A Guide to Quintessentially Berlin Galleries

Max Schreier
Sep 23, 2014 2:30AM

I moved to Berlin almost four years ago, just as the city distinctively started to transition from the western art world’s wild frontier into its adolescent stages of self definition and maturation, and as it worked to determine what about its art scene was worthwhile beyond the inexpensive rents. Berlin in the 2010s is more serious than it was a decade prior while equally innovative. Whether at an opening on Friday night or a slow Wednesday morning, I never miss an exhibition at these quintessentially Berlin galleries.


PSM 

Köpenicker Straße 126

The ideal of Berlin is a utopian space where the quality of art is paramount over its commercial value, a place where the the rest of the world comes to discover artists who the community has known about for years. PSM is the the closest a gallery in Berlin comes to this narrative. Owner/Director Sabine Schmidt has a love for the artists she represents and presents a program with a level of quality that is unparalleled. Take a moment to walk through an exhibition at the gallery with her (she will always oblige) and you will feel the same intensity and knowledge of the fundamentals and the story of the artwork as Schmidt herself.  


Christian Ehrentraut

Friedrichstrasse 123

Installation view of "Wonderful Things to Believe in" courtesy of Christian Ehrentraut

Few galleries approach the idea of an exhibition with such complexity as Christian Ehrentraut. In the past year he has put on a series of three-person shows, where the interplay between the works and that artist’s practice is intelligent, considerate, and rarely obvious, but always contemplative.

Mathew Gallery

SCHAPERSTRASSE 12

Before opening their gallery in late 2011, David Lieske and Peter Kersten co-founded the Berlin electronic music label DIAL RECORDS. The duo seamlessly transitioned their audio efforts with their visual art venture. The collaborative and mixed-practice gallery reflects and exemplifies the Berlin arts scene, where the concept of being creative is rarely limited to a single medium, and paving a path for oneself by collaborating with others outside of their own network is commonplace. Mathew shows a range of artists, all of whom, through their visual practice, create a sense of of amicable inclusiveness.

Neumeister Bar-Am

Goethestraße 2

With only four exhibitions under their belt, Neumeister Bar-Am is quickly becoming recognized for its contributions to the Berlin art scene. Walking the line between exhibiting extremely current work along with influences of architecture and photography, the gallery is one of the most refreshing additions to the city, setting itself apart from a gallery population that can often feel crowded by spaces that value their existence over the work that they show.

société

GENTHINER STRASSE 36

With a tight program of exclusively Anglophile artists, société has two strong parallel directions: one in video and new media art, the other in new forms of painting. Artists working with 3D video, AutoCAD renderings, and negotiating different interpretations of the current global political landscape show next to work that hangs on the wall, often with a very 21st-century approach to materials in painting.  

Sandy Brown

Goebenstrasse 7

Sandy Brown is a definitive Berlin gallery. The small slightly off-the-beaten-track gallery is the space to see work that will be instantly recognisable in two years. Intelligent, conceptually innovative, and boundary-pushing, Fiona Bate’s five-year-old gallery often feels more like a curatorial initiative than a commercial gallery, with shows that present fully developed, often experimental concepts.

Tanya Leighton

Kurfürstenstrasse 156

Tanya Leighton’s personal background in academic writing on film and art is the foundation of her gallery. While not a video art gallery, the approach of balancing younger and more established artists—all of whom approach making work in innovative and disruptive ways.

alexander levy

Rudi-Dutschke-Strasse 26

In a sea of hip Berlin galleries alexander levy takes a contemporary position that is significantly more old school. With a strong program of young artists, the gallery balances exhibitions of skilled and developed paintings with large-scale installations. The gallery is situated in the gallery house on Rudi Dutschke Strasse, the first home of the several of Berlin’s high-end galleries. Alexander Levy’s shows fit perfectly with the older crowd, both by satisfying their need to see well thought out work but also injecting the youthful vision (and audience) that the gallery has so clearly established.

Croy Nielsen

WEYDINGERSTRASSE 10

Deservedly one of the most critically recognised galleries in Berlin, Croy Nielsen carries a stable of young, conceptually driven, ultra-fresh artists. Current discourse and criticism about new media work has strayed from blanket language around the internet, now expecting more from digitally native artists than merely recognizing the high speed of technological development. The artists at Croy Nielsen universally take on the challenge of defining their work as integrated in the recent global landscape, rather than just acknowledging its existence.

Supportico Lopez

Kurfürstenstrasse 4

When you ask someone in Berlin what their favorite gallery in the city is, Supportico Lopez will make almost every list. The gallery embodies the spirit of what every Berliner wants to be: fiercely independent, well thought out, seemingly more interested with organising high-quality shows over driving sales, and friendly. They have resurfaced historical exhibitions, worked with new media artists to develop their practice beyond the screen, and perpetually try to redefine the delineations between installation, exhibition, and sculpture. It is always a pleasure to walk into the gallery; you will certainly be welcomed and then you’ll have a conversation that is ignited by the work but quickly transcends beyond the gallery walls.

Chert

SKALITZER STRASSE 68

Extremely conceptual and highly international, the fact that Chert is often cited as a favourite by other gallerists is an indicator of the respect that founder Jennifer Chert garners within the community. Seemingly unswayed by trends and interested in the most poetic means of creating exhibitions, nothing about Chert is loud. Instead, it is a space away from other galleries where exhibitions are viewed not as part of a stream of Berlin art party openings, but a destination to go to and then contemplate work that is being made by artists across the globe.

Micky Shubert

Bartningallee 2-4

The responsibilities of a Berlin gallery are more nuanced than that of a city that is packed with collectors: A gallery must project a balanced image of intellectualism, innovation, and anti-consumerism in the art world, all while thoughtfully and responsibly representing their roster of artists. Micky Schubert has found this balance perfectly. Situated far away from the gallery centers of the city, with a program of extremely solid, well-respected artists who show globally at excellent museums and at the best young art fairs. She mounts shows that are excellent, innovative, presentations that feature artists that will be seen elsewhere on an high profile platform shortly thereafter. A perfect iteration of the Berlin gallery done right.

Gillmeier Rech

Körnerstrasse 17

There is a new wave of dada in Berlin: Work that is deeply humorous, passionate, researched, and coy, often not immediately beautiful, but always captivating. This new iteration of the avant-garde is on view regularly at the new gallery Gillmeier Rech. Although the gallery has only been open for less than a year, the six exhibitions already put on have demonstrated penchant for putting this new movement forward.


See more of City Guide: Berlin on Artsy.

Max Schreier