Darmstadt is known for several cultural greats: modern architecture, impressive churches, and Jugendstil. As the centre of the Art Nouveau movement, Darmstadt functioned as a source of inspiration for many different artists. Its artist colony was founded before that time, in 1899. The buildings and artworks of the Künstlerkolonie Darmstadt (Darmstadt Artists’ Colony) on the Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt form a unique Gesamtkunstwerk (total artwork) that was created between 1900 and 1914.
Founding the Darmstadt artists’ colony, Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse and Rhine, wanted to pursue various goals. Creating a centre for the new modern style in architecture and boosting factories nearby by providing them with modern designs created by the artists in the colony. As the grandson of Queen Victoria, this Grand Duke had become familiar with the style of Arts and Crafts during his time in England. He saw great potential in it – a possible point of departure for the development of modern, high-quality designs. The Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt proved to be the perfect space for this plan. It developed its current form over the course of four major exhibitions between 1901 and 1914 – by the 23 members of the artists’ colony.