About 18 kilometres northeast from Bremen in Germany the first steps were taken to what was to become Germanys most known artist colony. To the little village Worpswede artists came from all over the country to join in the community and brotherhood that the colony quickly became famous for. Here you could see jugend, expressionism and impressionism being created. The reason that people came to Worpswede was to get out of the cities and out in the country where light is different, and they could come closer to nature as well to live a simpler life. The first artists on the colony were Fritz Mackensen, Otto Modersohn and Hans Am Ende. The inspiration for the colony they got from the French school of Barbizon and in just a few years Worpswede was the biggest and well-known colony in Germany. As the interest was spread to artists moving there. Heinrich Vogeler, who was a well-established artist bought the farm Berkenhhoff which he remodelled in jugend-stile and this later on became the main building of the colony.
Divide and rebuild
In the 30´s the colony was divided after Nazis got more than 60 per cent of the votes in Worpswede. Many members, for example Vogeler and his daughters’ husband Gustaf Regler, were forced to leave the colony because of the Nazis own purposes for the colony. Vogeler wasn´t popular with the politicians because of his engagement to the communists. When World War II ended the Germans sought comfort and peace and quiet and therefore, they built a museum and a completely new park full of sculptures in Worpswede. The internationally known gallerist and art collector Friedrich Netzel founded the Worpswede Art Foundation and started rebuilding the former colony. In 2019 the artist colony celebrates 130 years.
Among everyone that has lived in the colony there are many genres and directions. You can find poets, artists, sculptors, authors and photographers that has produced some of their best works in Worpswede. The central figure Heinrich Vogeler was an artist and architect but also put a lot of time in to Art craft. With his brother Franz he started Worpswede Werkstätte where crafts and kitchen supplies were made. Because of the fact that Heinrich was so versatile in his crafts, he got an important position among the people in the colony. He showed a lot of sympathy for the working-class people. He volunteered in World War I and was placed in the east front. After writing a letter to Vilhelm II of Germany asking for peace he was admitted to a mental hospital in Bremen and freed from his military service. After the war had ended, he became a pacifist and member and the communist party of Germany. Vogeler died during World War II, in 1942, 70 years old. Barkenhoff, his house in the colony, became a home for children but was restored and inaugurated in 2004 as the museum of Heinrich Vogeler.
Tourists from all over the world visits Worpswede today to enjoy and be entertained by the unique and preserved environment in the colony. Many museums have shown early pioneers in art creating the colony. Artists visit Worpswede to exchange experiences and creating together in the spirit of the colony of 130 years.