Acquisitions History

"Here's a bundle of papers – You certainly won't expect this to be everything!" wrote Margot Fürst in her note accompanying the papers arriving at the Akademie der Künste in 1997. As trustee of the artistic estate of graphic artist and wood engraver HAP Grieshaber, she was indicating her readiness to present the Visual Arts Archives, founded in 1994, with an important artistic estate in the history of art and the Academy in both East and West Germany.

HAP Grieshaber, Workbook Engel der Geschichte IV, (1969–1979), inside cover

George Grosz and Eva Peter, Frauenmord
staged photograph, c. 1920

Berthold Viertel, Oskar Kokoschka, Fred Uhlman in exile, London 1939

The Grieshaber Archive is exemplary of the acquisitions policy in early years of the Visual Arts Archives directly after the Akademie der Künste in East and West Berlin were reunited. The acquisitions at that time also include the estates of art theorist and journalist Wolfgang Max Faust, sculptor and Academy member Werner Stötzer and, in particular, the estate of written papers by George Grosz, the leading representative of the Weimar Republic’s Dada art scene.

At that time, the core of the Visual Arts Archives comprised estates of written papers from Hans and Lea Grundig and John Heartfield, preserved in the Archives in the Akademie der Künste in the former East Berlin, as well as the archives of  Käthe Kollwitz and Lovis Corinth, contributed from the Akademie der Künste in the former West Berlin.

Securing the Archives of the Verband Bildender Künstler Deutschland/DDR, which became necessary in 1994, was the starting point of a series of acquisitions, still ongoing, of the archives of the key Federal German and Berlin art institutions, e.g. the  Deutscher Künstlerbund, (Association of German Artists), the Bundesverband Bildender Künstler and the Berufsverband Bildender Künstler Berlin (Professional Association of Visual Artists Berlin) as well as the Verein Berliner Künstler and the Verein der Berliner Künstlerinnen Collection.

However, the heart of the acquisitions is formed by the personal papers of the Akademie der Künste members and winners of the Käthe Kollwitz Prize, among them the archives of Jo Jastram, Joachim John, Heinrich Drake, Wieland Förster, Philipp Franck, Alfonso Hüppi, Ludwig Knaus, Dieter Goltzsche, Carl Steffeck, Arno Mohr, Michael Ruetz, Michael Schoenholtz, Gustav Seitz, Rolf Szymanski and Wulf Herzogenrath.

Through a policy of targeted acquisitions, it has proved possible to supplement the collections of personal papers and artistic estates of visual artists persecuted and driven into exile from 1933 – 1945 already held by the two Akademie der Künste in East and West Berlin prior to the merger of the Archives. In this way, the artistic estates of the artists Ellen Auerbach, Theo Balden, Ellen Bernkopf, Benno Elkan, Eugen Spiro, Heinrich Vogeler and Heinz Worner, who fled Germany after 1933 for England, France, Palestine, Czechoslovakia or the USSR have now found a new home in the Archives of the Akademie der Künste Berlin.