Association of Berlin Artists

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Association of Berlin Artists, Schöneberger Ufer 57, Berlin-Tiergarten
Künstlerhaus Bellevuestrasse (1903)

The Association of Berlin Artists ( VBK ) is a German association of visual artists .

The oldest artists' association in Germany was founded in May 1841 by Johann Gottfried Schadow and is now based in Berlin-Mitte (Tiergarten district). Since then its members have included u. a. Adolph Menzel , Anton von Werner , Oskar Begas , Carl Steffeck , Max Liebermann , Philipp Franck , Walter Leistikow , Hans Baluschek , Otto Nagel , Georg Kolbe , Eckart Muthesius , Heinrich Zille , Felix Görling , Emil Orlik , Conrad Felixmüller  and A. Paul Weber . In January 2016, 120 Berlin artists from the fields of painting , graphics , photography , installation and new media were registered as members. The total number of members from inception to 2011 was approximately 1,800.

Roof truss association of Berlin artists


Memorial plaque on the Schöneberger Ufer 57 house in Berlin-Tiergarten
Memorial plaque for Carl Langhammer at Haus Schöneberger Ufer 57

The association was founded in 1841 as a Berlin artist association . The association was given its current name in 1859. At the beginning of the association's life, the artists, then exclusively men, met once a week to examine each other's work and to hear lectures on questions of art. The association also gained increasing social importance. Aid funds were set up for artists in need and their survivors, often the most important source of income for those affected. After the bourgeois revolution of 1848 , the association began to influence cultural policy . Successful proposals were made to the Royal Academy of Arts and the Prussian Ministry of Spiritual, Educational and Medical Affairs with the aim of improving the conditions for exhibitions and establishing a budget for the visual arts. In 1867 the VBK was granted corporate rights. Thus, although once a purely private foundation, it was integrated into the institutional system of the monarchy and dependent on the decisions of the Ministry of Culture.

The association's artist festivals were high points in Berlin's social life. With the help of the club's own costume fund, events such as “The Court of the Medici ” in the Crown Prince's Palace (1875), a pageant for the silver wedding anniversary of the Crown Prince couple (1883) and the Pergamon Festival of 1886 with around 1,300 participants were organized.

Under the chairmanship of Anton von Werner, the importance of the association for the income of the artists increased from 1887 through a modernization of the exhibition and sales program and the construction of a new gallery building in a central location on Bellevuestrasse. The association's presence in official commissions and committees grew at the expense of the academy, the tool of the absolutist government . Werner kept the office of chairman to be re-elected annually until 1895 and held it from 1899 to 1901 and finally from 1906 to 1907.

Since 1893 the VBK has been able to organize the Great Berlin Art Exhibition on an equal footing with the Academy of the Arts . In this context he was also involved in the disputes that finally led to the Berlin Secession in 1898 . The association subsequently transformed into a tradition-oriented community.

National Socialism and World War II

During National Socialism , the association largely lost its independence and was incorporated into the structures of the dictatorship . Unlike other artists' associations at that time, however, it was not dissolved. The exhibition house built by Karl Hoffacker in Bellevuestrasse 3 between 1897 and 1899 and a second house near the zoo were destroyed in the Second World War.

As early as June 1945, two months after the end of the war, some artists tried to revive the VBK. The required license was not granted until September 1949. Then the new club activity began under democratic conditions.


The current location of the VBK, a listed town house on the Landwehr Canal , was acquired in 1964. The office, the artistic archive and the club's own gallery with a small sculpture garden are located there . Around eight to ten exhibitions take place every year. Mainly works by contemporary artists are exhibited, mostly by members of the association, but also by national and international guests. In 2016, the association celebrated its 175th anniversary with a historical "pop-up" exhibition, the anniversary festival with a light installation by Philip Geist, a historical exhibition in the municipal gallery, an exhibition in the citadel in Spandau and an exhibition series with 86 works by the currently active Members. The anniversary year was under the patronage of Minister of State Monika Grütters . The roof structure and the facade at Schöneberger Ufer 57 are being renovated with funds from the German Foundation for Monument Protection (DSD) .


Any artist living and working professionally in Berlin can apply for membership. There are no guidelines regarding the artistic and stylistic orientation of the work. There is also no age limit, but only a few young artists apply for membership, so the current age range is mostly between 35 and 60 years. Most of the artists come from Germany, some also from abroad, but all of them live and work mainly in Berlin.

Women have only been allowed to join the association since 1990, although the proportion of female and male members is roughly the same today. The board is made up entirely of women. The first chairwoman of the association has been the painter Sabine Schneider since 2007 .

Membership in the VBK is chargeable. The membership fee is 120 euros per year, and the members also bear the costs for the exhibitions that take place.


  • Helmut Börsch-Supan: Association of Berlin Artists. Attempt to take stock from 1841 to the present, Nicolai, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-87 584-381-9
  • Rudolf Pfefferkorn: From Schadow to gardeners. Drawings from the collection of the Berlin Artists' Association, Stapp Verlag Berlin, 1980, ISBN 3-87776-703-6
  • Anke Matelowski (ed.): Berliner Künstlerleben. Photographs and documents from the Association of Berlin Artists since 1841 . Exhibition from June 3 to August 5, 2007. Akademie der Künste, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-00-021359-5
  • Max Schlichting (Ed.): Hundred Years of Berlin Art. In the work of the Association of Berlin Artists . Self-published by the Association of Berlin Artists, Berlin. 1929.

Web links

Commons : Association of Berlin Artists  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Schöneberger Ufer 57  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Association of Berlin Artists - Association of Berlin Artists | VBK. In: Retrieved May 26, 2016 .
  2. a b c Association of Berlin Artists | VBK - Association of Berlin Artists | VBK. In: Retrieved May 26, 2016 .
  3. ^ Peter Paret: The Berlin Secession. Modern art and its enemies in Imperial Germany. Severin and Siedler, Berlin 1981, pp. 28–29
  4. ^ "Berlin artist life . Photographs and documents of the Association of Berlin Artists since 1841 ”in the archive cabinet of the Academy of Arts | Academy of Arts - Berlin. In: Retrieved May 26, 2016 .
  5. Jubiläumsfest, accessed on May 26, 2016
  6. Exhibitions , accessed on May 26, 2016
  7. ^ Municipal gallery , accessed on May 26, 2016
  8. Foundation promotes redevelopment: 17 monuments in Berlin receive grants, six in the city district. Retrieved April 8, 2020 .
  9. ^ "Berlin artist life . Photographs and documents of the Association of Berlin Artists since 1841 ”in the archive cabinet of the Academy of Arts | Academy of Arts - Berlin. In: Retrieved May 26, 2016 .
  10. Board of Directors , accessed on May 26, 2016