Berlin is a beguiling city with a disposition that is tough and gritty yet warm and inviting. This brilliant juxtaposition of moods is indicative of its rich, chaotic and unpredictable history; a sort of mystical space whose history still echoes loudly today.
It has always been a cultural hotspot and irrespective of the hardships it has had to face, art has always flourished, even if at times that meant behind closed doors. The legacy of that colourful history is a rich, diverse and energetic art scene, unlike of that seen anywhere else in the world.
“With 600 galleries, 175 museums, three opera houses, five major symphony orchestras and scores of theatres and cabarets, Berlin’s extraordinary cultural landscape may well be the envy of many a small country,” Lonely Planet has observed.
“It’s a pillar of the fashion, art, design and music worlds, not just keeping up with but setting new trends. A global influx of creatives has turned it into a cauldron of cultural cool that’s even been compared to New York in the ’80s. It is Berlin’s legendary spirit of tolerance and experimentation infused with a dose of gritty subculture that gives this exciting city its edge.”
Naturally, the city is a very attractive place for artists to relocate to, as it evokes all the sensibilities of the artistic milieu of Paris in the early half of the twentieth century. And so, a sizeable hop, step and jump later, with one’s fine art transported across the oceans safe and securely, here you are, ‘home’.
The city is also a great place to go if you’re a collector. Its galleries are second to none – risk taking, dedicated and always on the go, they collectively ensure that the art scene in Berlin is one step ahead of the pack.
Get to know establishments like Pool Gallery, a very chic and up-to-date space; the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, whose latest endeavour is calling for the “immediate strengthening of the independent cultural scene”; and Johann Konig, perfectly bridged between the Neue Nationalgalerie and the gallery quarter in Kochstrasse.
Furthermore, the city has, over the years, seen collectors not just acquire art in the city, but to permanently set up base there. It is fair to say that this is quite an astonishing place to be for everyone concerned with the world of art.
Consider its geographical boundaries to be akin to the exterior structure of a gallery and you can understand how, to all intents, it is a giant space for an art. Without creativity, what would Berlin be? Its disposition, it seems, is that of an artist.
“The key to contemporary art in Berlin is the artists living here,” the artist and writer Goran Tomcic wrote last year in an article for Artery. Yes, indeed, Mr Tomcic is a resident here and is well informed of the importance of separting the myth from the reality.
“Equally important are the many galleries are based in Berlin and the many collectors. They move to this city in search of a cheaper rent and abundant space, thus making it one of the world’s most important production sites of contemporary art.”