Künstlerkolonie Schwaan

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The Schwaan artists’ colony was formed at the end of the 19th century in the small town of Schwaan between Rostock and Güstrow. As with other artists’ colonies, the desire for an escape from metropolitan civilization into idyllic nature was the trigger for the formation of the colony.

As early as around 1860, artists such as Otto Dörr (1831-1868), Eduard Ehrke (1837-1911) and Carl Malchin (1838-1923) had discovered the landscape around Schwaan, shaped by the Warnow and Beke rivers, as a motif for their paintings. Through the encouragement of Franz Bunke (1857-1939), who was born in Schwaan, the town developed into a real artists’ colony. Bunke had first studied in Rostock with Paul Tischbein and Theodor Rogge and then, via Berlin, had come to the Weimar School of Painting, where he was a pupil of Theodor Hagen and became a professor himself in 1886. From 1892 Bunke spent the time from spring to autumn in Schwaan to paint and during these stays he brought many of his Weimar students and colleagues with him, among them Paul Baum, Rudolf Bechstein, Paul Riss, Richard Starcke, Arno Metzeroth, Rudolf Holzschuh and Otto Tarnogrocki. Alfred Heinsohn belonged to the Schwaan group of artists since 1902 and settled here. Some Schwaaner were also taught by Bunke, among them Peter Paul Draewing and Rudolf Bartels, who later also studied in Weimar. All artists were thus influenced by Franz Bunke and by Theodor Hagen, who taught working in front of nature in a departure from the academic style.

In the art museum in the water mill in Schwaan important works of the artist colony are exhibited since 2002.

Highlights were the joint exhibitions. The first such exhibition took place in 1904 in the Rostock Museum. Mutual visits took place with the artists’ colony in Ahrenshoop. With and after the First World War, the Schwaan artists’ colony gradually disintegrated and fell into oblivion.

An important collection of the works of the artists’ colony has been housed in the building of the old water mill in Schwaan since 2002. The permanent exhibition focuses on the works of Franz Bunke, Rudolf Bartels, Peter Paul Draewing and Alfred Heinsohn.


  • Johann Joachim Bernitt: Ahrenshoop und Schwaan. A Century of North German Artists’ Colonies. Atelier im Bauernhaus, Fischerhude 1992, ISBN 3-88132201-9.
  • Stephan Kohls, Ute Kümmel: Verträumt, entdeckt, vergessen – die Künstlerkolonie Schwaan. In: Melanie Ehler (ed.): Rückzug ins Paradies. The Artists’ Colonies Worpswede – Ahrenshoop – Schwaan. Lukas, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-931836-62-2, pp. 41-48.
  • Lisa Jürß: Die Künstlerkolonie Schwaan. Atelier im Bauernhaus, Fischerhude 2002, ISBN 3-88132-295-7.

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