the karl ernst osthaus-bund - hagener kunstverein e.v. constituted itself again on may 19th 1947, after it had been dissolved under the national socialists in the 1930s. the name karl-ernst-osthaus still meant program and obligation as it had 20 years earlier when the union was founded. the original intent of the union was meant to close the gap in the art life of the city of hagen, which was caused by the sale of the museum folkwang to the city of essen. after the second world war, the karl ernst osthaus-bund established contacts with the international art scene through lectures, studio visits and excursions. because of its wide range of topics it soon became a respected platform for the art interested citizens of hagen and surrounding area.
dr. karl with, art scientist and former collaborator of karl ernst osthaus, was the first secretary of the union and defined the general goals of the union in 1928: a general focus on technology, sport and film showed that society had turned away from arts and he thought it showed a terrible incompetence to believe people could cancel art as a living part of a community. dr. with literally: " that fundamental observation clearly illustrates that it is not only ambition and luxury but inner necessity and the conscience of responsibility, which make the city of hagen and the karl-ernst-osthaus-union work for active art politics, although times are inconvenient…. it should further be mentioned, that our larger goal is to build up an exemplary and novel art collection for the city of hagen."
the statutes of 1947 reflect the same approach for the new foundation of the karl ernst osthaus-bund. the union became an important part of the cultural life of hagen and counted almost 600 members end of the 70ies. among the list of referees reflecting a range of interests were notably heinz kückelhaus, werner haftmann, wilhelm worringer, eduard trier, heinrich lützeler, paul pieper, arnold gehlen, max imdahl and dieter ronte. the cooperation with other hagen institutions such as the van de velde-community, the fernuniversität and the volkshochschule developed very positively over the last decades.
besides the lectures, excursions, studio visits and exhibitions the union has accompanied the work of the museum with purchases for the collection and the library from the beginning. this support gains more and more importance in times of low budgets. however, this was emphasized already in a newspaper article about the foundation of the union in 1927: "new foundations for the cultural development of the city are made. nothing can be said about this coming development yet. scepticism as well as rosy optimism is not indicated. but it can be said already, that it wasn´t forgot what karl ernst osthaus once created. this is to be stressed especially, because this reminiscence proves that also the cultural efforts of our city have their support and their patrons. considering the miserable economical situation this is extremely valuable."
to be a platform for art and culture within social life and to keep the dialogue through and with art over the centuries and different cultures - this is the task of the karl-ernst-osthaus-union since its very beginning.
(the summary about the history of the karl-ernst-osthaus-union is based on the documentation made for the 40th anniversary of the new foundation after the second world war by hertha hesse-frielinghaus, hagen 1987.)