The city of Berlin is proof that creativity can often rise from tragedy. After being torn apart after World War II and literally divided throughout most of the twentieth century, Berlin has been making up for lost time. Join incredible entrepreneur and publisher Ricarda Messner as she takes us on a tour of the coolest art-spots in her home town.
This is not new news, but Berlin has been making a name for itself in the last few years as the place where emerging and established artists move to. Galleries and museums can be found almost on every corner and the city is only stepping-up its game with the annual art fair in September.
You might not be able to cross off the places on my list in one day (in fact please don't even try, you might get annoyed with me) but if you are interested in exploring more than the usual suspect areas, you'll enjoy this guide ranging from well established contemporary galleries to the not-so-typical trendy destinations.
Photo via Wikipedia.
A good reason to leave the city center is a trip to "Haus am Waldsee" which would translate into something like "House by the Forest Lake". Being an important institution for contemporary art in Berlin since 1946, it is definitely worth checking their event calendar. The house sets a big emphasis on dialogues, discussions and special events such as performances, concerts and even yoga classes set in their beautiful environment, trying to make art and artists as accessible as possible for the visitor. Having exhibited all kind of international artists (Cindy Sherman, Nikki de Saint Phalle etc.) the curatorial team has been setting a standard of showing Berlin artists since the year of 1990.
As you buzz yourself into a 1970's residential backyard, you don't expect one of Berlin's best international galleries here. Of course, it was a conscious decision to locate Galerie Neu a bit off the beaten path in Berlin's center for galleries. A big sculptural installation catches one's eye (Room 4 by Tom Burrs, a nod to Jim Morrison's hotel room door in Paris before he died) when entering the yard, and it's the first sign of the gallery's presence. This former heating house for the residential area now serves to showcase artists like Cerith Wyn Evans, Cosima von Bonin, Karl Holmqvist and Claire Fontaine.
Christian Boros is one of Germany's biggest collectors. Coming from the advertisement/publishing industry, in 2003 he acquired one of the biggest civil bunkers, built his own penthouse on top, and now exhibits a range of his collection beneath. His galleries are dedicated to artists from 1990 to the present and include Olafur Eliasson, Anselm Reyle, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Wolfgang Tillmanns to name a few.
When the wall came down, Kunstwerke developed itself as the contemporary art center in Berlin's former East, started by a group of artist friends. The place is now home to the Berlin Biennale (this year curated by the New York group DIS) and has always changing exhibitions around current cultural agendas and also offers residencies to artists.
Run by the female power duo Monika Spruth and Philomene Magers, the gallery has a second gallery in London and recently opened up a space in Los Angeles. The gallery is dedicated "to exhibiting the very best in groundbreaking modern and contemporary art" by having a roster of established artists, but also being known to give emerging ones their extra boost - Cyprien Gaillard was once one of them. Their opening nights are always very well attended.
When walking by Klosterfelde you automatically notice the beautiful facade and that this space used to be something else. And indeed, Alfons Klosterfelde moved his gallery space into an old stationary store! The great thing about his approach is that he publishes limited edition books of collections, which makes the purchase of art more accessible.
Photo via Contemporary Art Daily
Located on the first floor of a beautiful old West-Berlin apartment, Galerie Buchholz belongs to a trio of internationally acclaimed galleries, with other outlets in Cologne and NYC. Buchholz is also located on of the most beautiful streets in whole Berlin (Fasanenstrase), so heading over there and stopping by the famous Literature Cafe next door is definitely worth it.
Set on the Schlossstrase and five meters away from the Castle Charlottenburg (if you feel like diving into the year of 1699) the Berggrun Museum just recently re-opened its doors, offering you one of the most important collections of Classic Modernity. Heinz Berggruen, an important figure for Germany's art and culture scene has acquired an incredible range works from artists like Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, which have all found their place in the beautiful Berggruen Museum. The light shining in from the ceiling always adds a special atmosphere to the setting.
Set right on a small side street, you'll enter a little brick house in enchanting and almost mystic surroundings. Georg Kolbe who has been Germany's most successful sculptor in the first half of 19th century, arranged this museum before his death to preserve his workplace and his oeuvre.
Anyone interested in architecture should take a trip to this area (it takes a moment to get there). To experience it to the fullest, one should stop by the Olympic Stadium, Le Corbusier Home and the Devil's Mountain, all being important historic artifacts and within in walking distance!
Photo via We Heart
Johann Konig is another top gallerist who acquired the St.Agnes Church some years ago and transformed it into a gallery space. The massive church is a neutral and clean canvas for Konig to exhibit his work (Katharina Grosse, Erwin Wurm, Jorinde Voigt). Side fact: the internationally-cool 032c magazine resides right next door with their workshop/little gallery space for their own artists' exhibitions and fun opening nights. It's definitely worth checking out if something is planned during your visit!
Photo via SFAQ
This very special gallery space used to be an old crematorium and is still located next to a cemetery. Nevertheless it doesn't have any bad vibes and the general curatorial approach has a good sense of humour creating an interesting contrast to the setting by often focussing on kinetic installation art, film/video, painting and machines. It can be a bit tricky to find as Google Maps doesn't always guide you precisely to the space, but a good hint for orientation is the big chimney raising up to the sky.
Ricarda, a true Berliner, finds her prophecies through fortune cookies and is all about publishing dreams with her own press editionmessner. Flaneur and Sofa Magazine are her two ongoing print projects.
In case you are interested to follow her #nofilter life via instagram, please do.