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Symposium: Survival Rate 4%

The latest reports from the frontline of the Art Academy

Every year, approx. 5,000 young people decide to study art at one of the 24 German art universities or academies. According to a recent study by the Bundesverband Bildender Künstler (BBK), only one-tenth receive income from their artistic activities totaling 20,000 euros annually, with 83 percent remaining below this (by a wide margin). Thus, we can see that this phenomenon can hardly be explained by financial motivations and the prospect of career success.

Good-for-nothings, light-worshippers, reality-refusers, aroma-seekers, ne’er-do-wells, heart-pourers, dream-dancers, pathos-raisers, mania-jugglers, nerve-breakers, trash-rakers, soul-nudists, bluffers, posers, pretenders, sensitive plants, misfits, bourgeois-scarers, taboo-shakers, coward-flagellators, liberation bugles, shifting-image makers, daze sweethearts, rose-threshers, public pissers, perversion profiteers, lens devils, credit pointers, aparters, total Samaritans, misunderstanders, legacy redeemers, sniffers-out of the sublime, people in need of colorfulness, goodness wringers, ill-testers, mood imitators, solvents sinners, plan-less, brainless and status-less, and failed apprentice windowdressers. They and many, many others seek admission into our »caravan in the desert of freedom.« In the spirit of the admonition of Zarathustra: »Capture freedom and be lord in your own desert.« What is it all about? Taking stock to mark this anniversary, we have asked experienced voices to try to clarify.

Friday, 14. July 2017

14.00 h
Werner Büttner (Artist, Professor of Painting, HFBK Hamburg)

14.15 h
The Legitimacy of the Art Academy
Lecture by Walter Grasskamp (Author, until 2017 Professor of Art History, Akademie der Bildenden Künste München)

15.00 h
The art of living for the young generation: the mechanisms of wear and destruction, humiliation, isolation, suffering, work, pressure balance
Lecture by Annette Tietenberg (Professor of art science with the focus of contemporary art, Hochschule für bildende Künste Braunschweig)

15.45 h

16.00 h
Schism 2027. On the immediate future of art academies
Lecture by Wolfgang Ullrich (He lectured at various art universities from 1997 to 2015, now lives in Leipzig and works as an author. He publishes works on the history and criticism of the concept of art, on sociology-of-the-image issues and on phenomena of affluence.)

16.45 h
The art academy – a refuge?
Lecture by Bettina Uppenkamp (Professor of Art History, Hochschule für bildende Künste Dresden, from October 2017 Professor of Art History, HFBK Hamburg)

17.30 h

18.00 h
A work value theory for fine art – how the value of the skills trained by academies is generated.
Lecture by Diedrich Diederichsen (Professor of Theory, Practice and Communication of Contemporary Art, Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien)

19.00 h
moderated by Martin Köttering und Werner Büttner

Idea + Concept: Werner Büttner
Presentations in German, simultaneous interpretation into English
Technical support: avt plus media service

23 Fragen des Institutional Questionaire, grafisch umgesetzt von Ran Altamirano auf den Türgläsern der HFBK Hamburg zur Jahresausstellung 2021; photo: Charlotte Spiegelfeld


Who speaks? Who paints which motif? Who is shown, who is not? Questions of identity politics play an important role in art and thus also at the HFBK Hamburg. In the current issue, the university's own Lerchenfeld magazine highlights university structures as well as student initiatives that deal with diversity and identity.

Grafik: Tim Ballaschke

Start of semester

After three semesters of hybrid teaching under pandemic conditions, we are finally about to start another semester of presence. We welcome all new students and teachers at the HFBK Hamburg and cordially invite you to the opening of the academic year 2020/21, which this year will be accompanied by a guest lecture by ruangrupa.

Graphic design: Sam Kim, picture in the background: Sofia Mascate, photo: Marie-Theres Böhmker

Graduate Show 2021: All Good Things Come to an End

From September 24 to 26, the more than 150 Bachelor's and Master's graduates of the class of 2020/21 will present their final projects as part of the Graduate Show at the HFBK Hamburg. We would like to thank all visitors and participants.

photo: Klaus Frahm

Summer Break

The HFBK Hamburg is in the lecture-free period, many students and teachers are on summer vacation, art institutions have summer break. This is a good opportunity to read and see a variety of things:

ASA Open Studio 2019, Karolinenstraße 2a, Haus 5; photo: Matthew Muir

Live und in Farbe: die ASA Open Studios im Juni 2021

Since 2010, the HFBK has organised the international exchange programme Art School Alliance. It enables HFBK students to spend a semester abroad at renowned partner universities and, vice versa, invites international art students to the HFBK. At the end of their stay in Hamburg, the students exhibit their work in the Open Studios in Karolinenstraße, which are now open again to the art-interested public.

Studiengruppe Prof. Dr. Anja Steidinger, Was animiert uns?, 2021, Mediathek der HFBK Hamburg, Filmstill

Unlearning: Wartenau Assemblies

The art education professors Nora Sternfeld and Anja Steidinger initiated the format "Wartenau Assemblies". It oscillates between art, education, research and activism. Complementing this open space for action, there is now a dedicated website that accompanies the discourses, conversations and events.

Ausstellungsansicht "Schule der Folgenlosigkeit. Übungen für ein anderes Leben" im Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg; photo: Maximilian Schwarzmann

School of No Consequences

Everyone is talking about consequences: The consequences of climate change, the Corona pandemic or digitalization. Friedrich von Borries (professor of design theory), on the other hand, is dedicated to consequence-free design. In “School of No Consequences. Exercises for a New Life” at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, he links collection objects with a "self-learning room" set up especially for the exhibition in such a way that a new perspective on "sustainability" emerges and supposedly universally valid ideas of a "proper life" are questioned.

Annual Exhibition 2021 at the HFBK

Annual exhibition a bit different: From February 12- 14, 2021 students at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts, together with their professors, had developed a variety of presentations on different communication channels. The formats ranged from streamed live performances to video programs, radio broadcasts, a telephone hotline, online conferences, and a web store for editions. In addition, isolated interventions could be discovered in the outdoor space of the HFBK and in the city.

Public Information Day 2021

How do I become an art student? How does the application process work? Can I also study to become a teacher at the HFBK? These and other questions about studying art were answered by professors, students and staff at the HFBK during the Public Information Day on February 13, 2021. In addition, there will be an appointment specifically for English-speaking prospective students on February 23 at 2 pm.

Katja Pilipenko

Semestereröffnung und Hiscox-Preisverleihung 2020

On the evening of November 4, the HFBK celebrated the opening of the academic year 2020/21 as well as the awarding of the Hiscox Art Prize in a livestream - offline with enough distance and yet together online.

Exhibition Transparencies with works by Elena Crijnen, Annika Faescke, Svenja Frank, Francis Kussatz, Anne Meerpohl, Elisa Nessler, Julia Nordholz, Florentine Pahl, Cristina Rüesch, Janka Schubert, Wiebke Schwarzhans, Rosa Thiemer, Lea van Hall. Organized by Prof. Verena Issel and Fabian Hesse; photo: Screenshot

Teaching Art Online at the HFBK

How the university brings together its artistic interdisciplinary study structure with digital formats and their possibilities.

Alltagsrealität oder Klischee?; photo: Tim Albrecht

HFBK Graduate Survey

Studying art - and what comes next? The clichéd images stand their ground: Those who have studied art either become taxi drivers, work in a bar or marry rich. But only very few people could really live from art – especially in times of global crises. The HFBK Hamburg wanted to know more about this and commissioned the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Hamburg to conduct a broad-based survey of its graduates from the last 15 years.

Ausstellung Social Design, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Teilansicht; photo: MKG Hamburg

How political is Social Design?

Social Design, as its own claim is often formulated, wants to address social grievances and ideally change them. Therefore, it sees itself as critical of society – and at the same time optimizes the existing. So what is the political dimension of Social Design – is it a motor for change or does it contribute to stabilizing and normalizing existing injustices?