Berlin’s flourishing world of art
As the Berlin Wall collapsed in 1989, the creative energies in Berlin burst into life. Since then, Berlin has become one of the world’s leaders on the art scene, with hundreds of galleries and its annual art fair. It is not just Berlin architecture attracting tourists to the city. The free spirit of Berlin – combined with cheap rents – have made Germany’s capital something of a Mecca for aspiring artists from all over the globe. Collectors, as well, have their eye on the talent coming out of Berlin’s art studios, with locally-based artists like Jonathan Meese, Norbert Bisky and Olafur Eliasson experiencing an almost impatient demand from art collectors worldwide.
All of the creative synergy is making downtown Berlin a heaven for art lovers in search of something unique. And the great thing is, there’s something for everyone. From slick museums to posh galleries to gritty street art, in Berlin, it’s burgeoning, and you’ll enjoy every second of it. Since there’s simply too much to see, here are some great choices for your first time round.
The C/O Gallery is elaborately housed in the old royal post house – a grand old brick structure dating back to 1881. The gallery focuses on photography, and each photo is simply more stunning than the last. Here you’ll see work by some of the biggest names in photography, alongside some really fantastic up-and-comers.
The Pool Gallery is about as cool as it gets, with white walls offsetting the brilliant exhibits. The whole gallery exudes the spirit of the street culture, cool photography and modern art that makes up the ever-fresh displays.
The Hamburger Bahnhof has been converted from the former main train station that was built in 1847. Walk the glossy wooden floors and view the stunning collections that include works by Rauschenberg, Lichtenstien and Warhol.
As you make your way through Berlin’s art scene, pay a visit to the impressive public artwork throughout the city as well. The Molecule Men, for example, have held their post on the Spree River since 1999. The sculpture stands at 30 meters high and was designed and constructed by American sculptor Jonathan Borofsky. In front of the Friedrichstrasse station you will come upon statues of children. Two look in one direction, while five look the opposite way. The track alongside them leads to either life or death – giving the sculpture its name “Trains into life – trains into death”. Artist Frank Meisler created the sculpture to commemorate the “Kindertransporten” rescue mission that saved the lives of more than 10,000 Jewish children – including the artist himself – more than 70 years ago.
Far from being the unwanted graffiti of so many other big cities, the street art in Berlin holds its own as unique pieces of urban artwork. Artists like El Bocho, Alias, and Emess have made a distinct mark through their own unique styles. Some street art has even achieved landmark status among Berlin’s art crowd, and a “street art safari” would certainly be worth a few hours of your time.
I visited Berlin for the ITB conference.