Kurt Eisner
↓ Menu

Call for entries: Art Award 2008

“The artist as an artist must be an anarchist.”
(Kurt Eisner)

On 7 November 1918, Kurt Eisner proclaimed the “Free State” of Bavaria in Munich, which thus marked the end of the First World War and the monarchist system. It was also the start of the first democratic experiment in Germany based on the principles of peace, social justice, human rights and the sovereignty of the people. The majority of the population welcomed this new beginning. Many artists, writers and philosophers became actively involved in this new development, including Paul Klee, Hans Richter, Rainer Maria Rilke, Heinrich Mann, Oskar Maria Graf, Erich Mühsam, Ernst Toller and Gustav Landauer. The aim of the artists and the “Council of Intellectual Workers” was to promote open dialogue and integrate art and politics into the public life of society. Six months later, this experiment in democracy had been cut short by military and nationalist forces: Kurt Eisner had been shot dead (21 February 1919), Gustav Landauer beaten to death (2 May 1919) and around 800 other people were also murdered. This was the preliminary stage of the criminal activities of the National Socialist regime that ignited and spread the global conflagration of the Second World War and led to the murder of millions of people. The consequences continue to this day, yet the level of his­torical awareness of these issues remains low.

In 1988 Wolfram Kastner and Gerhard Koitschew, along with 19 other artists, founded the Kurt Eisner Kulturstiftung with the aim of keeping the liberal and democratic values of the first German democracy alive and of preserving these for the future. Since its foundation, the Kurt Eisner Kulturstiftung has supported publicly and politically engaged art.

In 2008, the Kurt Eisner Kulturstiftung (Cultural Foundation) will once again be presenting an award for the creation of an artistic work. Marking the 90th anniversary of Kurt Eisner’s proclamation, this award will support artworks and projects that take a political stand in the sense of the ideals of freedom espoused by Eisner and the “Council of Intellectual Workers”, and at the same time reflect the contemporary relevance of issues raised during the period of the Bavarian soviet republic – social justice, pacifism, anti-militarism, the promotion of public dialogue between politicians and artists as the basis of a liberal and peaceful social policy. This can involve a specific focus on an individual aspect or an examination of issues relating to society as a whole. The project proposals submitted should explore and visually express the chosen theme, and should also seek to address a public beyond the relatively small circle of those interested in art. The proposed artworks may be situated in the public realm or in an institutional context.


The award is open to artists working in any visual art or communication medium, including photography, performance, installation, conceptual art and video art. Professional artists from all over the world are invited to submit proposals for projects on the subject. The realisation in November 2008 coincides with the anniversary of Eisner’s proclamation in 1918.

A total funding amount of EUR 8.000 is available to support the realisation of at least one artistic project. Selection will be made by the board of the Kurt Eisner Kulturstiftung.

Required information

• personal details (name, address, telephone/fax, e-mail)

• brief artistic biography

• project description: maximum of 1 page of text + 3 images

• project budget

• schedule for the realisation of the project

All documentation must be submitted in A4 format. No original artworks, CDs, DVDs or other storage media. Applications by e-mail will not be accepted. Please note that application materials will not be returned. Applications that do not meet these requirements will not be considered.

Closing date for applications:

Saturday, 24 May 2008 (date of postage)

The decision of the jury will be announced on the website of the Cultural Foundation (www.kurt-eisner-kulturstiftung.de) in late June/early July 2008. Please note that only the award recipient(s) will be notified personally.

Applications should be sent to

Kurt Eisner Kulturstiftung

c/o RA Michael Sack

Schwanthalerstr. 12

80336 München | Munich, Germany

Selected reading matter

- Appelle einer Revolution, Dokumente aus Bayern zum Jahr 1918/1919, compiled and introduced by Karl Ludwig Ay, Munich: Süddeutscher Verlag, 1968.

- Tankred Dorst, Die Münchner Räterepublik, Frankfurt/Main: Edition Suhrkamp, 1966.

- Freya Eisner, Kurt Eisner – Die Politik des libertären Sozialismus, Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1979.

- Kurt Eisner, „Die Stellung der revolutionären Regierung zur Kunst und zu den Künstlern“ in Kurt Eisner, Sozialismus als Aktion, Aufsätze und Reden, Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1973.

- Leonhard M. Fiedler/Renate Heuer/Annemarie Taeger-Altenhofer (eds.), Gustav Landauer (1870–1919). Eine Bestandsaufnahme zur Rezeption seines Werkes, Frankfurt/Main and New York: Campus Verlag, 1995.

- Günther Gerstenberg (ed.), Erich Mühsam – Wir geben nicht auf, München: Buch & Media/Allitera Verlag, 2002.

- Bernhard Grau, Kurt Eisner – eine Biografie, München: C. H. Beck Verlag, 2001.

- Emil Julius Gumbel, Vier Jahre Politischer Mord, Berlin: Verlag der neuen Gesellschaft, 1922.

- Herbert Kapfer/Carl-Ludwig Reichert (eds.), Umsturz in München. Schriftsteller erzählen die Räterepublik, München: Weismann, 1988.

- Gustav Landauer, „Vom Wahn und vom Staat“, in: Sozialist (1910).

- Erich Mühsam, Unpolitische Erinnerungen, Hamburg: Edition Nautilus, 2000.

- Ernst Toller, Eine Jugend in Deutschland (1933), Reinbek: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, 1963.