The 2023 Kurt Eisner Cultural Foundation Art Prize goes to the artist Silke Wagner and artist Friedemann Derschmidt.


Kurt Eisner Cultural Foundation Art Price 2023

The prize is worth 5,000 euros each and comes with a print of the woodcut by Fritz Schaefler

November 2023 marks the 105th anniversary of the revolutionary end of the aristocratic and military dictatorship in Germany and the founding of the Free State of Bavaria by Kurt Eisner, the pacifist revolutionary and first Prime Minister of the Free State of Bavaria.

woodcut by Fritz Schaefler 1918

Kurt Eisner stood for peace and international understanding, for human rights, for personal freedom, for social justice, democratic participation for all and for the optimal freedom and promotion of art. These goals are as relevant today as they were in 1918.

Therefore, in November 2023 we will award the prize named after him to commemorate and strengthen art that today works in the spirit of these political positions.

The Kurt Eisner Cultural Foundation

Since its founding in 1988, the Kurt Eisner Cultural Foundation has been a living memorial to Kurt Eisner and continues his political, social and pacifist goals. "Art can only thrive in complete freedom... As an artist, the artist must be an anarchist..." (Kurt Eisner in the speech to the provisional National Council on January 3, 1919) According to the famous quote, the Kurt Eisner Cultural Foundation promotes art that takes a political position , makes socio-political references visible and critically reflects them.

The winners so far have been Hans Haacke, Christian Boltanski, Olaf Metzel, Pia Lanzinger, Claudia Rogge, Pavel Podolak, Shirin Homann-Saadat, Marold Langer-Philippsen, Martin Krenn, Lee Yoo, the group Ultra-red and Patricia London Ante Paris.
On November 7, 1918, Kurt Eisner proclaimed the Free State of Bavaria in Munich. This uprising, supported by a broad popular movement, not only forced the end of the First World War and the abolition of the monarchy, but also initiated a political experiment based on peace, social justice, human rights and democratic sovereignty of the people. The free dialogue and the integration of art into society and politics were the goals of the “Council of Intellectual Workers”, which brought together artists and humanities scholars such as Paul Klee, Hans Richter, Rainer Maria Rilke, Heinrich Mann, Oskar Maria Graf, Erich Mühsam, B. Traven, Ernst Toller and Gustav Landauer were involved.

Six months later, this experiment was violently ended by the nationalist military. Kurt Eisner had already been murdered by a right-wing extremist and anti-Semitic nobleman on February 21, 1919; Around a thousand people lost their lives in the fighting during the invasion of the “White Guards” and Reichswehr troops (May 1919) and the subsequent massacres.

The subsequent restoration created the basis for the emergence of National Socialism, whose criminal policies killed millions of people.

However, awareness of the background and significance of the events surrounding the Bavarian Revolution in 1918 is so low that today's Bavarian Prime Ministers do not even mention it and instead address descendants of the monarchs as "Your Royal Highness".



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