The cultural history of Düsseldorf has always been intertwined with the contemporary art world. With the suffix “dorf” translating to “village”, the capital city of North Rhine-Westphalia has always felt like an art village. For over a half century, artists of both national and international origin have found a safe haven to experiment and showcase their work.
It was in the late 1950s that Heinz Mack and Otto Piene founded the ZERO artist group in Düsseldorf, with Günther Uecker joining in 1960. It was this movement focused on kinetic art using light and motion that would become one of the preeminent avant-garde movements of the contemporary art world and mark the city by the Rhine as a destination for artists. In the 1970s and 1980s, such art legends as Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Katharina Fritsch, and Thomas Schütte came to reside in Düsseldorf. Meanwhile, at institutions like the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf, a new generation of photographers studying under Bernd and Hilla Becher in the ‘70s became known as the Düsseldorf School of Photography as they rose to prominence in the subsequent decades.
Today, the city continues to act as a vital hub for artists and art lovers alike with dozens of museums offering a wealth of options for those looking to explore the contemporary art scene. Across the many, many institutions who call Düsseldorf home, there exist a wide swath of positions, as well as a diversity of young and established artists, which keeps Düsseldorf at the forefront of the modern art world.
To help both first-time visitors and hardened art aficionados navigate Düsseldorf’s many museums, we’ve picked eight institutions (sorted in no particular order or hierarchy) which offer a suitable entry point for examining both the legacy and future of contemporary art in the region.
For more than 300 years, art has had a home in the Kunstpalast. It was in the mid-19th century that the Society for the Establishment of an Art Gallery in Düsseldorf (Verein zur Errichtung einer Gemäldegalerie zu Düsseldorf) declared that forming a municipal art gallery was the “ultimate, vital issue for Düsseldorf”. Centuries later, this mission has served to educate and inspire generations of local and international guests.
Throughout this long history, the museum has gone through a major redesign in conjunction with its fellow museum at the Ehrenhof, the NRW Forum, and has shown hundreds of exhibitions. The institution has over 100,000 objects, which eclipses most other German museums and serves as a testament to the unparalleled diversity of works in their collection.
The Museum Kunstpalast is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 AM to 6 PM and is open until 9 PM on Thursdays. Click here for more info.
Since the signature concrete block housing Kunsthalle was finished in 1967, the museum has provided a home for experimental and explorative contemporary art from its home on Grabbeplatz. Split into two independent institutions — the Kunsthalle and the Art Association for the Rhineland and Westphalia — the Kunsthalle portion of the building has been at the forefront of contemporary art. Besides being an outlet for a number of international artists to enter the European art market, the space has dedicated itself to exploring the Asian art scene since 2011, offered a flexible project space through their Seitenlichtsaal exhibition format since 2012 and continually sought out other ways to bring diversity to their halls.
With no permanent collection, the museum has been free to host a regular stream of temporary exhibitions that give the space a chameleonic energy that adapts to the artists on view. Through their exhibition series Seitenlichtsaal and the presentation of recipients of the Karl Schmidt-Rottluff Scholarship, a diversity of younger and less well-known artists have been introduced to museum patrons over the years.
Kunsthalle is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 AM to 6 PM. The museum is free of charge from 6 PM to 8 PM on the last Thursday of every month, as well as every second Sunday of the month for Family Day. Click here for more info.
With a focus on photography, pop and digital culture, the NRW-Forum is a key destination for all things contemporary. The museum sits on part of the Ehrenhof ensemble, which was built in the 1920s and is now listed as a monument. Over the decades, the building was home to the Reich Museum for Social and Economic Sciences from 1928 to 1951 and then the State Museum for the Nation and the Economy until the start of the 1990s.
Since opening as the NRW-Forum for Culture and Economy on October 9, 1998, the museum has overcome funding cutoffs, staffing changes, and other challenges. The NRW Forum has organized over 28 exhibitions since 2015 and launched the Duesseldorf Photo festival and the digital festival META Marathon. With a strong mix of exhibitions, festivals, symposia, workshops, fairs, film screenings, and other cultural initiatives, it has been an incubator for modern, cutting-edge culture for years.
The NRW-Forum Düsseldorf is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 AM to 6 PM and until 9 PM on Thursdays. Click here for more info.
In 2003, German collector Julia Stoschek found herself deeply moved by Douglas Gordon’s video “Play Dead: Real Time”. It was that piece of time-based art that inspired her to begin a now-historic collection of time-based art that has grown to include over 870 artworks by over 290 artists. It is this massive collection that spurred her to open the Julia Stoschek Collection in Düsseldorf in 2007.
Not only is the Collection an integral piece of the city’s contemporary art scene, but it is also one of the most comprehensive private collections of time-based art in the world. Representing everything from video and virtual reality to sculpture and performance, focusing especially on moving image experiments from the 1960s and ’70s, the collection is a must-see for art lovers. Alongside the many exhibitions they have produced in Düsseldorf, the Collection has also operated a second space in Berlin since 2016.
The Julia Stoschek Foundation in Düsseldorf is open on Sundays from 11 AM to 6 PM, and admission is free of charge. Click here for more info.
For over a decade, the KAI 10 | ARTHENA FOUNDATION has occupied more than 600 square meters of space in a reclaimed warehouse from the 1950s. It’s this space, founded by Oldenburg entrepreneur Monika Schnetkamp, that has become an essential destination for contemporary artists.
Over 200 artists have exhibited at KAI 10 since opening their doors in September 2008, including both international stars as well as supra-regional talent from the local Rhineland art scene. Alongside its program of solo and group exhibitions, the institution also organizes artist talks and curates a list of publications that comprise more than 32 titles.
KAI 10 | ARTHENA FOUNDATION is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 AM to 5 PM, and admission is free of charge. Click here for more info.
In a city filled to the brim with impressive art institutions, it can be difficult to stand out — unless, of course, you’re situated directly beneath the Rhine Promenade. Though the space has been host to events since 1995, it was only in 2007 that an exhibition space opened its doors, quickly becoming a haven for experimental art from emerging artists.
With an elliptical arc of nearly 140 metres that runs parallel to the Rhine, the unique architecture of the KIT is as unforgettable as the alternating exhibitions that span everything from video and installation to sculpture and painting. With a strong focus on young artists from both the immediate region and international talent, this institution is a vital part of the city’s contemporary art scene.
KIT is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 AM to 6 PM and is free of charge every second Sunday of the month for Family Day. Click here for more info.
Since 1961, the official art collection of the German Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia has earned an international reputation for its commitment to contemporary art. With its sprawling selection of works, the collection occupies two distinct venues in Düsseldorf. The first is K20 at Grabbeplatz, a black granite-clad building that opened in 1986. The second is the K21 in the Ständehaus, which was inaugurated in 2002 and occupies a former parliament building overlooking the Kaiserteich.
Both spaces have been led by director Susanne Gaensheimer since 2017 and represent a comprehensive mix of established legends and new positions. At K20, a comprehensive group of works by Paul Klee and paintings from German Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism form the space’s core foundation. Meanwhile, at K21, a permanent collection of works starting from the late 1980s is balanced by temporary exhibitions showcasing a groundbreaking selection of contemporary artists.
K20 and K21 are open Tuesday through Friday from 10 AM to 6 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 11 AM to 6 PM. Every first Wednesday of the month, K20 and K21 are open until 10 PM as part of KPMG-Kunstabend, and admission is free of charge on that day from 6 PM. Click here for more info.
Since the mid-1990s, Düsseldorf native Gil Bronner has been curating a private collection of over 1,700 works that maintain strong ties to the Düsseldorf Art Academy. With a focus on the breadth of talent in the city’s contemporary art scene, the collection is both a window into the next generation of talent as well as a time capsule for major positions in the city’s artistic history.
Now housed in a former glass factory with a wealth of natural light, the museum melts away into the surrounding structures thanks to a unique design that submerges much of the 1,7000 square meters of space. With a strong permanent collection and a handful of temporary exhibitions, the space is an important part of the city’s art scene.
The Sammlung Philara is open Friday from 4 PM through 8 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 2 PM to 6 PM. Click here for more info.
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Art has always been a salve for the soul, but during winter, it’s especially important. As the temperature outside plummets and the skies grow dark by midday, a good exhibition is a perfect place to relax, wander through climate-controlled exhibitions, and maybe even have an espresso (or two).
As the holiday season ends and a new year begins, the wealth of great exhibitions around Europe offers plenty of options for art lovers looking to see shows from established and underrepresented talents. From the BDSM-inspired works of Monica Bonvincini in Berlin to a sprawling group show focused on Surrealism in Potsdam or the Wolfgang-Hahn-Prize-winning work of Frank Bowling in Cologne, there’s something for everyone. While some shows will stretch through the next few months, we’ve picked a few who deserve to be seen in their final few weeks, including the stunning portraits by Alice Neel and the stark drama of Anne Imhof’s site-specific installations in Paris and Amsterdam, respectively.
Across the continent, we’ve pinpointed ten must-see shows on view everywhere from Luxembourg to Stockholm that even the most casual admirers of contemporary art should add to their list. Scroll through to see what exhibitions we’ve picked out.
It’s been nearly a century since French writer André Breton published the Manifesto of Surrealism, yet its impact still reverberates through culture. This manifesto — and the literary and artistic movement of Surrealism that it birthed — forms the backbone of “Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity”, a sweeping group exhibition at Potsdam’s Museum Barberini. Organised in collaboration with the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, it was first shown from April to September 2022, parallel to the Venice Biennale.
The show is the first large-scale international loan exhibition to focus on the Surrealists’ interest in magic and myth, featuring ninety works by over twenty artists. Moving through the labyrinth of works, art lovers have a feast for the eyes. Pieces by artistic legends like Giorgio de Chirico, Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, and René Magritte can be seen alongside many women artists who have historically been overlooked — including Leonora Carrington, Jacqueline Lamba, Kay Sage, Remedios Varo, and more.
“Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity” is on view at Museum Barberini in Potsdam until January 29, 2023.
A woman lounges in a purple mid-century chair, lazily looking out at the viewer as her leg dangles off the side and an arm rises above her head to grip the back of the chair. She is the “Marxist Girl”, the subject of a visually arresting painting created by Alice Neel in 1972. A half-century later, this painting has become a powerful centrepiece in the Neel exhibition on view at Centre Pompidou.
Though the late North American painter went largely unnoticed in the art world during her lifetime, she produced a rich oeuvre marked by both militant feminism and intersectionality far ahead of the era. With over 75 paintings and drawings spread across the “Un regard engagé” exhibition, the pieces tackle everything from the prison system and antisemitism to interracial relationships and female sexuality. Together, the show is a valiant (and successful) attempt to honour her contribution to art history while providing a crash course in Neel’s striking meditations on class and gender for curious art lovers.
“Un regard engagé” by Alice Neel is on view at Centre Pompidou in Paris until January 16, 2023.
“The possibilities of colour are infinite.” That’s the core philosophy that guides Museum Ludwig’s new exhibition of Guyana-born artist Frank Bowling — this year’s recipient of the Wolfgang-Hahn-Prize. In celebrating his long career as a painter and writer, the show offers viewers a fresh insight into his unique style that fuses the British abstraction and American colour field painting movements.
With such a strong oeuvre, it’s fitting that the artist was chosen for the award by Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst and Museum Ludwig. To see his immense talent, one need only look to his 2020 work, “Flogging the Dead Donkey”, which is the first acquisition of one of his pieces for a public collection in Germany. Alongside that work, viewers will also find a print made from the dripping edge of the painting, archival materials from his writing work in the arts, and a film created by his son, Sacha Bowling, that combines both footage from throughout his career as well as an interview between Bowling and critic Mel Gooding.
The Frank Bowling exhibition will be on view at Museum Ludwig in Cologne until February 12, 2023.
Seshee Bopape’s work has a pulsing, earthy energy. Using soil and other materials sourced from the natural world, the South African artist has built a formidable reputation for her ability to draw upon the elements to create emotionally arresting works that tackle themes of memory, identity, and belonging. With “Born in the first light of the morning [moswara’marapo]”, her new show set against the stark, industrial interiors of Pirelli HangarBicocca’s Shed, the artist has weaved a piercing and poetic narrative that examines female-led myths and archetypes.
Using the phrase “moswara’marapo” from Sepedi (a language of Southern African BaNtu), which translates to “the holder of bones,” she has created an exhibition that tackles memories and tradition through a series of stirring pieces, including two site-specific wall drawings (“Untitled”, 2022) that are reminiscent of lines left on sand from the ocean’s tide. There is a range of mediums to pore over throughout the exhibition, but it is the two installations of earth compressed into towering dome structures — “and- in the light of this._ _ _ _ _”, 2017/2022 and “Mothabeng”, 2022 — that demand to be experienced.
“Born in the first light of the morning [moswara’marapo]” by Dineo Seshee Bopape is on view at Pirelli HangarBicocca in Milan until January 29, 2023.
The radical, refreshing artistry of Anne Imhof has always lit up whichever institution hosts her, but there’s an added layer of emotion present at the Stedelijk Museum this winter. For her first solo show in the Netherlands, the young artist transformed over 1,000 square metres of space in their lower-level gallery into a labyrinthine exploration of, ironically, emptiness.
As the first exhibition in nearly a decade not to feature a live performance element, it marks a bold new direction and an evolution in her chameleonic oeuvre. Through a mix of light, sound, and site-specific installations — including school lockers — she tackles everything from body dysmorphia to anxiety. Two particularly arresting pieces are “AI Winter” and “Fate”, two symbiotic video works that see the artist wandering the snowy industrial ruins of Moscow and riding atop a horse, respectively. Taken as a whole, the sprawling exhibition is another strong showcase for Imhof’s eye for the uncomfortable, seedy underbelly of youth angst.
“Youth” by Anne Imhof is on view at Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam until January 29, 2023.
Looming over the Neue Nationalgalerie, a giant mirrored sign is the striking entry point for the comprehensive new solo exhibition from acclaimed artist Monica Bonvicini. Reflecting the (usually) grey Berlin skies, massive black lettering reads “I do you” — literally mirroring the name of the exhibition that now occupies the museum’s ground floor. Acting as the central focal point, a site-specific installation constructed of scaffolding, wood, foil, and mirrors rises up to create a temporary second level. As viewers ascend the metal steps, the upper level opens to a selection of works that are at once both playful and foreboding.
Alongside the blistering brightness of “Light Me Black” (2009), two hammocks crafted from steel chains — “Chainswing Belts” and “Chainswing Leather Round” — offer a nod to the BDSM club scene and invite visitors to climb in, lay back, and relax into the surprisingly comfortable contraptions. Downstairs, the new work “You to Me” lines the perimeter, offering a set of 20 handcuffs that viewers can lock themselves into for 30 minutes.
It’s a testament to the power of Bonvicini’s craft that her piercing interrogations of masculinity and power aren’t just free of melodrama — they’re also quite fun to interact with. With such a strong range of works tackling everything from bondage to the uncontrollability of time to pour over, the exhibition is a welcome reprieve from the gloomy weather just outside the museum’s glass-paned facade.
“I do You” by Monica Bonvicini is on view at Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin until April 30, 2023.
The new exhibition by English artist Tacita Dean is a sensory journey — fitting given that its creative nucleus is Dante’s Inferno. Occupying the East Gallery at Mudam, the show is centred on ‘The Dante Project’ — a moving ballet that premiered at London’s Royal Opera House in October 2021. For that production, Dean designed not only the costumes but also the sprawling sets, which have now found a temporary home in Luxembourg for the exhibition’s duration.
Stripped of the context of the theatre, the incredible pieces that Dean produced from the play take on a new life ensconced within the modernist facade of Mudam, where a mix of photography and film accompanies them. Staged in three parts that mirror the three acts of the story (Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso), the pacing of the exhibition view feels fluid, ebbing and flowing as the pieces transition from monochrome to colour. In 2020’s “Purgatory (Threshold)”, a large-scale photo of Jacaranda trees nearly four metres by five metres has been pinned to the wall and intricately overlaid with white pencil marks — casting a veil over the urban setting around the tree.
In addition to the two other set pieces from the ballet, 2019’s “Inferno” and 2021’s “Paradise”, the exhibition also features smaller works that showcase her versatility as an artist, including an eight-part photogravure, films shot on 16mm, and small chalk drawings.
The Tacita Dean exhibition is on view at Mudam in Luxembourg until February 26, 2023.
Staged one year after her death at 96, a retrospective of Etel Adnan has captured the radiance of the Arab American artist’s oeuvre. There is a warmth emanating from the works as viewers wander through the famed Lenbachhaus Kunstbau. Comforting yellows, bright reds, suns, hills, broad strokes, and seeping lakes of colour are sectioned off by fine lines — a striking correspondence to the Kandinsky paintings just across the street at the permanent collection.
Born to Greek and Syrian parents, Adnan became a writer and poet before pivoting to painting and textile art. The confluence of her talents is on full view, with many of her paintings being accompanied by texts she’s written — including a selection of works inspired by the Japanese Leporello folding screen technique.
As her first major solo show in Germany, it represents a major achievement for the late artist while also showcasing the tight bonds within the country’s contemporary art scene. The show was produced in collaboration with Düsseldorf’s Kunstsammlung NRW, which will stage the exhibition at their museum on April 1.
The Etel Adnan retrospective is on view at Lenbachhaus in Munich until February 26.
When you’re as astronomically important to the art world as Nan Goldin, staging a retrospective takes a lot of space. In the case of “This Will Not End Well”, a retrospective at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet, it took six unique buildings. Designed by architect and frequent Goldin collaborator Hala Wardé and specifically staged to embrace her original vision for how her work should be experienced, the show is one of the most personal odes to the artist yet.
Anchored by both slideshows and video installations, the images she has captured across the last half century are given a new energy. Major works that tackle tough issues like drug addiction, suicide, and gender — including “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency” (1981–2022), “The Other Side” (1992– 2021), and “Sisters, Saints and Sibyls” (2004–2022) — are given an added layer of depth through a mix of images, voices, and archival material. For both devoted lovers of Goldin’s work and those new to her oeuvre, the village of rooms erected to house her works during the exhibition is necessary viewing.
“This Will Not End Well” by Nan Goldin is on view at Moderna Museet in Stockholm until February 26, 2023.
A dark atmosphere permeates the new Joan Jonas exhibition in Munich’s Haus Der Kunst. Serving as the first major comprehensive survey in Germany for the grande dame of video and performance art, it is a moving tribute to the 86-year-old provocateur.
Full of cinematic flickers and melodic soundscapes that transport viewers into her world, the show has an impressive range of both newer work and classic pieces from the 1960s, including a massive ode to her 1968 performance of “Wind.” With more recent works, including “Rivers to the Abyssal Plain” (2021) and “Out Takes. What The Storm Washed In” (2022), the artist explores the relationship between humans, animals, and nature — a recurring motif in her historic career.
The Joan Jonas exhibition is on view at Haus Der Kunst in Munich until February 26, 2023.
There’s no introduction or hand-holding in the work of Finnish-Egyptian artist Samira Elagoz. Watching one of Elagoz’s films requires trust because the journey will be gripping, experimental, and, for some, uncomfortable. That’s the point.
The art he makes isn’t made to be easily digestible. It’s made to help Elagoz explore his own identity. During the early period of his career — from 2013 through 2019 — Elagoz identified as a female artist and created films documenting his exploration of gender. In 2014’s “Four Kings”, he sent out a simple ad on Craigslist seeking strangers to form a connection with on camera. “The concept is that I meet you at your place and film how we get to know each other,” his ad reads. The resulting film won acclaim and landed Elagoz a Blooom Award at that year’s Art.Fair Cologne. A follow-up theatrical work, “Cock, Cock… Who’s There”, tackled themes of rape, female bodies, online dating, feminism and the male gaze — leading the artist on a five-year tour around the world that garnered many awards for the work.
Eight years (and multiple equally-experimental works) later, Elagoz began 2022 with another award — the prestigious Silver Lion at the Venice Biennale Teatro — for entire body of work, including his most recent film, “Seek Bromance”. The sprawling, 220-minute film is a time capsule of his relationship with Brazilian artist Cade Moga during the pandemic, from the first meeting to the final breakup. “I consider that perhaps this could be the theme of our collaboration,” his initial email to Moga reads. “The relationship between 3 lovers, the camera being one of them.” As the work progressed, it became as much an ode to connection as it was a farewell to Elagoz’s femme identity.
It’s a gripping narrative journey that signals Elagoz as an important, rising force in the experimental art world. During a break from his busy schedule of touring “Seek Bromance”, we caught up with Elagoz about navigating the art world as a transmasculine artist and why the internet is key to creating his works.
For many artists, the pandemic allowed them to slow down and evaluate their artistic practice. For you, it led to a piece of art that was both professionally and personally transformative. What reflections have you gathered about that period?
Covid was a pretty devastating hit to most artists, while also [being] a collective burnout where everyone had to slow down. I had to cancel plenty of my projects; my plans to collaborate with several artists across the globe were squashed. My last project, “Seek Bromance”, took on a completely different form once I arrived in LA to film one of my collaborators on the exact week Covid hit. We met at the start of the lockdown, and spent the next few months together, filming and waiting around. I did not want to make a Covid work, but the backdrop of that is, of course, unavoidable. The effects it had on our interaction, on my transitioning, the cabin fever, have all shaped the work considerably. That’s why I call “Seek Bromance” a romance situated at the end of the world.
You grew up in the Finnish village of Karkkila. What was your introduction to the world of art? How did it evolve over your adolescence?
I’m a ’90s kid and spent half my youth in a dilapidated house in the middle of the forest brought up by a poor single mom. We didn’t have a car and there was pretty much nothing to do, which left a screaming desire to get out and taste the world — experience something giant and real. The only escape there was watching movies. My first touch [with] art making was dancing. Now, looking back, I think the only reason for such an endeavour was that that tool was free; my body was available at all times. But films were the art form I appreciated the most, and I’m happy that I eventually did end up working with film.
You have been quite strict about not using actors or scripts and not working in studios. Why are these restrictions important to you and your artistic practice?
The moment I started working with the camera changed everything. Coming from a technical dance background and having a lot of experience in watching “talented performers”, I got bored with it and the idea that I would train people to be as I’d like them to be. I’d much rather pick people and allow them to be as they are and capture that and my relation to them. So I made the conscious choice not to be an artist that works in a studio with colleagues, but rather, make work that is unrehearsed and co-starring people I have never met before. In all my work, life has to happen first, and then I make something out of it. That’s why I work without a script; there is unpredictability. I always set out to gather up real-life events.
Much of the art world is ruled by a narrow scope that favours the cisgender, white, male archetype. What has your experience been like in navigating the industry first as a high femme-presenting and now transmasculine artist?
While it has been exciting and meaningful to get to show work, I’m not going to lie. It has often been frustrating and saddening. Throughout my whole career, I’ve faced a lot of simplification and [been] stripped of complexity. Most of my works also speak on topics that are not spoken of[ muhc], such as the effects of rape on your sexuality or transmasculinity. That sets up a whole bunch of pressure on you as you become a sort of voice for your community, which is something no artist should be expected to do.
One should not and even cannot represent the whole “community”. While I have been thanked for being a “rebel and progressive”, the more pertinent question is: who are the rebels and progressives among the establishment? Who are the radical curators, festival directors, and funding decision-makers? Without those people recognising the merit or need of a rebel artist, you don’t really do anything with the radicality of the artist.
Continuing on from the previous question, what positive and hopeful experiences have you had as an artist within the art world?
My works talk about topics like sexual violence, gender roles, and transition, so I often get to see how behind people are with their thinking. The most positive experiences have been when I sensed that I evoked a change in the audience. My last work was about sexual trauma, so for me, it’s most touching when other victims said it empowered them. With “Seek Bromance”, I’ve heard so often it was “life-changing” not only for trans but cis people. Hearing comments like that is one of the best rewards you can have as an artist.
A lot of your oeuvre is focused on researching men through the lens of intimacy and masculinity. What are some of the most impactful insights you’ve gathered from this research?
I always try to construct my work in a way that I won’t give ready-made answers. I want the mic to turn towards the audience in the end. They should be left with a desire to articulate what they think about these things. From what I’ve heard, this happens more often than not. I spent 10 years of my life filming men on and off, and there is a soft place in my heart for them. Hopeful and amused. I have often felt like a confidant to men. Cis men are usually bad examples of masculinity; they’ll appear a bit hopeless and unwilling to progress at times. As a transmasculine, I feel the burden is on me to be better while their crisis awaits its revolution.
The internet, particularly online advertisements, has formed the basis for many of your works. Before the start of your art career, what was your early experience with the internet and online ads? How has this experience evolved as you’ve incorporated it into your art?
All my works start online. I have found most of the people I’ve filmed through online platforms. Or often, they have found me. I’ve always been a digital romanticist; I think online platforms give you a chance to redefine yourself. And there is an instinct to be less private with online strangers and more honest. I used to be an extremely socially anxious person and also lived in the middle of the forest, so [being] online was everything. I started chatting immediately as a kid when we got our first home computer 20 years ago. I think that sexuality and romanticism online are as real as they can be [in real life]. In fact, I believe that online, we get to connect in a more honest way, or at least honest to ourselves.
You’ve spoken about the “multiple realities” that are present in before-and-after images of trans people. Can you speak more on this idea of multiple realities, especially in regard to art and gender?
In a patriarchy where women, trans, and marginalised people have not had the right to be large, contradictory, blurry, and abstract, but are rather pigeonholed, stereotyped, and simplified, art became the place to explore. A place where you can be expansive. I felt that by showing my “former versions” with my “current version”, I could make real the fact I exist in multitudes and encourage the exploration of multiple selves. The construction of a self, creative or otherwise, is complex, and claiming multiple selves pushes back against the flattened reading of othered bodies.
Looking towards the future, what themes or ideas are you hoping to explore or are actively involved in exploring?
I will continue with the concept of strangers. For almost ten years I’ve been researching gender dynamics, visiting men’s houses with my camera, investigating the female and queer gaze and touring the world with [four] works about them, so I’d also want to write a memoir eventually. I find it endlessly fascinating to work without a script and with people I’ve never met before. The thrill I get from not knowing what I will film, who I will film, and what the dynamic will be, keeps me going.
A black-and-white photo by artist Carol Shadford started it all. Presenting as an optical illusion, the photo is abstract when viewed from afar. Step closer, however, and glimpses of a face, half-bust, or full body of a woman can be seen in each individual bubble. For Napoleone, it was fascinating and a worthy first purchase that set off a decades-long commitment to amassing art made exclusively by female artists.
Born to a wealthy Italian industrialist and raised in a small town outside of Milan, the Italian collector wasn’t always attracted to the art world. Studying journalism at NYU in the mid-eighties, her years were spent exploring the city. It wasn’t until she left and married her husband Gregorio, an Italian-born financier, that a path toward the art world began to fall into place. “My husband is in investment banking, so we moved [back] to New York and I started a [master’s degree] program on art gallery administration at the Fashion Institute of Technology,” she recalls. It was this two-year program that helped lead her to Pierogi 2000 (now simply called Pierogi), the Williamsburg gallery that became a hub for a melting pot of both artists and art lovers in the mid-nineties.
“Joe Amrhein was the director and I was spending a lot of time in [Pierogi 2000] meeting artists who were represented and shown,” she recalls. “While navigating and exploring Pierogi and the community of artists, I realized how much I enjoy being surrounded by artists.” It is this foundational urge to be around artists that has helped the collector maintain a steady focus in her work as a patron. Besides her famed private collection of works exclusively made by female artists, Napoleone has also engaged in philanthropic work through her Valeria Napoleone XX platform, which is split into two initiatives: one with New York’s SculptureCenter and NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts and one with the UK-based Contemporary Art Society.
With a private collection of hundreds of artworks plus her philanthropy, Valeria keeps a full schedule, seeking out fresh and established female artists to support. During a recent vacation to Italy, we got on a video call with the collector to talk about her process for finding artists, the XX initiative, and why maintaining a personal connection is key in an era of rapid digitization.
Could you talk more about your philanthropic initiative, Valeria Napoleone XX?
The project officially started in 2015, but is a formalization of my activity as a patron for the previous 18 years. I [have always] supported women artists and female creativity, but I wanted to formalize it and scream it out loud. XX [references] female chromosomes but also partnership because my life as a patron and collector has never been a journey alone. It’s a journey with institutions, with curators. Partnership has always been a very important element in my life and XX has many different partners.
In the UK, I work with [the Contemporary Art Society]. For over a hundred years, the organization has been raising private funds to buy artworks and donate to regional museums all over the UK. When I became a trustee, I said, “Let’s do a project that goes beyond my activity as a trustee. Something exciting and more creative.” We started [Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society (VN XX CAS)], which gives a donation of a major piece by a contemporary artist to one of the regional museums every year. They need to do an application which asks how many women artists are in their collection and what they’re doing to address this imbalance. It’s this testimony to how little balance there is in the UK. There are no women in regional museums because there is no money to collect [works by female artists].
In the US, XX exists in partnership with the SculptureCenter and fully funds a major commission by an artist in the context of a solo show at the SculptureCenter. Anthea Hamilton was the very first one we commissioned. I really love to be involved in the process. I could give the funds and say, “You choose, you do exactly what you want.” Instead, I see the project, I see the plans, I discuss it with the artist. We have made really ambitious commissions happen with Anthea Hamilton, Carissa Rodriguez, Rindon Johnson, [and] Fiona Connor. We also partner with the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University. XX funds two exhibitions curated by a team of students and of a female artist every year.
I’ve read that, unlike many collectors, you don’t have an art advisor.
No. I never use any art advisor or consultant. If there are ever consultants or advisors in my community, it’s artists who highlight or flag other artists, or its gallerists and curators. I have such an active community around me that has been supporting me for 20 years and it’s growing and growing as I navigate the art world and I meet new people. I would never give this up. It’s very [important] for me. The research, the exploration of new ideas, and the surprise of discovering new artists is part of an exciting journey — and I have the time and the energy. Why give up something so special?
This reminds me of the saying: “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.”
Yes, that’s absolutely true. Since the very beginning, I’ve understood how important it is for me to be part of the community. So many journeys with artists start when I see a show and I meet the work. The work is a starting point, but it doesn’t stop there; for many collectors, it stops there. They see the work, they buy it, and that’s it. For me, I see the work and I am really excited and want to learn more. Sometimes I don’t buy right away. I want to wait and understand and possibly meet the artist if it is geographically possible. That really opens up a new journey as a patron.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the art industry since you began collecting?
When I started collecting, I was in the right place at the right time. It was a very small art world. You would go to the Armory Show, which was in [the Gramercy Hotel]. It was one of the most exciting art fairs I navigated. The biggest change is probably technology [and] social media, but also the fact that the contemporary art world has expanded enormously. People collect but, more than collect, they buy art. There is a big difference. When I started my journey, I knew very well the difference between the two of them and I told myself, from the very first piece that I bought, that I’m going to create a collection. I’m a collector. I’m not an occasional art buyer.
It seems that a lot of art now is just about making money and not about having a deeper message.
Everything is about [being] sellable on social media. This is why, more than ever, it’s important for me to meet the artist — to understand if she’s there for the right reason. I see so much speculation into very young artists who do not have the maturity, or they’re not interesting conceptually. They don’t have an interesting story to tell, but they look good on social media. I’m looking for authenticity and there is little of that nowadays.
Do you have a favorite piece of art in your collection?
It’s very difficult to say because I don’t collect in bulk. I collect very specifically what I want, so every piece counts in [feeding] this choir of female voices. The pieces I’m very attached to are the pieces that I bought at the beginning of my journey in 1997, ‘98, and ‘99. I go back to them because they remind me of family pictures of the best moments in my life. They always remind me of an incredible discovery that totally changed the way I look at the world. We’re talking about Margherita Manzelli, Ghada Amer, Lisa Yuskavage, Shirin Neshat, Andrea Zittel. These are all artists that are very important in the collection. They set the tone.
Do you have any advice for people who might want to get into art collecting but feel there’s a financial barrier to entering?
I started a collection with very little budget. You could buy a major piece of art for $4,000 back then. Now the entry price of a piece from a young artist is $40,000. It’s absurd and it can go into triple digits. So, I would say — and I say to all my friends who want to start collecting — take your time. [Spend] at least one year navigating the art world. Go see shows in the right places, meaning in the galleries, commercial galleries, museums, not-for-profit organizations, and art fairs. Use them as a tool, but don’t buy. Just research within yourself what you like.
If you want to become a private collector, by definition, it’s about your taste. It’s not about ticking the boxes, but many collectors do this. They tick the boxes. They need to have the latest names. But I believe that a private collection is about your own taste. Understand what moves you and what excites you and then set yourself a budget. I always have a budget. Of course, this has grown over the years not just [because of] my possibility to invest more, but also because the entry-level price for emerging artists has gone up. I still keep a cap on how much I spend on a single work. Also, I buy artists who nobody looks at at the moment. I support artists that are not on everybody’s list and not on everybody’s lips.
Do you want to say what the cap is?
It’s grown a little bit, but for me, the cap is $70,000-$80,000. That’s cap. But for so many years, it was $40,000. It’s grown because now I prefer to buy less, but to also buy [from] artists who are 50, 55, 60 years old; artists that I’ve known all my life but I never got the chance to buy their work. Instead of buying two artworks, I buy one major piece by these artists — and I generally only buy pieces that contribute massively to contemporary discourse.
In terms of your legacy, have you ever considered opening a gallery or museum to showcase your collection?
This is a question I’ve been asked for 25 years and I always say that I see so much need to support institutions. Now more than ever. Even though there is massive attention given to contemporary art, there are very [few] patrons so institutions need the money. My collection is exhibited in my homes. I have a place in New York, a place in London, and I soon have a place in Milan where the collection will be exhibited. They are open to visits from museums and patrons and groups that come by appointment. Eventually, I will have a bigger space, but I’m not interested in building a museum for the collection at the moment. I like the partnerships with museums and smaller institutions. I don’t function [well] with big institutions where you lose personal connections. My journey has always been about personal connections. I want to keep it personal.
Two things are immediately clear about Anna Ehrenstein: she is incredibly brilliant and incredibly busy. Once described by a critic as a hybrid of “petit bourgeois” and “hoodrat”, the artist has spent years showcasing her ability to blend so-called “high” and “low” culture through a mix of video, installation, sculpture, writing and other mediums.
In the years before she began to produce her challenging, highly aesthetic art, Ehrenstein grew up experiencing firsthand the kinds of sociopolitical power imbalances that impacted her parents. “Who has the power to live and who has to die through a visa system is something that was super central [for me], but was something that took me a while to understand,” she explained on a recent video chat. As she bounced between German and Albanian society, the concepts of geopolitics began to take root — eventually making their way into her artistic practice.
Her work has allowed her to teach viewers about the kinds of experiences and issues that molded her own upbringing, while also helping her to collaborate with fellow creatives around the world. She has worked with everyone from the Columbian voguing group House of Tupamaras (“Tupamaras Technophallus”, 2020) to the Senegalese fashion collective DONKAFELE (“Tools for Conviviality”, 2018) — the latter of which won her the C / O Berlin Talent Award in 2020. More recently, she teamed with 4DHD on “Coffee Ground Imaginaries” (2022) as part of the Screen City Biennal, which was one of eight exhibitions that opened this past September. For Ehrenstein, the work is all part of her overarching goal to “use beauty and awe to make great projects, speak truth to power, and have fun with friends.”
As the Office Impart- and KOW-represented artist took a short break to breathe between her many ongoing projects, we sat down for a video call with Ehrenstein to talk about her new exhibitions, balancing research with art-making, and why collaboration is key to her artistic practice.
With the Screen City Biennale exhibition, what is the focus of the work?
The Screen City Biennial asked me for a commission and I told them that I had this piece that I would like to continue developing. I did a performance work [in 2019] that was called “Coffee Ground Imaginaries”. Usually, in my culture or a lot of Middle Eastern cultures, there’s this tradition of reading an individual’s future in the coffee grounds; my mom sits down with her friends on Fridays and looks for their future. Since a couple of years, we are in a continuous crisis, so I thought one could use this methodology to also look for collective futures. [We made] six AR filters spread in a stroll through Berlin and then through Oslo afterward.
Many artists are afraid to work with new technology like AR. For you, it’s a natural next step.
It’s been super fun because I’ve also been doing 360 video works for a couple of years, but my education really comes more from a 2D than a 3D space. When I was painting in 3D for the first time, I had a feeling like people who were in the cinema a hundred years ago — like, “Oh my God, I’m seeing something that brings the future.” I’m a little tech geek so I love playing with technology, but the thing that sometimes keeps me from using certain new technologies is that there is a fetishization of like, “Okay, we’re going to do NFTs now and it doesn’t matter what the fuck and why we are using this medium.” It’s just hyping technological progress. It’s also tied to very heteropatriarchal ideas of progress and of fetishizing the new without actually trying to put things into a bigger social context.
Collaboration is a big part of your artistic practice. When you first started creating art, did you start with collaboration or has that aspect worked its way into your practice?
No, that definitely has worked its way in. I studied photography by coincidence. I just wanted to do something with art and my mom was like, “You’re only allowed to move out if you have a place to study.” I came in with an idea that I want to do something creative and stumbled upon documentary photography. That had my inner social justice warrior completely excited and then I actually realized what a neocolonial tool journalism actually is. I was quite shocked about the power imbalances within photography. I started looking more at curatorial methodologies and all of these things came together. I was like, “Okay, if I want to continue working with photography, I have to break this binary of me looking at people.”
Collaboration is such a big trend in the art world and quite often people are like, “Oh, I collaborated with someone,” and then this other person has no agency. There are always power imbalances with collaboration. In every human interaction, there are power imbalances, but it gave me a chance to try to disrupt the colonial legacy of photography and the power imbalance inherent in gazing at somebody.
How do you find the people to collaborate with? Or does it just come naturally in your research?
It’s always a hybrid. Every project is different. For example, with House of Tupamaras, I applied to do a residency in Colombia with a completely different research focus, and then friends of mine were like, “Yo bitch, you’ve been part of a queer scene in Berlin for a while. You’re going to Bogota. There’s some friends that have other friends.” You see their work and you’re just like, “Oh my God, I just want to work with you.” It was a completely natural project. [It can be] really difficult because I do not come from a lot of privilege, but I’ve inherited a lot of privilege by now. Sometimes I am the only person in the Global North that can represent a bigger collective of people that work in the Global South, but it’s usually always worth the battles.
How much of your artistic practice is research versus creation?
Research plays a big part. It’s probably 50/50. I’m waiting for the point when administration is going to become zero and I won’t have to take care of that shit; nobody told me before becoming an artist that administration is bigger than anything else. It will be really hard for me to ever leave the art world [because] it’s the only place where you can do emotional and associative research combined with scientific research to create something pseudoscientific that makes sense for yourself.
For example, the show that [opened] with Office Impart in September, [“The Balkanization Of The Cloud”, 2022], looks at the nation-state through Instagram influencers and how digital propaganda and the deep states have changed our political landscape. For the work, I [collaborated] with two great artists: Lux Venérea, who’s a Brazilian performance artist based in Berlin, and Jonathan Omer Mizrahi, who is an Israeli filmmaker and also a performance artist. Lux has been looking at [Jair] Bolsonaro’s distribution of fake news in the Brazilian context, and Jonathan has been looking at greenwashing and agriculture as a settler colonial practice in the occupied West Bank and Palestinian lands.
I [got an] education in hypnosis for the second part to hypnotize the internet. I have a diploma now as a hypnosis educator. This was the first time I was doing an actual education for something. Everybody else [in the course] was a therapist or psychosomatic doctor, and I was like, “I’m an artist and I want to hypnotize the internet for a video work.” That’s a fucking intense privilege to be able to create works that work like this. Academia wouldn’t give it to you. Filmmaking alone wouldn’t give it to you. But the art world gives this space to create these types of synergies.
You are so incredibly busy. Do you ever get overwhelmed?
I’m definitely a workaholic but I just love my practice and I love the encounters it gives me. It doesn’t always feel like work, but sometimes it is rough. I don’t come from economic capital, so there have been five years of a lot of labor. I’ve come to the point now where, for the first time in my life, I live over the poverty risk line so I can take a fucking month off. I had a feeling last year where I was like, “Fuck. I don’t know what I’m doing.” I’m just producing concept, concept, concept. I need a free month to actually absorb where this world is going.
Have you run into any difficulties getting your art recognized in the German art scene?
I did actually have my first successes in France rather than in Germany, which is funny. I had a lot of shit from old white feminists telling me that I was reproducing objectification of Albanian women when I was doing my first works, [“Tales of Lipstick and Virtue”, 2013-2018]. It’s funny that [we have] this image of the old white man gatekeeping, but sometimes the old white feminist is much worse than the old white man. At the same time, Berlin is a really open place as a Western capital for artists. At a very young age, I found great gallery representation because people are actually open to listening and open to seeing what’s happening.
It’s a global phenomenon that there is a big gap between who the people in power are and who the people are that make work. I was lucky to work with great people, but I’ve also been in situations where a jury is telling me that I’m too confident for my life story. People want you to cry in black and white and victimize yourself, and then you can have success in their institution. It’s a balancing act between acknowledging that, yes, we do have a lot of visible change, but we still have a lot of work to do in regard to structural change.
I’m trying to collaborate and invite, because I know that in many places in this world, I’m considered to be white. I live in Germany, which is one of the most industrialized places, and I do have a lot of access to spaces my collaborators don’t have. I profit from the suffering of my collaborators through the structures that maintain us, so I can also share the cultural capital that I have. I love collaborating as a practice but also, I have access to a space. I can invite somebody in. I might not come from money, but I can still have little hacks of fucking the system from within.
Tiina Itkonen’s lens has always been focused on Greenland. Since 1995, the Finnish artist has journeyed to the country’s remote lands to photograph the vistas and its diverse inhabitants. In this time, she has traveled over 1,500 kilometers by way of everything from dog sleds and sailboats to helicopters and oil tankers — capturing the sights and stories of the Greenlandic people.
With an anthropological eye, Itkonen has not only captured snapshots of its residents but also documented shifts and changes to the natural environment over a span of nearly 20 years. Thus, her works not only document personal experiences in ice and snow but have also presented a powerful and striking case for climate protection. The many series she’s produced have captured viewers at the 54th Biennale de Venezia, Danish National Museum of Photography, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, and many other venues.
Beyond just her photographic work, Itkonen has also bridged the barrier between art and science. For years, she has partnered with polar explorer Dr. Kristin Laidre and writer Susan McGrath on the “Piniartoq (Hunter)” series, which explores the relationships and interconnections between polar bears, people, communities, and climate change. Their goal is, simply, to show what we are fighting for in the battle to slow climate catastrophe.
Recently, we spoke with the artist about what inspired her photographic relationship with Greenland, the lessons she’s learned from the Inuit people, and the dire consequences of climate change.
What have you learned about the people and the environments you’ve photographed?
I have a respect for the Inuit way of life. They live in harmony with nature and they know how to exist in cold climates. They take what they need to survive from the land and sea and share it with others. Their relationship with their environment gives them a wide understanding of animals and nature.
I have spent a lot of time with Inuit people in Northwest Greenland. Inuit live according to the weather and the seasons. If the weather permits, the men set out to hunt or fish or families may travel to a neighbouring village to visit relatives. During the bad weather everybody stays at home — helicopters and planes remain grounded and the boats stay in port. People say “Immaqa aqagu…” or “maybe tomorrow”. Once I waited for the flight from Qaanaaq to Ilulissat for one week because of the bad weather.
You once said that slowness is important to your work. Can you talk more about that?
I used to photograph for Finnish magazines and always had a feeling of being rushed. Now when working on my own, I can have as much time as I want. In small settlements, nobody is in any hurry anywhere. There is as much time to do things as they require. There is also time for other people. I easily adapt to this kind of slow rhythm. I do not always take photographs on my first visit to someone; we drink tea and I like to hear who is related to whom. The Inuit are like a big family, they are all related to each other.
Can you walk through your working process?
Nowadays I use a digital camera so I can look through the files after shooting. When I am back at home, I look through the files several times and make A4 size prints before selecting the final ones for the exhibition. Earlier when using analog cameras, I developed the film when I got back home. It was always an exciting moment to see the film for the first time.
When do you like to shoot the most? Are there any specific times in the day (or year) you prefer?
My favourite time to travel to Greenland is in April. The sea is still frozen in North Greenland. There is more light then, but it’s not so cold anymore. I like when it is cloudy, as the sun can sometimes be too bright. In summer, I like to shoot in the middle of the night as it is light for 24 hours.
From September 25, 2022, through February 12, 2023, the Museum Sinclair-Haus in Bad Homburg, Germany, is hosting the group exhibition “Eternal Ice”, which includes works by Tiina Itkonen and many other artists.
For the last five years, whenever Milja Laurila sat down at her desk to work, one massive book has been within arm’s reach. Aptly titled Woman: An Historical Gynæcological and Anthropological Compendium, the relic was first released in Germany in 1885 before receiving a major update in its eleventh version in 1927 that added a wealth of supplementary material and photographs. Spread across three volumes and totalling 2092 pages, the tome attempted to explain the mystery of women within a scientific context. Unfortunately (but unsurprisingly) the result was a sexist, racially-tinged look at women through a leering, predatory gaze. Around 100 photographs are contained within its pages that depict “native people” standing nude and staring into the lens of the white, colonialist photographer.
For Laurila, it has been a revelatory discovery. After stumbling upon the book by accident while deep in research for another project in 2017, she has come back to it again and again; most recently, using it as the basis for her “Untitled Women” series, which was exhibited at Persons Project during Gallery Weekend Berlin in June. The magnetic draw that the book has had on Laurila should come as no surprise to those familiar with her oeuvre. For decades, the Finnish artist has looked to old photographs for inspiration, especially those found in old scientific books and encyclopedias; pulling from the past, she often recontextualizes images mired in the racism, sexism, and bigotry of their eras by filtering them through a modern lens.
The practice has also allowed the artist to navigate her own history, as well. In her first series, (“To Remember”, 2004), she focused on her early childhood in Tanzania where she lived from ten weeks old until she was four years old. With no real memory of this period, she sourced images taken by her father, an amateur photographer, and combined them with new ones using double exposure. The result was a series that melted the divide between past and present, providing an early throughline that has united her works in the years since.
Laurila’s piercing interrogations of found photographs have formed the basis for series’ on everything from femininity and the scientific gaze (“In Their Own Voice”, 2016) to the reevaluation of mental disease and what defines normality (“Atlas und Grundriss der Psychiatrie”, 2013). With over a decade of experience trawling through history, she has produced a captivating body of work that digs into the ethics and power dynamics of photographic history.
As the artist continues her search for inspiration and prepares to develop new work, we called up Laurila for a video chat to discuss the “Untitled Women” series, reclaiming the gaze, and the violence women still face within the medical field.
The relationship between women’s bodies and the medical field doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Just look at the abortion restrictions in the US. What do you think of these modern developments?
That’s a really good question because what I want to say with my work is that it’s not just history. Maybe it’s easy for some people to look at the pictures and think, “Oh, but this is 100 years old.” Actually, the same thing is still going on. It’s relevant today. Of course, I’ve been appalled at what’s happening in the United States, but there’s also a global phenomenon of this hatred towards women. Always trying to control their bodies and sexuality.
One thing that I’m interested in — which is not in the “Untitled Women” series particularly — is how we don’t know that much about women and women’s diseases. If women go to a doctor, then they can easily get prescribed some antidepressants because the doctors don’t know what’s going on. Women get easily misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed. I recently read an article in The Guardian about a study that found that when there is an operation, if the patient is a woman and the surgeon is a man, the woman is more likely to die.
One of the themes of your work is reclaiming the photographic “gaze” and tapping into how it feels to be looked at. In the “Untitled Women” series, only the eyes of the subjects can be seen. How did you come up with this concept?
I can’t say that it’s one thing. I’ve always been interested in the gaze. Before I went to study photography, I studied at the University of Helsinki and studied communication and film, so I read about the gaze like 20 years ago. In my previous work, I’ve used a lot of images of the backs of women so you don’t see the face or the eyes. In these medical books, if the woman is facing the camera, there’s usually this black or white box over their eyes so in this book, “Women”, it was really surprising that they were looking back at you. I was really, really taken by this. They were actually looking at me, and they had a really strong, powerful gaze.
That drew me to this book, and I wanted to focus on this — that they are looking back at you and how it makes you feel. In these medical books, you would think that the eyes are blackened to protect the anonymity of the patients, but then I thought that it’s also done for the viewer — for the male who is looking. He doesn’t have to face the woman and doesn’t have to look at her and see who she is. It’s the opposite in the “Untitled Women” series. She is actually looking at you.
As an only child growing up in the 1980s, Schmitten was drawn to both the act of making small-scale models and to the wonders of the Abteiberg Museum in Mönchengladbach, as he wandered its halls and took in the sight of the sculptures it housed. It was this combination of influences that would eventually lead him to pursue a career in art that has brought his work to institutions in Germany and abroad.
Seeing Schmitten’s work, it’s immediately clear why he has become such a beloved artist. He is capable of crafting everything from darkly comedic storyboards that strike at the existential fear of inclusion and emptiness (“First there is a house, then there is no house, then there is,” 2018) to sculptures of hypersmooth, almost alien vessels that merge humans with basins and other objects (the “SESSHAFT” exhibition, 2021). Throughout his entire oeuvre, there is a playful element that blunts the edges of even the darkest subject matter as he confronts themes of religion, history, and humanity. The end result offers the illusion of simplicity in the final pieces that belies an intricacy of form; a nearly artificial sheen masks the incredible scope of labor involved as he saws, sews, and casts the materials that make up his sculptures.
With representation by both König Galerie and SCHÖNEWALD, Schmitten has established himself as an essential artist in the contemporary art world of the Rheinland and beyond. On Friday, July 29 at 6 PM CEST, he will be part of König Galerie’s limited-time, 72-hour-only drop of part of the edition “Chimera Electrified”, based on drawings from a book of the same name. As he prepares for this drop, we spoke to the artist via email about his enduring love for models, learning about culture and time through sculpture, and the lessons he learned from the writing of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze.
As a child you began to make models quite obsessively and, decades later, they are still a part of your artistic practice. What is it about creating these miniature scenes and spaces that draws you in?
My first works are models of spaces, but it was important to me to see these as independent and completed works; they were not reproductions of something but an exploration of the idea of making a model and of space as a form of expression.
It was important to me to question and explore where the practice of model making and miniatures comes from and what approaches there are to it — particularly outside of an art context. My affinity for models and miniatures corresponds to children’s play because all stuffed animals, Lego, Playmobil, building blocks, and action figures are always models of an adult world. But with them, spaces of their own are created that develop a pull effect and in which this adult world becomes irrelevant for the children who are playing. I see this not only in children, but also in model trains, in model-making hobbies. With my grandmother, for example, it’s the porcelain elephants.
This is where my thoughts about the specifics of the model come from. My work attempts to explore the materials and procedures of model building. What fascinates me is the pull of the model space, which becomes so strong that it no longer matters where and in which real space I am. Similar to a film scene, a miniature space is created, but in contrast to the film, this space is real, even if it is too small. I see retreat or escape from reality in the love for the model, inherent in the dream of a submissive and controllable world.
For many artists, there was an exhibition or museum they attended in their adolescence that sparked the desire to become an artist. You’ve talked about going to the Abteiberg Museum in Mönchengladbach as a child, but I’m curious if there was any specific exhibition that you saw which inspired you?
No, there was no specific exhibition that was the deciding factor in wanting to become an artist. Instead, it was the place itself that had an impact on me — especially the architecture of Hans Hollein. In my childhood imagination, the museum and the exhibited sculptures were an indoor playground or labyrinth with special rules and objects. This led me to the Abteiberg again and again.
Your work often interrogates the functional, everyday objects that humans create — particularly the culture and mythos built up around these objects. Where did this fascination with these seemingly mundane objects begin? What continues to draw you to them?
You can learn a great deal about the contemporary [world] and all its facets through how these mundane things are created. This is actually like a classical sculpture; you can learn a lot about culture and time from the form [of the sculpture].
One facet of the art world that is still in its infancy is NFTs and the concept of the “metaverse.” As a sculptural artist, does this new virtual frontier attract you?
I am observing it, but so far, I can explore the ideas I am pursuing with my current techniques and materials.
Your 2018 work, “First there is a house, then there is no house, then there is”, feels eerily prescient coming before the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic initially seemed to offer the world a refresh, but now things seem back to normal (or worse). How did the pandemic shift your mindset? Did it alter your artistic practice at all?
Yes, definitely. For me, it was similar to being confronted with a war or other drastic global events. As a result, I couldn’t continue with the pieces I was working on at the time.
The beginning of the pandemic was the occasion for me to find an answer to the question of how history is constructed. How does something become part of the history of art or architecture? History is always something made; everything that is not conserved disappears, falls out, and does not become part of history. History is based on constructed causal chains. Through the pandemic, we are part of a global event and can witness how this event will be historicized. I wonder how we could narrate history differently? There is also the question of what role our bodies play in this. This becomes particularly clear in a pandemic that affects people’s bodies.
For example, one of my sculptures from 2018 is titled “1986.” This is the year we were confronted with the Chernobyl disaster. Others are titled “Fragile Construction”, which is a reference to our model of life. When Corona came, it undoubtedly changed these works — especially the view of them.
The writing of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze attracted you during your studies of philosophy. He believed that the task of art is to create “signs” that push us out of our habits of perception and inspire creation. How does the work of Deleuze inspire you and your art?
Important for me was his idea of the impossibility to express the most important things with language and his powerlessness facing art, even though he was such a great thinker. That made a deep impression on me. .
When were you first introduced to König Galerie? How has the working relationship been?
That was probably in 2015 or 2016. Since then, we have realized many projects together and I very much appreciate the commitment on the part of the gallery. Above all, I am fortunate to work with a gallery owner who is of the same age and yet very experienced.
The material you create works with is often a bit of an optical illusion. For example, sculptures that look like porcelain are bronze sprayed white. How do you go about picking the materials you work with?
Shrouding and surface always come to mind when I think about a sculpture and there is the requirement of durable material. But, in principle, the idea dictates the material.
To understand the state of the industry’s gender inequality, it helps to know a few numbers. According to a January 2020 report, self-employed female artists and publicists in Germany faced a 26 percent pay gap from men. One year earlier, at Gallery Weekend 2019 for example, only 30 percent of artists represented by gallery shows were women. Across the ocean, from 2008 through 2018, leading museums in the United States purchased only a paltry 11 percent of art by women artists.
The stats on the art world’s inequality could keep flowing, but the point is clear: female artists have to fight hard for recognition and visibility in the male-dominated art industry. From the art market through to representation at museums and galleries, the divide between male artists and everyone else — those that identify as female, gender non-conforming, transgender, and other identities — is striking.
At Art Düsseldorf, we are committed to fighting for more equality within the art industry. To help ease the gap in representation, we created the Female Artists Drop at the end of July in our Online Shop to highlight the incredible array of works by both established and emerging female artists, including Candice Breitz, Ulrike Rosenbach, Sylvie Fleury, Nadira Husain, Anna Virnich, Isabella Fürnkäs, and many more.
To celebrate the wide range of art by contemporary female artists, we invite you to get to know these 10 artists whose work we highlighted in our Online Shop.
For this Moldovan-born painter and sculptor, translating emotion into linear and geometric shapes and forms are key to her artistic practice. Now based in Germany between Düsseldorf and Munich, Ojovan’s minimalist works have oscillated between vibrant color and muted blacks as she infuses stillness into each piece.
Reclamation is integral in the Helsinki-based artist’s work. Using old medical books and other imagery as the foundation, she transforms old material into new work. For example, in her recent “Untitled Women” series, the artist took images from the book Woman. An Historical Gynæcological and Anthropological Compendium, which was written by three German men in 1885, and interrogates the colonial and sexual gaze through her new pieces. A selection of pieces from her “Untitled Women” series were recently shown during Gallery Weekend Berlin 2022.
The male gaze has no place in the works of this Belgian artist. After a childhood spent around women unhappy with their bodies because of societal pressure, Dubois has worked to fight for body positivity with entrancing artworks that show the human form in all of its shapes and sizes. Since her art world debut in a handful of shows in 2015, she has become known for her fun and playful paintings — creating scenes that show the weird, messy beauty of bodies. You can read our interview with the artist in our digital magazine.
Born in Slovakia and now based between Corpus Christi, Texas and New York City, the artist has become known for her amusing and socially critical works. Using traditional “female” spaces like kitchens and bedrooms as backdrops, her work infuses fantasy with cutting critiques of sexuality, identity, and history. Nude women carry out tasks, bears become stand-ins for men, and phallic cacti make guest appearances on her canvases.
For this Berlin-based artist, the subjects in her paintings feel almost alive — as if they have been frozen in mid-response to the gaze of the viewer. Using a special painting process, the artist applies a thin layer of oil paint that allows for color to dissolve into the canvas and merge with other surfaces. Additionally, her work touches on both music and performance, which sometimes involves piano pieces composed and played by the artist to be used in exhibitions.
There are few contemporary female artists in German as popular as Pousttchi. Since breaking out internationally in 2009 with her massive photographic installation “Echo”, the artist has used photography, sculpture, video, and other mediums to develop a broad range of work that is constantly surprising viewers both in Germany and internationally — including at two editions of the Venice Biennale.
Born in 2000 in Genoa, the young, Berlin-based artist has turned a childhood passion for drawing into a promising artistic career. With an unmistakable style and ability to use anything as a canvas (including cardboard, shopping bags, and shooting cards), Durante has quickly garnered acclaim. Her first-ever exhibition at Galerie Friese (“Lack of sleep is my eye shadow”, 2021) and her first institutional solo exhibition as part of the illust_ratio 10 in Rüsselsheim (“What if my thoughts will never stop talking”, 2022) have cemented her status as one of the rising talents in Germany’s art community.
This Albanian-German artist is no stranger to pushing boundaries through her work. Whether she is taking on themes of pseudo luxury and gender representation (“Tales of Lipstick and Virtue”, 2013-2018) or post-colonial politics (“Home is Where the Hatred is”, 2021), she has a flair for creating dramatic works that challenge viewers’ perceptions. This expert melding of high and low culture through print, video, sculpture, installations, and other mediums has attracted art lovers from Germany and around the world.
For the Jerusalem-born painter, motifs from art history, Jewish legends, Disneyland, and “ideal world” aesthetics of the 1950s act as a solid foundation for her work — especially in her portrayal of women. Using a casual yet ludic stylization, she interrogates the unrealistic expectations that society puts on female characters; leaving some level of interpretation up to the viewer, while nevertheless holding up a mirror to ourselves.
Within the Rhineland art scene, the Essen-born artist has established herself as a rising talent. Using a mix of sculpture, video, and other mediums, she has focused on everything from the breakneck pace of social media in our lives and the glacial pace of changing societal norms to the manufacturing process and politicization of domestic labor.
The gradual disintegration of manmade objects can be just as captivating as the etchings of seaside cliffs worn down by the spray of the sea. For decades, the Stommeln-born artist Birgit Werres has turned her keen eye towards the rusted patina that settles on steel and the discarded scraps of plastic that lie disused on factory floors. It’s here, amongst the leftovers or forgotten about industrial objects that litter the world, that she has created magic. Transforming junkyard debris into art that has been shown across Germany and beyond.
Long before recycling and the reuse of material became en vogue within not just the art world, but across industries of all types, Werres was giving new life to objects she sourced from her trips to factories and material depots around the world. With even the most seemingly mundane piece of pipe or chain or film or packaging, she has sculpted dazzling works that burst with color and energy.
Back in April, Galerie Anke Schmidt’s booth at Art Düsseldorf played host to some of Werres’ sculptures, introducing the artist to new art lovers and reintroducing her to established collectors. This summer, the artist has two exhibitions on view at Kunstmuseum Bonn and Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, and we have two unforgettable works by Werres now available in our Online Shop: “Untitled 36/21” and “Untitled 7/22”. We caught up with the artist to learn more about her artistic process, the impact of recycling on her work, and the story behind her first sculpture.
Much of your work revolves around how technical objects change over time. How did this interest begin?
During my studies, I was already interested in the surface texture and associated colorfulness of a wide variety of materials. The respective origin or purpose plays no role, but the appearance does. This was (and still is) often precisely the change to the material — by wear or weather conditions, for example.
Around 1986, I went again and again to the site of a disused freight station in Duisburg. There was a lot to discover there; this was the beginning of finding such places to inspire my work.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic shift or alter your artistic practice?
I focused on concentrated work in the studio. Using what is there. Instead of going to other places, I searched through my stock of materials, rediscovered them, and reused some of them with a different perspective.
At the same time, I remembered materials I discovered at fairs — fairs for plastics or metal, for example — and tried to find them on the internet. Of course, online shopping was tedious but, against all expectations, it was also a place for discoveries.
Prospective art collectors can find two of your works, “Untitled 36/21” and “Untitled 7/22”, on our Online Shop. What is the background behind each of these works? What inspired them and how were they made?
“Untitled # 36/21” is a plastic material that had been stored in my studio for many, many years. I was interested in the deformations and the extreme color. Over the years I have brought it out again and again and tried different ways of handling it. Until last year, when I very spontaneously pierced it and impaled it. I was immediately convinced by the attachment to the wall, the projecting into the room.
“Untitled # 7/22” is copper-plated sheet metal, fresh from production. Here I was particularly interested in the indentations and protrusions that were created during my working process in the studio. Through an unwinding – and rewinding has finally resulted in the form of the two roles.
You’ve worked with various materials, including chains, pipes, plastic, package film, and more. Are there any materials you prefer more than others? If so, what is it about these specific materials that inspire you?
No, there are no preferred materials. The desire to discover new things prevails.
Do you remember the first sculpture you ever created? If so, please talk about it.
I created my first sculpture in collaboration with Heinz Breloh. He had a guest professorship at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf at the beginning of my studies and provided a room and plaster for experimental work.
We students brought in different materials, including oversized, roughly splintered pieces of wood, which I used in conjunction with plaster. I developed a sculpture out of sheer action corresponding to my body dimensions.
You live and work in Dusseldorf, a city where art is granted a lot of importance and respect. How does the city inspire your creativity?
The remains of the harbor and the exchange with the artists living here inspire me.
You were born in the village of Stommeln. In your childhood, did you have any interaction with art? What led you to become an artist?
No. Initially, I saw all my interests bundled in the field of stage design. Studying at the Academy of Arts and discovering sculpture then changed my direction.
You have works included in the Kunst Museum Bonn’s new exhibition, “Space For Imaginative Actions”. What are the works and what inspired them?
In this new presentation of its collection, the Kunstmuseum shows a work from 1999. It is a black and white plastic material that I have wound in a circle. It is three meters in diameter and 30 cm high. It was the first newly produced material from which I developed a sculpture.
You were recently featured in the booth of Galerie Anke Schmidt at Art Düsseldorf. How did you first get involved with the gallery? How has your relationship evolved since then?
Iris Maczollek and Anke Schmidt took over the gallery from my previous gallerist, Rolf Ricke, in 2005 and continued to work with some artists, as well as with me. Since 2014, Anke Schmidt has continued to run the gallery independently. An extremely fruitful relationship has developed, from which numerous exhibitions and projects have evolved. I appreciate the regular exchange about my work in the studio and other artistic positions and joint exhibition visits.
How does the more modern trend of recycling materials play into your work? In the beginning of your career, what were the attitudes towards recycling and conservation?
One the one hand, the recycling process causes the materials that are interesting to me to disappear. They are usually no longer visible since leftovers from the production process are generally already recycled at the factory itself.
On the other hand, the constant further development creates completely new recycled products that are also interesting for me in their texture or colorfulness. These processes were just beginning to develop in the early 1990s.
What is it about production facilities like warehouses and factories that attracts you?
Material discoveries and the insight into the production and work processes.
Are there any overarching lessons or themes that you hope viewers take from your work?
Lessons, no. It can change the way you look at things.
Since 1895’s very first edition, art lovers have flocked to Venice every two years for the Biennale Arte. Spread across Italy’s famed floating city, the International Art Exhibition began as a means of connecting artists from countries around the world, which earned it the moniker of the “Olympics of the art world.” It was immediately a massive success in the early years — attracting more than 200,000 visitors in 1895 and more than 300,000 by 1899. It has now been 127 years since this experiment in bridging borders between art communities began, and its success and grandeur has only grown with age as modern iterations regularly attract over 500,000 visitors.
Throughout its long history, the Biennale has acted as an incubator for new art movements and emerging positions in contemporary art, as well as surviving world wars and plagues. As the world attempts to shake free of the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Biennale has returned after being delayed last year — bringing both artists and art lovers back to the city for the first time since 2019.
With the 59th International Art Exhibition, curatorial duties were handed over to Cecilia Alemani, who became the first Italian woman to hold the position in its history. Titled “The Milk of Dreams” (a reference to a book by Leonora Carrington), the show is spread across multiple locations and heavily features work by both women and non-binary artists. In the main exhibition spaces of the Central Pavilion (Giardini) and in the Arsenale, 213 artists from 58 countries have works on view. With 180 of the artists having never participated before and 80 of 1,433 works and objects made specifically for the event, it has become both an unforgettable edition of the Biennale Arte and a triumphant return to form after being delayed due to the pandemic.
Among the many artists whose works have found temporary homes in Venice for the next few months, many are represented by galleries that took part in Art Düsseldorf 2022. Even the most seasoned art lovers can get overwhelmed by the selection, so to help sort out the winding routes through Venice’s famed canals, we’ve made a travel guide that puts the spotlight on these artists.
Before you head to Venice to soak up the massive amount of art on display, slide through and mark down all of our must-see spots at the Biennale Arte 2022.
The most obvious starting point is, of course, the Central Pavilion in the east of the city. As the main hub for the Biennale Arte, it is split into two sections: the sprawling public gardens of the Giardini and the cavernous former dockyards of the Arsenale. Both sites also host a satellite array of smaller pavilions for each respective country. To begin, we’ll highlight one artist whose work is part of the main exhibition, as well as two artists at country pavilions for France and Switzerland.
In the “La Culla Della Strega / The Witch’s Cradle” exhibition, we draw attention to the print “Der Spiegel der Genoveva” (1967) by Surrealist artist Meret Oppenheim (Galerie Knoell and Galerie Krinzinger). The work features a strange and slightly disturbing woman transforming into an animal with a long hairy leg that ends in a beastly hoof. In the country pavilions, two artists represented by Kamel Mennour, the Paris and London-based gallery, have made a splash among both visitors and critics.
First, at the French Pavilion, an immersive installation by Zineb Sedira packs a powerful punch. The show, “Dreams Have No Titles,” is monumental in part because this is the first time an artist of Algerian descent has represented the country, but also because of its nod to the Algerian independence movement of the 1960s — specifically the drive to create militant films in the 60s and 70s. Nearby, at the Swiss Pavilion, the artist Latifa Echakch’s immersive installation, “The Concert,” features large-scale sculptures inspired by the folk statues and is set to a composition by percussionist Alexandre Babel. Together, it is an ethereal, otherworldly experience that demands to be seen.
Moving slightly over from the Giardini, we now go to the cavernous former dockyards of the Arsenale. Among the hundreds of artists participating this year across the Central Pavilion, we recommend nine captivating artists whose work can be found in the massive industrial space, including three representing country pavilions.
First is a new work by Emma Talbot (Petra Rinck Galerie), “Where Do We Come From, What Are We, Where Are We Going?” (2021). The title is taken from Paul Gauguin’s famed painting of the same name, while the subject matter is a spiked critique of Gauguin’s self-exile to Tahiti while the nation was under French colonial rule. There is also the powerful 1989 piece, “Kiss of the Rhinoceros,” by Rebecca Horn (Galerie Thomas Schulte). The sculptural work imbues metal rhinoceros horns and huge metal arms with a tension that steadily increases as the horns move towards one another.
Two artists from Berlin-based gallery Société are essential viewing. First is a new video installation by Marianna Simnett called “The Severed Tail,” which is a 20-minute journey of a piglet through a multilayered world of fetish. The second, LuYang’s “DOKU – Digital Descending,” is a continuation of his anime series that began in 2020. This iteration takes viewers on a journey that includes everything from a revenge shaman and anxious plane passengers to six different reincarnations.
Rounding out the selection as part of the main exhibition, there is Polish photographer Joanna Piotrowska (Galeria Thomas Zander), who has a selection of pieces from both her “Untitled” (2017) and “Self-Defense” (2014-15) series. And finally, we steer you towards Chilean artist Sandra Vásquez de la Horra (Galerie Michael Haas), who grew up during the 17-year military regime of Augusto Pinochet. Housed in a wooden structure made by the artist, her works include “Der Tod und das Mädchen” (2015), “América sin Fronteras” 2017), “Erupciones” (2019), “La Voz de un Pueblo que lucha” (2019, “Flotante y su genealogía” (2020), and “Saludo a Olorun” (2021), as well as new pieces created for the Biennale.
Within the numerous country pavilions, three artists are particularly worth a view. First is the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg Pavilion, located in the Sale D’Armi, where Tina Gillen (Nosbaum Reding) presents “Faraway So Close.” The large-scale installation is punctuated by a suite of new paintings made for the show and is inspired by the Sale D’Armi’s original use as a military storage space. At the Malta Pavilion, “Diplomazija Astuta” by Arcangelo Sassolino (Philipp von Rosen Galerie) takes inspiration from Caravaggio’s “The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist.” Using molten steel droplets, the sculptural installation was created in collaboration with curators Keith Sciberras and Jeffrey Uslip, artist Giuseppe Schembri Bonaci, composer Brian Schembri, and project managers Nikki Petroni and Esther Flury.
Finally, in the first-ever national pavilion for the Sultanate of Oman, five artists have converged for “Destined Imaginaries,” a sprawling exhibition curated by Aisha Stoby and featuring works by Radhika Khimji (Galerie Krinzinger), as well as Anwar Sonja, Hassan Meer, Budoor Al Riyami, and Raiya Al Rawahi. Situated at the conclusion of the exhibition, Khimji’s site-specific work, “Under, Inner, Under,” includes seven painted textiles, two interlocking tile structures, two paintings on wood, one wooden sculpture, and one wooden panel. The complex array of works are inspired by the Al Hoota Caves, a two-million-year-old cave system in Dakhiliyah, Oman.
As if the 213 artists from 58 countries included in the main exhibition program this year weren’t enough, the Biennale Arte also includes a number of must-see Collateral Events. These additional exhibitions, organized by non-profit international and national institutions, form a constellation around the Central Pavilion. With dozens of official and unofficial pop-up exhibitions dotting Venice, it guarantees that art lovers will never run out of excuses to wander the city’s famed streets. Among the official list of Collateral Events, we want to highlight six that we’re checking out this year.
First, we direct your attention to a solo show by Heinz Mack (Beck & Eggeling) organized by the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana. In “Vibrations of Light” at the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana (Entrance through the Museo Correr), a towering spacial installation featuring both large-scale paintings, rotating steles, and a four-meter-high mirror sculpture combine for an unforgettable show that’s on view until July 17. Just next door, Espace Louis Vuitton has organized and staged the exhibition “Apollo, Apollo” by Katharina Grosse (König Galerie). The show explores the dialogue between self and form, using both metallic mesh fabric and the artist’s own body.
A short walk away, two exhibitions in close proximity present a compelling duet of contemporary positions. The first is a group show organized by the Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art and takes place at the Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello. The exhibition, “Uncombed, Unforeseen, Unconstrained,” connects works by eleven artists, including Julian Charriere (Dittrich & Schlechtriem and Sies + Hoke), under the common theme of entropy, or the measure of disorder, randomness, and unpredictability within a system. The second exhibition is “Times Reimaged” by Chun Kwang Young (Beck & Eggeling), which can be found at the Palazzo Contarini Polignac. The exhibition, organized by the Boghossian Foundation, continues the theme of interconnectedness between living beings that the artist has explored for decades. The exhibition features a range of works crafted in hanji (Korean mulberry paper) that are as powerful as they are fragile.
The final recommendations for official Collateral Events feature two artists drawing inspiration from the natural world to craft unforgettable pieces. At Palazzo Vendramin Grimani, Fondazione dell’Albero d’Oro has organized an art residency by Mexican artist Bosco Sodi (König Galerie) titled “What Goes Around Comes Around.” The residency includes a solo exhibition dedicated to works of painting and sculpture crafted with raw, natural materials that play off of the mercantile history of the space. A walk away, Danish conceptual artist Tue Greenfort (König Galerie) has found solace in the biodiversity of Venice’s lagoon. Organized by the ERES Foundation and staged at Castello 1228, the exhibition continues themes that began in his 2021 project, “Algae in Munich,” by focusing on the complex beauty of marine life that include both algae and jellyfish.
Rounding out our guide, we’ve found a selection of six exhibitions happening outside of the official Biennale Arte program worth checking out. We begin with “burn shine fly,” a special exhibition by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone (Galerie Krobath + kamel mennour) that is on view until September 24. Mixing both previously created and entirely new bronze sculptural elements, the exhibition contrasts perfectly with the rich history of the Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista, which was founded in 1261. Meanwhile, a short walk away, OGR Torino has organized a site-responsive project, “ALLUVIUM,” in the Complesso dell’Ospedaletto. The exhibition brings together the Iranian artist trio of Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian (Galerie Krinzinger) for a series of iron sculptures and terracotta plates imbued with deep cultural ties to Dubia and the Middle East.
Be sure to check out the limited-run exhibition “KUB in Venice,” which ends on July 4. Situated in Venice’s historic Scuola di San Pasquale, the show features site-specific work by Anna Boghiguian (KOW), as well as Otobong Nkanga. On the upper floor, Boghiguian presents “The Chess Game,” a large-scale installation that interrogates themes of power and conflict through the board game. Another must-see exhibition is an expansive group show put on by the Venice branch of Galerie Dr. Dorothea van der Koelen titled “In The Change Of Time.” The show brings together eight artists from six different countries — including Lore Bert, Daniel Buren, Hans Jörg Glattfelder, Mohammed Kazem, Joseph Kosuth, Fabrizio Plessi, Turi Simeti and Günther Uecker — for a multifaceted exploration of the power of culture during a time of great sociopolitical upheaval.
To cap off the guide, we end with two superstars of the art world. First, we direct you to a massive, two-art exhibition by Anish Kapoor (Kamel Menour) aptly titled “Anish Kapoor in Venice.” The show sees the artist take over both the Gallerie dell’Accademia and Palazzo Manfrin. Retrospective works — including the bloody “Shooting into the Corner” (2008-2009) — mesh with new pieces like “Mount Moriah at the Gate of the Ghetto” (2022) and “Split In Two Like a Fish For Frying” (2022). With over 60 works on view, it marks the first time a British artist has ever had a major exhibition at the Gallerie dell’Accademia, and is on view until September 24.
Finally, in the cavernous Oficine 800 on Venice’s Giudecca island, “20th Painting Action” by Hermann Nitsch (Galerie Kandlhofer + Galerie Thoman) has taken on a new significance after the famed artist passed away on April 18. The artist’s death now makes this the final major exhibition of work, and is the first time that the works from this series are on view in Italy since their original creation and exhibition. This monumental ode to the artist is on view until July 20 and serves as a perfect capstone on our guide to the 59th Venice Biennale.
For over a century, artists of all backgrounds have used printmaking and other techniques to create multiple versions of a piece as part of an edition. To celebrate this integral part of the art world, we’ve teamed up with a number of galleries who showed works at Art Düsseldorf 2022 to launch our first-ever drop of limited-run Artist Editions.
On Monday, May 23, our Online Store will debut a new section of Editions that offer works by a number of artists, including Joseph Beuys (Philipp von Rosen Galerie), Laura Schawelka (fiebach, minninger), Tilman Hornig (Galerie Gebr. Lehmann), Albrecht Dürer (Dittrich & Schlechtriem), Marina Abramović (Galerie Krinzinger), and many more. Whether you’re the most seasoned art lover around or entering the art market for the first time, we’ve created the ultimate buyer’s guide to help you understand the ins and outs of Artist Editions.
Printing was first invented in China and, hundreds of years later in 1276, made its way to Europe. Two hundred years later, in 1450, Johannes Gutenberg refined the method that made book and pamphlet printing widely accessible via his Gutenberg press.
In the art world, printmaking encompasses a broad range of mediums. A print can be a lithograph, screen print, word carving, engraving, and so much more. One of the first prints ever made by an artist was Pablo Picasso’s 1904 work, “The Frugal Repast”, which was republished by art dealer Ambroise Vollard in 1913 in an edition of 250. And of course, it was Andy Warhol who helped printmaking — especially screen printing — burst beyond the art world and enter the public sphere thanks to his work in the medium.
Thanks to the work of Gutenberg, printmaking has opened up the possibility for artists to make multiple versions of the same work. Unlike a single piece of art, an edition is a work that has been duplicated into either a fixed number of prints (Limited Edition) or an ongoing, unlimited reproduction (Open Edition). An open edition tends to be the sort of mass-produced reproductions that can be found within museum gift shops, while editions are original works produced under the supervision of the artist who designed them.
In recent years, it has been artists like Banksy who have dominated the world of editions. The artist produced 150 signed and 600 unsigned editions of his famed piece “Girl With Balloon” in 2014, with a signed edition selling for £150. That same signed edition can fetch nearly £500,000 today. For Art Düsseldorf’s Artist Edition drop, our participating galleries have all carefully selected pieces by artists that are sold in limited edition batches to ensure both quality and value.
In the wild world of editions, the cost of a print is determined by a range of factors. The most obvious one, of course, comes from the artist’s signature. With limited editions, the artist often signs each print for authenticity. To further establish the limited nature of an edition, each work often includes both the print number and the total number of batches as a fraction (i.e. 23/50). While the rule of “the smaller the size of the print run, the higher the value” applies, always take note that editions are not always numbered in the order they were printed. For example, this means that if you buy a piece numbered 1/30, it isn’t worth more than the piece numbered 30/30.
Another important factor determining the price is the material and size. For something like an etching, which tends to be more difficult to create, smaller editions are made. Whereas with methods like screen printing or lithographs, larger editions are possible without sacrificing quality. In terms of size, the larger the print, the harder it tends to be to produce because large canvases require more complex printmaking procedures.
The obvious answer is that if you see a piece you love, why not invest in it? We believe that art collecting should always come from a place of passion. Editions offer a lower priced entry into the world of collecting without sacrificing on quality.
To help ensure that art lovers can find the perfect piece, we are launching a drop of Artist Editions that come in a range of price points. Head to our Online Store and search #Edition on Monday, May 23 to see everything we have to offer.
It’s this sentence, written by Nicholas Korody, that forms the glue holding together the new exhibition at Berlin-based gallery Dittrich & Schlechtriem, yet it could also apply to Jonas Wendelin. Under his careful curation, the Düsseldorf-born artist pieced together the gallery’s new group show, aptly titled “Othering”, which features works by Yalda Afsah, Julian Charrière, Albrecht Dürer, Francisco de Goya, Andreas Greiner, Jenna Sutela, Analisa Teachworth, Jol Thoms, Sung Tieu, and Wendelin himself.
Focused around the exploration of “how certain lives — human and nonhuman — are designated as alien”, a version of the group show first debuted in the industrial halls of Areal Böhler for Art Düsseldorf, before making its way back to Berlin for its Gallery Weekend debut. Now staged at Dittrich & Schlechtriem with some new works, the exhibition is a full sensory experience filled with art that spans media. Situated at the entrance, a massive 206 x 206 cm video screen adorned to a stripped-down wooden frame displays serene, shifting landscapes digitally created by an artificial intelligence algorithm (Andreas Greiner’s “Traum (vom Walde)”). Meanwhile, in one corner on the lower floor, 49 screens stacked high display found underwater footage (Julian Charrière’s “The Gods Must Be Crazy”), while two otherworldly ceramic sculptures glow with faint light like a strange new species dredged up from deep under the ocean waves (Wendelin’s “Involution I and II”).
It’s a sprawling exhibition that signals an enticing and more experimental direction for the gallery that was founded by Lars Dittrich and André Schlechtriem in 2011. It also showcases Wendelin’s strength as a curator — a result of years spent running community-focused art spaces, including NAVEL in Los Angeles and FRAGILE in Berlin. For Wendelin, the same ethos from “Othering” applies: “Without the other, there is no self.” His practice is intrinsically tied to the world, and people, around him.
As Wendelin spent some time in Berlin to oversee exhibitions at both FRAGILE and Dittrich & Schlechtriem, we caught up with the artist to discuss the importance of collaboration, the stark differences between the US and German art scenes, and the pre-internet and pre-Chernobyl food and drinks that formed the basis for his first-ever curated show.
“Othering” is on view from 29 April through 25 June 2022. The gallery is located on Linienstrasse 23, 10178 Berlin. The opening hours are Monday through Saturday, from 11 AM to 6 PM.
You grew up in Dusseldorf. How was your interaction with art?
My dad is an artist and architect, so it’s in the family. There’s a lot of resources for the arts in the Rheinland. It’s just inevitable really to be around it, but it was important for me to leave.
Did you want to do anything other than art growing up?
I started doing photography for a little while. Photography is nice because it shows you what you’re interested in. The medium itself wasn’t so much interesting to me anymore, so I just got away from it. For a while, I did some set design and I thought architecture was a thing for me, but eventually it became pretty clear that I really wanted to study art. I actually applied for the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf but they didn’t take me.
You just curated the new group exhibition for Dittrich & Schlechtriem. How did you get involved with the gallery?
When we got hold of a studio on Leipziger Straße, I pretty quickly started to curate little shows and we established a residency program in which we invited different artists. But the very first resident was an animal; it was the most language-sophisticated bird on the planet. We tried to teach it. Eventually, we took in a refugee from Somalia and he stayed with us for a little while, but it was always this idea of including people in the practice. Then I studied for a little bit in California and started a nonprofit there called NAVEL, which is still running. I’m not so involved anymore but this practice of inclusion continued. Eventually, FRAGILE [in Berlin] became a thing.
The gallerist, André [Schlechtriem], didn’t really know much of what I was doing but I was on the radar because I was pretty present in Berlin for the programming we were doing. He just came to one of the openings and said, “Jonas I have no idea what you’re going to do, but I’m kind of intrigued. Do you want to do a show for Gallery Weekend?” And I was like, “Yeah, sure. Let’s give it a try.” And then we just started working together. André really wants to open up the format of the gallery a bit and experiment a little bit more. It’s also partially to give me the space to make clear that this collaborative sphere is part of my practice. Being an artist, it’s not like you’re just making work. It’s a practice. It’s life.
Being an artist, it’s not like you’re just making work. It’s a practice. It’s life.
Do you remember the first show that you curated?
Before it was FRAGILE, we just had our studio and there was a show where I made a big dinner. It was a huge spread, like a buffet, but the food was all preservatives. It was honey from the DDR, Coca-Cola from 1970, wine and drinks from a long time ago, and bread from a sourdough culture from the 1980s. All the food on the table was dated pre-internet and pre- Chernobyl, and pre every single person at the opening. The whole show was called “Pre”. It was a spread of ancient food and all around there were artworks which projected the future. It became very dystopic. That was the first successful attempt to really do something and it was really chaotic. There were performances and all the studios were open. It just ended up being a huge party in the end, which was very fun.
How did you find all that food?
I had a conversation with a really old friend of mine, and he told me about going to his grandma’s house every Sunday. She would make food, but some of the food his grandma’s mom had preserved. He was eating it every Sunday. I was like, “Oh, this is a really interesting idea.” So we started digging and then even in my family, we found old basements with stuff. You go into the internet and there’s a post-war generation with a different idea of scarcity and resource. There’s a deep rooted fear. In the beginning, you talk to all these people and you’re like, “Oh yeah, we’re going to come pick up some stuff.” They’re like, “Yeah, please take everything.” And then the moment you’re in their basement clearing out, they’re like, “No, no, no, you can’t have that.” They’re anxious. It was a really interesting experience but this is how we survived for a long time. How do we preserve our resources in order to prolong our chances of survival?
What themes or concepts do you like to explore in your art?
For the last couple years, I’ve been doing a lot of ceramics. Ceramics is one of the most ancient technologies. Prometheus gave us fire and then we started making little bowls, right? And then eating together is very ceremonial. In the beginning, the works were very performative. I would make these performances with the ceramics included. They became a little bit more like objects but they are still somewhat like vessels. I would say a vessel is a theme I go back to. You could call anything a vessel but, in the end, it’s something which holds information and you can pass it along.
With your nonprofit spaces, you started NAVEL in LA first and then FRAGILE in Berlin?
It was kind of at the same time. The studio in Berlin already existed, which is where we would do all these experimental things. The plan was always to enhance this idea. Then I studied in California for a little bit at the California Institute of Arts in Santa Clarita, just outside of Los Angeles. I met these two other people and we realized we’d known each other for a little while. They had just gotten this empty warehouse space in downtown LA and we basically slept on the floor for a year and didn’t have a shower. We would go to the Standard Hotel and jump in the pool.
We renovated the whole space and then slowly started to include the community and put other people in charge, and then slowly faded out. The idea was that we really just do the basis for it, and then see what happens by itself if people get the opportunity to do something. I think it actually became quite a successful thing in LA, which is very different than FRAGILE. My partners, Maurin Dietrich and Cathrin Mayer, are more like traditional curators in that sense.
I was looking at the website for the space in LA and it looks really nice.
There’s an educational program. People can take classes and the classes are self-run by people offering their knowledge. America is a very different economic situation. There’s very little funding for the arts. Everything is going through private hands and education is very expensive, so offering a place where knowledge is accessible is very important. For us, it was really important that if we invite somebody, we actually pay the people. If everything is based on this free intern economy, where whoever has the time to do something can do it, it’s very exclusive.
What are some of the biggest differences in working out of LA versus working in Germany?
Maybe it’s too cheesy to say, but we are in a very privileged place being able to travel between the two. We have the time to do certain things. We have the means.
I was talking to someone about New York versus Berlin, and they were asking what the biggest difference is.
Yeah. Having the time to not worry about making rent, and being able to have resources to make art.
Right. It creates a whole different culture because you’re not in competition. You can actually work on something together.
America is a very different economic situation. There’s very little funding for the arts.
Now that you’re mainly based out of LA, do you prefer the working environment in LA or Berlin? Or do you go back and forth?
I couldn’t do one without the other. If I stay too long in America, it also fucks with your head. It’s good to have a foot in the door in Berlin – being engaged in the community here with a project like FRAGILE. At the same time, in LA, you’re mostly by yourself. I work with the American Museum for Ceramic Art, and I have all my facilities. I produce most of my work there. Some of the techniques I’m doing, I wouldn’t even be able to do here. The ceramic culture, for example, is very advanced in LA and I’m learning a lot. The technicians I work with assist me in a way, but they’re also a teacher figure for me at the same time.
You can just endlessly learn. You work the elements. There’s very little control you can infuse into the whole process. These are things that got a little lost in Germany or Europe in general. Within cities, you’re not even allowed to use fire in the gas kilns. When I’m there, I really have the time to concentrate. With the nonprofit, I’m in more of an advisory role at this point, and I have another studio at the museum. I jump between the three. I can really focus more on me and my work.
It seems that the common trend in your work and what you do is making things community-oriented, and giving opportunities to people who don’t have those opportunities generally.
It doesn’t feel so different to me from working on a show with an artist together and seeing the world out of their head – really engaging into their work and producing it with them together, rather than doing it for myself. With the practice of exhibition-making, for example, or performance, these boundaries we have set and the name attached to something is not so important.
It’s about creating a connection.
And being aware of the audience coming in. They are as much a part of it as the person doing it. It’s funny, in the text we just wrote about the show at Dittrich & Schlechtriem, which is called Othering, we talk about this. “Without the other, there is no self.” The view looking at something is already incorporated in the process of making anything.
That is one of the principles that guide Susanne Breidenbach, who has owned the Galerie m since 2003. “Art attracts our attention,” she explains. “[It] questions our usual perception, enables new perspectives, shows unusual contexts, and has an inspiring effect.” For nearly two decades, this attraction has been at the forefront of her journey as the leader of the contemporary art gallery in the city of Bochum.
Founded in 1969 by Alexander von Berswordt-Wallrabe and situated since 1972 in spacious, light-filled galleries on the grounds of Haus Weitmar, the gallery initially found acclaim for its focus on New Concrete Art. However, under the leadership of Breidenbach — who worked at the gallery since 1985 — it has now staked out a reputation for its symbiotic relationship with the artists it represents, as well as its approach to fresh perspectives in the art world.
Every year, at least one new artistic position is offered an exhibition at the gallery so that the diversity of media is given equal footing with more established positions. It is this embrace of the most contemporary blend of artists that has allowed Galerie m to step to the forefront of contemporary art while keeping one foot firmly entrenched in its more than 50 years of history.
This strong mix of both young and established artists was on full view in early April as Galerie m attended Art Düsseldorf. As we opened the industrial halls of Areal Böhler, the Bochum gallery’s booth became a focal point for visitors. We caught up with Breidenbach for a discussion on the history of the gallery, adapting to the pandemic, and the importance of art fairs.
What is the key element to a good piece of art?
We believe in the “irreplaceability of the image”, allowing us to better understand processes, experiences, and contexts that elude other formulations, such as language. We can reflect on life, one’s own point of view, and existence in and with art.
What sets your gallery apart?
The gallery was founded in 1969 and, since then, has developed a diverse program. We have always been committed to young artistic positions, such as Zoe Dittrich-Wamser, and we accompany and show the current work developments of our artists. Personal contact and an intensive exchange with artists, collectors, and curators are essential. We take our time and work closely with Lucinda Devlin, Thomas Florschutz, Simone Nieweg, Franka Hörnschemeyer, Evelina Cajacob, Antje Dorn, Caroline von Grone, Lena von Goedeke, Peter Wegner, and Melanie Manchot, among others, as well as with the estates of Evelyn Hofer, Barbara Köhler, Kuno Gonschior, and Dirk Reinartz.
With our exhibitions, we create experiential spaces, establish dialog situations, and advocate sustainable mediation. For collectors, this means that they are able to make informed decisions. The gallery’s rooms were planned as exhibition spaces and opened in 1974. They offer ideal conditions for a wide variety of exhibition projects and unusual installations and continue to have an inspiring effect on artists and our guests alike.
Personal contact is, and remains, essential for us, as is the immediate viewing of works of art.
How did you pick the selection of art you showed at Art Dusseldorf?
On the one hand, we wanted to give an insight into the latest developments in the work of our artists. On the other hand, we wanted to honor current events – such as the 100th birthday of the photographer Evelyn Hofer. In addition, we focused on the sculptural work of Franka Hörnschemeyer, a sculptor who teaches in Düsseldorf.
The merciless war in Ukraine moved us personally just as much as the threatened reintroduction of the death penalty in Russia, or the 81 executions in one day in Saudi Arabia. The photographs from Dirk Reinartz’s series, “Totenstill”, and Lucinda Devlin’s series, “The Omega Suites”, refer emblematically to the gruesome inhumanity our civilization is capable of in both historical and contemporary contexts. At Galerie m, we have always conveyed and shown artistic formulations of the abysses of our history and present. The current world situation shows more than ever how important this commitment is.
How did your gallery adapt to the pandemic?
We took the situation very seriously, constantly adapting flexibly to, for example, postponement of museum exhibitions and extensions of loans, thus giving our exhibition partners more freedom. With its spacious rooms and garden area, the gallery offers ideal opportunities for casual encounters despite the necessary protective measures. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been able to regularly welcome visitors to our exhibitions and delve into specific areas of work with collectors and curators. The importance of this is being consciously cultivated now more than ever.
Despite all the intensified efforts to digitize the mediation of art, such as documentation of the exhibitions by filming them, the irreplaceability of the direct experience of the work of art is evident. Personal contact is, and remains, essential for us, as is the immediate viewing of works of art – on-site, in the original.
The gallery has been around for over 50 years, but the art world is still working to diversity itself in terms of gender, race, sexual orientation, and other factors. How do representation and inequality within the art world factor into your decision-making process as a gallery?
Galerie m has a long tradition of addressing crises and upheavals in its exhibitions and commitment. Numerous exhibitions have been evidence of this — and each was also shown intensively in museums. These exhibitions have included “Hiroshima” by Arnulf Rainer (today at Lenbachhaus, Munich); “Totenstill” by Dirk Reinartz (today at Situation Kunst, Bochum); “The Omega Suites” by Lucinda Devlin (today at Kunststiftung DZ Bank, among others); and “Kreuzweg” by Stephan Schenk (today in the art collection of the German Bundestag, among others).
We also show humanitarian commitment in association with our artists, including with 1994’s “Susret” (engagement for refugee women from the Balkan war) and 2001’s “Shelter” (Art against trafficking in women and sexual exploitation). Gender issues are addressed in Nan Goldin’s “Ballad of Sexual Dependency”. That work focuses on AIDS and drugs and was first shown as an exhibition at Galerie m in 1992, which today is Kunsthalle Hamburg. Also, in her paintings, Caroline von Grone continuously deals with drug addicts and homeless people she portrays, while in 2015, Melanie Manchot developed the film series “Twelve” with drug addicts in withdrawal.
Climate change forces an engagement with nature uniquely. Artists like Tanya Poole take this up with her large-scale Tuschelavur paintings, as well as Lena von Goedeke with her works created in the Arctic Circle. In photography, Lucinda Devlin reports on industrialized agriculture in the USA in “Field Culture”, while Anja Bohnhof’s “The Last Drop” focuses on the omnipresent water shortage worldwide and its severe consequences on women’s lives in particular.
What do you expect from art fairs in the post-pandemic landscape?
Despite increasing digitalization, we believe that direct viewing, the experience of art, and personal contact on-site remain essential for mediation. In this respect, we assume that art fairs will continue to be a necessary factor because a great variety [of art] can be perceived quickly, combined with personal contact.
Unique traits stick like glue in the double-helix of every family’s genealogy. In the case of the Levy family, it’s clear that their DNA is imbued with a passion for art. It was in 1970, now over half a century ago, that Thomas Levy opened a gallery in the heart of Hamburg. For decades, he steered the gallery through an ever-shifting array of positions on contemporary art – from Surrealism and Pop Art to Nouveau Réalisme. It was this environment and, more specifically, the array of artists who befriended Thomas and his wife, Traute, that served as the backdrop for his son Alexander’s upbringing. While Thomas and his wife hosted dozens of exhibitions at the gallery, their home became host to the likes of Meret Oppenheim, Man Ray, and Daniel Spoerri.
It’s no wonder that 42 years after his father opened LEVY Galerie, Alexander would open his own namesake gallery in Berlin in 2012. As the old idiom goes: Like father, like son. For the last decade, artists from around the world – including Spain, Israel, and Russia – have shown stunning works of contemporary art at both LEVY Galerie and alexander levy, resulting in a steady stream of positions unique to their respective galleries.
As Thomas and Alexander navigated issues both sociopolitical and artistic in nature, including a global pandemic that has irrevocably transformed the art world, it became time for the natural next step in their respective journeys as art curators: opening a shared gallery space. In a historic moment for the family, as well as the wider German art scene, LEVY Galerie and alexander levy have finally united in Berlin’s Moabit district at Alt Moabit 110. The new space will kick off with an inaugural exhibition of works by Meret Oppenheim, Man Ray, and Daniel Spoerri from LEVY Galerie, as well as a politically-charged video installation by Russian-Austrian artist Egor Kraft titled “Lies, Half-Truths & Propaganda [The Bad, the Worse, and the Worst]”.
After participating in Art Düsseldorf and ahead of their opening for Gallery Weekend Berlin (read our guide here), Thomas and Alexander Levy sat down with Chris Erik Thomas for a wide-ranging and generation-spanning discussion on the role of art in their family, the contrasting art scenes in Berlin and Hamburg, and how their new shared gallery space was formed.
LEVY Galerie has been open since 1970, while Alexander Levy was founded in 2012. For Alex, what lessons were passed down from your father? And for Thomas, what have you learned from your son?
AL (Alexander Levy, *1984): I learned from my father, above all, the importance of personal and private relationships with the artists you want to work with successfully. That is, to understand that successful collaboration needs human, friendly roots. I observed how he surrounded himself with personalities and artists with whom he was also friends. After all, it’s not just about goods and objects being traded, but about people and ideas being exchanged.
TL (Thomas Levy, *1947): I’m still learning from my son that you have to hang exhibitions differently, i.e., that the visual presentation, the exhibition design, has a direct influence on the narrative of the works and that you consciously create a dialog context.
Alex, your mother, [Traute] also played a key role in your family’s gallery business. What qualities did she pass on to you that help you today as a gallery owner?
AL: My mother was primarily involved in the personal relationships within the gallery business, and with her warmth, she helped shape the atmosphere at the openings and events. She also took care of the order and structure in the preparations and the day-to-day business and kept an eye on the big picture – also economically.
Meret Oppenheim, Man Ray, Daniel Spoerri – are these names you grew up with, Alex? You might have known Oppenheim but probably don’t remember her yourself; nevertheless, with Daniel Spoerri you indeed have a close connection like your father?
AL: I always say that Meret Oppenheim used to read to me, but that’s not true at all, so I’ve got that wrong in my memory. I know Daniel Spoerri closely, of course, and enjoy spending time with him. He is incredibly charming and funny, and my parents are very attached to him.
In Berlin, there is [an art scene]; in Hamburg, there is none.
Art is obviously a core foundational element for your family, but can you speak on how art and the art world impacted both of you?
AL: Because I grew up in art, it was elementary for me to do something else that was creative, so I first immersed myself in the world of music and was abroad. But then I returned to art because it is a direct filter of society and current issues. Here, ideas are implemented to significantly impact our understanding of our environment and human structures.
TL: For me, art has always been part of life, and I can’t imagine my everyday life without it.
What is the key element to a good piece of art?
AL: Art must ask questions and abandon new perspectives.
TL: Art must be innovative and reflect the time in which it was created.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen within the art world since opening your respective galleries?
TL: When I first opened my gallery, the social resonance for art felt much less [important]. Today it is enormous.
AL: …whether that’s just because of the artistic-creative output or the investigative interest?
How has the gallery business changed over the last decades? What are new challenges – especially in terms of online presence?
TL: When I started in 1970, this digital presence didn’t exist. That meant that customers mainly came by the gallery space in the past, and personal encounters were crucial for buying art. Nowadays, internet sales have become very important and [have been] boosted even more by the pandemic and limited mobility.
AL: Visibility and reach have increased significantly due to the digitalization of the art market. Online presence as mediation has become essential for a gallery. In addition, it has made communication about art easier and the barrier to buying art lower.
In your opinion, what distinguishes the younger generation of collectors from your older generation?
TL: In the past, collectors were much more closely tied to a gallery, were advised and accompanied by their gallery owners in building up their art collection, and remained loyal to them. Nowadays, buying art has become a social phenomenon: according to trends and hypes, people buy more with their ears and eyes.
Isn’t that every father’s dream – a son who will follow in your footsteps and take over your business one day?
The new space in Moabit is a joint venture for both of you. How did this come about? Have you always planned to start a space that ties together both of your galleries?
TL: Of course, we have always planned a future joint space together. For years, we have been looking for suitable rooms to ultimately pass on the future of my gallery – which has existed for over 50 years – to the new generation and to continue the long-standing collaboration with the important artists of both galleries as well as the care of the estates – also with economic success.
AL: We had already heralded the meshing of the two galleries in exhibition collaborations, for example, when we juxtaposed Dieter Roth from my father’s program with young artists here in our spaces. Or with the solo exhibition of Daniel Spoerri and also Meret Oppenheim at our gallery in Berlin, where we wanted to look at their oeuvre from a new perspective. My father’s artists have hardly ever been represented in Berlin.
TL: And Berlin is one of the art centers in Germany and is simply more international. In Hamburg, there are simply too few people who can see that.
What distinguishes the Berlin art scene from that in Hamburg?
AL + TL: Provocatively speaking: In Berlin, there is one, in Hamburg, there is none.
Art filters our everyday life and reality, and it isn’t easy to get rid of its socio-political dimensions
Was there ever any rivalry or tension between the two of you when it comes to curating art and artists for your respective galleries?
TL: My son and I have different gallery programs, which means that we each work for ourselves and have our own focus – that’s how it should remain overall.
AL: I always could implement my ideas and those of my artists – even if they were not immediately obvious to my father. But he always gave me every opportunity to do so.
Concerning the gallery program, which is very different in terms of content, where do father and son nevertheless meet in artistic discourse or approach?
TL: The artists I represent – especially Meret Oppenheim, Man Ray, Dieter Roth, and Daniel Spoerri – are equally loved by my son. They, too, are so-called “idea artists” or conceptual artists.
AL: Yes, with Meret Oppenheim and Daniel Spoerri, it’s less about the craft than about the artistic movement, the ideas, and views they embody.
Both galleries are known for showing works that interrogate social and political themes. Beyond art, what place did politics and social issues have in your personal lives that has transferred over to how you run your galleries?
TL: Art filters our everyday life and reality, and it isn’t easy to get rid of its socio-political dimensions. Even if, at first, the purely sensual-aesthetic perception can be something very personal.
AL: There are certainly issues today that can no longer be ignored, such as gender equality, BIPOC empowerment, and the digitalization of art.
As we saw in parts during Art Düsseldorf, there are many vital positions in contemporary art coming out of Germany. How does this heritage and cultural history inspire your work as gallerists?
TL: Most of the artists I represent don’t come from Germany – I don’t think this point of view is crucial. Nevertheless, there are, of course, national discourses in which artists are also rediscovered. Take Werner Berges for an example – a pioneer of German Pop Art who achieved his fame in the 1960s and 70s, then fell out of sight. Today he is once again the focus of the rediscovery and recognition of the so-called “German Pop.”
AL: The national context is not relevant for me as a gallery owner, yet it can become an artistic discourse for the artist.
How did your respective galleries adapt to the pandemic?
AL: During the Corona-related closure of galleries, we concentrated on the fundamental structures of our gallery: the (digital) mediation of art to our collectors and cultivating our contacts – and many collectors also had time and bought art. So we were lucky to survive these years well.
Can you walk me through the artists you chose for the inaugural exhibition in your new shared space? Were there any conflicts or disagreements about the artists?
TL: I chose Meret Oppenheim, Man Ray, and Daniel Spoerri because they are the foundation of my gallery, and I have a long-standing collaboration with them. Through them, I came to art, and they have influenced many artists to this day. I worked with Oppenheim from as early as 1978 until her death, and with Spoerri since 2000. And in 1969, as a 20-year-old, I met the then 79-year-old Man Ray in Paris – an encounter that significantly influenced my decision to open a gallery a year later.
AL: We didn’t choose a specific artistic position for the opening exhibition; We had already selected Egor Kraft for some time. However, due to the current war situation in Ukraine, the Russian-Austrian artist has completely redeveloped his concept.
Isn’t it very brave to open new big spaces in these times – especially with the post-COVID situation and the war?
TL: We waited five years for the new spaces. And now they have come to us, and we said yes. So it just goes on and on.
And can we expect at some point that a LEVY/alexander levy gallery may open in a completely different place?
TL: I have already had a gallery in Paris and Madrid in parallel. It depends mainly on the local partners. In my experience, it isn’t easy because being a successful gallery owner is essentially a personal business.
AL: So I think it’s a wonderful idea; I’d be attracted to have another gallery somewhere else.
In Berlin, art forms the heart of Germany’s sprawling capital city. Decades after the likes of Keith Haring painted murals onto the Berlin Wall, the reunified city has become home to more than 5,000 artists and hundreds of galleries and museums. Throughout the year, artists of every background, nationality, and style show works in the city, but it is Gallery Weekend Berlin that has held a special place in the cultural conversation since 2005.
This year, 18 of the Berlin-based galleries that attended Art Düsseldorf will have shows on view during the three-day event. Taking place from 29 April through 1 May, Gallery Weekend presents a smorgasbord of contemporary art spread across dozens of the city’s leading galleries – attracting over 1,000 international and national guests. For even the most seasoned art aficionado, it can be difficult to keep track of what’s on view where, or which openings are happening when.
To ease the art overload, we’ve compiled a guide to what’s on view for Gallery Weekend Berlin at the galleries that attended Art Düsseldorf. It’s the Berlin art scene’s biggest weekend of the year, so take note of every gallery you want to see, put on some comfortable shoes, and prepare to journey across the city’s many districts to see what Berlin’s contemporary art scene has to offer.
Gallery Weekend Berlin takes place on the following dates and times: Friday, 29 April from 6 PM to 9 PM; Saturday, 30 April from 11 AM to 7 PM; Sunday, 1 May from 11 AM to 7 PM. Please note that opening hours outside of Gallery Weekend vary depending on the gallery.
In a major moment for the German art community, the father-son duo of Thomas and Alex Levy are joining their galleries for a new gallery space in the Moabit district. For Thomas, whose LEVY gallery has existed in Hamburg for more than 50 years, it is a long-overdue return to Berlin; for Alex, it marks an end to a 10-year stint in Kreuzberg. To celebrate the historic opening of their shared space, Thomas will show a range of works by the artists Meret Oppenheim, Man Ray, and Daniel Spoerri, while Alex will show new works by the Russian-Austrian artist Egor Kraft, which are a reaction to the war in Ukraine.
For more on Thomas and Alex Levy, please read our wide-ranging and generation-spanning discussion on the role of art in their family, the contrasting art scenes in Berlin and Hamburg, and how their new shared gallery space was formed.
“Lies, Half-Truths & Propaganda [The Bad, the Worse, and the Worst]” by Egor Kraft and “Meret Oppenheim, Man Ray, and Daniel Spoerri” are on view from 29 April to 11 June 2022. The gallery is located on Alt Moabit 110, 10559 Berlin. The opening hours are Wednesday through Saturday, from 11 AM to 6 PM.
A visit to see the solo show of German artist Wolfgang Laib is a necessity in the oft-hectic swirl of Gallery Weekend. For his 18th solo show with the gallery (his first beginning in 1987), the focus is on a series of sculptures from his “Rice Houses” series. Miniscule grains of rice sit enclosed within vessels of wood that have been covered in a range of materials – from sealing wax and silver to Burmese lacquer and aluminum. The effect is a powerful and meditative take on Eastern – and particularly Indian – philosophy, aesthetics, and religion.
“Wolfgang Laib” is on view from 29 April through 25 June 2022. The gallery is located on Charlottenstraße 13 10969 Berlin. The opening hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 AM to 6 PM.
Expanding on themes introduced in its booth at Art Düsseldorf, the gallery is presenting a group show centered on the theme of “othering.” By exploring what happens when certain lives, both human and nonhuman, are labeled as alien, the exhibition interrogates the tension between the self and the other. Curated by artist Jonas Wendelin, the group show is accompanied by an essay from Nicholas Korody, “Alterity and Its Other,” and features a range of works by Yalda Afsah, Julian Charrière, Albrecht Dürer, Francisco de Goya, Andreas Greiner, Jenna Sutela, Analisa Teachworth, Jol Thoms, Sung Tieu, and Jonas Wendelin.
“Othering” is on view from 29 April through 25 June 2022. The gallery is located on Linienstrasse 23, 10178 Berlin. The opening hours are Monday through Saturday, from 11 AM to 6 PM.
In its fourth solo exhibition of works by Jürgen Klauke, the gallery will present a mix of photography and drawings. In “Bodysounds”, four massive C-prints anchor the show and depict an eerie, Cronenbergesque scene of a man dressed in black partly concealed by an alien sculptural form made of nylon tights stretched across balloons. With “Kreuz&Queer”, his drawings of bodies and body parts of different sexes meld together to create an abstract scene connected by tubes, strings, and thread. Together, these contrasting parts form a must-see show that pokes at and questions the bodily form.
“Bodysounds / Kreuz&Queer” is on view from 29 April to 11 June 2022. The gallery is located on Pohlstraße 67, 10785 Berlin. The opening hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 AM to 6 PM.
For decades, the artist Horst Antes has developed a reputation for his paintings of dark, minimalist houses. Devoid of people in reaction to the Falklands War between Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1982, these foreboding, monumental houses urge viewers into reflection. For the new solo exhibition of his work that is curated by the artist himself, seven of these massive paintings will be on view – including recently executed pieces that will be shown for the first time.
“7 Houses” is on view from 29 April to 11 June 2022. The gallery is located on Meierottostraße 1, 10719 Berlin. The opening hours are Monday through Saturday, from 11 AM to 6 PM.
Painting, sculpture, and furniture crash into one another for an intriguing solo show from artist Anton Henning. In an exhibition that has been specifically tailored to the rooms of the gallery, the modernist artist presents a layered, sensory experience that builds on autopoietic systems – systems that reproduce themselves within themselves like plants – that he has been developing since the early 1990s.
“Future and Grace, No. 1” is on view from 29 April to 25 June 2022. The gallery is located on Niebuhrstr. 5, 10629 Berlin. The opening hours are Monday through Friday, from 9 AM to 6 PM, and Saturday from 12 to 6 PM.
For Gallery Weekend Berlin, the gallery is presenting two collections. The first is a series of early paintings by the acclaimed American artist Allan McCollum from his Constructed Paintings and Bleach Paintings series, which began in 1969. In addition, Matt Mullican presents continuation of his collaborative project with McCollum. The project, called “YOUR FATE,” began in 2004 and is a fortune-telling dice game that can be played by visitors at the gallery.
“Works 1970-1973” and “YOUR FATE” are on view from 23 April through 4 June 2022. The gallery is located on Charlottenstraße 24, 10117 Berlin. The opening hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 12 to 6 PM.
Split into two equally arresting solo shows, the gallery dedicates the massive upper floor of its space to a solo presentation by Austrian painter Xenia Hausner. Twelve massive paintings explore themes of beauty and dread, which takes inspiration from a famed quote from Rilke’s Duino Elegies: “Every angel is terrifying. For beauty is nothing but the start of terror, that we are still able to bear, and we revere it so, because it calmly disdains to destroy us.”
Meanwhile, on the lower floor of the gallery, a politically powerful show from Ukrainian artist Zhanna Kadyrova is on view. After fleeing her home of Kyiv for the western part of Ukraine in the midst of the Russian invasion, the artist began work on what has become her new project, “PALIANYTSIA”, which is co-authored by Denis Ruban. Named after a Ukrainian round wheat bread that has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance, the show offers a mix of stone sculptures and drawings imbued with political resonance, as well as a short film documenting her work in Transcarpathia during the ongoing war.
“Unintended Beauty” by Xenia Hausner is on view from 29 April to 19 June 2022. “PALIANYTSIA” by Zhanna Kadyrova is on view from 29 April to 20 May 2022. The gallery is located on Alexandrinenstraße 118-121, 10969 Berlin. The opening hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 AM to 6 PM, and Sunday from 12 to 6 PM.
For the gallery, it was only fitting to return to the works of Bruce Nauman for Gallery Weekend Berlin. Since presenting his first solo exhibition in Europe in 1968, “Six Sound Problems for Konrad Fischer,” the gallery has played host to 18 solo shows of the famed artist’s work. With the new video installation, the New Mexico-based artist’s hands become the art in a meditative interrogation of the repetition of training. Accompanying the video is a range of pieces that explore his forays into printmaking, which he has spent decades honing his skills with.
“Practice” is on view from 29 April through 27 August 2022. The gallery is located on Neue Grünstraße 12, 10179 Berlin. The opening hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 AM to 6 PM.
Anna Boghiguian takes over the main exhibition space for a must-see solo show. Taking inspiration from her studies of political science and sociology in Cairo, plus art and music in Montreal, the Egyptian artist’s two sprawling installations were inspired by tin mines in the English town of Cornwall, as well the silk road that connected Japan and Egypt – focusing especially on the invisible labor of the girls and women who toiled in the garment factories.
Meanwhile, in the showroom, the exhibition on view offers a melding of the minds of Boghiguian and German theorist Alice Creischer. At the heart of this contrasting show are two major works by each artist. First is a 2015 poem by Creischer, “His Master’s Voice”, which responded to German President Joachim Gauck’s speech at the 2014 Munich Security Conference calling for an expansion of Germany’s military actions abroad. Meanwhile, a series of drawings by Boghiguian depicts two groups of people being watched by an oppressive military in a sinister and dystopic tableau.
“Anna Boghiguian / Alice Creischer” is on view from 29 April to 25 June 2022. The gallery is located on Lindenstr. 35, 10969 Berlin. The opening hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 12 to 6 PM.
In the third exhibition by Brazilian artist Marilia Furman, the government of her country becomes the focal point for a striking query into themes of social disintegration, cultural destruction, technological domination, and overproduction. Visitors to this must-see exhibition will step into the “womb of a beast”, exploring a visually fractured space filled with repetitive GIFs in an infinite loop, power extensions pumping out energy, mirrored pyramids, and metal plaques inscribed with ominous messages.
“Monstrous” is on view from 28 April to 25 June 2022. The gallery is located on Schöneberger Ufer 61, 10785 Berlin. The opening hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 12 to 6 PM, and by appointment.
With an expansive list of references (from Jean-Paul Sartre to Jean Tinguely) packed into their sculptures, this solo exhibition of works by Rachel Youn is a must-see. Freed of the pressures of utility and authenticity, the St. Louis, MO-based artist’s mesmerizing works combine plants, speakers, and other objects to create forces of kinetic energy that move, shake, and stand bathed in kaleidoscopic color.
“Revival” is on view from 29 April through 25 June 2022. The gallery is located on Prinzessinnenstr. 29, 10969 Berlin-Kreuzberg. The opening hours are Wednesday through Saturday, from 12 to 6 PM, and by appointment.
In its first solo exhibition of the German artist Conny Maier, a series of hallucinogenic paintings question everything from dominance and control to ecology and human nature. Taking cues from Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing’s concept of the “ambivalence of salvage,” the works show that even the most damaged worlds – and the people in them – can contain elements of life, beauty, and resilience.
“Feels Like Rabies” is on view from 30 April to 4 June 2022. The gallery is located on Wielandstraße 26, 10707 Berlin. The opening hours are Monday through Saturday, from 10 AM to 6 PM.
A decade-long journey to embrace and deepen his relationship with natural materials and spaces forms the basis of artist Olaf Holzapfel’s solo show. Finding inspiration in both the rural and urban landscapes he’s come in his travels, the works on view take care to incorporate such materials as cactus fibers made by northern Argentinian weavers, straw from Brandenburg, and hay in Lusatia. It is an ode to the natural world filtered through his artistic lens; a celebration of the coexistence of both social and ecological factors found around the world.
“In Vielem und Einem” is on view from 27 April to 18 June 2022. The gallery is located on Marienstraße 10, D–10117 Berlin. The opening hours are Thursday through Friday, from 11 AM to 6 PM, and Saturday from 12 to 6 PM.
The Mitte-based gallery currently has a solo exhibition of works by the Berlin-based artist Noi Fuhrer on view. Born in Tel Aviv, the artist has developed a reputation for her charcoal on paper sketches. The large-scale drawings have a haunting quality that stays with viewers long after they leave the gallery, particularly because of the tension and oddity bubbling beneath the surface of the paper.
“A Flash at Midday” is on view from 23 April through 4 June 2022. The gallery is located on Mulackstr. 14, 10119 Berlin. The opening hours are Thursday through Saturday, from 12 to 6 PM, and by appointment.
With two spaces at its disposal, it’s fitting that the gallery opted for a solo show in each of its spaces. First, at Lindenstraße 34, the Finnish artist Milja Laurila will present a selection of works from her “Untitled Women” series. Using translucent paper to obscure all but the eyes of found photographs of women, the artist flips the male gaze through her own searing feminist lens.
Next door, at Lindenstraße 35, is a solo show of previously unseen color photographs by Grey Crawford dating from 1978 to 1984, which capture the energy and spirit of the Southern California art scene during that era. For seven years, the artist created over 200 works that play with the tension of nature and geometry through precise darkroom alterations. Alongside his works will be a book release of Grey Crawford: Chroma, 1978–85, Vol 1, 2022, which includes a book signing on Saturday, 30 April, at 3 PM.
“Untitled Women” by Milja Laurila is on view at Lindenstr 34, 10969 Berlin. “Chroma Figura 1978-84” by Grey Crawford is on view at Lindenstr 35, 10969 Berlin. Both exhibitions are on view from 28 April to 25 June 2022. The opening hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 AM to 6 PM.
Gregor Gleiwitz is a world builder. Inside each painting, the artist has utilized an array of colors to create snapshots of both his inner world and the larger environment around him. Often created in a single sitting, the selection of works on view during his solo show feels somehow alive, imbued with an organic texture. United by the exhibition’s name, “Xyleten,” a made-up word, the entire show is at once both alien and familiar, like bits of nature thrown through a blender and thrust onto massive canvases.
“Xyleten” is on view from 29 April to 18 June 2022. The gallery is located on Schöneberger Ufer 71, 10785 Berlin. The opening hours are Monday through Friday, from 10 AM to 6 PM, and Saturday from 11 AM to 6 PM.
We’ve come a long way from the beginnings of Cubism when Pablo Picasso produced over 800 sketches that would form the foundation of the famed art movement. A century later, the question of what cubism is today must be answered by looking at our rapidly shifting technological age. Cubism forms the foundation for the gallery’s unforgettable group show curated by Philipp Bollman, which features works by Armin Boehm, Johannes Daniel, Zohar Fraiman, Anton Henning, Pieter Schoolwerth, and Kristina Schuldt.
“SHATTERED – transformations of cubism” is on view from 27 April through 25 June 2022. The gallery is located on Streustraße 90, 13086 Berlin. The opening hours are Wednesday through Friday, from 12 to 6 PM; Saturday, from 1 to 5 PM; or by appointment.
It all begins in 1839 with the first known photograph taken on the African continent. This is the starting point that guides the entirety of Heba Y. Amin’s new solo show, which is curated by Anthony Downey. As a continuation of the pair’s 2020 exhibition at London’s Mosaic Rooms, the new show presents a range of works that explore the politics of colonialist technologies through a research-based lens. Individually, the works touch on everything from the territorialization of space and the subjugation of North African women by France to the French nuclear experiments, and their horrific radioactive fallout, in Algeria.
“When I see the future, I close my eyes: Chapter II” is on view from 1 May to 30 July 2022. The gallery is located on Goethestraße 82, 10623 Berlin. The opening hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 AM to 6 PM.
As part of the offerings in our digital magazine, we’ve launched Dispatches From the Art World, a series of guest essays that investigate the latest and most fascinating opinions and trends shaping the industry. This essay by Anika Meier, the Kunstforum columnist, art historian, and expert on digital art and NFTs, focuses on the changing landscape of the NFT art scene.
Ever since the hype surrounding NFTs began, artists have had to answer one question over and over again: Why pay money for it? And then so much. 69 million for an image file that you can download with one click on the Internet? It has been explained over and over again that NFTs are digital certificates of authenticity. While 69 million people can download an image file and share it on social media, only one person, if it’s a 1/1, can own and resell that image file.
The excitement was great, the lack of understanding even greater, because this was supposed to be the great revolution in art. And, no matter how irritated one is by the three letters NFT, it can no longer be ignored or denied that, just under a year after the hype began, a new online art world has emerged that has little to do with what the old offline art world has to offer. New artists: Beeple, Pak, XCopy, Fewocious, Justin Aversano. New Marketplaces: Nifty Gateway, SuperRare, Foundation, Quantum, OpenSea. New magazines: Right Click Save, Outland.
And of course, it seems a bit whimsical, the new online art world that doesn’t care much about the old offline art world. Beeple’s auction record at Christie’s should make it clear that something is moving. It was a bang that couldn’t be ignored. And then, a little over a year after the historic event, Beeple, aka Mike Winkelmann, is delighted on Twitter that he’s been able to “add value to NFTs through physical art and airdrops” and make something like a subscription to a single work of art out of it.
To me being able to add additional utility to NFTs through both physical art and airdrops that allow them to almost act as a subscription to a single work of art that can continue to evolve over time is something very exciting and unique to this new medium. 🙏🙏🙏
— beeple (@beeple) March 26, 2022
Wait, there was something. The story goes like this: NFTs enable digital art to finally be sold in the same way as the classic media of painting and sculpture, because the blockchain regulates who owns such an NFT. Among other things, Beeple said in interviews: “I do view this as the next chapter of art history. Now there is a way to collect digital art.”
The market exploded. For months we heard about record sales: Nyan Cat ($590,000), Fewocious ($19 million), CryptoPunks ($23 million), Ix Shells ($2 million), XCopy ($7 million), etc. etc. Then the setback. In December 2021, the online magazine Hyperallergic summarized the results of a study that took a closer look at the NFT market.
Democratization? Revolution? The numbers say otherwise: the NFT market reproduces the dynamics of the art market: 10% of collectors are responsible for as many transactions as the remaining 90%. The average selling price of 75% of NFTs is only US $15. Only 1% of NFTs sell for more than US $1594. Another study was published in February 2022 that looked at networks in the NFT scene using the example of the NFT platform Foundation. If you want to sell NFTs on Foundation, you need an invitation from an artist who has already sold on Foundation. This study also shows that the NFT art market works in a similar way to the traditional art market: a large number of artists offer works, but only a small number actually sell, including artists who were early on the platform. So it’s again about the right network and standing out, be it with a story or with innovation.
NFTs have become better stamp cards, like those you know from the supermarket or the coffee shop on the corner.
Even Jeff Koons, who probably still feels (like everyone else) that he’s a bit late with NFTs, had to come up with something. Ai Weiwei launched a virtual currency with Irish conceptual artist Kevin Abosch back in 2018 to spark a discussion about the value of human life. With his NFT drop “Currency” in 2021, Damien Hirst also pursued the goal of promoting the debate about values, albeit with an eye on art. Collectors must decide whether they want to keep the NFT or have the physical version of the currency.
Tom Sachs turned his NFT drop into a rocket factory. The three rocket parts (nose, body, and tail) were randomly sold as NFTs. If you wanted, you could combine the individual parts that did not belong together into a “Frankenrocket” or trade three matching individual parts on the secondary market to get a “Perfect Rocket”. The individual NFTs were then burned and the rocket was minted as a new NFT. And it goes even further: if you want, you can get the right physical rocket and a launch date for the rocket. Well, since it’s not a real rocket, such a launch can only fail: the physical individual parts are then put together again and sent to the owner together with video documentation. Together with the digital rocket, these three components form the Holy Trinity, as can be seen on the project website. Or in other words, “a singular transdimensional NFT, and it is yours to keep.”
Of course, Jeff Koons didn’t have much left. He actually has to go to the moon with his art and the NFTs because all other attention-grabbing and conceptually strong topics seem to have already been occupied: soul on the blockchain (Rhea Myers), DNA on the blockchain (Rachel Rossin), and shared artistic practice on the blockchain (Jonas Lund). Has anyone actually been waiting for Jeff Koons’ NFTs?
While artists from the traditional art world seem keen to get involved when it comes to NFTs, $69 million for Beeple and $91.8 million for Pak (“The Merge”) probably sound attractive, artists from the new online art world have already arrived in the post-NFT era. What does that mean?
From the early beginnings of computer art (including Herbert W. Franke, Vera Molnar, Frieder Nake, and Manfred Mohr) to the NFT hype. If you’re less generous with the timing, from the beginnings of the blockchain to the introduction of the Non-Fungible Token Standard in early 2018.
From the launch of the Non-Fungible Token Standard in early 2018 to the end of the NFT hype year of 2021, with Pak’s NFT drop “The Merge” on Nifty Gateway.
With Beeple’s tweet at the end of March 2022, answering the question about the utility has become a matter of course.
What is an NFT besides an NFT? A ticket to the Metaverse (Clone X, Fewoworld), a membership card for a community (Bored Ape), and an entitlement to future mints and airdrops (e.g., Refik Anadol). Basically, NFTs have become better stamp cards, like those you know from the supermarket or the coffee shop on the corner. And of course, it’s about more than a free broccoli cuddly toy or a few euros saved when buying a pan.
Above all, post-NFT also means that NFTs and thus the interest in digital art have become so commonplace that NFTs and digital art also want to be experienced in physical space. This sometimes gets a bit spectacular: the NFT platform Aorist set up a huge screen by Refik Anadol right on the beach for Art Basel Miami Beach. For three weeks in April, Bright Moments presents the NFT Art Berlin event in Berlin at the Kraftwerk. The numerous names listed on the poster probably mean nothing to regular visitors to the Gallery Weekend and Berlin Art Week. The new online art world shows itself there, with immersive experiences and live minting, with CryptoBerliners and Crypto Artists. Vellum LA and Superchief Gallery NFT like to display NFTs on large screens in public spaces.
Artblocks now has a location in Marfa, Texas, a house showcasing generative art, and Quantum will soon be opening its first location in Los Angeles. Nagel Draxler has opened another gallery location for NFTs in Berlin with the Crypto Kiosk, and Priska Pasquer is showing NFTs at Art Düsseldorf. And Beeple, yes, he is showing an exhibition of paintings and prints at the Jack Hanley Gallery in New York entitled “Uncertain Futures”.
The Art Basel and USB Global Art Market Report has just been published, and for the first time, NFTs were also comprehensively taken into account. 74% of high net worth collectors bought art NFTs in 2021. And while almost all high net worth collectors, 88% of those surveyed, would like to buy NFTs in the future, not even half of the galleries are interested in selling NFTs. Of the high net worth collectors who have already bought NFTs, only 8% use an NFT platform, the vast majority trusting galleries and auction houses.
This finally answers the question of what you still need galleries for. For the presentation of (digital) art at fairs and in galleries. For the mediation and contextualization of the work. And for selling NFTs to traditional art collectors.
Ulrike Rosenbach. “Art is a Criminal Action 4”, 1969. Collage. 30 x 43 cm. Courtesy Priska Pasquer Gallerie.
As part of the offerings in our digital magazine, we’ve launched Dispatches From the Art World, a series of guest essays that investigate the latest and most fascinating opinions and trends shaping the industry. This essay by the Los Angeles-based writer Daniel Spielberger focuses on the artifice of manufacturing an art scene in the era of social media.
Sunglasses. Faded denim. Prada sweaters. White tanktops. They splatter paint on a canvas, venture into the neighborhood, and tag a fire hydrant as they irreverently smile and laugh. Back to the rooftop. Lanky models add finishing flourishes to the artwork — dashes of red, hazy gray fills a ghostly face.
Now, onto the next TikTok.
Aidan, a TikTok micro-influencer, has curated a feed of downtown cool. He and his friends wreak havoc at New York City Fashion Week and pay homage to Jean-Michel Basquiat with their subway graffiti. But the comments in the aforementioned video tell another story. “Fascinating to see art this passionless,” the user kiilerwhales writes.“Art where the goal is not in the piece itself, but in how one looks while creating it.”
With its seamless editing and filters, TikTok is perfect for crafting mini-narratives of our daily lives. Last year, the New York Times reported that there was a wave of artists on the app who have made thousands selling paintings for their followers by bypassing the gallery system for online stores. They use the platform to turn their work into an interactive experience, letting their audience in on how a painting goes from a sketch to a fully realized product. However, the Times also noted that more established types — such as Cindy Sherman — were wary of the platform, labeling it as “too gimmicky.”
This skepticism may stem from the platform’s inability to produce anything “cool.” As the aggressive commenter on Aidan’s TikTok noted, the performance element can come across as heavy-handed. Just as there is a customer base ready to buy a pop art rendering of Spider-Man, an army of skeptics are also eagerly waiting to attack any hint of artificiality.
Netflix’s new docuseries The Andy Warhol Diaries, which was released on the streamer in early March, chronicles how an artist’s “looks” became as important as their creations. Voiced by an AI-rendering of Warhol reading his own journal, the series shows how in the years leading to his death, Warhol used his clout as an artist to maneuver into the mainstream culture of the 1980s. He launched an MTV program; starred in an episode of The Love Boat as himself; did a Japanese videotape commercial. Even if his descent into commercialism earned him some scorn from the art world, his brand remained highly revered because he signified the Factory — an anarchic fantasy of creativity that reached its peak in the 1960s.
Within the span of three decades, his scene brought in the likes of Lou Reed, Candy Darling, Jean-Michel Basquait, and countless others. The Warholian mystique was a product both of the gallery system (he had close relationships with Uptown’s art dealers who bought and sold all this work) as well as his control of the means of communication. With the launch of his publication, Interview Magazine, in 1969, Warhol announced who was in and out — sidestepping the more established press outlets that were dismissive of the avant-garde.
Social media fame tends to be contextualized as the logical next step to Warhol’s obsession with image. The acclaimed pop artist loved manufacturing the self. Now, decades later, we’re all narcissists publishing selfies to get our own fifteen minutes of fame, but there’s a fundamental difference. While Warhol was otherworldly, the new star aims to be familiar. With live-streaming, vlogging, and the steady trickle of posts, the new star renders themselves an interactive product. Even if they are just as manufactured as before, the democratized nature of social media makes it so that the dynamic can be shifted at a moment’s notice. A random person on the internet can slice a new meme out of you, turning your embarrassing moment into a viral catchphrase. In return, you can throw it back at the masses and hawk overpriced merch. But the dynamic rests on you being willing to open up and let others in — announce engagements and breakups; posting messy hair days and waxing journeys; participating in dance challenges and then smiling when you fall flat on your face.
Warhol’s goal was to copy and paste his artifice forever. He was always in control. When he cameoed in a cheesy TV show, he was performing an amplified idea of himself. It was overexposure but it was never confessional and that’s why his Diaries are so appealing decades after his death. An influencer swaps perfection for accessibility, so trying to emulate Warhol’s canonical, detached definition of “cool” is bound to be clumsy.
An influencer swaps perfection for accessibility, so trying to emulate Warhol’s canonical, detached definition of “cool” is bound to be clumsy.
In Allegra Hobbs’ 2019 essay, “The Journalist As Influencer,” she analyzed how social media has pushed writers to perform a “self-conscious authenticity.” According to Hobbs, in order to accrue readership, writers now need to craft a social media personality that’s self-aware and also act “performatively, romantically messy” online. But art scenes are afforded less flexibility. The Warholian mystique was based on a power dynamic that consumers of celebrity are programmed to crave.
GQ recently published a write-up of Art Basel Miami titled “The Art Week All-Stars.” The header image is a group of vaguely underground models, artists, actors, and writers – all posing in front of boisterously colorful paintings, sporting serious facial expressions. The subheader reads: “We spent a few days with the insiders, outsiders, and party animals at the center of the scene.” But there’s no scene to start with. All these insiders probably spent the better part of the night crafting a glamorous narrative online with varying degrees of success.
An ironic acknowledgment of what’s been lost is a logical next step. In May, Rizzoli will publish a retrospective book by Mark Hunter (aka the Cobrasnake) – a party photographer who documented events throughout the 2000s where alternative icons like Cory Kennedy mingled with mainstream tastemakers like Steve Aoki. The Cobrasnake: Y2Ks Archive is described as a tribute to a time before the “live streaming of culture.” Compiling these moments begs us to buy into a myth.
In the lead-up to his glossy book, the Cobrasnake has been hired to simulate a hazy memory of the Myspace era and photograph the latest crop of downtown parties. His resurgence is an interactive performance, relying on both the artist and spectator to be in on the joke. Put away your phone for a night and let this guy decide what’s hip. Instead of uploading a selfie on your Instagram story, you’ll have to wait for the magazine write-up later this week to see if you made the cut. But this is a power play. You give up control in hopes of getting back. For a night, you relinquish any ability to control the narrative, and maybe if you’re lucky, you succeed on someone else’s terms. Now that anyone can easily crash the Factory, live a fantasy, and have fun at the expense of those who are trying way too hard, there’s an allure to acting as if nothing has changed. It’s not nostalgia, it’s an admission of defeat.
Our Art Guides will be back tomorrow during opening hours to take you on our live virtual tour through Art Düsseldorf.
SUNDAY APRIL 10
11 am – 7 pm
This is the mantra that guides the work of Franka Hörnschemeyer. Since entering the art scene in 1989, the artist has made a name for herself with both her sculptural works and her massive, room-filling installations in which visitors wind their way through a labyrinthine maze of visual sensations. Her 2001 work “BFD – bündig fluchtend dicht,” a spatial sculpture constructed of red and yellow iron rods that occupied one of the northern courtyards of the German Bundestag, caused a particular stir on the international art scene.
For Hörnschemeyer, the key to unforgettable art lies not only in the concept, but also in the materials. Her work is in constant dialogue with an idea of Franz Kafka’s, that every person has a space within them. “Sculpture for me is about exploring unexpected relationships between materials,” she says. “In fact, I consider myself a material as well.” Sculpture is a medium that explores unexpected relationships between materials.
As Galerie m presents work by Hörnschemeyer in booth A-03 at this year’s Art Düsseldorf, we spoke with the artist about her work as a professor of sculpture at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, the importance of misunderstandings, and her lifelong passion for exploring bodies and space.
What message do you want viewers to take away from the art you’re showing at Art Dusseldorf?
At the moment, I don’t think anyone can escape the geopolitical situation, the war, the environmental crisis, and the pandemic. My work, like the work here at the fair, explores boundaries and revolves around the question of the relationship between body and space and the relationships between things and people. I think that information is much more crucial to the world’s appearance than matter. Information is what’s in-between, the relative space between matter.
You can explore where the material comes from, what it’s made of, how old it is and how it will evolve, and what psychological and social aspects it has. And I deal with the conditions of space in the same way. I believe that there is no difference between body and space. Body is space and space is body. That is my tool for perceiving the world, and that is what I want to pass on.
What inspired the works you have on view at Art Dusseldorf
Our view is culturally shaped and we experience our environment through our body. In my works, I give directions, directions of movement, and directions of vision. Spaces are seemingly separated or connected by a channel that simultaneously transmits and receives. Their texture is related to our location and at the same time to our sensations and memories, our reality. That certainly has to do with form; the boundary is the form. I am concerned with questions like: What is in front and what is behind? How do I get from here to there, and how can I change sides? It’s been my experience that many people are content to focus on the surface. I’m more curious about what lies beneath or behind the surface.
Information is what’s in-between, the relative space between matter.
How has your artistic practice adapted to the pandemic?
I am fortunate to be able to continue working in my studio. The retreat from the public to the private sphere and postponements of exhibitions due to the pandemic has not significantly affected my artistic activity. I see the pandemic as an effect of a deeper cause, rooted in human behavior, in our interactions with each other and with nature. As I explore questions about relationships in space, the pandemic has also changed my work. When spaces are abandoned, traces of presence remain; they store time and are constantly changing in the process.
How important are art fairs for you as an artist? Has that changed at all because of the pandemic?
Art fairs are a place where art is traded, a place that follows certain rules. While I am interested in rules, systems, and structures, I tend to go to museums, art institutions, and galleries to experience art. Being unable to experience these places, because they were closed so often due to the pandemic, was regrettable.
How did you get involved with Galerie M?
In 2019, I showed the room-sized work “Opak 519” during an exhibition at the Museum unter Tage in Bochum, where I met the gallery owner Susanne Breidenbach. Since then, an intensive and constructive collaboration has developed.
When spaces are abandoned, traces of presence remain.
What initially attracted you to the medium of sculpture?
I have been interested in space since I was a child and was curious about how spaces can change me and how I can change them. In doing so, I never distinguished between body and space, and I still use these experiences in my sculptural work today.
You also work as a professor of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts Düsseldorf. What is the most important lesson you try to teach young artists?
In the Academy, we talk about expanding the possibilities of our means, everything can be important for this, and there is no certainty. We do not know beforehand where we are going and prefer to stay in unknown territory, because we recognize only what we know.
Also, what is one of the biggest misconceptions about the art world that you try to dispel with your students?
For me, artistic exploration is communication, and gaps in knowledge are the basis for this, they are the factor for the exchange and supplementation of information. Gaps in knowledge give rise to misunderstandings, which can be placed side by side – even in a perspective shift. So I consider misunderstandings and misconceptions, big and small, even if they are unpleasant at the moment, as a condition for movement.
The meaning of a material lies in its origin, its history, its production, and its function.
Your work tackles the use of space and its relation to the human body. What is it about these themes that continues to attract you?
Essential to the development of my work are dialogues with the material, often materials such as formwork elements, plasterboard, or aluminum honeycomb, which are used for the precipitous construction of buildings. I converse with spaces, exploring idiosyncrasies such as the former identity of a place, operating not only on a spatial axis but also on a temporal one. The meaning of a material lies in its origin, its history, its production, and its function, and if you listen carefully, you learn a lot.
Kafka once said: ” Everyone carries a room about inside them. This fact can be proved by means of the sense of hearing. If someone walks fast and one pricks up one’s ears and listens, say at night, when everything round about is quiet, one hears, for instance, the rattling of a mirror not quite firmly fastened to the wall.”
I see sculpture as exploring unexpected relationships between materials. In fact, I also think of myself as a material. The relationship between materials oscillates, hence you can also be a piece of aluminum honeycomb looking at the world.
Prof. Dr. Susanne Gaensheimer isn’t afraid to take on art’s toughest questions. On the contrary, it’s what inspires her work as director of Düsseldorf’s North Rhine-Westphalia Art Collection. It’s now been nearly five years since she joined the museum and, in that time, she has been at the forefront of diversifying the works on view; successfully bringing more internationally-oriented positions on contemporary art to the stylishly curved building in the city’s old town district.
The shift in focus under her directorship is hardly a surprise given Gaensheimer’s background and accolades. After studying art history in Munich and Hamburg, she graduated from an independent study program at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art and secured her Ph.D. After some time spent as a freelance curator, a series of stints at museums around Germany followed, including the Westphalian Fine Arts Society in Münster and the Municipal Gallery in the Lenbachhaus in Munich. At the 2011 Venice Biennale, she was awarded the Golden Lion for Best National Participation for her curation of the German Pavilion and before taking her current position in Düsseldorf, she managed Frankfurt’s MMK Museum for Modern Art for eight years.
Now, with two distinct exhibition buildings in the state gallery (K20 and K21), Gaenesheimer has had plenty of space to expand the palate of both the museum and its patrons. Nowhere is that more apparent than with the bold new exhibition, Shifting Dialogues: Photography from The Walther Collection, which runs from April 9 through September 25. Curated by Artur Walther with advisement by the late Okwui Enwezor, the collection features more than 500 photographic works from Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Cameroon, Angola, the African diaspora, and Europe.
Ahead of the opening of the exhibition on April 9, we talked to Gaensheimer about the importance of confronting postcolonialism, the changing state of photography, and why the museum experience can never be replaced.
Museums are not only places of documentation and archiving. They are also dynamic actors that map, initiate, and shape contemporary discourses. To what extent does postcolonial criticism inform the exhibition?
In building the collection, Artur Walther was significantly advised by Okwui Enwezor, a pioneering curator and founder of postcolonial criticism in exhibition work. The two began acquiring their first works on joint trips to different countries in Africa. In 2010, the first large collection presentation in Neu-Ulm emerged from this. Many of the themes and artistic intentions that became visible in the first exhibition have been pursued by Enwezor and Walther while building up the collection. Thus, the exhibition at K21 where the collection is now on view has also been significantly influenced by Enwezor’s post- and decolonial thinking and actions.
How has the Black Lives Matter movement shaped the art and cultural landscape? Is decolonization primarily an issue or is it also a practice that affects acquisitions, target groups, or, for example, the reevaluation of collections?
The exhibition emerged from the discussions we had at the museum also (but not only) under the sign of the Black Lives Matter movement. What was particularly important to us with the exhibition was to make visible the historical developments of artistic activism that have produced groundbreaking photographic image projects since the 1940s. We present works by Seydou Keïta, Malick Sidibé, and Zanele Muholi, and show decolonial processes in their historical depth. At the same time, for several years, we have been in the process of expanding the museum step by step through new acquisitions and a polyphonic exhibition program, and Shifting Dialogues is a central component of the opening.
How has the collaboration with The Walther Collection been?
We value our collaboration very much. Artur Walther and I have been familiar with each other for some time, so working on a joint exhibition has mutually enriched us.
Photographs can become an agent for developing, shaping, confirming, and disseminating notions of the self and self-images.
How are historical and cultural transformation processes reflected in the medium of photography?
Photography is in a constant state of change. The exhibition shows how photographs can become an agent for developing, shaping, confirming, and disseminating notions of the self and self-images.
Okwui Enwezor stated in a conversation with Artur Walther in 2017 that: “I think that right now, photography – whether it’s in Africa, Europe, or elsewhere – is at a turning point. Photography is embattled. […] It’s embattled because photography is being overtaken, as a medium; it is being overtaken by technology and different forms of distribution.” This development has come to a head in recent years. How do you assess this?
Enwezor hits it right on the nose. Numerous new technological innovations have emerged in recent years. The concept of the image has continued to change. New technical [and] staging possibilities for artists are emerging. We are pleased to present in the exhibition works that have entered The Walther Collection only in recent years, including Mimi Cherono Ng’ok, Kudzanai Chiurai, Lebohang Kganye, and Sabelo Mlangeni. Their works show the facets of these processes of change.
Düsseldorf is a formative location for photography. How do works by Bernd and Hilla Becher, for example, which are also part of the Walther Collection, relate to the African works shown here?
We are showing the Bechers’ “Anonymous Sculptures” – as Enwezor did in 2010 – together in a room with works by Malick Sidibé and J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere. The juxtaposition reveals the importance of typological, taxonomic, and serial structures to global photography. It also reveals the complex and shifting interrelationships between social change, social identity processes, and artistic image production.
The museum visit is not replaceable, but can be expanded and experienced in new or different ways.
How do you think the experiences of the last two years will be reflected in artistic works?
That remains to be seen. Hito Steyerl has, after all, developed new major work in her exhibition at K21 – “SocialSim (2020)” – in which she has already addressed the pandemic from a sociopolitical perspective. This work has been acquired by the Kunstsammlung and will be on view in the K21 collection.
The pandemic has shown how important it is for cultural institutions to interact with their audiences in various ways. How has the art collection dealt with the situation over the past two years? What have you learned, and what are your plans for the future?
Before the pandemic, we developed a new website to serve as a platform for multimedia formats. At the beginning of the first lockdown, we launched this new website with a new moving image series, podcast seasons, and our multimedia storytelling tool, “K+ Digital Guide,” for current exhibitions. The experiences of the last two years have shown us that the museum visit is not replaceable, but can be expanded and experienced in new or different ways by thinking of the art experience in analog terms and digitally. We want to stick with that.
What do you hope the audience takes away from the exhibition?
A diverse and reflective view of the world.
While a few hundred kilometers may separate the cities of Munich, Hamburg, and Frankfurt, it is their bustling contemporary art markets that unite them. For decades, the German cities have been incubators for both new talent and established positions within the scene. Building up unique webs of galleries that stretch across their respective neighborhoods.
Some, like Max Goelitz in Munich and PPC Philipp Pflug Contemporary, have existed for less than a decade, while others have existed for decades. In Hamburg, renowned spaces have staked out a space in the scene since the 1970s, including Levy Galerie since 1970 and Produzentengalerie Hamburg since 1973.
In total, Art Düsseldorf will welcome 12 galleries from these three renowned cities to this year’s art fair — including four galleries who will join us at Areal Böhler for the first time. Scroll through to get all the important info you need to know about each of the dozen galleries.
Please note the booth numbers for each gallery are presented in brackets.
Two became one in 2017 as Fred Jahn and Matthias Jahn merged their separate galleries to form their Munich-based gallery. For Fred, the merger came after running Gaerlie Fred Jahn alongside Heiner Friedrich beginning in 1978. Meanwhile, Matthias brought nearly a decade of experience from running the gallery he founded in 2008. A year after opening Jahn und Jahn, the addition of Tim Geissler as a partner created the foundation for what has become a tight collaborative space dedicated to advancing the most relevant positions in contemporary art — including through a number of publications.
As the gallery makes its return to Art Düsseldorf, it will show work by the artists Hermann Nitsch, Imi Knoebel, Hedwig Eberle, Julius Heinemann, and Heinz Butz.
After originally opening its doors in 1982 as Galerie Sabine Knust, the gallery added Matthias Kunz as a partner in 1998, which led to its current name. During these four decades, the gallery has nurtured collaborations with a range of regional and international artists. Alongside its space near Munich’s Odeonsplatz, the gallery has expanded twice. First, in 2010, it opened KNUSTxKUNZ+ in the city’s Museums quarter to showcase emerging artists, as well as new projects and publications. Finally, in 2021, the gallery expanded past Munich to open a temporary third space in Belgium’s seaside Knokke-Heist region.
From April 8-10 at Areal Böhler, the gallery will offer works by the famed German artist Olaf Nicolai.
Although the namesake gallery began only two years ago, in March 2020, its founder brought a wealth of experience with him. Formerly acting as the director of Häusler Contemporary, Zurich for over a decade, his new gallery is built upon support from both Häusler Contemporary and Mexico City’s Gallery OMR. With a focus on international and intergenerational talent, the young gallery offers fresh positions on works of abstract, concept-based, and other contemporary mediums.
For its debut at the fair the gallery will show works by Niko Abramidis &NE, Brigitte Kowanz, Haroon Mirze, and Troika presented in a special multimedia installation.
After initially beginning as a project space in 2014, the gallery founded by Johannes Sperling began to represent artists in 2016. For eight years, it has gained recognition for its embrace of experimental positions from young artists, often interrogating themes found in post-internet art.
The gallery will mark its return to the fair with a special shared booth with the Lima, Peru-based gallery, Crisis. Spirling will present new works by Anna Vogel, as well as ceramics by Veronika Hilger.
Elena and Heiner Conradi opened the doors of their namesake gallery in Hamburg in 2008. For nearly a decade and a half, the duo has cultivated a range of programming that spans mediums — from installation and performance to photography and painting. With a special emphasis on works of time-based art such as video works, the gallery has established itself as a premier art destination for positions on issues impacting the modern world.
Inside the halls of Areal Böhler from April 8-10, the gallery is showcasing a range of works by the artists Andrzej Steinbach, Katja Aufleger, and Thomas Baldischwyler.
At the end of 1999, before the world entered a new millennium, Karin Guenther marked her own beginning with the opening of her namesake gallery in Hamburg. The opening came after many years of freelance curation for different institutions and began with a show of works by artist Jeanne Faust. Now, with over two decades in the city’s art scene, it has become known for its focus on fresh positions on conceptual art.
During this year’s edition of Art Düsseldorf, it will showcase works by Michael Bauch, Edith Dekyndt, Ellen Gronemeyer, Stefan Marx, and Berta Fischer in a shared booth with Vienna-based gallery, Krobath.
A lot can happen in 50 years — especially if you’re a contemporary art gallery. Since 1970, Thomas Levy’s namesake gallery has accrued a broad range of positions on contemporary art, with pillars of Surrealism, Nouveau Réalisme, and Pop Art forming its foundation. The artists it represents include the likes of Richard Lindner, Annette Streyl, and Marc Lüders, as well as the estates of both Meret Oppenheim and Friedrich Einhoff.
This year, the gallery will show recent work from Wainer Vaccari, as well as works by acclaimed artists C.O. Paeffgen, Friedrich Einhoff, and Mel Ramos.
After opening its doors in 1973, the contemporary art gallery took on a leading role in Hamburg’s art scene in the 1980s. As it approaches its 50-year anniversary, the gallery has built a reputation as a vanguard for new aesthetic positions from both international and regional artists. In addition to the five exhibitions it organizes per year, the gallery also produces a regular stream of books for its represented artists.
A selection of pieces by Monika Michalko, Christoph Blawert, Dasha Shishkin, Jonas Burgert, and Bernhard Brungs will be shown at its booth during this year’s edition of Art Düsseldorf.
Initially beginning in Darmstadt in 1995, the gallery made the move to Frankfurt in 1998. Now, for over two decades, it has put a special emphasis on finding and nurturing new talent in the contemporary art scene. It is through a dialogue between young artists and contemporary positions that the gallery has established itself as a destination for contemporary takes on video and new media art.
The gallery will present a group exhibition of works by Armin Boehm, Daniel Canogar, and Kota Ezawa.
Since the early 2000s, the gallery has produced both solo and group exhibitions featuring both regional and international talent. With an emphasis on painting and a focus on works of the Munich School movement, it has steadily built up a profile in Frankfurt’s contemporary art scene.
During its debut presentation at Art Düsseldorf, the gallery will present a mix of works by Lin May Saeed, Lea von Wintzingerode, Max Brand, and Markus Ebner.
Since 2006, the Frankfurt-based gallery located in the city center has produced a regular rotation of solo and group exhibitions. By fostering a close personal connection to the artists she represents, Kind has built up a solid reputation as a purveyor of contemporary art — as well as a solid relationship with her husband, artist Mike Bouchet, who she met at a vernissage. The mix of regional and international artists offers fresh contemporary perspectives, and a special emphasis on U.S. artists has led the gallery to show works by such artists as Paul McCarthy.
For this edition of the fair, artists Benjamin Echevarria, Hannes Michanek, and Emilia Neumann will be represented.
Established in 2014 when Pflug was just 24-years-old, the gallery began after he worked for fellow Frankfurt-based galleries Anita Beckers and Jacky Strenz, who are also exhibiting at the fair. Now, for eight years, the young collector with a love for fresh perspectives has built up a roster of fresh talent and established positions within the contemporary art scene.
For its debut at Art Düsseldorf, the gallery will showcase work by Jagoda Bednarsky, Stehn Raupach, Michael Pfrommer, and Bettina von Arnim.
Sabine Oelze and Marion Ritter never meant to start Audioarchiv Kunst. It was the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Museum Island Hombroich, the sprawling cultural center in Neuss, Germany situated on over 60 acres of meadowland, and the duo had sat down to interview the artist Gotthard Graubner. At the time, the painter was living and working from a residence on-site. “Graubner got to chatting and knew many anecdotes from the beginnings of his artistic career,” recalls Oelze. “He noted names that today only insiders know.”
He told stories about Gallery 22, the contemporary art space founded by Jean-Pierre Wilhelm and Manfred de la Motte in Düsseldorf in 1957, which was where Fluxus and Informel were exhibited, and also discussed the major differences between the scene then and now. “It was fascinating to listen to him, to be able to ask questions, and through his vivid recollection, to better understand the spirit of the scene at that time,” explains Ritter. “We felt that this way of directly experiencing art history had been lacking until now.”
For both Oelze and Ritter, it was this interview with Graubner that provided the spark and it was his unfortunate passing a short time later that year that fanned the flame that would lead to the founding of Audioarchiv Kunst. As Oelze explains: “After the interview, we thought, ‘These are voices that should be captured!’ [When] Graubner died a little later, we realized that these stories had disappeared with the last contemporary witnesses.”
Now, since 2017, the pair have carefully cultivated an oral history of Rhineland’s contemporary art scene. Through their work, a broad swath of stories from these early days has been unearthed, including voices that had been overlooked or overheard until now. As we celebrate their contribution to the region’s rich art history, we sat down to talk to Oelze and Ritter to discuss the reliability of memory, the uniqueness of the art scene, and what comes next for Audioarchiv Kunst.
Please note that all audio interviews are in German.
The journalist Jürgen Tempel has collected voices on the punk scene in Düsseldorf, among other places, in his book, Verschwende deine Jugend. He speaks of “a hundred different truths” that he has collected. Are you also often told the same stories from entirely different perspectives? What does that say about the reliability of the sources? And what does that mean for the oral history method?
SO: The beginnings of the contemporary art market in the Rhineland are well documented, as in the great book Die 60er Jahre. In the many conversations we had, however, a much broader picture of those early years emerged for us. In addition to the art market, there were also many movements that worked against commercialism. Fritz Heubach, who published the magazine Interfunktionen starting in 1967, comes to mind. Or Gabor Altorjay, Chris Reinecke, and Erinna König, whose art was extremely activist and politically motivated.
Sometimes the facts become blurred in retrospect. When people today remember something that happened back then, it happens that something is misrepresented. That is a basic problem of the method we use, but it must also be said that if you had held the microphone under people’s noses back then, it would have also been highly subjective. On the other hand, many of our interviewees only get their memories back when they talk to us. If we weren’t there, they might not even exist. We also try to establish connections between the eyewitnesses. When Rudolf Zwirner recounts his journey, Benjamin Buchloh and Kasper König, who both apprenticed with him, also have their say. We try to approach them from as many sides as possible so that the interviews complement each other.
MR: The remarkable thing about oral history is that it allows people to have their say who were previously overlooked or overheard because they were, for example, marginal figures or because, depending on the time, some perspectives are simply more present than others. It is important that this narrative also finds its way into research.
How do you proceed when you plan an interview and in the interview situation itself?
SO: We try to prepare as best we can, going to libraries such as the Cologne Museum Library in the Museum Ludwig, researching in digital archives, or listening again to conversations that have already taken place to confront the contemporary witnesses with what others have said about certain events. In the interview itself, we take a lot of time and listen carefully. Since we prepare ourselves well, we can sometimes fill in gaps in the data or with people’s names, which then helps [the subjects] to remember.
The remarkable thing about oral history is that it allows people to have their say who were previously overlooked or overheard.
How many contemporary witnesses have you interviewed in the meantime?
MR: We have conducted almost 60 interviews so far, including interviews with artists, gallery owners, collectors, critics, publishers, filmmakers, musicians, and companions — some of whom experienced the events of the time from the margins of the art context. We select our protagonists specifically to present as broad a picture of the scene as possible. Thus, well-known names such as Konrad Klapheck, Daniel Spoerri, and Ulrike Rosenbach are among them, but also lesser-known ones such as Gábor Altorjay, Henning Brandis, or Erinna König. Klaus Honnef speaks from the perspective of a critic and exhibition organizer; Rudolf Zwirner recalls the beginnings of Documenta and the art fair. Renate Gruber collected artistic photography with her husband throughout her life and tells us about their shared passion; Benjamin Buchloh stood in the 1960s with one foot in Cologne and the other in the USA and can tell us about these two perspectives.
SO: After concentrating on the 50s to the 70s in the first phase, we are now also increasingly talking to representatives of the 80s.
Do you know if the archive is used for scientific research or other projects?
SO: We have already received several letters from students who are using our archive for their research. We were also asked whether we would like to create a similar archive for sound art, but we declined because we are still busy with our interviews for the Audioarchiv Kunst.
MR: Many art historians and disciplines like art market research appreciate our work. But we also know that our offer appeals to many people who are simply interested in art or the history of the Rhineland. The audio files are freely available on the web, and many people enjoy listening to these memories.
What makes the Rhineland special are the high standards that have been set here from the very beginning.
Women describe in great detail how much they had to fight because they were not taken seriously by the official squad.
Which protagonists and which artistic works have particularly impressed you and why?
SO: That’s where the women come in, who have always had a tougher stand. For example, Rissa — the artist and wife of K.O. Goetz — or Ulrike Rosenbach and Birgit Hein still had to struggle with many stereotypes. Hein was accused of having to earn the money to support her future husband, Wilhelm Hein, an experimental filmmaker. She became an artist anyway, against the resistance of her parents. It was also impressive to meet Chris Reinecke in her apartment in Düsseldorf, how she got politically involved at that time and organized demonstrations against rent-seeking and for gender justice! The whole thing culminated in a spectacular happening at the press conference of [4. documenta] in Kassel, where she kissed the then-director Arnold Bode.
Women describe in great detail how much they had to fight because they were not taken seriously by the official squad.
MR: I can say that all the interviewees impressed me with their stories at one point or another. It is also exciting to hear the memories of contemporary witnesses who have so far only very rarely spoken about it publicly. For example, Ursula Reppin – the wife of Rudolf Zwirner — talked about her experiences from the time when she ran the Zwirner Gallery with her husband. Walter König also talked for the first time in great detail about the beginnings of his career.
Back then, there was a Cologne-New York axis; today, the whole world wants access.
Your interview partners often talk about the conditions under which they worked. How has the situation changed for artists in the region? And do the predecessors play a role for today’s young artists?
MR: A career was certainly not the main focus back then. It was more about advancing art, breaking down rigid boundaries, challenging the public, rethinking the exhibition format, and even the sale of art. I think that a lot was achieved during this time, from which the art business also benefits today.
SO: The biggest difference is the number of artists, galleries, and curators, which has significantly increased over the years. In the beginning, there was a sworn community; people met in the relevant pubs and fought for the same cause. Everything was done through personal contacts. Now everyone fights for [themselves]; sales have grown to gigantic proportions and are in the foreground. In 1967, [when] 18 galleries participated in the first art market in the Gürzenich, a total of one million German marks was turned over, which was a sensation at the time. Today, more than 200 galleries take part in Art Cologne, and the price of a single work of art can exceed one million euros. Back then, there was a Cologne-New York axis; today, the whole world wants access.
For the duo, whose Düsseldorf-based gallery opened in 2004, there isn’t any reason to get into a fight. “We discuss every decision we make very carefully,” they explain over email. “We actually never have conflicts about an artist or an exhibition.” For nearly two decades, this simpatico approach has produced an enviable roster of artists, including young talent fresh out of art school and established positions with deep imprints on art history.
The gallery has taken a special interest in works of performance, conceptual, and body art, but there is no one medium that they prefer over others. For Kadel and Willborn, each artist they represent is carefully chosen. They approach art with a genuine passion, molding each relationship individually so that artists are free to experiment with their craft.
From April 8-10, the gallery will showcase a solo exhibition of works from abstract painter Helmut Dorner at their booth in Areal Böhler. Before they join this year’s edition of Art Düsseldorf, we talked to Kadel and Willborn about adapting to the pandemic, the origins of the gallery, and the secret to picking a good piece of art.
How did you pick the selection of art on view at Art Dusseldorf?
We focus on a solo presentation by the painter Helmut Dorner, who was born in 1952. He is closely related to the art scene in Düsseldorf in the 1970s, having studied at the Art Academy and living in Düsseldorf. But he is also included in many international museum collections, such as the Centre Pompidou [in Paris] and Museum Reina Sofia in Madrid.
His abstract paintings are always dealing with space, light, and color – or, as he says, “My currency is color and form.” After such a long period of exhibiting his work all around the world, we wanted to show his works at the place where his career began: Düsseldorf.
How did your gallery adapt to the pandemic?
As a gallery, you always have to adapt to new challenges. But someone once said: In every crisis, there is opportunity. Collectors all over the world had as much time as hardly ever before. So we stayed in close exchange with them and started to make films of every exhibition, featuring interviews of the artist in conversation with curators and collectors.
What is the key element to a good piece of art?
That it reflects the history of art and at the same time opens a perspective to its future.
What sets your gallery apart?
We have accompanied and built up the international careers of most of the artists we represent as a first gallery. That means we have been working with them since their graduation show and have a very close relationship with each of them, therefore, we are involved in every step of their career.
On the other hand, we have a fantastic group of artists that have already been extremely influential. Among them are artists like Helmut Dorner, Barbara Kasten, Inge Mahn, Ketty La Rocca, and Art & Language.
What do you expect from art fairs in the post-pandemic landscape?
As we see with the war in Ukraine, there is no “one” post-pandemic landscape. The financial risk that galleries have to take to feature their artists at art fairs will be even higher. Art fairs have to adapt to that new situation as well and find ways to support the galleries facing that challenge.
How did you both meet and make the decision to start the gallery?
We both studied at the ZKM in Karlsruhe, which is where it all started. The main idea was to offer artists from our generation a platform to feature their work. As we had no financial support, this turned quite naturally into a gallery. More than 15 years later, we represent 20 artists and participate in up to six international art fairs a year.
What is the most fulfilling aspect of owning a gallery for each of you?
At the beginning of a collaboration with a new artist, there is just our common enthusiasm for the work. Sharing that enthusiasm with collectors and curators, placing the work in great collections and institutions, and growing and building a career together, can be extremely fulfilling.
Bodies are strange. They fold and scrunch and twist. They grow hair in odd places and, over time, morph into all shapes and sizes. They are the things we’re all living inside and yet, only a sliver of the diversity of bodies that exist are elevated and celebrated in popular culture. That’s an error that the Belgian artist Joëlle Dubois is attempting to correct.
Born in Ghent in 1990, Dubois was raised in a culture that had yet to break out of the narrow mold of acceptable bodies. “The women around me always seemed to be unhappy with their physique, always trying to obtain a standard that’s not attainable. As a woman, I also incorporated that behavior,” she recalls. It has been through her art that she has reclaimed the narrative around what is acceptable — and accepted her own body. Take even the most cursory glance at the artist’s oeuvre and it’s clear that Dubois has a passionate love for the diversity of people. Her paintings are fun, mysterious, and extremely online. In nearly every piece, a cell phone is in the hand of her subjects. Some take selfies while others lounge in bed scrolling endlessly, either alone or with a partner equally transfixed by the soft glow of their screen.
After making her debut in the contemporary art scene in 2015 with a handful of shows in Brussels and Gent, the artist’s unforgettable paintings have won her recognition far beyond her home country. It’s easy to see why. In an art scene still so heavily dominated by stale works crafted under the leer of the male gaze, the unapologetic reclamation of nudity as something vulnerable, not sexual, gives each piece she paints a sense of kinetic energy. Her scenes of messy rooms, nude selfies, and dim sum dinners spent glued to a screen are relatable.
Ahead of her inclusion in Thomas Rehbein Gallery’s booth during this year’s edition of Art Düsseldorf, we talked to Dubois about the unrivaled artistic stimulation of art fairs, finding inspiration on Instagram, and more.
You came of age at the start of social media. What has been your personal experience navigating social media? What are the positive aspects of social media for you?
People unabashedly spread their intimacy over digital media. Everything revolves around the cult of the body. I am fascinated with this behavior so it’s quite simple: social media is an infinite source of inspiration. Online I often find an idea for a piece. There can be an overall theme in mind but I don’t quite have the composition yet. So whenever I feel really stuck, I’ll let myself sit and go through Instagram to try and spark something.
Online I can see a particular person, scene, or even just a color palette and I’ll be like, “Okay, that’s the inspiration. This is what I want to use and reference.” I often take a screenshot and at the time of the piece’s creation, I try to combine an event that’s happening in my life with this imagery. Then I also refer to different masterworks within classical art that I think contain the theme that I’m looking to communicate.
Aside from my work, I believe that social media can connect people more easily. I know a lot of people that have met through Tinder and after a few years, are still happily together – like myself actually. I think that lifestyle kind of reflects in the work I make.
What message do you want viewers to take away from the art you’re showing at Art Düsseldorf?
I reflect on the daily absurdity of life and try to capture “weird” and “messy” human experiences. So I guess the art pieces I made are representations of life and the varying emotions that accompany it. Meanwhile, leaving ample space for the viewers to interpret and enjoy the stories I portray.
The people I portray have more to offer than their sex appeal.
What inspired the works you have on view at Art Dusseldorf?
I think about surrealism a lot and I want to try new things out, like adding unexpected things to a certain scenery. Also, the characters that are portrayed by Fernando Botero and his depiction of the female form intrigue me.
Social media is inextricably tied to nudity and, more specifically, the policing of bodies. Your work often features nude or semi-nude people. What statement or message do you hope is conveyed to viewers through your work, especially on this issue?
There’s so much erotic and nude imagery within the fine art. And I think that’s where the influence came in. But also as a critique, in a sense, of what’s considered decent or indecent. I try to normalize the natural body and depict body positivity. In our culture, there was certainly a lack of it for years. I remember when I grew up, the women around me always seemed to be unhappy with their physique, always trying to obtain a standard that’s not attainable.
As a woman, I also incorporated that behavior. So in a way, it’s an attempt to accept [my] own body in a way. Now there are a lot of plus-size models and I see a lot of women who are embracing their curves and body hair. I think it’s beautiful and it shouldn’t be censored. The people I portray have more to offer than their sex appeal. That’s how the cone boobs came to be, for example. I make my individuals more chunky and try to paint people that are not necessarily traditionally beautiful because I don’t want to sustain the image of that blank ideal of beauty. So nudity is in the first instance something vulnerable and human and not something sexual.
How did you get involved with Thomas Rehbein Galerie?
We met during one of my first art shows in Brussels in 2016. Thomas saw my work there and gave me further opportunities from that. In 2018 I got my first group show with them in Cologne. That then led to our future collaboration, we clicked right away.
How important are art fairs for you as an artist? Has that changed at all because of the pandemic?
Art fairs are fun because for me it’s a way to get stimulated. It’s an opportunity to connect with art lovers, galleries, or to get introduced to new artists. After visiting an art fair I’m always energized and ready to start working again. I think the pandemic challenged galleries and artists to find new, creative ways to display and sell art, but I believe there is nothing more satisfying than looking at a painting in the flesh and not on a screen. I think we are all ready and excited that events like this are happening again and for me, it increased the urge to exhibit.
Technology like VR and AR and “the metaverse” look like the next big thing in social media. Would you like to explore these technologies with your art, or do you prefer more physical mediums like painting and drawing?
Honestly, I’m pretty terrible at anything technological so it’s quite obvious why I prefer a physical medium. Painting can be equal parts therapeutic, fun, challenging, immersive, and frustrating — and it changes regularly as you work on a piece. Because we live in such a digital age, we sometimes forget how important nature actually is. That is why I like to contrast new-media related topics with this traditional way of creating.
While painting, I escape my ego and get in touch with universal time because there is no time and space. I am completely in the now and there is nothing better than being in this flow. It is an attempt to arrive at the right frequency, the frequency of nature around me. That’s why I never remember how to do anything. Every time I paint a phone, for example, it feels like it’s a new experience. I’m like, “What? How did I do this last time?” It’s kind of ridiculous. But I also like to challenge myself, so I am recently exploring installation art and maybe I’ll incorporate mediums like video in the future.
You’ve been called “voyeuristic” in many statements about your work. It’s a word that has been used to describe many artists throughout history, including the likes of Andy Warhol. How do you feel about that word and do you see yourself as a voyeur or something more complicated?
The first thing you learn at art school is to look, to gaze, to stare during life nude drawing classes, for example. As a visual artist, you are a constant observer of things which you appropriate for creative pursuits. So the artist’s gaze is fundamental in the search for subject matter and for me, technology offers a new way of seeing and being seen. So yes, I guess I see myself as some kind of voyeur. But the creative process is not necessarily a voyeuristic experience, if voyeurism is defined as gaining sexual pleasure from watching others.
How has your artistic practice adapted to the pandemic?
It has been hard to stay inspired and focused when society has been thrown into chaos. I was constantly switching from feeling down and being tired to reminding myself of the importance of creating and the joy it brings me. I think a lot of my work is experiential and a lot of elements come from life experiences. So now there’s some darkness, stillness, and sadness in my recent work that comes from this pandemic experience. There’s also a desire to tell a story or be able to relate to people and tell stories that I think everyone goes through.
Your subjects are often in compromising positions and have a range of body types and sizes. How have the subjects of your work changed over time? Especially in terms of diversity?
I’m not sure that I consciously think about how my influences or subjects change over time. Or how to blend all these sources into something that is mine. I just paint what I like, how I want to paint it. Of course, the early work still looks related to the work I do now, but it’s becoming much simpler in certain ways. In terms of diversity, the [early] figures were captured in a very distinct and sexual way. Active participants in their own world with their own complex stories.
The figures now are more pronounced and curvier, still sexual, yet they are not here for your viewing pleasure. They are absent of the male gaze. You can stare at them and they will never recognize it. If they are sexual, their sexuality is entirely detached from the needs of the viewer, and so power is stripped from the viewer and accumulates within the image itself. That power is granted to those who identify with the image: women of all body types, ethnicities, and identities. Therefore the male gaze is transmuted. So these subjects can be considered empowering.
An urge to explore the extremes of Earth has always guided Duisburg-born artist Lena von Goedeke. While it has been the most remote reaches of the Pole and Arctic Circle that captivated her and inspired a number of recent works, her entire oeuvre has been united under a focus on form. There’s a tactility to her work, an earthiness that matches the subject matter she casts her eye on. Elements like sand and glass and concrete intermingle with precisely cut pieces of paper, or massive, room-sized air bubbles sit with cables and tubes snaking away.
For over a decade, Goedeke’s love for science and art has been combined to create a range of works that have won her numerous prizes and grants. With exhibitions in Berlin, Paris, Düsseldorf, and many other cities, she has confirmed her status as one of the most interesting young contemporary artists in the region.
Ahead of a showing of one of her works at Art Düsseldorf, we spoke to Goedeke about her work, the importance of art fairs, and how she came to collaborate with Galerie M.
What inspired the works you have on view at Art Düsseldorf?
On my first research trip to the North, I had the opportunity to learn in the science station in Ny-Alesund about the technologies used to measure the surface of our planet and the composition of the thin film in which we exist. All that we know about the space that begins on the outside of our skin, now digitally processed and filtered, fascinated me. Representing the topology of the places we cannot walk ourselves as a wireframe opened up the possibility of taking my ventures in papercutting to a new level.
What message do you want viewers to take away from the art?
LOT VI came about after my first research trip north of the Arctic Circle. In the meantime, I have been able to get to know the Arctic on several expeditions and I keep coming back to the questions that inspired me to create LOT VI: what do we know about the texture of the big rock we live on, in places that we can only see from every perspective with the help of digital tools? How much truth is there in the representation of landscape when the source data consists exclusively of pixels, voxels, or polygons? Especially the extreme places of the planet. The [North and South] poles are known to us only through a few personal experiences and memories of others, or precisely through the flood of digital photography and surveying.
We are so used to the representation of our extended habitat through wireframes that we tend to perceive the depth and perspective of the topography shown rather than the truth of thousands of triangles cut out by hand. I want the viewer of my work to be reminded that we need to trust our eyes if we are not to lose the analog experience of our habitat.
I understand art as an indispensable means of understanding the society we have built and the planet we destroyed.
How has your artistic practice adapted to the pandemic?
Apart from a few pieces that I have done on the subject, the pandemic has not influenced my work significantly. My reflections on the physical experience of extremes, the limits of our ability to make contact, and the experience of isolation were also important topics in my work before the pandemic. It is a luxury to fill my time extensively with my work and a social necessity to support art and culture. Even more than before, I understand art as an indispensable means of understanding the society we have built and the planet we destroyed.
How important are art fairs for you as an artist? Has that changed at all because of the pandemic?
The very successful Art Düsseldorf 2019 enabled me to get through the first lows of the pandemic and far beyond. If there had been more fairs, a lot would have been possible. Even though many exciting new possibilities and variants [on the art fair format] have developed in the last two years that might have lain in the drawer for too long without the pandemic, it is clear that art must above all be as accessible as possible for as many [people] as possible. No one has a lasting experience in online viewing rooms. You can’t stroll between screens [like you can stroll at art fairs]; scrolling doesn’t make you full.
How did you get involved with Galerie M?
Since the start of our collaboration four years ago, what has developed for me has been an extremely exciting and flexible working relationship. My work is made up of many processes, many different techniques, and I can count on finding an open, enthusiastic, and supportive audience in the gallery.
Galerie M acts as a kind of base camp in Bochum when I’m on the road and can handle thinking from one idea to the next while I stick my nose into the work of academics on the other side of the world.
Your work is very tactile, often using materials like stone, sand, and paper. Where do you draw inspiration for your works and how do you choose the materials to work with?
The foundation of my work consists of the experiences and observations I make in extreme places on this planet. The complex relationship of our physical and social existence to living worlds that we can only access by destroying them, as well as my fascination with scientific technologies and phenomena that go beyond our physical limits, are the framework for my research. In the process, I question materials as to their suitability to resolve my idea as comprehensively as possible within themselves. In this respect, I am open to any material as long as its qualities enable me to convey as precisely as possible the phenomena I am concerned with.
Many of your pieces are site-specific, large-scale installations that force viewers to consider their place within the art. What importance does the viewer have on you and your work?
I act as a mediator between the conditions of the areas I travel to and the viewer. My experiences and memories are the filter through which scientific findings or observations become the work. On the other end, there must be the viewers who then have their own experience and get an impression of how these aspects can be perceived. There must be someone to whom the works can tell something about their origin, somebody willing to learn.
The world’s oldest surviving photograph, View from the Window at Le Gras, was made in 1826 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. In the nearly two centuries since that historic moment, photography has shaped the world. It has become so omnipresent, so easily utilized in smartphones and social media, that the art of photography can sometimes be overlooked. To truly make art from a click of shutter takes a special kind of talent.
At Art Düsseldorf, we strive to highlight the talented artist whose photography has captivated audiences. This year, when the fair settles into the sprawling Areal Böhler from April 8-10, a number of talented photographers of all backgrounds will have their work shown. There will be photos of otherworldly natural phenomena, scenes of interpersonal drama, and celebrations of marginalized communities immortalized on film.
Before we welcome the 85 galleries joining the fair this year, we want to highlight a selection of some of the most exciting photographers whose works will be shown at Art Düsseldorf.
Born and based out of Tallinn, Estonia, the artist’s photography, installation, and video work have captivated audiences in the decades since she began her career. References to historical events or concepts of psychoanalysis and feminism are weaved throughout her work, resulting in visuals that interrogate capitalism, communism, and other facets of life. In her more recent series, she has explored the concept of desire and, more specifically, how it is produced and reproduced in display windows, print ads, and other formats.
The Düsseldorf-based Cosar gallery will feature a piece by the artist from her Window Shopping series at this year’s fair.
The German artist has been creating award-winning works of photography for decades. Born in Kaiserslautern, Germany, Lutter initially trained as a sculptor in Munich before moving to New York City in 1993. It was in New York that the artist developed her love for the camera obscura method of photography, which requires massive, room-sized spaces with apertures on one wall. After first making a room of her New York apartment into a camera obscura, she has since created a transportable shipping container that allows her to use the technique to capture sights from around the world.
A selection of her works will be on view at the booth of Dortmund’s famed Galerie Utermann, which represents the artist.
The practice of photography has been a conduit to explore human relationships throughout the career of the London-based artist. Born in Warsaw, Poland in 1985, Piotrowska has established herself as an important visual artist thanks to her work not just in photography, but also in video and performance. It was her work titled FROWST, which tackled the interpersonal dynamics of families, that helped her gain broader exposure outside of Poland. With a focus on the interaction between the human body and its environment, her work explores sociopolitical issues that push viewers to question their assumptions of comfort and safety.
As part of Galerie Thomas Zander’s exhibition at Art Düsseldorf, a stirring black-and-white photo from FROWST will be shown.
Born in Düsseldorf in 1937, the famed photographer has produced decades worth of photographic work focused on architecture. Her long-term research projects have zeroed in on a particular region or architectural style, resulting in massive tomes that pay tribute to prevailing architectural styles of the area. Across her vast body of work, it has been both her projects in Tel Aviv and Brussels that have garnered her the most praise and attention. Through her photographic lens, viewers are able to dive into the human history of the structures that surround us.
The presentation by Galerie Thomas Fischer of two works from her Brussels series will be necessary viewing for photography fans at the fair this year.
After a childhood spent in Southern California, the artist honed his skills at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the Claremont Graduate University. It was at Claremont that Crawford’s artistic process blossomed while he was in charge of designing and building the university’s darkroom facilities. Drawing on inspiration from such artists as John McLaughlin, and Karl Benjamin, as well as architect Luis Barragán, his work fused abstract geometric forms with stark desert landscapes. It would take four decades for his oeuvre to be rediscovered, but since 2017, Crawford has found recognition in the art world for his photographic work.
At the fair, Persons Projects will showcase a selection of black-and-white photos from Crawford’s Umbra series, which was photographed in Southern California throughout the 1970s.
After being rejected by the Paris Conservatory to continue her studies as a pianist, the German-born artist’s path shifted towards photography as a series of moves brought her to Mexico in the early 1940s. It was here that Hofer began to establish her reputation for crafting tightly-constructed portraits and scenic imagery using a four-by-five inch view camera. For decades, Hofer amassed a body of work that includes somber and ambiguous portraits centered in a straightforward, clear style.
Though the artist passed away at age 87 in Mexico City, her art lives on. For this year’s art fair, Galerie M will show her 1966 work, Girl with Bicycle, Dublin.
Born in the city of Essen, Germany in 1951, Hütte has built up his art career through large-scale photographic works. As the main representative of the Düsseldorf School of Photography, the postwar artist has grown alongside peers that include photographers Andreas Gursky and Thomas Ruff. You won’t find a single person in the works of the famed German artist. It is nature and all of its elements that populate his photographs, and it is the concept of “soulscapes” that guides him.
In a celebration of his expansive work, the gallery Daniel Marzona will present three recent works by the photographer at their booth during Art Düsseldorf.
After being gifted a camera by his father as a child, the South African artist has built a reputation for capturing beautiful portraiture of communities around the world. His expansive body of work has brought him to Rwanda, Nigeria, China, Jamaica, the US, Mexico, and many other countries. It has resulted in four monographs thus far, plus space in the collections of museums that include Centre Pompidou, Museum of Modern Art, and V&A Museum.
The artist will show photographic works from two series, Solus Vol I and Californian Wildflowers, at the booth of Priska Pasquer during Art Düsseldorf.
For our fourth edition, we’ve pushed past our physical limits and embraced the digital future of the art world. We are guided by the belief that you should be able to experience Art Düsseldorf everywhere – no matter if you’re in the light-flooded halls of Areal Böhler or sitting on your couch in the comfort of your own home.
To make this concept a reality, we’ve built a range of services that embrace the art industry’s digital future, as well as the high-potential online market. Along with the on-site fair at Areal Böhler from 8 to 10 April, 2022, we will also offer an online shop to bookmark, buy, and inquire about all your favorite artwork; a digital magazine to dive deeper into artists, galleries, and the wider art world; and an elaborate VIP area that offers an unbeatable connection between collectors and galleries.
With the online shop, art lovers can get their pocketbooks ready for a unique digital experience. For the first time in our history, we’ve made every piece on display at Art Düsseldorf available for purchase with just a few clicks. All 85 galleries that are showing at this year’s fair will also have a dedicated section on our online shop. Collectors can view and compare works, talk to gallery owners, and make a list of all their favorite pieces you want to purchase.
Want to learn more about your favorite artists or dive into an essay on the art world by our guest writers? The digital magazine we’ve built from the ground up will have all the content you could want. We will have articles that present key background information on the art and artists at Art Düsseldorf; info on important events happening at the fair and store; and a collection of viewpoints on the most current trends in the art world.
If you want to experience the fair in person but can’t make it to Düsseldorf, we have you covered. Our VIP service includes personal guided tours from our Art Guides who will be standing by to live stream from Areal Böhler. Our expertly trained guides will be ready to take prospective collectors and VIPs to any booth you’re interested in so that all your most important questions can be answered. The 60-minute tours are available during fair hours, and can be conducted in both German and English.
With our trailblazing range of online services, we’re rethinking the art fair, pushing past the physical limits of in-person events, and embracing our digital future. As we continue to strengthen the personal bond between gallerists and collectors, we invite art lovers to experience Art Düsseldorf everywhere.
Jakub Julian Ziółkowski’s works are bizarre and alluring, like lucid dreams that have found their way onto stretched canvas. The scenes he creates are vibrant and surreal; drenched in references to art history and featuring recurring motifs of everything from snakes and skeletons to potted plants. Each piece he creates invites viewers to gaze deeply into it and untangle the details.
For the Polish artist, art is spiritual. It is an outlet to put on display the results of what he’s found after sifting through his soul. But art is more than just his method of making sense of the world; art is also a vital method of connection. “My thoughts are brushes, paints, pencils. I participate in the rhythm of the world, which is me, passing through me, just as it passes through you,” he explained over email. It is this acknowledgment of the connective tissue of the world that has compelled Ziółkowski’s practice, leading him at one point from Poland to Hanoi in Vietnam as he embarked on what he has called an “internal, spiritual, and creative mission.”
Ziółkowski’s kaleidoscopic works have landed him shows in London, Krakow, Düsseldorf, Warsaw, and many other cities, and secured him representation from the Berlin-based Persons Projects. As we prepare to open the doors to Areal Böhler from April 8-10 for this year’s edition of Art Düsseldorf, we talked to the artist about his dream worlds, his journey in Hanoi, and how growing 50 km away from the Ukrainian border has shaped his view on Russia’s war on Ukraine.
What message do you want viewers to take away from the art you are showing at Art Dusseldorf?
I would rather say that instead of communicating a message, my images have a function. That function is to draw from the depths of the viewer´s voice: look deeper. The direct truth of the vision is wiser than all interpretations.
What inspired the works you have on view at Art Dusseldorf?
When depth comes to the fore – there is a specific state of mind that harmonizes, strengthens, and brings out certain mental functions. The cosmos happens, a tree shoots up, and a person creates a cave painting. Life has a cosmic sense, life is an inspiration.
How has your artistic practice adapted to the pandemic?
A painter is used to working in isolation in a studio that is a shelter from the world, so I don’t think the pandemic situation affected the way I work. I don’t want to disrespect the challenges of lockdown, but I personally liked the peace and quiet, as if every day was Sunday and I could paint so much more peacefully.
How important are art fairs for you as an artist? Has that changed at all because of the pandemic?
I am very happy that my work is being shown at art fairs, but I personally feel overwhelmed by the atmosphere of the fair; the crowds of people running around with their phones, the amount of artworks and galleries. Fairs are much more interesting from a collector and gallery perspective. I’m describing the situation before the pandemic, I don’t know how it is now.
You create dreamlike landscapes in your work. What prompted you to take this world inside of your head, and these images, and turn them into art?
I try to portray as closely as possible the dream that is the world, but my painting is not realistic enough. I worked on myself for years to strengthen that inner voice that brings depth to the surface. My thoughts are brushes, paints, pencils. I participate in the rhythm of the world, which is me, passing through me, just as it passes through you.
How does reality and current events influence your art? Especially, for example, as a Polish artist so close to the crisis happening now in Ukraine.
The brutal attack of Putin’s Russia on Ukraine and the unwillingness of the world to stop this war immediately is a great tragedy and disgrace of mankind.
I come from Zamość, which is 50 km away from the Ukrainian border. Some of my ancestors escaped from what is now Ukraine to Poland, my great-grandfather was murdered in Auschwitz and gave his life to save the life of his son who fought as a partisan against the Nazis. Until now, I lived in the belief that the hell of war could never happen again. What is happening is an unimaginable tragedy and we must do everything in our power to help Ukraine and those fleeing the war.
On 22.02.2022 I stood before a blank canvas that was about the same size as “Guernica”. It is there that the right answer to this question emerges.
We tire ourselves and others with demands and expectations, and we miss the simple joy of living, the joy of creating.
You have previously stopped painting and left for Hanoi. What lessons did you learn from this period?
I spent a lot of time in solitude; monitoring my thoughts, sitting in colorful temples, watching the harsh and humid sun melt the incense smoke. I was constantly looking for materials and tools that I could use to make something new and experimental, something to refresh my way of thinking about working with materials. It was a kind of an inside journey, an introspection. I made a series of painted ceramic vases, videos, performances, sculptures, reliefs, music, objects, and collaborated with artists and ordinary people from small villages.
I once went to a very small village that is famous for producing votive paper sculpture objects that are used for burning in temples. They cost a few dollars. I decided to personally make a whole series of my own sculptures there, from which I made a big exhibition in Hanoi. I worked on them for weeks, on the ground, in unbearable heat, from morning until dusk. At the end, all my work went up in smoke in 5 minutes. All the villagers gathered, and I captured the smoking scene on video. Such an experience helps to gain distance from what is material, from the transience of all things. In this case, it was about reliving the experience. I burned my paper self-portrait, which I later called Burning Ego. But the longest burning of all the sculptures was the great Dollar Goddess on a burning chariot, she was covered with fake dollars, which the fire was blowing upwards and it looked as if burning money was falling from the sky, before it touched the ground it turned to ashes…
The concept of transience is part of your work, including your past experience burning artworks. How has this concept helped free you as an artist, and what do you think other artists could learn from the idea of impermanence?
We tire ourselves and others with demands and expectations, and we miss the simple joy of living, the joy of creating, the joy of being here and now, the joy of gesture. Drawing is not only about paper and pencil, it is also about the velvety movement of a stick across the water, wandering through the clouds with your eyes. Creativity offers the possibility of synchronization with depth, it is an interaction with the cosmos, a participation in the rhythm of the world. Things appear and pass away, and we with them. Everything is a series of processes, on an infinite scale, that interact with each other. Only humans tend to wave in the opposite direction. Look deeper.
Since the founding of Art Düsseldorf, our search for the most relevant positions in contemporary art has continually led us to Austria. With an abundance of galleries in Vienna, Innsbruck, and Salzburg, the country just south of Germany has a long history of showcasing an exciting mix of young and established artists.
As we prepare to open the doors to the sprawling Areal Böhler from April 8-10, we are pleased to welcome nine galleries from across Austria, including four galleries that are joining the fair for the first time: the Vienna-based Layr and Shore, and Innsbruck-based Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman and Bernd Kugler.
Please note the booth numbers for each gallery are presented in brackets.
Since opening its doors in 1971, the gallery has been guided by philanthropist and art collector Ernst Hilger. In the decades since it was founded, the gallery has split its focus among national artists and international talent as part of its Hilger NEXT program, which has sought out fresh perspectives from Iran, South Africa, and other underrepresented countries. In 2009, the gallery’s footprint in the city expanded to include the sprawling HilgerBROTKunsthalle, an 800 square meter laboratory for curatorial projects that includes three guest apartments for use by visiting and working artists and curators.
As the gallery makes it return to Art Düsseldorf, it will present works by Assunta Abdel Azim Mohamed, Jakob Kirchmayr, Gunter Damisch, Peter Krawagna, Mel Ramos, Anastasia Khoroshilova, Daniele Buetti, and Allen Jones.
The art-historian Dr. Ursula Krinzinger launched her namesake gallery in Vienna in 1971 and, for over a half-decade, has organized hundreds of exhibitions of works by both national and international artists. Among the range of mediums seen at their shows, it is performance and body art that have become a recurring motif for the gallery. In 2002, the gallery expanded to include Krinzinger Schottenfeld, a second space that has become home to their Krinzinger Projekte, a program that focused on an internationally-oriented selection of artists and that includes an artist-in-residence program.
The gallery will showcase work by Marina Abramović and Monica Bonvicini at this year’s edition of Art Düsseldorf.
After spending six years at the helm of the Layr Wuestenhagen gallery, Emanuel Layr re-established the gallery under his sole leadership in 2011. For over a decade, it has become home to a broad range of contemporary artists from around the world, including from the Slovak Republic and Bulgaria. Since 2015, the gallery has taken up residence in a two-story space in Vienna’s city center.
For their debut at Art Düsseldorf, the gallery will show a selection of works by Gaylen Gerber, Lena Henke, and Matthias Noggler.
Despite being founded less than a decade ago in 2016, the young gallery located in central Vienna has already carved out a space for itself in the city’s art scene. In its work with both international and local artists, the space has presented works of painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, video, and other mediums that offer fresh positions on contemporary art.
As it returns to Areal Böhler for another year, the gallery will offer a solo exhibition of works by the UK-based artist Richie Culver that offers a sharp interrogation of the art world and our digital lives.
Since opening its doors in 1996, the gallery in Vienna has established itself in part through its commitment to showing works from female artists. With a focus on pop art, the gallery has spent 26 years nurturing a range of young artists as well as curating works by established artists, including Josef Bauer.
The gallery will present its works in a special shared booth with Hamburg-based Galerie Karin Günther, and will include two pieces each by the abstract painters Elisa Alberti, Sebastian Koch, and Theresa Eipeldauer.
After working as co-director of the Athens gallery Super from 2016 to 2018, Paul Makowsky opened Shore in Vienna in 2019. Despite its young age on the city’s art scene, the gallery has become an incubator for young, experimental talent, including the artists Dennis Buck, Julian-Jakob Kneer, Richard Nikl, and Sophie Serber.
The gallery will make its debut at Art Düsseldorf this year with a solo presentation of works by Dan Vogt.
The namesake gallery began in Innsbruck in 1977, and moved into an expansive space in the first district of Vienna in 2011 that includes a second exhibition space called Seitengalerie. For over four decades, the gallery was run by Elisabeth and Klaus as the duo accumulated a strong roster of young and established contemporary artists, including a number of significant international positions. In 2020, the directorship expanded beyond the co-founders to include two young talents, Maximilian Thoman and Eva Oberhofer. With the new directors came the opening of tart.vienna, a project space for emerging talent that has been in operation since September 2020.
As the gallery makes its return to Düsseldorf, it will present a focus presentation by Iman Issa and Thomas Feuerstein, as well as selected works by Siegfried Anzinger, Julia Bornefeld, Michael Kienzer, Hermann Nitsch, Mai-Thu Perret, and Arnulf Rainer.
Founded in 2004 in Innsbruck, the gallery has become an integral location for contemporary artists, especially those from Germany. With a focus on long-term collaborations, the gallery has curated a roster of artists from a multitude of backgrounds. Along with their regular rotation of exhibitions, the gallery has also produced a series of publications on artists Maki Na Kamura, André Butzer, and more.
The gallery will join Art Düsseldorf for the first time with a showing of works by Tobias Hantmann, Elke Silvia Krystufek, and René Luckhardt.
For fifty years, the gallery founded by Waltraud and Mario Mauroner has steadily built up a reputation for itself as a destination for contemporary art within the Salzburg art scene. With hundreds of exhibitions and positions at art fairs around the world, it has curated a roster of artistic talent. The gallery has also founded a project space in Vienna, All About Art (AAA), that initiates dialogues with young artists.
At Art Düsseldorf, the gallery will present a range of pieces by Kendell Geers, Rashid Al Khalifa, Juan Uslé, Afred Haberpointner, Bernar Venet, Knopp Ferro, Isamu Noguchi, Anouk Lamm Anouk, Jan Fabre, Sandrine Pelletier, Christina Zurfluh, and a special work by Russian artist Tim Parchikov.
While Düsseldorf may get much of the spotlight within the region’s contemporary art scene, the fact is that the entirety of Germany’s Rhineland is rich in art and culture. One need only look at the galleries representing Cologne and Bonn at this year’s edition of Art Düsseldorf to see that there are many great positions to explore. As we prepare to welcome 11 galleries from Cologne and one gallery from Bonn, we extend an especially warm welcome to the three joining the art fair for the first time: Clages, Drei, and Fiebach, Minninger.
Before the industrial hall of Areal Böhler opens from April 8-10 for Art Düsseldorf, we welcome you to get to know the 12 galleries from across Cologne and Bonn who will be joining us this year.
Please note the booth numbers for each gallery are presented in brackets.
After opening its doors with a solo show by Jelena Tomasevic in 2007, the gallery has spent over a decade curating a roster of contemporary artists. As one of the new additions to Art Düsseldorf, the gallery will make its debut with works by Christian Theiß, Anne Pöhlmann, and Isabella Fürnkäs.
Founded in 2015, the gallery has become an integral part of Cologne’s contemporary art scene. Situated within the city’s Belgian Quarter, it features an international program spanning generations and disciplines, including such artists as Matthias Groebel, Julia Scher, and Anna Virnich.
The gallery will return to the fair in a special shared booth with the Düsseldorf-based Lucas Hirsch gallery that will feature works by Mira Mann, Simon Mielke, Phung-Tien Phan, and Niklas Taleb.
When Anja Minninger and Henning Fiebach opened the doors of their gallery in 2000, they began a journey into the contemporary art scene that’s now gone on for over two decades. In 2015, as the gallery moved into a new location, it also shifted in a new direction. For the last seven years, it has focused on nurturing relationships with new artists. Through group, solo, and duo exhibitions, it has become a well-known locale for the most current takes on contemporary art.
For its first outing at Art Düsseldorf, the gallery will present works by Arthur Loewen and Laura Schawelka.
Beginning in 2005 with a group show of artists Horst Münch, Steven Parrino, Jessica Stockholder, and David Reed, the gallery has spent 17 years cultivating a roster of contemporary artists. While the gallery has shown works in a range of mediums, it has become especially known for showing works of painting, sculpture, and concrete art.
At Areal Böhler, the gallery will show works by Richard Allen Morris, Birgit Werres, Steffen Lenk, Fabian Marcaccio, David Reed, Elisabeth Vary, Rey Akdogan, and Stephan Baumkötter.
Since 2011, the Cologne-based gallery has been showing the most relevant positions in contemporary photography. Since opening its doors over a decade ago with a series by Los Angeles-based artist Gregory Bojorquez, it spent its first few years as a pop-up space moving between Berlin and Cologne, before settling into its primary location in 2017. Four years later, during its 10th anniversary, the gallery opened a secondary space dedicated to artist events, shows, and discussions.
At Art Düsseldorf, the gallery will show a selection of works by their represented artists.
Proudly in operation for nearly two centuries, the gallery first opened its doors in 1838. Throughout its rich history, the gallery has specialized in works of modern and contemporary art, with an emphasis on works on paper and international prints. As a member of two prestigious organizations for fine print dealers, the gallery has developed a reputation for its collection of works – with pieces by Andy Warhol, Henri Matisse, Josef Albers, and more.
As the gallery makes its return to the art fair for another year, it will be showing a curated selection of works by Jan Voss, David Hockney, and Christo and Jeanne-Claude.
After assisting at Galerie Klein in Bad Münstereifel for nearly a decade, Christian Lethert founded his namesake gallery in 2006. The gallery has spent over a decade honing its collection of painting, sculpture, and photography. With a focus on reduced and abstract positions within the contemporary art scene, it has fostered relationships with both internationally established and young contemporary European artists. With a 120-square-meter space for exhibitions in the city’s famed Belgian quarter, the gallery presents a regular rotation of solo and group shows, in addition to a series of lectures and discussions.
Since its launch in 2000, the gallery has stayed ahead of the curve of contemporary art throughout its 22-year history. After first focusing on art made in times of great social upheaval – including the 1920s and the 1970s through to today – the gallery has more recently focused its attention on art’s shift towards the virtual, including NFTs.
With its return to Art Düsseldorf, the gallery will present works from Zohar Fraiman, Fabian Herkenhoener, Radenko Milak, Banz & Bowinkel, and a series of portraits from photographer Pieter Hugo.
After years spent under the name Figge von Rosen Galerie, Philipp von Rosen was established in 2015 by its eponymous owner. In the seven years since opening its doors, the gallery has built up the careers of numerous young artists and strengthened the careers of established talent. Alongside exhibitions of work by artists under representation with the gallery, Philipp von Rosen occasionally showcases works by artists they don’t permanently represent.
This year, the gallery returns to Düsseldorf with a showing of pieces by Silke Albrecht, Martin Gewers, Markus Huemer, and Jonas Maas.
Since its founding in 1995, the gallery has focused itself on strengthening the narrative and conceptual contemporary positions of its roster of artists. For nearly two decades, the gallery has presented solo and group exhibitions across a range of mediums, with a special emphasis on painting.
As the gallery marks another year with Art Düsseldorf, they will present works by Andreas Gefeller, Francois Jacob, Joëlle Dubois, Pauline M’Barek, and Peter Tollens.
The gallery has presented a steady stream of exhibitions since opening its doors in 1996, including a range of works in photography, mixed media, and conceptual art. After 16 years in operation, an additional exhibition space was opened above the gallery in 2012, which is appropriately called Second Floor. With photographic works as its core foundation, the gallery has amassed a strong collection of work from such legendary artists as Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, Walker Evans, and Helen Levitt. Along with their exhibitions, the gallery also offers long-term consulting and has published a number of monographs and catalogs.
As they settle into Areal Böhler once again, expect to find a number of works at the booth by the artists Christiane Baumgartner, Allana Clarke, Candida Höfer, Joanna Piotrowska, and James White.
Representing Bonn at this year’s fair, the gallery that began in 2014 has become one of the city’s most exciting contemporary art spaces. Housed in a building designed by architect Uwe Schröder, the space is home to a range of international, established, and new artists. Aside from its regular selection of exhibitions, the gallery also includes a project room for more specialized work with curators and artists.
A selection of works by Michelle Grabner, Sabrina Jung, TROUBLE Inc., and Ulrike Rosenbach will be on view at this year’s fair.
The artist Pieter Hugo has captured images of people across China, Jamaica, the US, Mexico, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, and many other countries, before he became a world-renowned photographer, he was just a teenage boy with a camera. Gifted to him by his father – an amateur photographer himself — the camera became a critical window for Hugo to interact with and understand the world around him in South Africa.
“I personally never really felt like I fitted in. Growing up in a community where critical self-reflection was frowned upon and discouraged,” he explained over email. “Everything I saw growing up was mediated by an authoritarian state. Photography for me is essentially about the act of seeing, and I wanted to see for myself.”
Seeing for himself has paid off. Despite no formal training, the photographer has spent decades amassing a body of work that has landed his work in the collections of such institutions as the Centre Pompidou, Rijksmuseum, the Museum of Modern Art, V&A Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art. Alongside his solo and group shows, the photographer has also won and been shortlisted for multiple photography awards.
With his dedication to capturing portraits of the people on the outskirts of society, Hugo has opened their world up and allowed viewers a peek inside of these beautiful microcosms. As his Cologne-based gallery Priska Pasquer prepares to show images from two of his portrait series – Solus Vol I and Californian Wildflowers – we caught up with Hugo to talk about how his practice has shifted and why there’s a piece of him in every portrait.
What inspired the works you have on view at Art Dusseldorf?
There are two series being shown, Solus Vol I and Californian Wildflowers. Although they are very different they both are within the traditions of portraiture. Both are born out of a desire to look critically and engage. And to find parts of me refracted in the rest of the world.
Can you speak more about these two series?
Solus Vol I explores the shifting aesthetics of youth culture. It is a typological series that looks at atypical beauty as manifest in fashion models and aspirate models. For many years the function of contemporary portraiture as a means of representing youth has become elusive in a culture largely driven by perfection and homogeneity. Increasingly advertising, media, fashion et al have started using and celebrating people with atypical beauty. I am interested whether this is truly a celebration or whether it is just a creation of a new “target audience”, or perhaps both.
Californian Wildflowers is a portrait series made in 2016 in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco and Skid Row in Los Angeles where I photographed a wide spectrum of homeless people. I am not unfamiliar with homelessness. The streets around my studio in Cape Town are home to a large population of unhoused poor. Their number probably exceeds that in California. I have made portraits of homeless people in South Africa. It is a fraught genre, so often linked to a moralizing stance.
Homelessness is one word that covers a range of different situations. I met people with mental disorders, addicts, victims of the 2008 recession, war veterans, men and women who had made bad lifestyle choices, as well as people who for whatever reason liked living rough. Notwithstanding their terrible circumstances, which are real and inescapable, there is something quite ecstatic in the poses and gestures of the people I photographed – and a lawlessness too.
I am attracted to difference, to what is unique, to the asymmetrical.
You came of age during the AIDS pandemic where the appearance of health was a buffer against being grouped into the “sickly” and blending in was encouraged. How did this era shape how you approach portraiture? Especially in regard to what kind of people you choose to take photos of.
Well, I personally never really felt like I fitted in. Being white in South Africa. Growing up in a community where critical self-reflection was frowned upon and discouraged. Everything I saw growing up was mediated by an authoritarian state. Photography for me is essentially about the act of seeing, and I wanted to see for myself. Regarding the part of your question about how this shaped my approach to portraiture: I am attracted to difference, to what is unique, to the asymmetrical. That is my personal curiosity. To not address that curiosity would be dishonest.
You are entirely self-taught with no formal education. What inspired you to pick up a camera? Was there anyone or anything specifically that lit this spark?
My father bought me a camera when I was a teenager. It became a good excuse to engage with the world in a visually analytical way.
What prompted your father to buy you a camera? Also, how has his support for your work evolved over the years?
My father was an enthusiastic amateur photographer. Unfortunately, he passed away last year but I think he was proud of my commitment to my craft.
How has your artistic practice adapted to the pandemic?
I refocused on my immediate family and worked collaboratively with them to make images.
How important are art fairs for you as an artist?
Art fairs are important to me as they give exposure to my work, they are financially important as they enable me to sustain my practice as an artist and provide for my family and dependents.
What message do you want viewers to take away from the art you’re showing at Art Dusseldorf?
A celebration of the diversity and complexities of life.
How much of your own personal history do you try to bring to your work? Or, alternatively, do you try to keep as much of yourself out of your portraits as possible?
There is part of me in all my portraits. Even though it feels like I’ve been doing it forever, I am still daunted. It is easier to alienate a stranger than it is to get to know a stranger. You first have to explain who you are and what your intentions are, and then answer to the inevitable [question of] “Why?” Then the act of persuasion, coming to an agreement. The subject has to be willing to give something. I don’t want it to feel like the image was taken with me only taking. It needs [something], and I hope for a moment of voluntary vulnerability, by both the subject and by me.
How did you get involved with Priska Pasquer?
Priska collected a work of mine and we have mutual friends. A few years ago, she changed her gallery’s program and my work suited the direction, the rest is history.
Which piece of work did Priska buy before you joined the gallery? Also, what was the new direction that they went in that led to you joining?
She bought a work from the Hyena and Other Men series. Priska’s gallery focus at that time was very much on Japanese photography. She decided to expand the program and embrace contemporary art beyond lens-based media, particularly looking at art that addresses the huge technological shifts happening in our world.
You’ve photographed people on the fringes of society in Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, and so many other countries. Have you ever been confronted with criticism about documenting these groups as a white South African and, if so, how do you handle these critiques?
Well, I have also published books and shown significant bodies of work made in China, Jamaica, the US, Mexico. I’ve published four monographs which were all framed in South Africa, my home country. So I think the criticism is factually inaccurate. However, I do often engage with communities that are marginalized.
To address this issue is complicated and it really depends on each situation, it is hard and unfair to give a generalized view and/or approach to working in these spaces. An essential question is: what are my intentions? Although I don’t advertise it, I do give back to my subjects. The other broader philosophical question is that of who has the right to represent? Are only gay people allowed to photograph the gay community? Once you start going down this wormhole there is no exit.
As we prepare to open the doors to Areal Böhler for this year’s edition of Art Düsseldorf, we want to introduce the 26 galleries that will be showcasing art in our booths for the very first time. With representation from exhibitors in Spain, Italy, Peru, and the Netherlands, plus a fresh crop of German-based exhibitors, we are excited for you to get to know the galleries we are welcoming to the art fair.
For Art Düsseldorf 2022, our new exhibitors will include: Aurel Scheibler, Buchmann Galerie, Borch Editions Copenhagen/Berlin, Daniel Marzona, Galerie Friese, Galerie Guido W. Baudach, Galerie Thomas Fischer, Galerie Thomas Schulte, Persons Projects, Soy Capitán, Galerie Gebr. Lehmann, Knust Kunz Gallery Editions, Galerie Rupert Pfab, Konrad Fischer Galerie, Max Goelitz, Mike Karstens, Jacky Strenz, Philipp Pflug Contemporary, Clages, A+B Gallery, Crisis, Dürst Britt & Mayhew, Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman, Layr, Shore, Nosbaum Reding, Sabrina Amrani, and Fiebach, Minninger.
Among the many galleries around the world entering Areal Böhler for the first time, an incredible 19 of them will come from Germany. As guests wander through the fair, they’ll be able to find works by artists represented by Galerie Gebr. Lehmann (Leipzig); Mike Karstens (Münster); Max Goelitz and Knust Kunz Gallery Editions (Munich); Jacky Strenz and Philipp Pflug Contemporary (Frankfurt); and Clages and Fiebach, Minninger (Cologne).
From Berlin, a total of nine new galleries will show at the fair, including Aurel Scheibler, Buchmann Galerie, Galerie Friese, Galerie Guido W. Baudach, Galerie Thomas Schulte, Persons Projects, and Soy Capitán, plus a special shared booth by Daniel Marzona and Galerie Thomas Fischer. To round out our fresh new offerings from German galleries, hometown exhibitors will include Düsseldorf’s Galerie Rupert Pfab; and the Konrad Fischer Galerie.
Since opening its doors in 1967, the contemporary art gallery founded by Dorothee and Konrad Fischer has been an integral piece of the city’s artistic community. Over decades, Konrad Fischer Galerie has shown the works of such artists as the minimalists Carl Andre, Hanne Darboven, and Sol LeWitt, sculpturist Paloma Varga Weisz, and many others.
Now, for the first time, the gallery will fill a booth at Art Düsseldorf to showcase the latest works from contemporary artists they’ve cultivated. With the local legends finally settling into Areal Böhler, this will be a booth that must be seen.
For Galerie Guido W. Baudach’s first showing at Art Düsseldorf, they handed over the reins of their booth to German artist Thomas Zipp for a sprawling solo show. Over a career spanning decades, Zipp’s work has explored the darkest themes of humanity. Decommissioned Patriot Missile warheads have been rendered into symbols of sex and power; psychedelic laboratories with masked figures have haunted viewers; apocalyptic landscapes have cropped up in paintings.
With dozens of solo shows around the world and works in the collections of both the Tate Modern and the Museum of Modern Art, the new pieces that Zipp will unveil at Galerie Guido W. Baudach’s booth will be essential viewing for every attendee.
Since the inception of Art Düsseldorf, we have always welcomed a range of galleries from our neighbors in Austria, and, this year, we are pleased to introduce three new exhibitors to the fair. From Innsbruck, the prestigious Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman, which was founded in 1977, will make their debut. Coming from a few hundred kilometers away in Vienna, the galleries Layr and Shore will also pack up their works and settle into the Areal Böhler for the first time.
We are pleased to welcome a range of galleries from around the world who will travel to Art Düsseldorf for their debut. Among this year’s new entries will be the A+B Gallery from Brescia, Italy which has been showcasing Italian and international artists since 2011, as well as Madrid’s groundbreaking Sabrina Amrani gallery, which has been mixing artists from across the East and West for over a decade. From The Hague, Netherlands, the Dürst Britt & Mayhew gallery founded in 2015 by curator Jaring Dürst Britt and art critic Alexander Mayhew will join us, as well as the Luxembourg gallery Nosbaum Reding, who have been showcasing young contemporary artists since 2001.
Rounding out our international offerings is the gallery Crisis, whose home is nearly 10,000 kilometers away in Lima, Peru. For their debut at Art Düsseldorf, Crisis will bring a fresh contemporary outlook from South America in a special shared booth with the returning Munich gallery Sperling.
Image Credits: Gabriele Beveridge: Old Mercy, 2021, Courtesy: COSAR, Photo Damian Griffith
For the first time in our history, we’re making every piece on display at Art Düsseldorf available with just a few clicks. Alongside our in-person art fair at Areal Böhler from April 8-10, we’re also launching an online shop for prospective customers to browse, favorite, and, of course, buy artworks from over 80 galleries – including 26 who have joined Art Düsseldorf for the first time. It’s all part of our mission to create an unforgettable and truly hybrid event that revolutionizes the art fair landscape sustainably.
This year, in addition to their booth in the Areal Böhler, every gallery will also have a dedicated section of the online shop. After a special online preview for art collectors on April 7, we’ll officially open the doors of the online shop on April 8 for all art lovers. Within the shop, you’ll be able to view and compare works, get in touch with gallery owners, and make a list of your most sought-after pieces before you hit “buy.”
Not sure about a particular piece and want more information? No problem. As part of our digital expansion, we’ll also be offering guided tours of the fair – even from the comfort of your own home. Our Art Guides are ready to live stream from Areal Böhler and take prospective collectors and VIPs on personal tours of the booths so that any questions they have can be answered. These expertly trained guides will be ready with key background info and will be available in German and English for 30-minute tours available during fair hours.
As we put the finishing touches on our fourth edition of the fair, we’re excited to expand past our physical limits and present an exciting new way to shop for art. With gallerists from Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Spain, New York, Paris, Istanbul, and more occupying booths at this year’s fair, we welcome all art lovers – no matter where you are – to experience Art Düsseldorf everywhere.
Against the backdrop of this towering statue, he held two pink forms he’d crafted days before. These forms were another of the Ukrainian-Russian artist’s “bios,” or sculptural objects that represent new forms of life. They are tied to the concepts of bioism and biofuturism that have guided the artist’s oeuvre. Over the years, these organic, almost alien forms have been seen in Spain, New York, Italy, Germany, Russia, and many other countries, but as he held them over his head in Ukraine, their message of life took on new meaning.
As he said in a statement on this intervention: “Bioism condemns any violence against humans, animals and plants. The suffering and war must be stopped! There are no justified conflicts, all of them are criminal, causing violence and pain to all kinds of biological beings. Any kind of human ideology is violent per se: as for instance blood thirsty motherland requires endless human sacrifices. Pacifism shall be extended to the peace and eudaimonia movement for all beings of this planet. As an European artist of Ukrainian-Russian origin, I stood naked and unprotected as animals and plants are in the silent protest against any kind of ideological madness. Stop insanity, seek for kindness!”
In the time since staging this intervention, Russia’s bloody, ruthless war on Ukraine has provoked international condemnation and set off a refugee crisis that has displaced nearly two million people. As the world struggles to understand what comes next, we called the Beck & Eggeling-represented artist as he sped along the Autobahn on his way home to Düsseldorf to hear his thoughts on the war in Ukraine, the lessons of a childhood spent in the Soviet Union, and why, despite everything, he’s hopeful that “cruelty will not succeed.”
You were in Kyiv from the 21st until the 23rd, and the Russian invasion began the next day on the 24th. What was the mood like in Kyiv when you were there?
The mood was totally relaxed. People were not scared of anything. It was business as usual everywhere. On the street, I met a CNN reporter asking people what they thought about Putin’s announcement [recognizing the independence of separatist regions in eastern Ukraine]. It was the 21st of February when he made those dreadful warnings. The reporter was asking everybody, “What do you think about it?” They were thinking nothing. They asked me, too, and I said, “Well, I don’t care that much, because I neglect any kind of ideology, and what he says is just sick ideas,” and so on. Well, it wasn’t.
When I landed in Kyiv on the 21st, the first thing [I did] was I asked my brother, who picked me up at the airport, that we drive together to buy all the things I needed to create new objects. I felt that this had to be done immediately. I created these two pieces [for the intervention] three or four hours after landing, which for me are like live beings. With these two pieces, I went the next day to this huge militaristic monument, [the Motherland Monument]. I felt, personally, that things could get dangerous. There was so much militaristic power. So much destructive potential.
The Motherland Monument is one of the only remaining large-scale monuments to the Soviet Communist era. What made you choose that statue?
It can be seen almost from everywhere at any point in Kyiv. Everyone in the middle of Kyiv can see this huge, huge mother, which is always, in my opinion, bloodthirsty. It represents this militaristic ideology of the Russian state. The state is above everything; it is above every single person and above any kind of private humanity. It always needs sacrifices from the citizens of Russia. They say they should be ready at any time of their life to sacrifice their lives for this mother, and it is exactly what happens now. The ideology of Putin’s regime is misusing this idea to justify [their actions]. They justify any kind of violence with it. They justify any kind of retaliation and cruelty with it.
Can you talk a bit about the ideologies that were around you growing up?
I was born in 1974, which means I was born in the Soviet Union. The “motherland” idea was implemented in the education of all people who grew up in the Soviet Union. My father is Russian and my mother is Ukrainian. I had to learn the Ukrainian language in school, but as I grew up in East Ukraine, there was almost no one in real life who spoke the Ukrainian language. When the Soviet Union broke apart, national states emerged from one day to another in the ’90s. But then those national states mutated into, in my eyes, feudalistic states or oligarchic states.
Of course, this national ideology can come from any of those states. It doesn’t matter if it’s Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuanian, Estonia, Georgia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, it doesn’t matter. The oligarchs misuse those nationalistic ideas to protect their states. Now Putin misuses these kinds of self-made conflicts and he justifies his aggressive politics. It’s a very sad situation.
Where did your urge to create art begin?
I liked to draw a lot and, even now, it’s the best meditation for me. I always draw very small, tiny, microscopic things, therefore my drawings are never too big. I’ve done it from my early childhood till now. Of course, with those drawings, you cannot be successful. People don’t collect paper. They cannot understand how you can spend one month of work on one small piece of paper. You cannot sell those. You cannot persuade normal people with such artworks. Therefore, I do bigger, large things, but this is my private refuge.
As long as we can not treat any kind of living being properly, we can not treat ourselves properly.
Your art is tied into this concept of bioism or biofuturism that condemns violence against humans, animals, and plants. When did you discover this concept and begin tying it into your work?
I have been very, very fond of nature and biology since my childhood. We, as humans, normally do not like to understand that we are living in a totally biological environment. Even in these COVID times, as we have seen how fragile we are just from the virus, we don’t speak about how much we are influenced by nature and how much influence we can put on the biosphere around us.
In my statement for this intervention in Kyiv, I tried to implement this idea that until we can respect biology around us – the clouds, the biosphere – until that time, we can not respect ourselves. As long as we can not treat any kind of living being properly, we can not treat ourselves properly. We should attack this problem at the root and we don’t do it. We try to find simple solutions for very complex things. We have to change our minds.
Your art presents a pretty hopeful vision for the future. How do you maintain that? Do you have hope that things can change?
Yes. I’m a very optimistic person. One thing that makes me positive and optimistic is that biology is very, very powerful. Even if humans, as a biological form, will not succeed, biology will develop another species that will be more superior than us, which will be more successful. I strongly believe in this. Evolution is unstoppable. What we do not like to understand is that the motor of evolution is diversity; diversity in terms of mutations.
Any kind of biological being in our world – you, me, the cat on the street – they’re successors of those mutations. We are successors of deviations, but our ideology for any kind of society or any kind of civil organization does not like deviation. Mutations and deviations are something that we condemn, that we always treat as mistakes.
This is a problem that should be solved, and therefore bioism and bioethics are for improving those things. Bioism is for biological complexity and multiplicity. Bioethics is for deviations and for happiness for every kind of living being. We should live happily and to do so, we have to accept how diverse biology is. How complicated things are. Mutations are actually a blessing, not a kind of cursed thing. We are alive because of the change.
What are you hoping will result from this war on Ukraine?
This conflict will not change that much immediately, but we live in a totally new time. We have raw information all around us and information is easily multiplied, transferred, spread, and shared. All those cruel things are spreading around the world immediately and they are causing us to rethink. Cruelty will not succeed.
Even before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the city had always been intricately connected to the young, contemporary art scene. That symbiosis has only grown stronger in the decades since reunification. With more than 5,000 artists estimated to live and work in the German capital, plus hundreds of galleries dotting its many neighborhoods, there is no doubt that Berlin remains an essential hotspot for both emerging and established talent.
For years, Berlin’s galleries have been a welcome addition to Art Düsseldorf and, this year, we are excited to welcome 18 galleries to the fair – including the addition of 11 galleries that will make their debut at Areal Böhler from April 8-10.
As we put the finishing touches on the fair and prepare to open our doors, we invite you to get acquainted with all of the Berlin-based galleries that will occupy booths at this year’s fair.
Please note the booth numbers for each gallery are presented in brackets.
Since opening its doors in 2012, the contemporary art gallery has curated a tight group of young national and international artists. Focusing on works that interrogate social and political themes, the gallery represents artists from Germany, Spain, Israel, and Russia. The gallery is currently showing a solo exhibition from Berlin-based artist Julius von Bismarck until 16 April, 2022.
For this edition of the fair, their booth will be occupied by works from Julius von Bismarck, Felix Kiessling, and Sinta Werner.
For 15 years, this contemporary art gallery called Cologne its home before relocating to Berlin in 2006. Since re-establishing itself in the German capital, Aurel Scheibler has jumped from Charlottenburg to Kreuzberg and, finally, to a historic building at Schöneberger Ufer in Tiergarten that was built in 1911 for the Berlin Association of Female Artists.
Across their more than 30 year history, the gallery has shown a mix of local and international artists and for Art Düsseldorf, they’ll be presenting work by Alice Neel, Carolin Eidner, Tamara K.E., and Tom Chamberlain, as well as two pieces by the late sculpturist Norbert Kricke.
Originally founded in 1979 in Copenhagen as a printmaking studio, the gallery has developed an international reputation for both its printmaking prowess – led by founder Niels Borch Jensen – and its art collections. In 1999, BORCH Editions launched BORCH Gallery in Berlin, creating a space for artists to showcase their latest work while also making use of their print room. Print projects from BORCH Editions have made their way to a number of private and public collections, including the MoMA, The British Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, and more.
Their booth at this year’s fair will showcase an exciting mix of works by the artists Tal R, Regnar Kjartansson, Thomas Scheibitz, and Trine Søndergaard.
Currently splitting its time between Berlin and Lugano, Switzerland, the gallery has been showcasing contemporary artists since it was founded by Elena and Felix Buchmann in 1975. What began in St. Gallen, Switzerland eventually found a new home from 1983 to 1998 in Basel next to the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Meanwhile, their German outpost began in Cologne in 1995 before relocating to Berlin in 2005. Across their roster of artists – including Wolfgang Laib, Tatsuo Miyajima, Wilhelm Mundt, and Fiona Rae — the gallery presents works of sculpture, painting, video, and photography.
From April 8-10, the gallery will present a mix of sculptural works by Bettina Pousttchi.
The gallery was founded in September 2014 by the son of famed gallery owner and publisher Egidio Marzona, a legendary collector of 20th-century avant-garde art. Since Daniel opened the doors less than eight years ago with a solo exhibition of the late artist Bernd Lohaus, he has built up a reputation for showing a sprawling collection of works by young contemporary artists from Georgia, Bosnia, Austria, France, Romania, Germany, and more.
The gallery will make its debut at Art Dusseldorf this year in a special shared booth with the famed Galerie Thomas Fischer, a fixture in the Berlin art scene, and feature works by Aron Mehzion, Axel Hütte, John Beech, Olaf Holzapfel, and Sofia Hultén.
For over a decade, Lars Dittrich and André Schlechtriem have been showcasing a range of conceptual art from young artists that include Soufiane Ababri, Klaus Jörres, Robert Lazzarini, Bernhard Martin, Simon Mullan, Fatma Shanan, and Jonas Wendelin.
Since moving into a larger space in 2017, the gallery has pushed to highlight more ambitious projects, as well as monographs from their artists and commissioned essays.
After starting life as a project space in a former knitting factory under the name Maschenmode, the contemporary art gallery has now spent two decades establishing itself as a fixture of Berlin’s art scene. With a roster of talent that includes Thilo Heinzmann, Tamina Amadyar, Rashid Johnson, Andy Hope, and more, the gallery is an essential space for new and established artists to show their works.
For their debut at Art Düsseldorf, the gallery will dedicate its entire booth to a solo exhibition of the German artist Thomas Zipp.
For 14 years, the gallery in the city’s Charlottenburg/Wilmersdorf neighborhood has shown a mix of contemporary art, focusing especially on paintings and drawings. They have built a reputation for showing a broad range of works by over two dozen artists. Among their collection, they have displayed works by post-war, contemporary, and international artists. For six years, from 2008 to 2014, they also hosted a series of events on the importance of art in society called About Art.
A group exhibition of works by Ambra Durante, Franziska Holstein, Karin Kneffel, Dieter Krieg, Thomas Müller, Claire de Santa Coloma, Robert Schad, and Cornelius Völker.
Founded in 1976, the renowned gallery has spent decades cultivating a collection of art that spans the classical, post-war, and contemporary eras of art history. In the four decades since opening its doors, the gallery has shown works by legends that include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Otto Dix, Andy Warhol, Georg Baselitz, and many more. While established artists are a key part of their roster, the gallery has also built a reputation for its support of young artists.
For this year’s edition of the fair, the gallery will be showcasing a range of works by Peter Brüning, Kerstin Grimm, Markus Lüpertz, Reinhard Pods, and Arnulf Rainer.
Since 2011, the famed contemporary art gallery has brought together both young and established artists. After initially opening its doors in the former site of the Tagesspiegel, the gallery moved into its current space in Mitte. In a little over a decade, the gallery has established itself in the city’s art scene thanks to its dedicated support for German and international artists.
The gallery will make its debut at Art Dusseldorf this year in a special shared booth with the Daniel Merzona gallery, featuring pieces by Dirk Braeckman, Irmel Kamp, Joachim Bandau, Marcel Frey, and Margrét H. Blöndal.
Established in 1991 as Galerie Franck + Schulte (before changing its name in 2000), the gallery was one of the first to open in the city after Germany’s reunification. They have spent over three decades cultivating established artists and nurturing a fresh wave of contemporary talent. Now situated in a landmark nineteenth-century Tuteur House in Mitte since 2006, the contemporary art gallery has become a fixture in the city’s art community.
In its debut showing at Art Düsseldorf, the gallery will present works by Michael Müller, Alfredo Jaar, Leunora Salihu, Rebecca Horn, Franka Hörnschemeyer, Iris Schomaker, Paco Knöller, Jonas Weischsel, Hamish Fulton, Julian Irlinger, and Angela de la Cruz.
For two decades, the gallery co-managed by Johann and Lena König has become a favorite amongst Berlin’s contemporary art crowd because of their dedication to young artists. Beyond their embrace of a variety of media that includes sculpture, video, sound, painting, and more, the gallery has also become known for its occupation of St. Agnes, a Brutalist church built in the 1960s that now often hosts large scale installations. Beyond Berlin, the gallery has also opened satellite spaces in both London and Seoul.
At Areal Böhler, the acclaimed gallery will present a group showing of pieces by Refik Anadol, Mona Ardeleanu, Nobert Bisky, Monica Bonvicini, Claudia Comte, Jose Dávila, Tue Greenfort, Katharina Grosse, Jeppe Hein, Karl Horst Hödicke, Robert Janitz, Annette Kelm, Friedrich Kunath, Alicja Kwade, Kris Martin, Anselm Reyle, Andreas Schmitten, Jeremy Shaw, Chiharu Shiota, Bosco Sodi, Matthias Weischer, and Johannes Wohnseifer.
Officially opening its doors in September 2009 within an Arno Brandlhuber-designed building in Mitte, the gallery has worked for over a decade to showcase socially-oriented artworks. Their carefully curated roster of artists creates works that engage directly with the sociopolitical systems of the world, and includes many artists whose debut European shows were held at the gallery.
The gallery will fill its booth with works from such artists as Anna Boghiguian, Candice Breitz, Marco A. Castillo, CATPC, Clegg & Guttmann, Anna Ehrenstein, Sophie Gogl, Renzo Martens, Oswald Oberhuber, Michael E. Smith, Franz Erhard Walther, and Tobias Zielony.
Joining us this year is Persons Projects, a gallery that began in 1995 in Helsinki, Finland as part of the Helsinki School under the name Taik Persons. Since moving to Berlin in 2005 and sprawling across two exhibition spaces, the gallery has divided its focus between artists associated with the Helsinki School and interns at Aalto University who work on research and digitalization efforts for the Helsinki School. The gallery has also dedicated its resources toward independent publishing, using collaborations with Hatje Cantz, Steidel, and Kerber to develop and release multiple books each year.
As they make their debut at Art Dusseldorf, the gallery will play host to works by Eeva Karhu, Grey Crawford, Milja Laurila, Ragna Róbertsdóttir, and Zofia Kulik.
For nearly 14 years, the gallery founded by Sabine Schmidt has worked to highlight contemporary art from around the world, with special regard for large installation pieces and performance art that brings audiences into the work. Taking its name from Schmidt’s grandfather, Paul Schmidt, and his machine production factory, Paul Schmidt Maschinenfabrik, the exhibition space has occupied space across from the Neue Nationalgalerie since 2017.
As a return guest to the art fair, the gallery will present visually arresting works by Nadira Husain, Emma Jääskeläinen, and Catherine Biocca.
In 2013, Jan-Philipp Sexauer opened the doors to his gallery in a former industrial building in Weißensee. Four years later, his focus on emerging and established artists in the contemporary art scene was recognized as he won the Berlin Gallery Prize 2017. With nearly a decade of experience, the gallery’s embrace of works across a range of mediums has cemented its reputation as one of the most exciting contemporary art galleries in the city.
For this edition of Art Düsseldorf, their booth will feature the artists Ornella Fieres, Isabelle Graeff, Verena Issel, and Jeewi Lee.
The gallery established by Heike Tosun in 2011 began in Neukolln before moving into its permanent space in Kreuzberg in 2013. For over a decade, the contemporary art gallery has given space to international artists practicing art in a wide range of media, including painting, video, sound, sculpture, and photography.
The gallery will make its Art Düsseldorf debut with a range of works by Matthias Dornfeld, Eli Cortiñas, Grace Weaver, and Rachel Youn.
This small gallery has developed an outsize reputation thanks to its international focus. Operating from Europe, the United States, and Asia, it has cultivated long-term relationships with young artists – with many doing their first solo exhibitions with the gallery. Alongside their exhibition, the gallery also maintains a publishing division, Edition Société, that has produced award-winning art books and vinyl records.
With over 80 galleries in attendance this year, Art Düsseldorf will serve as a sprawling window into the contemporary art world. The fair will feature galleries of both domestic and international origin, but it is the galleries that reside right here in Düsseldorf that we look at with special fondness. They represent the city’s most exciting advances in modern art and bring a strong dose of hometown pride to the industrial halls of Areal Böhler.
As we enter our fourth edition of the art fair, we are proud to have 14 Düsseldorf-based galleries taking over booths with us and showing art from a wide selection of artists. Before we open the doors to Art Düsseldorf from April 8-10, we invite you to get to know the 14 galleries from our city that will join us this year.
Please note the booth numbers for each gallery are presented in brackets.
In a townhouse in Leipzig in 1994, Michael Beck and Dr. Ute Eggeling came together to found their namesake gallery. In its early years, the gallery exhibited art from both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as more contemporary works, while also exploring the link between visual art and music.
Four years later, in 1998, the duo moved the gallery from Leipzig to both Düsseldorf and New York, before settling into their current location in an opulent eighteenth-century mansion in Düsseldorf’s old town. Now nearing its 30th anniversary, the gallery has helped both new and established artists find their footing in the city’s art scene, while also expanding into Vienna with a branch that opened its doors in September 2016.
With their return to the art fair, the gallery will showcase works by Leiko Ikemura, Günther Uecker, Gotthard Graubner, Stefan Kürten, as well as a specially designed mirror room by the artist Heinz Mack.
Founded by Michael Cosar and Nadja Thiel, the gallery located inside a former Maria Theresia monastery has become an integral destination for the city’s contemporary art lovers. With their always-changing exhibitions, the gallery has shown works of paintings, photography, sculpture, installations, and video.
This year, the gallery is displaying works from Gabriele Beveridge, Melissa Gordon, Erika Hock, Vera Kox, Marge Monko, Irina Ojovan, and Berit Schneidereit.
Since 2004, the gallery started by Iris Kadel and Moritz Willborn has been driven by a dedication to exploring concepts of new realism, performance art, conceptual art, and body art – all while engaging in long-term, deeply rooted relationships with its artists and estates.
In this year’s edition of Art Düsseldorf, the gallery will present a solo presentation of works by the abstract painter Helmut Dorner.
Beginning in 2011 not as a gallery but rather as a series of presentations spread throughout Düsseldorf, the contemporary art exhibitor moved into its current position at Schmela Haus, the Aldo van Eyck built gallery house, in September 2020. Over the last decade, the gallery has put together exhibitions with both new and established talent, and is known for its project-based collaborations.
The art historian and former curator opened his namesake gallery 17 years ago in December 2005. Since opening its doors, the contemporary art space has welcomed both national and international artists working in painting, sculpture, drawing, conceptual art, and media art. Alongside their group and solo exhibitions, the gallery is also known for its trade fair. Since 2017, it has been located in the city’s bustling gallery district of Flingern.
For the first time ever, the gallery will join Art Düsseldorf with a selection of works by the artists Kazuki Nakahara, Astrid Busch, Laura Aberham, Matthias Wollgast, Simone Lucas, and Sophie Heinrich.
There may be nothing more impressive than opening your gallery with a showcase of works by famed German artist Josef Albers. That was the subject of its debut show in 1965 and, since then, the famed gallery has claimed the title of “first to show Andy Warhol in Düsseldorf” and shown works by legendary artists that include Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring, and Jean Michel Basquiat. With nearly six decades of experience, the gallery has become known for its large outdoor sculptures and crossovers into concerts, fashion shows, dance, and many other artistic mediums.
It all began in October 1967 in an unused alley. Founded by Konrad and Dorothee Fischer, the small gallery opened its door with an exhibition of works by Carl Andre at a time when minimalist art had not yet broken out in Europe. In the decades since these very humble beginnings, the gallery has become known for not just exhibiting artists in the city, but actually inviting them to Düsseldorf so that they could get acquainted with the city and, often, create site-specific pieces. Forty years after its founding, the gallery expanded in 2007 with an additional gallery in Berlin, and, today, it is run by Berta Fischer.
As the acclaimed contemporary art gallery joins Art Düsseldorf for the first time, their booth will feature the work of Tony Cragg, Paul Czerlitzki, Thomas Ruff, and Tatjana Valsang.
Originally founded in Cologne in 2006, the namesake gallery of the artist was opened by Lühn after previously running Galerie Jablonka Lühn alongside Rafael Jablonka. With over a decade and a half of experience, the gallery has purposefully kept its artist roster tight so that close relationships are formed with each person. Alongside its exhibitions of contemporary art, the gallery also releases publications and artist books.
In 2008, Lühn also co-founded Cahier, a quarterly magazine on Rhineland’s contemporary art scene. And in 2011, the gallery moved from Cologne to Düsseldorf, establishing itself in a former bottle warehouse.
As one of the newest names in the city’s contemporary art scene, the gallery has operated since its 2016 group show of the artists Nolan Simon, Aude Pariset, and Philipp Timischl. Over its six years in operation, the contemporary art gallery has shown a range of interesting works that span performance, paintings, sculpture, and more.
For its return to Art Düsseldorf, the gallery will present in a special shared booth with the Cologne-based gallery Drei. It will feature works by Mira Mann, Simon Mielke, Niklas Taleb, and Phung-Tien Phan.
Founded in 2008, the contemporary art gallery has become a fixture of the city’s Flingern gallery district. With a focus on painting and sculpture, the gallery has developed a reputation for its mix of young and established artists.
As they occupy a booth for another year of the fair, the gallery will show works by Emma Talbot, Jörn Stoya, Albrecht Schäfer, Line Lyhne, and Lothar Götz.
Now celebrating its 30th birthday, the gallery that was founded by Paul Schönewald and Rainer Beuse has spent years building up a collection of both post-war and contemporary pieces from a range of artists. Since 2008, the gallery has been situated in a former hydraulics factory that was converted into a gallery and redesigned by Selldorf Architects, New York. Alongside more contemporary artists, the gallery also has works by such legends as Donald Judd, Agnes Martin, and Georg Baselitz.
Despite opening less than a decade ago, in 2013, the gallery founded by Samandar and Elham Setareh has established a wide scope of influence. Operating out of three different locations – two in Düsseldorf and one in Berlin – the contemporary art gallery promotes more than 25 artists of various backgrounds. Beyond their in-person solo and group exhibitions, the gallery also offers a vast range of online content, including studio views, viewing rooms, and artist interviews.
When the doors to Areal Böhler open in April, the gallery will present a selection of works by Astrid Styma, Gregor Gleiwitz, Jim Thorell, Wolfgang Betke, Soraya Sharghi, Laura Sachs, Kate Andrews, Elsa Sahal, Sebastian Riemer, and Steffen Jopp.
On the eve of a new century in December 1999, Alexander Sies and Nina Höke opened the doors of their gallery. In the two decades since, its become a home for artists across Europe, the United States, and Latin America, and has grown to include a publishing program that produces exhibition catalogs, monographs, and artist’s books. After moving into a building in the city’s historic district in 2002, the gallery has spent two decades expanding from 200 to 1,000 square meters of space spread across three floors.
The gallery will return to Art Düsseldorf with carefully curated pieces by Henning Strassburger, Julian Charrière, Paul Hutchinson, Ulrich Erben, and the duo Hedda Schattanik and Roman Szczesny.
Named after a small village in Texas that can be found on the drive from El Paso to Marfa, the gallery began as an artist-run and non-commercial space. It was in 2008 that the founder, Daniela Steinfeld, opened the doors of the gallery – before refounding it in 2009 in a larger location. Over more than a decade, the gallery has become known for allowing selected artists, collectors, and curators to produce special exhibitions. In January 2017, the gallery expanded into a second location, Van Horn Schaulager, which resides in an industrial area of the city.