Naxos-Union, Naxos Hall & Atelier-Naxos

by Heike February. 04, 2019 1395 views

The Company "Naxos-Union" was foundet in 1871 by the jewish entrepreneur Julius Pfungst in Frankfurt am Main/Germany. The company had the sole rights to mine the emery sand, which is found on the island Naxos/Greece. Naxos-Union processed this emery to abrasive bodies and in 1880 they started with the production of grinding machines. After the death of Julius Pfungst (1899), the company was continued by his son Arthur, who was a doctor in natural sciences (chemistry and mathematics). He was very active in projects, that supported free education for underprivileged people and a very social entrepreneur. When the Naxos-hall was build in the years 1906/1907 in the Ostend (district in Frankfurt), also a canteen and additionally a wash-house, so that the employees could clean themselfes after work, were build. In that times no matter of course. Sadly Dr. Arthur Pfungst died very early, in 1912 at the age of 48 years. His mother Rosette and his sister Marie-Eleonore took over the management of the Naxos-Union. In 1919 the both women founded the 'Dr. Arthur-Pfungst-foundation', to which they transferred the entire corporate assets of Naxos-Union.

Marie Eleonore Pfungst was a very modern women for her times. She was never married and committed to women's rights and in 1897 she founded the 'Franfurt legal office for women rights'. She promoted many other social projects, and continued, as managing director of Naxos-Union, the corporate social policy, her brother Arthur already practiced. Sadly her social and economic commitment was gradually reduced by the Nazis' after their seizure of power 1933. Finally in 1935, she was forced by the Nazis to vacate the company and foundation. Even the name of the 'Dr. Arthur-Pfungst-foundation' was changed into 'Waldschmidt-Foundation' in 1939. (Which was changed after the WW2 back to the former name 'Dr. Arthur-Pfungst-foundation' and is still existing today.)

On the 15th September 1942, at the age of 79 years Marie Eleonore Pfungst was deported to the concentration camp Theresienstadt, where she died a half year later.

Left side of Naxos hall

Left side of Naxos hall

Frontview

Frontview

Frontview

Frontview

After researching the history of Naxos-Union and reading a lot more details than I mentioned in the text above about the former owners, especially Marie Eleonore, I wasn't sure anymore, whether I really should continue with my post, because the tragic fate of this strong, independent and emancipated woman, has touched me deeply. But I could imagine that Marie Eleonore would really like, what has settled in the old Naxos-hall in our days, so I decided to continue with the post - which becomes now more positive and definitely more colorful than so far.

The company Naxos-Union still existed after the 2nd worldwar. They used the Naxos-hall until mid of 1980's, than the company moved to Butzbach, another region in Hessen. After the closure of the fabric, the building was empty for years and threatened by decay. In 1988 a private investor bought it and the City Frankfurt rented it from him for a horrendous monthly sum. (Another scandal-story...). Since 1992 the hall is under monument protection, the most other buildings around, which also once belonged to the Naxos-Union, were demolished. Well, now as the city had rented this old fabric-hall, they weren't too sure, what to do with it. That was one of those rare moments, where 'culture' gets a chance here in Germany and so it was decided to use the Naxos-hall for the time being as a cultural meeting place. Stefan Mohr, streetworker and head of the 'Naxos-Atelier' told us, at that time the Naxos-hall was in a very poor condition. All windows were broken and the hall was populated by hundreds of pigeons. You can imagine how dirty it must have been...Ok, meanwhile the pigeons had to look for another home, new windows are installed and today the political cabaret 'Die Käs', the free theater 'Willy Pramel', and the fantastic 'Naxos Atelier' are located in the hall.

Backside Naxos hall

Backside Naxos hall

Backside Naxos Hall

Backside Naxos Hall

Unfinished yet, look at the left hand.  Credits to Andreas von Chrzanowski aka Case

Unfinished yet, look at the left hand. Credits to Andreas von Chrzanowski aka Case

Entrance on the backside of Naxos hall

Entrance on the backside of Naxos hall

Inside the Naxos-hall. The little house is a requisite of the theater.

Inside the Naxos-hall. The little house is a requisite of the theater.

Theater Cafe / There are heater in the ceiling

Theater Cafe / There are heater in the ceiling

Theater Foyer

Theater Foyer

'Naxos Atelier' is a studio of the 'Jugendladen Frankfurt-Bornheim', a cultural institution under the responsibility of streetworkers, who support young people in practicing street art. That means not going out with spray cans and smearing historical walls, no they learn how to use spray cans to create ART, how to plan it, how to put their ideas into practise and also, how to calculate their budget (!) - because already van Gogh and Gauguin noticed: Colors are expensive!

Meanwhile some of the talented members of the Naxos Bande (group) are so famous in the street art scene, that they are requested for international street art projects all over the world.

Amazingly the ECB (European Central Bank) supported the work of the street art artists, when in 2012 their new skyscraper in Frankfurt was build. They provided parts of the fence around the construction zone and donated the plates and also the paint cans. The project was coordinated by Stefan Mohr, the head of the Naxos Atelier. Streetart artists from whole Europe came to Frankfurt to participate in the project. The graffiti changed all 3 month and was often highly political and included caricatures of ECB president Mario Draghi and German chancellor Angela Merkel. The ECB didn't tell the painters what to paint or not paint – just that there must be no fascism or sexism. The works has proved so popular that dozens of banks and money managers have been interested in buying the works.

Mona Mustang ??? :)

Mona Mustang ??? :)

LS: Mario (pinocchio) Draghi, president of the ECB

LS: Mario (pinocchio) Draghi, president of the ECB

Angie  (German chancellor)

Angie (German chancellor)

Euro-Heiland (-Savior) Merkel

Euro-Heiland (-Savior) Merkel

Naxos Atelier

Naxos Atelier

Work tables

Work tables

David Bowie and Sade

David Bowie and Sade

Btw, the city Frankfurt finally bought the Naxos-Halle in 2006. Often I really think 'Wtf ..' when I read about useless projects, where the city throws money out of the window. But in this case, they made so many things right. They prevented the hall from being demolished, they supported this fantastic Naxos Atelier project and young people to live their creativity. And they ensure that the original history of the hall and their former owners will not be forgotten.

Thanks to Stefan Mohr, who told us so much about the Naxos-Hall and about street art, and to all the artists, who make our cities a bit more colorful and beautiful!

Join the conversation
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There are 36 comments , add yours!
Tsao T-F 11 months ago

Great series!

11 months ago Edited
Andrzej Pieniążek 1 year, 1 month ago

Wonderful! set . Magic pictures . I love 6 .

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Heike Replied to Andrzej Pieniążek 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you, glad you liked it! #6 is also my fav. Did you noticed, it's the same girl in #29.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you for this! I always learn so much from your posts, and I appreciate how thorough you are. There is some really stunning artwork here too.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Heike Replied to Bethany Plonski 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you Bethany. If something interests me, I sometimes start to dig like a mole for informations...smile Glad you like that.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Ho Kim 1 year, 1 month ago

Thanks for the quality photos and very detailed explanations. I just feel like watching a good piece of documentary film. So many people just remember Hitler as a one typical German who ruined Germany as well as Europe but they do not know how many people desperately worked to fix it. I respect Germans not for what they have done in the industry but what they have contributed to the development of social science, philosophy, and philanthropy which Mr.Pfungst had in his days. Even without all the details of the story how people worked to carry on the legacy of Mr. Pfungst, I can see their dedication to make all this happen. Naxos halle is not only a space for artists but a cradle of freedom and democracy, I think. Thank you again. smile

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Heike Replied to Ho Kim 1 year, 1 month ago

Thanks for your kind words, Ho ! They mean a lot to me!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Sigrid Strohschneider-Laue 1 year, 1 month ago

Großartige Fotodokumentation! Ich kenne die Gegend aus den späten 1970ern, da unsere Schule in der südlich gelegenen Mousonstraße eine Expositur (Mouson-Gebäude) hatte. Wir Oberstufenschüler hatten dort manchmal Unterricht, weil die Schule bereits aus allen Nähten geplatzt ist.
Wirklich großartig, was aus den Hallen gemacht wurde. Als ich allerdings die Firmengeschichte gelesen hatte, lief es mir (wie viel zu oft) kalt den Rücken runter ... Was dann folgte fasst #7 sehr gut mit "Bockmist" zusammen. Einige Fotos habe ich sofort in meine Favoriten gespeichert. #4 & #9 sind perspektivisch und stimmunsmäßig (Licht) exzeptionell gute Fotos. Die Werke, die in den Räumlichkeiten zu sehen sind, sind atemberaubend. Die beiden in #13 hätte ich sofort haben wollen ...

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Heike Replied to Sigrid Strohschneider-Laue 1 year, 1 month ago

Danke Sigrid. Mich hat die Geschichte von M.E.Pfungst sehr berührt und traurig gemacht. Natürlich berührt mich die ganze Thematik Judenverfolgung und Nazivergehen, aber wenn man sich länger mit dem Schicksal einer einzelnen Person beschäftigt, wird alles noch persönlicher und schmerzvoller. Deshalb hatte ich auch gezögert, ob ich so etwas trauriges mit dem bunten und fröhlichen Bildern gemeinsam bringen soll. Hat mehrere Tage gedauert, bis ich mich entschieden hatte, es in einem Post miteinander zu verbinden.
Hätte ich mir eins der Bilder aussuchen dürfen, hätte ich das rechte #13 mit der Financal Times genommen. Das finde ich super. Da ist sogar der Rahmen gemalt, ist mir erst bei näherem Hinsehen aufgefallen.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Sigrid Strohschneider-Laue Replied to Heike 1 year, 1 month ago

Es ist eine zusammenhängende Geschichte. Man kann das eine ohne das andere nicht betrachten. Die Fotos losgelöst vom Zusammenhang zu posten, hätte deine wirklich erstklassigen Fotos um einen Teil des dokumentarischen Faktors abseits der Architektur, des Lichts und der Stimmung beraubt. thumbsup

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Jay Boggess 1 year, 1 month ago

Amazing artworks in this historic venue. Wonderful camera work, especially love the perspectives and variety.....Fascinating story, as well!

ps... thanks for "liking" my image, as well!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Heike Replied to Jay Boggess 1 year, 1 month ago

Thanks so much Jay. Great you liked it !

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Jay Boggess Replied to Heike 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank YOU, for your delightful offerings!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Greg Blaney 1 year, 1 month ago

What a great spot to take photos. I love the art around this place - such talented people. You've captured the details in this subtle light very well. Thanks for sharing, Heike.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Heike Replied to Greg Blaney 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you Greg ! It's really a great place and I'm so happy, that the city kept it for other generations.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Greg Blaney Replied to Heike 1 year, 1 month ago

I forgot to mention that I really enjoyed reading through your commentary. I provides so much context regarding the photos and understanding to the reader on what this place is, its history and its current/future use. This was an excellent blog post.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Heike Replied to Greg Blaney 1 year, 1 month ago

Thanks so much Greg. Really appreciated! It's great for me, when people like not only the photos, but also the story around. When If I had written the story in german, I'm sure it would have been twice so long, because there are so much details I found out during my research...But 'In der Kürze liegt die Würze' , what means: 'Brevity is the soul of wit' smile

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Russell Smith 1 year, 1 month ago

I love that it is being used for art . The graffiti is quite nice on the building also .

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Heike Replied to Russell Smith 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you Russell ! Yes, it's hard for art and culture to get subsidies from the cities or the state, but sometimes it succeeds.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Can G 1 year, 1 month ago

Und es gibt sie doch noch, die versteckten Plätze an denen Kunst "passiert". Super Dokumentation und ein paar tolle Bilder, vor allem die Innenaufnahmen sind sehr interessant. Dass die EZB ihre Baufassaden freigegeben haben, wundert mich nicht und war wahrscheinlich auch nicht ganz uneigennützig. Hätten sie es nicht gemacht, hätten sie mit an Sicherheit grenzender Wahrscheinlichkeit mit Vandalismus zu kämpfen gehabt - und die von (wahrscheinlich sehr guten) Künstlern bemalten Wände respektieren dann ja sogar die Vandalen. Die Vorgabe "kein Sexismus und kein Nazischeiss" hätten sie sich auch sparen können - beides gehört ja eher sowieso nicht zum Repertoire von Graffiti-Künstlern grinning

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Heike Replied to Can G 1 year, 1 month ago

Dank dir ! Es ist eine tolle Institution, das Projekt stand hin und wieder auf der Kippe, aber 2016 hat die Stadt nochmal 700.000 Euro in Brandschutzmassnahmen und andere nötige Baumassnahmen investiert, somit ist es wohl erstmal ziemlich sicher, das es auch in Zukunft das Naxos Atelier geben wird. Sicher war es eine Win/Win Situation für die EZB und auch für die Street Artists. Egal was man von der Geldpolitik der EZB halten mag, sie leisten hier in Frankfurt eine recht gute Öffentlichkeitsarbeit. Letztes Jahr haben sie ihre Fassade für die Luminal zur Verfügung gestellt. Sowas kommt hier natürlich sehr positiv an. Ich habe einen Post darüber gemacht, wenn es dich interessiert. https://www.photoblog.com/heike/2018/03/23/luminale-2018/

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Antonio Gil 1 year, 1 month ago

Cool to know it is now being used as a cultural place. Love the sequence of pictures

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Heike Replied to Antonio Gil 1 year, 1 month ago

Thanks you Antomio. Glad you like it!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Lee Santiva 1 year, 1 month ago

There are so many abandoned building like this in Germany, yet so few which were redeemed in such a fantastic manner. Thanks for sharing an inspiring story of how a phoenix can rise from the ashes and how it was funded. Excellent photos which bring both the decaying architecture and the new "life" and colors together

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Heike Replied to Lee Santiva 1 year, 1 month ago

Thanks so much Lee. Glad you liked it. Seems you know some places in Germany very good. Have you lived here for a while?

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Heike 1 year, 1 month ago

Hallo Heike, ich werde meine Geschichte in einem Blog zum 185/365 "my country" erzählen. Aber deine  Frage beantworte ich gerne vorab: ich lebe seit 1992 in Deutschland.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Heike Replied to Lee Santiva 1 year, 1 month ago

Hehe, da bin ich ja schon mal gespannt !  smile

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Camellia Staab 1 year, 1 month ago

I love, love, this post!!!! I am so glad you continued with it instead of putting it aside. The graffiti are exceptional and your capture of the place and the graffities are really really good. What a cool place. I don't know how long you spent there , but I would be there for hours, shooting this and that.  So now besides the art work do they have plays? or musical entertainment? I guess my question is are they open to the public? Btw #29 perfect angle for the capture.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Heike Replied to Camellia Staab 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you Camellia! I was around 3 hours there, and could have sprend more time there. Especially in the Naxos Atelier were a lot of little curious details to discover, which made me smile all the time. The theater do have plays and also concerts (Jazz, classic, experimental music etc, etc...) take place regulary. Stefan Mohr offers tours once a month through the hall and the Atelier, but you can also go for a visit to the atelier during the week, when the kids are there. Also sometimes flea markets take place inside the hall. It's really a fascinating place with a very happy atmosphere around.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Camellia Staab Replied to Heike 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you Heike for your response. It truly is a fascinating place to visit over and over again smile

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Abigail Gossage 1 year, 1 month ago

Wonderful!  Both the building and the project.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Heike Replied to Abigail Gossage 1 year, 1 month ago

Thanks Abigail. Yepp I totally fall in love with this project, after I heard of it.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Berckmans Peter 1 year, 1 month ago

Great set. Good it has a new use,hope it will last

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Heike Replied to Berckmans Peter 1 year, 1 month ago

Thanks Peter. I think it will last. The city invested in 2016 around 700.000Euro for fire protection measures and other construction works. They won't do that, if they would plan to give it up.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Vivienne Albiston 1 year, 1 month ago

Interesting read, though tragic as you say. Great the building is being re-used. Magic set of pictures with the narrative.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Heike Replied to Vivienne Albiston 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you Vivienne! Happy you like it!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
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