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Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Art galleries in Berlin

Neue NationalgalerieA very artistic life

The worldwide art scene looks towards Berlin, the city in which more and more artists permanently settle for work. The city itself changes through the emergence of new gallery quarters in places where no one would have thought possible.

There is next to no other city in the world like Berlin, which offers such a bustling art scene. According to estimations taken from the 2008 Culture Report, around 20,000 visual artists live in Berlin, where the number has to this day continued to increase. Those artists will be represented in Berlin by around 400 galleries, which registers the highest density of galleries in the whole of Europe.

Museums provide the setting for new artistic settlements

The area around the Jüdische Museum (Jewish Museum) on Lindenstraße and the Berlinische Galerie (Berlin Gallery) on Alten Jacobstraße has shown that galleries often settle there, where art is already exhibited – which is how this area over time became an art quarter. In the building on Lindenstraße 34-35, where you can find a Galerienhaus, there previously had once been the Merkur department store and later the home of Lufthansa, and in the 1990’s, it was where asylum seekers were housed. This traditional building with an impressive spiral staircase is today the location of 14 galleries, which exhibit video installations, sculptures, paintings and designs. Jarla Partilager’s gallery space, which is spread across the entire third floor, is particularly impressive and offers lots of exhibition space for young artists, who are still relatively unknown.

Unused spaces are filled with life

The art is also spread out on the side street. In between the Markgrafenstraße and Charlottenstraße, where you can find supermarkets and Turkish wedding clothes shops, is a new, unaesthetic building with several galleries, like for example the Carlier/Gebauer gallery. Originally located under the train station on Holzmarktstraße, it moved into the new space in Kreuzberg in 2008, where, aside from contemporary artwork, it also exhibits photographic works.

At Checkpoint Charlie you can find even more galleries. The area, in which some years ago, nothing more than the Axel Springer publishing house and several office blocks were located, presents “ein Absurdum” (an absurdity), as explained by Eva Kaczor, founder of the art website, artberlin.de. Nowadays, exhibitions take place in this area, filling the streets with life and more and more restaurants, like that of star cook Tim Raue, attracting more people into the area.

A life with art in the neighbourhood

New construction projects appearing on the border between Kreuzberg and Mitte confirm the area’s radical change. The Varnhagen Palace, which was erected on Französischen Straße 56-60, in close proximity to Friedrichstraße, was designed by renowned architect David Chipperfield and in the style of the Salonwohnungen from the early 20th century. The bathroom architecture and the interior design also come from him. The author and salonnière Rahel Vernhagen von Ense seved as the inspiration for the design of the foyer.

For the art collecting pair Céline and Heiner Bastian from Berlin, Chipperfield designed the sculptural Galerienhaus, which equally attracts many art lovers with world renowned galleries such as the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) and the Pergamonmuseum with contemporary art exhibitions.

Gallery quarter in the Mitte area

Berlin-Mitte is still known as the classic quarter for galleries. Large art events like the Gallery Weekend in May and the Art Week in September are just some of the events that will satisfy the expectations of every art lover around the artwork (KW – Institute of Contemporary Art) on Auguststraße, 69. There, art tours and openings take place all year round. Aside from Leipzig, the Galerie Eigen + Art by Gerd Harry Lybke has, since 1992, resided in this quarter.

The Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, which was once a terminal station, is another art hotspot which today houses changing exhibitions as well as a contemporary art collection, featuring works from Andy Warhol, Anselm Kiefer, Roy Lichtenstein and Joseph Beuys. Put on by art dealers, you can find this down by the ship canal, together with the Rieckhallen, the Halle am Wasser and the KunstCampus.

The new hotspot: Potsdamer Straße

Some art dealers however, prefer Potsdamer Straße, which for a few years now has been the new hotspot, in close proximity to the Neue Nationalgalerie, getting more and more art followers enthusiastic. That, which happened in Mitte around ten years ago, now takes place on Potsdamer Straße, as art agent Sophia Weiser explains.

Restaurants and shops are opening on the side street and the number of galleries is increasing rapidly. Friedrich Loock’s gallery, which was previously located on Tucholskystraße, first moved to the Hamburger Bahnhof and is now part of the new “Potse” art district, which is situated directly beside the former building of Tagesspiegel printing house. The printing machines were replaced with the abstract metal structures of the Galerie Blain Southern from London, and the Concept Store from Andreas Murkudis as well as the hat maker Fiona Bennett’s shop having moved into the front part.

Neukölln and Wedding are the new, popular areas for the art and culture scene.

The art and culture scene is becoming increasingly interested in the Neukölln and Wedding districts of Berlin. Indeed, it is still uncertain as to whether a new gallery scene is firmly established in the Leopoldplatz in Wedding and the area around the Luxemburger Straße, however many artists are nevertheless drawn to the studios of this area, as Elke Melkus explains. The CEO of the agency, art:berlin, offers not only an art experience, but also gastronomical tours throughout the Berlin district. She recognises the newly arising off-scene in these districts, however you can also find the “Player” in the hotspot of Potsdamer Straße. The assumption that Neukölln is developing into a new art quarter, is not confirmed. On one of art:berlin’s public tours, which goes through the new art district, Elke Melkus holds on to her observation, as districts experience a change through the incoming artists. This influx of galleries is considered by them to be a profit for the districts. However, she hopes for a better mixture of non-commercial art and more established galleries.

Also, the current situation is willingly compared with the art boom of the twenties, as Käthe Kollwitz and Max Beckmann both settled in Berlin, and the German city back then was, like today, the centre of the art scene. This trend will, in all probability, last for many years to come.

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