The art and soul of Berlin
Gallery Weekend, held in Berlin from 29 April to 1 May, offers an intense – but more intimate, direct and personal – approach to art. More than 50 galleries open their doors to the general public to present emerging artists in what is considered a leading event for collectors from across the globe, and one that serves as a barometer for the contemporary art market. Its format has been so successful that it’s already been replicated in several European cities. We take advantage of the 18th edition of Gallery Weekend to explore Berlin’s finest hotspots for art.
1 König Galerie
Originality distinguishes this gallery, starting with its site, which was formerly the monumental Brutalist church of St Agnes, built in the 1960s. König is one of Germany’s most influential art centres, and the works it displays often move on to museums such as MoMA or the Guggenheim. Its schedule represents a young generation of artists (think Katharina Grosse and Robert Janitz) with interdisciplinary approaches that include sculpture, video, sound, painting, engraving, photography and performance. London, Vienna, Monaco and Seoul are some of the cities with branches of this unmissable gallery.
2 Esther Schipper
For many, this is Berlin’s most spectacular exhibition space. A veteran gallery founded in 1989 in Cologne, it moved to the German capital in 1997 with no notion that, a decade later, it would have to open a gigantic facility in order to adapt to the huge demand for exhibitions. Today, Esther Schipper is a landmark in the city’s artistic panorama, both for its ephemeral conceptual projects and for its ongoing and long-lasting collaborations with artists such as Philippe Parreno, Ugo Rondinone and Julia Scher. It presents installations and pieces that interact with the surrounding environment and rewire the concept of exhibitions with a new critical eye.
3 Thomas Schulte
This was one of the first galleries to open its doors in Berlin after the fall of the Wall and the reunification of Germany. And it certainly went all out, since it was soon recognised for its select exhibition schedule, which not only included stimulating works by consecrated artists, but also created a platform for pioneering international artists. The great achievement of Thomas Schulte was to resurrect an artistic effervescence that had faded during those dark years. Today, it stands out as one of the most important artistic spaces, featuring names such as Richard Deacon, Rebecca Horn and Spain’s Ángela de la Cruz.
4 Carlier | Gebauer
Opened in 1991 and headed by Marie-Blanche Carlier and Ulrich Gebauer, this gallery is among those most valued by experts, thanks to the soundness of its artists (such as Mark Wallinger, Julie Mehretu and Peter Stauss) and the innovation of its exhibitions, which are dedicated to contemporary international art in the fields of sculpture, cinema, photography, painting and drawing. Located in a former industrial ‘shedhall’, it not only offers creators a space to experiment, but also makes it possible to display large-scale installations in a setting similar to a museum. All this has allowed Carlier | Gebauer – which opened a branch in Madrid in 2019 – to enjoy an original and independent profile.
5 Isabella Bortolozzi
This Italian gallerist realised her desire to present young artists to the world, but in an unusual way: by asking questions of the viewer through their works, which usually come from the fields of photography, installation, sculpture and video art. In this way, the Isabella Bortolozzi earned, from its very beginning, a reputation for shedding light on emerging artists and, at the same time, for working closely with institutions, public foundations and museums. Its growing list of artists includes Ed Atkins, Seth Price, Wu Tsang and Hannah Black, among many others.