The long history of the association VBK starts in 1841 under the name Berliner Künstler-Verein (Berlin artist-association). In 1859 it received its present name Verein Berliner Künstler (VBK).
The first known membership list has been consigned from 1860, the first statute from 1871.The conferment of the corporation rights on February 9, 1867 enabled the association to accept funds and property for an own artist house. The members of the committee and its variant bodies were elected once a year. In 1901 the first edition of the VBK’s journal the Kunst Herold was published. The association financed from membershipsubscriptions, donations - respectively through the legates of deceased members, winnings of exhibitions and of artist celebrations as well as national grants.
During the period of National Socialism the Führerprinzip (principle of the leader) was established, namely through the influence of the Reichskammer (Chamber of the Third Reich) for visual arts, the Reichsministerium (the ministry of the Third Reich) for propaganda and for the clarification of the people and members of the NSDAP. Until the end of war in 1945 meetings of members took place. Since the licensing in 1949 exhibitions and events of the association are organized by a committee. It was not until 1990 that women had the permission to enter.
(from: Anke Matelowski, archive-sheets 16 of the Akademie der Künste, archive, 2007,
published during the exhibition „Preussische Boheme: Sammlung und Ausstellungsgeschichte des Vereins Berliner Künstler 3.6. – 5.8.2007“ (engl. „Prussian Boheme: Collections and history of exhibitions of the Verein Berliner Künstler“)
Since the foundation of the VBK many famous artists and architects belonged to its members. Well known names like Adolph Menzel, Oskar Begas, Carl Steffeck, Max Liebermann, Philipp Franck, Walter Leistikow, Hans Baluschek , Otto Nagel, Georg Kolbe and Eckhard Muthesius were influencial members of the association.
Heinrich Zille and Emil Orlik reflected in their portraits and milieu pictures aspects of Berlin life in the 20ties. In the post-war era Conrad Felixmüller und A. Paul Weber took a critical and humorous view on the developments in the divided city. Honorary members and supporters of the association during the time until World War II were members of public life: Representatives of economy and politics and creative artists from other domains.
The division of Berlin and the years of isolation also affected the development and the activities in the VBK. Since 1964 the association’s location can be found on Schöneberger Ufer 57 in Berlin Tiergarten-Mitte.
Due to the german reunification artists from the Eastern part of the city to became VBK members.
Since 2006 and after some years of intermission the gallery in the ground floor of the VBK house is run on the VBK’s own initiative. A continious exhibition program shows the work of the members, presentations in cooperation with international artist associations, exchange programs as well as special
exhibitions with guests.
Today half of the members are female artists. The two-part publication “Fotografie und Dokumente des VBK seit 1841“ (“Photography and documents of the VBK since 1841“) and “Preußische Boheme“ („Prussian Boheme“) for the picture and graphic library, Akademie der Künste, archive, 2007, 15 €, is available at Akademie der Künste and Verein Berliner Künstler.
Further information can be found in:
VEREIN BERLINER KÜNSTLER, „Versuch einer Bestandsaufnahme von 1841 bis zur Gegenwart“, 1991, Nicolaische Verlagsbuchhandlung Berlin, ISBN 3-87 584-381-9