Sleep in a Modernist Gem – Huis Billiet in Bruges

Rietveld Day: 200 Enthusiasts Explored 3 Utrecht Icons

Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - 100 Years Van Zessen House

The Last House Designed by Adolf Loos Will Be Built in Prague

Icons of the Czech Avantgarde

Icon for Sale - Casa Legorreta

Hurray! 10 Years Iconic Houses

7th International Iconic Houses Conference A Huge Success

Screenings 7 and 22 Oct. - Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House

Meet Conference Co-Chair Iveta Černá

Meet Conference Co-Chair Maria Szadkowska

Eighteen Iconic Houses Under One Roof

17 June - 'Pioneers-film' Screening Amersfoort

Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - Van Eesteren House Museum

Welcome Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky Zentrum in Vienna!

Welcome Vila Volman! Jewel of Czech Functionalism

Movie Night: Adolf Loos- Revolutionary Among Architects

'Inside Iconic Houses' Case Study House #26 Webcast in Webshop

Inside Iconic Houses at Taut’s Home in Berlin

Rediscovering Forgotten Loos Interiors in Pilsen

'Inside Iconic Houses' - Online Tour Program

Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - The Diagoon House

Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - Rietveld Schröder House

Rietveld Houses Owners Association

Corberó Space: New Life for Hidden Jewel

Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - Pierre Cuypers' House and Workshops

Reeuwijk Celebrates Completion of Restoration Rietveld Homes!

Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - Van Doesburg Rinsema House

Welcome Rietveld's Van Daalen House!

Architect Harry Gessner Passed Away at 97

Watch Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House Now On Demand

Icon Saved: Dorchester Drive House

Welcome Umbrella House!

Iconic Houses in the Netherlands – Berlage’s Masterpiece

Welcome Atelier Volten!

SPECIAL – Iconic Dreams - Sleep in an Iconic House!

SPECIAL - Vacances en France!

SPECIAL - Casas Icónicas en España!

SPECIAL – German Greats!

SPECIAL – Dutch Delights!

SPECIAL – Northern (High)Lights!

Iconic Houses in The Netherlands - Het Schip

Inside Iconic Houses - Tour of Maison Cazenave

Inside Iconic Houses Tours Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami

Casa Masó Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary

Inside Iconic Houses tours Roland Reisley's Usonian Frank Lloyd Wright House

Rietveld’s Experimental Housing in Reeuwijk Saved

Serralves Villa after restoration

Portraits of the Architect - Interview with Gennaro Postiglione

Test Labs for New Ideas - Interview with Natascha Drabbe

Inside Iconic Houses - Isokon Building

Inside Iconic Houses - 16 December: Sunnylands with Janice Lyle

BCN-BXL Coderch-De Koninck - Beyond Time

New Chairman Architect Nanne de Ru on The Perfect Platform

Health and Home - Interview with Beatriz Colomina

A Life Less Ordinary – Interview with Valentijn Carbo

Invisible Women - Interview with Alice T. Friedman

Winy Maas on the Green Dip

Anita Blom on Experimental Housing of the 1970s

Women’s Worlds - Interview with Natalie Dubois

The Culture of Living - Interview with Robert von der Nahmer

Hetty Berens: A Fresh Take on Modernism

Niek Smit on Supporting Modern Heritage

Alice Roegholt on Amsterdam’s Working-Class Palaces

July is Iconic Houses Month

Hans van Heeswijk on The Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House

Wessel de Jonge on Dutch Icons at Risk

Save Maison Zilveli - Sign the Petition!

How a Building Tells a Story - Recorded Event

Toolkit for Owners of a Modern House

13 Aalto Sites Nominated for UNESCO World Heritage

Villa Beer At Risk - Sign the Petition!

Business Cards of Stone, Timber and Concrete in the Brussels Region 1830-1970

Exhibiting & Visiting Modernist Monuments

Fostering Well-Researched Responsible Design


Enjoy a virtual visit to the California House and a Q&A with architect Peter Gluck

Exhibition 'Modernism and Refuge'

A Hidden Gem of Postmodernism

New Centre for Historic Houses of India

An Online Chronicle of the Douglas House

Villa Henny, geometric style icon in The Netherlands

A Mendini temple in Amsterdam

IH-lectures USA & Canada Feb 2020 on Melnikov House

Sponsors and Friends

An Afternoon with the Glucks

Chandler McCoy on Making Modern Houses Sustainable

Catherine Croft: Getting Away from the Demolition Mentality in the UK

Patrick Weber on Discovering an Unknown Icon

Fiona Fisher on Iconic Interiors

Jocelyn Bouraly on Villa Cavrois

Mireia Massagué on finding success through a new kind of partnership

Danish Moderns – Looking Back at Our Mini-Seminar

Venturo house complements Exhibition Centre WeeGee’s offering

Lecture report: Remembering Richard Neutra

Hôtel Mezzara and the Guimard Museum project

We welcome 13 new members!

BREAKING NEWS: 8 Wright Sites Inscribed on Unesco World Heritage List!

LECTURE 29 August - Raymond Neutra: My Father and Frank Lloyd Wright

Iconic Reads

SPECIAL – Iconic Artist Residencies

Our Badge of Honour

SPECIAL – Women & Iconic Houses

SPECIAL – Iconic Housing

Iconic Houses End Year Message

City-ordered rebuild of landmark house stirs debate: Appropriate or overreach?

Kohlberg House Restoration in Progress

Planned Demolition of Rietveld Homes in Reeuwijk

Renovation Gili House in Crisis

An Iconic Saga

Restoring Eileen Gray’s Villa E-1027 and Clarifying the Controversies

Modernism on the East Coast

Iconic Houses in Latin America

Conference testimonials

House Tours May 2018 

Expert Meetings

Natascha Drabbe - Iconic Houses: The Next Chapter

Terence Riley -KEYNOTE SPEAKER- on Philip Johnson

New era for Villa E-1027 and Cap Moderne

Hilary Lewis on Philip Johnson and his Glass House

John Arbuckle on Great House Tours

William D. Earls on the Harvard Five in New Canaan

Stover Jenkins on Working for Philip Johnson

Frederick Noyes on his Father’s House

Scott Fellows and Craig Bassam on their Passion for Preservation

Jorge Liernur -KEYNOTE SPEAKER- on Latin American Modernism(s)

Fabio Grementieri on Modernism in Argentina

Catalina Corcuera Cabezut on Casa Luis Barragán

Renato Anelli on Lina Bo Bardi’s Casa de Vidro

Tim McClimon on Corporate Preservation

Amanda Nelson on Building Donor Relationships

John Bacon on Planned Giving

Jean-Paul Warmoes on the Art of Fundraising in America

Chandler McCoy on Why Less is More

Katherine Malone-France on Moving with the Times

Anne Mette Rahbæk on Philanthropic Investments and Preservation

Peter McMahon on Saving Modern Houses on Cape Cod

Toshiko Kinoshita on Japanese Modern Heritage Houses

Roland Reisley on Life in a Frank Lloyd Wright House

5th Iconic Houses Conference May 2018

Kristin Stone, Pasadena Tour Company

Restoring the past: The Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Home Studio

Behind the Scenes: Hendrick de Keyser Association

Crosby Doe, Architecture for Sale

Latin America Special – Focus on Mexico

De Stijl in Drachten

Preserving the Nancarrow House-Studio

Meet the Friends - Nanne de Ru

Latin America Special – Focus on Brazil

Jan de Jong’s House is Latest Hendrick de Keyser Acquisition

Stay in a Belgian Modernist Masterpiece

In Berlin’s Modernist Network

Rietveld-Schröder House Celebrates De Stijl Anniversary

Meet Our New Foundation Board Members

Maintaining Aalto's Studio – Linoleum Conservation

Virtual Tour of a Papaverhof Home in 3D

Getty Grant for Villa E-1027

Plečnik House in Ljubljana

Iconic Dacha

Iconic Houses: A Bohemian Road Trip

Work in Progress: Capricho de Gaudí

11 Le Corbusier Homes now on Unesco World Heritage List

At home with Le Corbusier

Henry van de Velde’s Study in Haus Hohe Pappeln Restored

Lynda Waggoner reports

A Conference to Remember

4th International Iconic Houses Conference

Guest of Honor - Harry Gesner

Fallingwater: European Lecture Tour

Wright Plus 2016 Walk

Susan Macdonald, Getty Conservation Institute

John Mcllwee, Garcia House

Meet the Friends – Elisabeth Tostrup

Iconic Houses: The Story So Far

Willie van Burgsteden, designer Iconic Houses

Buff Kavelman, Philanthropic Advisor

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Sheridan Burke, GML Heritage

Meet the Friends - Raymond Neutra

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Franklin Vagnone and Deborah Ryan, Museum Anarchists

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Toshiko Mori, architect

Malachi Connolly, Cape Cod Modern House Trust

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Sarah Lorenzen, Neutra VDL Studio and Residences

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Meet the Friends - Thomas Schönauer

Wim de Wit, Stanford University

Linda Dishman, Los Angeles Conservancy

Jesse Lattig, Pasadena Heritage

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Marta Lacambra, Fundació Catalunya-La Pedrera

Natascha Drabbe, Iconic Houses Foundation

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Christen Obel, Utzon Foundation

Elena Ruiz Sastre, Casa Broner

Fernando Alvarez Prozorovich, La Ricarda

Tim Benton, Professor of Art History (Emeritus)

Susana Landrove, Docomomo Spain

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Marga Viza, Casa Míla/La Pedrera

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Round Table Review

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Philippe Bélaval, Centre des monuments nationaux

16 September 2020

Exhibition 'Modernism and Refuge'

Georg Kolbe’s Sensburg as an Architectural Monument of the Nineteen Twenties

September 13, 2020 – January 10, 2021

All images: Image archive Georg Kolbe Museum. 

The Georg Kolbe Museum is devoting its main exhibition of this fall season to the extraordinary architectural structure in which the exhibition venue has resided since its founding exactly 70 years ago: the former residence and studio of the sculptor Georg Kolbe. For the erstwhile builder-owner, who maintained close ties to the modern architecture of the nineteen twenties and its protagonists, the house was closely related to his own sculptural production. Based on never-before-seen archive material, the exhibition traces the interplay between space and sculpture that was of great importance for Kolbe throughout his career. It offers insights into the living environment of the artist who was actively involved in the conception of his iconic workplace and refuge on Sensburger Allee from the time of the earliest planning sketches.

In the late nineteen twenties, when his generously sized studio house was being constructed in the Westend district of Berlin, the sculptor Georg Kolbe (1877-1947) was at the height of his artistic success. Represented by the major art dealers Cassirer and Flechtheim, he had customers all over the world and was well-networked within Berlin’s artist circles. However, after his wife Benjamine unexpectedly died at the age of only 45, he desired a place to withdraw and work near her grave. This is the origin of his Sensburg, as Kolbe himself lovingly called his cubic brick ensemble, with reference to its location on Sensburger Allee. Situated close to downtown Berlin and yet on the outskirts of the Grunewald forest, the architecture would reflect the productive interaction between art, nature and structural form, to which the artist regularly referred.

Georg Kolbe maintained close ties to the New Objectivity architecture of his day. In conjunction with his collaboration with such architects as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Bruno Taut, Hans Poelzig and Walter Gropius, the sculptor participated from early in the discourse concerning the further development of modern architecture. To realize his own custom-designed home and studio, Kolbe commissioned the Swiss architect Ernst Rentsch and later the former Bauhaus student Paul Linder, working closely with both during the design phase. The joint planning visibly profited from the artist’s firm focus on the relationship between sculpture and space.

Well connected to public transportation, entirely electrified and with telephone as well as completely furnished baths, the brick building in Berlin’s Westend district corresponded to the notions of modern living, embodying its definition of a new unfussy type of comfort. As a studio, it fulfilled all the prerequisites needed to create the working conditions Kolbe sought as an artist. Especially the deployment of lighting and perspective throughout the house was meticulously planned, masterfully realizing the lucid connection between interior and exterior space.

With its ceiling-high windows, the large studio space opens to the adjacent garden; a complex skylight allows neutral daylight to flow into the room while high windowsills direct framed views into the green of the surrounding nature. Laid out in 1935, the inlying sculpture court features sight lines that allowed the sculptor to simulate the effect of his pieces in the public spaces and parks for which they were often intended. The entire property is surrounded by a brick wall, giving it an almost fortress-like feel that contrasts the light clarity of its atmosphere. As a secluded refuge, the Sensburg was not least designed to protect the artist from the glances of curious passers-by and benefitted his work with models outdoors.

Kolbe’s artist studio was opened to the public exactly seventy years ago—as the first museum to founded after WWII and the only Berlin artist house from the nineteen twenties in which the original function remains visible and tangible. Even today, the cubic brick building exudes the modernist spirit of the time of its construction.

‘Modernism and Refuge’ portrays Kolbe’s Sensburg in the mirror of its rich history. From the first construction drawings to the time of its private and then public use, the exhibition brings together many never-before-seen historical documents, which present the artist as creative building client and within his most private nucleus. Surrounded by family and friends as well as his dogs and cats, Kolbe becomes discernible as a man of various facets that have previously remained concealed behind his public role and attributions. A considerable portion of the exhibited material comes from the estate of the artist’s granddaughter, which arrived in Berlin this year and is currently being integrated into the museum’s holdings.

An extensive, profusely illustrated publication to the exhibition will be published in November 2020.

Parallel to the ‘Modernism and Refuge—Georg Kolbe’s Sensburg as an Architectural Monument of the Nineteen Twenties’, the museum is presenting 20 ceramic works by the Japanese artist Shinichi Sawada.

Important Visitor Information
Because of the current Corona virus situation, prior registration is required for all events. Please book by writing an e-mail to We ask for your understanding that the situation may make it necessary for us to cancel or change the dates of our events at short notice. Up-to-date event information can always be found on our homepage.

Please also note that, due to the precautionary measures in conjunction with the Corona virus, only a limited number of visitors are permitted inside the museum at same time. This may lead to a waiting period.

About the Museum
The Georg Kolbe Museum is a former artist studio in the Westend district of Berlin. Built by the sculptor Georg Kolbe in 1928, it is now one of the outstanding examples of modern architecture of the nineteen twenties. High ceilings open the cubic building constructed of fired bricks to the garden that is shielded from the street. With its population of tall pine trees and a mighty beech, the sculptor’s garden conserves a section of the Grunewald forest that the artist preserved in its pristine condition and which served him in turn as a source of inspiration and an energetic regeneration for his art. The museum now presents exhibitions on modern and contemporary art.
View the Georg Kolbe Museum on our map!

Georg Kolbe Museum · Sensburger Allee 25 · 14055 Berlin · Tel: +49 30/3042144 · · Email: Opening hours: 10am-6pm daily.
Public transportation: S3 or S9, Bahnhof Heerstraße

Posted 16 September 2020