The Künstlerhaus Lukas (Artists’ House Luke) is the oldest artists’ house in Germany. More than one hundred years ago, it was founded by the co-founder of the artists’ colony Ahrenshoop, the painter Paul Müller-Kaempff. It was built as a boarding house and studio for his painting 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, Müller-Kaempff 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 "Fräulein" (miss) and who – according to the local historian Friedrich Schulz – ran the house perfectly well. Afterwards, the next woman who leased the house did not have much luck during the years of World War I, and so Müller-Kaempff sold the house to the barber Bernhard Saatmann. The new owner established his barber shop in the house and additionally operated the "St. Lucas" under this name as a boarding house which was very popular with artists and writers. In 1944 and 1945, many refugees of war found a first place to stay in this house. In 1946, the family Saatmann reopened the boarding house, and again a lot of artists came to stay at the "St. Lucas". Saatmann ran the barber shop until his death in 1966. However, in 1959, the management of the boarding house was taken over by the Department of Culture of the DDR. By May 1979, the "Haus Lukas" had lost its holyness and became property of the Kulturfonds (culture foundation) of the DDR. From that time onwards until 1990, it was used exclusively for the recreation of artists (Kulturschaffende) of the DDR.
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 Müller-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. From 1994, it arranged for the Künstlerhaus Lukas (Artists’ House Luke) to become a work place for artists now from all of Germany.
Between the early summer of 1994 and 1996, the Artists’ House was directed by the theorist of drama, Ursula Hahlweg-Elchlepp. At that time, its name was "Künstlerhaus ‘Haus Lukas’". These years saw the first cooperation with the other local arts houses as well as the first "Day of the Open Door" which has become a tradition. 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 Künstlerhaus Lukas (Artists’ House Luke) to publicize their artistic work in exhibitions, concerts and readings apart from the "Day of the Open Door".
In 1997and 1998, the Künstlerhaus Lukas 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, a library and a piano were installed in the lounge, 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 Künstlerhaus Lukas (Artists’ House Luke) for five years. Under her direction, artists from the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea were included in the work. This 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 a 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 Künstlerhaus 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 „Künstlerhaus Ahrenshoop" (Artists’ House) was appointed to direct artistically the Künstlerhaus 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 „Künstlerhaus Ahrenshoop" (Artists’ House) followed the association "Kunsthaus" (Arts House) which ran the Neues Kunsthaus Ahrenshoop (New Arts House) since 1998. Thanks to the preservation and continuation of both institutions’ successful work - Künstlerhaus 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.
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 Künstlerhaus 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.