is the personal decision of the individual to align their place of residence with the like-minded artist, which can be conducive to an optimal further development of the respective art movement.

The opposite extreme of an artist group is the artist duo - the smallest, but also the most symbiotic form. Often they are real civil partnerships (as with Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely , or with Gilbert & George ). It is not uncommon for larger groups of artists to emerge from the "nucleus" of a duo, as, for example, the Pre-Raphaelites developed from the founding duo John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt .

Criteria for the term "artist group"

Designations such as “Die Tachisten” or “Die Junge Wilden” cannot be assigned to any real artist groups; they merely point to common stylistic features within an epoch. A clear indication of the actual existence of such a group exists in a written memorandum , as in Surrealist Manifesto of André Breton was published in Paris in 1924 and signed by several like-minded artists. Thus the members of such a group committed themselves to subordinate themselves to a common goal. This also included the group exhibitions, to which everyone should contribute instead of just presenting themselves.


Artist groups exist or have existed in the following areas:

The most important groups of artists from 1825


  • Germanisches Nationalmuseum (Ed.): Artist colonies in Europe. In the sign of the plain and the sky (exhibition catalog). Nuremberg 2001.
  • Jost Hermand : The German poets' associations. From the Mastersingers to the PEN Club . Cologne 1998.
  • Petra Jacobi: Collectivization of the imagination? Artists groups in the GDR between appropriation and inventiveness . transcript, Bielefeld 2007.
  • Walther Müller-Jentsch : Artists and groups of artists. Sociological views of a precarious profession . In: Berliner Journal für Soziologie, Vol. 15 (2005), Issue 2, pp. 159–177.
  • Hans Peter Thurn : The sociality of the solitaires . In: Kunstforum International , Vol. 116 (November – December 1991), pp. 100–129. Reprinted in: Bildmacht und Sozialrecht. Studies in the sociology of art . Leske + Budrich, Opladen 1997, pp. 81-122.
  • Christoph Wilhelmi: Artist groups in Germany, Austria and Switzerland since 1900. A manual. Hauswedell, Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3-7762-0400-1 .
  • Christoph Wilhelmi: Groups of Artists in Eastern and Southern Europe since 1900. A manual. Hauswedell, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-7762-1101-6 .
  • Christoph Wilhelmi: Artist groups in Western and Northern Europe including Spain and Portugal since 1900. A manual. Hauswedell, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 978-3-7762-1106-1 .

See also

Directory of artist groups (visual arts only)