Berlin Gallery Weekend has a growth spurt
Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, the three-day city-wide art event has come into its own
By Julia Michalska. Web only
Published online: 03 May 2014
Berlin is growing up. Celebrating its tenth edition this year, the three-day event of co-ordinated gallery openings in the city now includes 50 galleries and has spawned around 500 parallel events across the German capital. The appointment of Maike Cruse, the former communications director of Art Basel, as the new director of Berlin Gallery Weekend (2-4 May) has helped to strengthen its position as the city’s equivalent of an art fair.
In 2005, six dealers—Tim Neuger (Neugerriemschneider), Alexander Schröder (Galerie Neu), Esther Schipper, Martin Klosterfelde, Giti Nourbakhsch, Claes Nordenhake, and Max Hetzler—lamenting the lack of collectors in Berlin, created the gallery weekend to bring buyers to the city. The first edition launched that year with 20 galleries largely from the Mitte district. A decade on, “it has grown hugely”, says Jochen Meyer of Meyer Riegger, who is a member of the association of six galleries that govern the event. “With every year it has become more professional,” he says, pointing to the slick BMWs that chauffeur VIPs around the galleries and the popular gala dinner on the final day. His gallery is showing new works by the Paris-based German artist Katinka Bock.
Though the city is vast, the participating galleries are not quite as sprawled out as they were in previous editions. Last year, Max Hetzler closed his branch in Wedding—possibly the hippest yet most far-flung gallery area in Berlin—while others, including Sommer & Kohl, Isabella Bortolozzi, Esther Schipper and Blain/Southern, have been clustering around the more centrally located streets near the Neue Nationalgalerie in recent years. The area is also home to Aurel Scheibler, whose exhibition of late works by Philip Guston (1913-80) is one of the weekend’s most talked-about shows. The Berlin-based collectors Christian and Karen Boros as well as the Hamburg-based collector Harald Falkenberg singled it out as a favourite. The pieces are priced between $200,000 and $4m.
The major Cologne-based collector Mayen Beckmann, the granddaughter of Max Beckmann, was spotted at nearby Blain/Southern. The gallery has devoted its spaces in Berlin, London and New York to a survey of Lynn Chadwick’s work on occasion of the centenary of his birth. Pieces in the gallery’s enormous Berlin space include steel sculptures from the 1990s (priced around £500,000) and earlier bronze sculptures (priced between £50,000 and £200,000), including Beast I, 1955, for which Chadwick won the International Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale in 1956.
Berlin’s Mitte district is still where many of the city’s heavy-hitting galleries are located. The three-storey Sprüth Magers Gallery caused a stir with works by Reinhard Mucha, plucking the artist out of near obscurity since he represented Germany at the Venice Biennale in 1990. The gallery is also presenting a large installation by Fischli/Weiss as well as Philip Lorca diCorcia's “Hustlers” series from the 1990s. The collector Richard Chang was spotted at the opening of the show. Meanwhile, Galerie Neu inaugurated its new space on nearby Linienstrasse with an exhibition celebrating its 20th anniversary showing one work by ever artist in its roster.
But it is the young galleries that give Berlin its undisputed edge and Gallery Weekend its unique character. Stand-out shows include Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler’s exhibition of works by the post-internet artist Katja Novitskova that use footage from Mars expeditions and Société's show of previously unseen “Target” works by Ned Vena. Peres Projects is showing new works by the German artist and market darling David Ostrowski (priced around $50,000).
Almost at the very edge of the Gallery Weekend map is the unmissable Galerie Buchholz exhibition of Lutz Bacher's work. The show, spread across the gallery's two other Cologne spaces, includes a new suite of 14 photographs and a 2013 group of graying bison sculptures.
”I have been coming to Gallery Weekend for many years,” says the art advisor Lisa Schiff who is in town to buy work for a US client. “It's just so important to be tapped into what is happening in Berlin.”
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