„The path to the arts leads through the eye and heart” Griffelkunst founder Johannes Boese wrote in 1935. Griffelkunst has been following his suit “to discover, develop and divulge in our society the understanding and love for the arts” since 1925. Its history is a varied one. 2002 the principal office moved from Hamburg-Langenhorn to a beautifully restored school building in lively Hamburg St.Pauli.
Today Griffelkunst has 4.500 subscribers all over Germany. A carefully chosen exhibition of 12 different graphic and photographic editions per season travels to more than 80 venues all over the country, allowing members to meet while appreciating, discussing and choosing art for their private and growing collections. A membership fee of 144 Euros per year entitles each subscriber to choose four signed prints or photos annually. Beyond that other prints from the selections of former years can be purchased.
In our head office in Hamburg St.Pauli, the branches in Munich, Frankfurt and the like or even on Helgoland, it is “showtime” every May and November. Then a museum, school, community center or in some cases a private home becomes the stage for the seasonal Griffelkunst exhibition and welcomes all members from the region to gather and make their choices.
Volunteers in 84 different places coordinate these individual endeavours and communicate with the Hamburg head office. Production of each edition is then arranged according to the order numbers placed by all members all over the country and the prints presented ready to be picked up at the following exhibition 6 months later.
The artists exhibit lithography, etchings, woodcuts, combined printing techniques but also photography, C-prints and works in other techniques. We feel particularly fortunate to also offer editions from artists´ estates as well as historical photo editions - printed from the original negatives. Although Griffelkunst´s emphasis has always been on the traditional craft of print making, the effort was never meant to conserve this technique for its own sake. We rather strive to support the most contemporary and fresh approaches and applications artists have to offer thus continually shaping and redefining the role of the graphic arts in todays´s art world. How young artists face this challenge can be seen in the individual use, mix and variations of a technique. New combinations and variations within the concept of the multiple ensure a place for printing techniques in contemporary art.
Printers with their professional expertise and the print shops with their broad range of possibilities become important collaborators.
Twice a year a professional jury chooses the artists who will take part in each exhibition and create their contribution accordingly. It is a rare and precious characteristic of Griffelkunst to combine or juxtapose works of established or even internationally famous artists with the ones of young and upcoming talent from different countries and training backgrounds. Different positions from the young and challenging to the approved and aesthetically more traditional ensure a lively and fruitful artistic dialogue.
Griffelkunst´s list of artists´ editions includes works by Horst Janssen, Dieter Roth, Gustav Kluge, Stephan Balkenhol, Daniel Richter and Jonathan Meese thus ensuring the quality and long term reputation of Griffelkunst Vereinigung. This offers a firm and widely recognized base for young artists who have yet to find their audience and public recognition and many an artist´s career began with a Griffelkunst edition.
Nonetheless Griffelkunst means to be a distinct alternative to the commercial art market. On subscription every member signs a binding agreement to not distribute the prints on the market. This ensures the trust of famous artists signing up for an edition thus endowing the Vereinigung with a high print run of signed copies which would otherwise be the privilege of very few solvent buyers and collectors.
Up to this day collaborating artists as well as Griffelkunst itself seek to enrich and refine artistic experience, taste and the relationship between art and its beholder through the offer to own original art work. This productive relationship takes place not in the public context of a museum or gallery but in private. The form of the limited edition makes art available and a showcase in each subscriber´s private home, it can be tried out to pleasing or displeasing effect, it may create friction, get stuffed into a drawyer and taken back out again, may be framed, given as a present or inherited - but never sold.