GALLERY WEEKEND BERLIN: ARTIFICIAL SPRING FEVER

The art world’s spring season of 2017 begins with a thunderclap! Not with any spectacular piece of art news, unfortunately, but instead with a schedule overlap of the Gallery Weekend Berlin and the mother of all German art fairs, the Art Cologne.

Between the 28th and the 30th of April 2017, Berlin’s gallery owners present a wide range of both historic and contemporary works. This event is regarded as the starting point of the sensational art year of 2017. It is only every ten years that the program gets so crowded: This summer the openings of documenta, the Venice Biennale, and the Sculpture Projects Münster are all taking place within the space of two months.

By now, the capital’s art weekend has become a magnet for artists, collectors, and art connoisseurs from all over the world, who come to soak up the energy of Berlin’s art scene. Visitors from Russia, China, and the US are expected to come, as in the past years. Around 47 Berlin galleries open for a mixture of solo exhibitions and society events. For the occasion they present their artists individually and spare no efforts for the exhibitions. The event is headed by a private initiative of Berlin galleries, who decided thirteen years ago to join forces and produce synergy effects.

Featuring established artists as well as newcomers, the shows are spread over the entire city: BlainSouthern, for example, shows work by Jonas Burgert, Katja Strunz’s exhibition can be seen at Contemporary Fine Arts, “Judy” Lybke’s famous Leipzig gallery Eigen + Art chose Olaf Nicolai, while Galerie König selected Anselm Reyle, and Esther Schipper presents a show by Angela Bulloch.

LET THE TOSS OF A COIN DECIDE

But now, let’s move our attention to the Rhineland: The Art Cologne is scheduled from the 26th until the 29th of April – and everybody with their calendar at hand will notice the unfortunate timing with regards to the Gallery Weekend Berlin. Two of the art market’s crucial events happen more or less at the same time. Art aficionados, collectors, and especially gallery owners wonder if this scheduling was actually necessary: The reasons that were given – school holidays, and problems to find a different date because of other events at Cologne Trade Fair’s exhibition halls – do not seem entirely believable. There is a serious risk that both events will suffer because of this; a result that can hardly be the organisers’ intention.

Cologne or Berlin – this decision has been forced on many German galleries and art dealers. Competition is, of course, good for business but there is an unwritten law that the events of colleagues are to be respected, and therefore one doesn’t push in on their traditional dates. Especially for galleries that regularly participate on both occasions, the decision is very unfortunate, because they will face massive logistical problems as well as time pressures.

A LOSS OF PRESTIGE AND CUSTOMERS

21 of the 47 Berlin galleries that participated in the Gallery Weekend 2016, also showed at the Art Cologne in the past year. Being at both events in 2017 is almost impossible. Seen in an international context, this setup will probably weaken Germany’s position. Of course one could argue that collectors from overseas will not visit Germany twice within one month, and there might be synergy effects. However, travelling from Cologne to Berlin takes half a day, so either way one will miss out on important exhibition openings.

Some days are more exciting than others – more interesting, more thrilling, and ideally filled with art. We hope the concurrency of the two art events will not affect you too much, and you will be able to decide on one of the cities. If you pick the German capital, we will be happy to provide you with a charming and art-savvy Excellent Escorts companion. You will find recommendations for luxury hotels and starred restaurants in Berlin on our website.

All participating artists can be found on the Gallery Weekend Berlin’s website. To make sure your trip will be worth it – and to spoil you for choice – institutions like Museum Berggruen and Hamburger Bahnhof open their doors as well. Private collections, like Sammlung Boros or Me Collectors Room are also open to the public.

“Art is beautiful, but it is a lot of work,” as Karl Valentin once said. In 2017, the main effort lies in the logistics – at least if you are a visitor of the Gallery Weekend or the Art Cologne, or both. I for one have decided on Berlin this time.