The Künstlerhaus Lukas was built in 1894 by the painter Paul Müller-Kaempff as a painting school for women, who at that time were not yet allowed to study at academies. The First World War brought an end to this project and the house was bought by Bernhard Saatmann. He continued to run the house as a boarding house for artists and, in addition, opened a barbershop on the premises, which he continued until his death in 1966. Before that, however, in 1959, the Kulturbund and the Ministry of Culture of the GDR had already taken over the management of the boarding house. In May 1979, "Haus Lukas" became the property of the Cultural Fund of the GDR. Until 1990, it was used under that name mainly as a recreation home for artists of the GDR. The first working residencies were also made possible during this time. The most prominent guest was Heiner Müller.
Before that, after the founding generation at the beginning of the 20th century, the artist groups "Der Blaue Reiter", "Die Brücke" and "Novembergruppe" also came to the peninsula, bringing modernism to the narrow coastal strip between the sea and the Bodden. However, they did not settle permanently in Ahrenshoop. They mostly used the town and the neighboring villages during the summer months. The interplay of nature also acted as a stimulus for them and was incorporated into their works. Thus they lay the foundations for a movement expressing the more mobile society of the 20th century. It led to the artists' colony becoming an open place for artists, which reflected the art history of 20th century Germany. George Grosz also visited the Darß several times, for example, to meet Otto Dix or Max Pechstein.
Later on, during the National Socialist period from 1933 to 1945 and then during the years of the GDR until 1989, the remote coastal region far away from the big cities acted as a retreat for those intellectuals and artists who wanted to work independent of doctrinal influences. The sculptor Gerhard Marcks, for example, lived here from 1933 to 1946 after his dismissal as professor at the Burg Giebichenstein Art Academy, while the painter Max Schwimmer sought proximity to his friend Theodor Schulze-Jasmer in neighboring Prerow in the wake of the formalism debate and the abandonment of his teaching post in the early 1950s.
The government of the GDR turned Ahrenshoop into a spa for cultural workers. It was the Kulturbund with its members, the poet Johannes R. Becher, the pastor Karl Kleinschmidt from Schwerin and the writer Willi Bredel, who re-discovered Ahrenshoop after 1945 and made the place their summer center. In his novel "Jahrestage" (Anniversaries), the writer Uwe Johnson has the main character Gesine Cresspahl say: "The intellectuals of the GDR were issued the Fischland like a medicine, after 14 days they had to leave again." Ahrenshoop grew to be a popular vacation destination for many intellectuals and artists, and has thus always been a place of interesting meetings and discussions.
After the reunification of Germany, the Stiftung Kulturfonds (Cultural Fund Foundation), established in 1990 as the legal successor to the Cultural Fund of the GDR, ensured that from the summer of 1994 onwards, the Künstlerhaus Lukas would become a working place for artists from all over Germany.
Between 1994 and 1996, the theater scholar Ursula Hahlweg-Elchlepp acted as director of the Künstlerhaus, which initially operated under the name "Künstlerhaus 'Haus Lukas'". During these years, the first collaborations with other local art houses were established. The "Open Day", which has since become a tradition, was also born during that time. From the very beginning, Künstlerhaus Lukas also cooperated with Kunsthaus Guttenberg, which was also founded by Gerlinde Creutzburg and relocated to the Neues Kunsthaus in 1998.
Hahlweg-Elchlepp's successor was the literary scholar Gwendolyn Mertz, who occupied the position of director for about a year and ensured an intensification of the cooperation with other cultural institutions in Ahrenshoop and the greater Rostock area, so that the scholarship holders of the Künstlerhaus Lukas were given opportunities to showcase their work beyond the "open days", for example in exhibitions, concerts and readings. Together with Sabine Jastram-Porsche from the Kunstkaten and Gerlinde Creutzburg from the Kunsthaus Guttenberg/Neues Kunsthaus, the first cultural concept of Ahrenshoop was designed.
In 1997/98 the Künstlerhaus Lukas had to be closed for a year to be renovated from the ground up. Each of the five apartments was given a bathroom and WC, the communal kitchen was completely renewed, the common room was equipped with a library and a piano, and the floor of a workroom in the basement was lowered so that a sculpture workshop could be set up in it.
In the summer of 1998, the visual artist Inga Rensch took over the management of the reopened Künstlerhaus Lukas for five years. Under her leadership, the inclusion of artists was extended to the countries bordering the Baltic Sea. The cross-disciplinary work found its special expression in the EDITION HOHES UFER AHRENSHOOP, which was from then on run together with the Neues Kunsthaus and succeeded the Edition Kunsthaus Guttenberg founded by Gerlinde Creutzburg. Touring exhibitions organized in conjunction with the Neues Kunsthaus Ahrenshoop, small in-house exhibitions, and a close collaboration with the Schwerin Filmkunstfest were new additions that promoted public relations.
After that, the literary scholar Ursula Vogel managed the house for a little more than a year.
In December 2004, the Stiftung Kulturfonds had to end its funding activities and close the Künstlerhaus Lukas. In 2005, the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern took over the house in order to continue the international and interdisciplinary support of artists. The artistic management of the Künstlerhaus Lukas was transferred to the association "Künstlerhaus Ahrenshoop", which will continue the proven work in an expanded form with new cooperation partners as of February 2006. An international scholarship exchange program focused on Northern Europe was established by Gerlinde Creutzburg, who's been director since 2006. The community of Ahrenshoop is now responsible for the preservation of the building.
The scenic landscape, the historical sites of the first generation of artists, the traces of artistic personalities such as George Grosz, Johannes R. Becher, Edmund Kesting, Uwe Johnson or Hans Kinder in the eventful years that followed, as well as numerous art houses and galleries that have been very active since 1990 - such as the newly built art museum, the Kunstkaten, the Neue Kunsthaus, the Alte Schule and Peters-Barenbrock galleries or the Dornenhaus, as well as numerous ceramics workshops - attract many visitors to the former artists' colony and today's art town of Ahrenshoop every year.
The Künstlerhaus Lukas has played a major role in writing this history over the past 125 years, and it is here that the works are created that will certainly continue to have significance well into the future.