Darmstadt

Darmstadt
4 records
In 1898 Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse, an Anglophile and British Arts and Crafts enthusiast, established an artists’ colony in Darmstadt. The enlightened ruler had previously commissioned British architects M. H. Baillie Scott and C. R. Ashbee to create furnishings for his palace. For the Darmstadt colony, he invited the Austrian Joseph Maria Olbrich, architect of the Secession building in Vienna, to design an exhibition space as well as the houses and studios for six of the colony’s seven original artists. (Only Peter Behrens designed his own house and furnishings.) These buildings were opened to public view in 1901 as part of the colony’s first exhibition, A Document of German Art.

Through exhibiting work of exceptional quality, the Duke sought to draw attention to Darmstadt as an artistic center, to establish a uniquely German identity in the arts, and to increase revenue for the state of Hesse. All but one of the colony’s original artists is represented here. The work demonstrates the group’s success in realizing the ideal of the Gesamtkunstwerk—complete design unity in which buildings, furnishings, and settings form an artistic whole. Though exquisite, the output of the Darmstadt artists was limited, and the colony was always dependent on the Grand Duke’s patronage and subsidies from the local government.

- Wendy Kaplan (2005)