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Dec
27

Berlin flights-where artists ping

berlin art

berlin art

You don’t need to fly to Berlin to know that true artists are mourning the gentrification of Berlin.

Art coops and squats are being bulldozed to make way for shiny new development, foreign capital, turning the city into just another city. But Berliners are not that easy to put down.

artsy mitte

artsy mitte

People used to hop on cheap flights to Berlin just to take advantage of the cool, cutting edge scenes in the east.  Quarters like Prenzlauer Berg, Mitte and, more recently, Friedrichshain, have been slowly morphing into an oasis of prissy brunch spots and expensive children’s clothing stores. And they’re not at all happy about it!

theme song here

theme song here

Galleries that weren’t firmly established have been slowly pushed out by rising rents. And now new galleries have come, galleries that are established, that one could see in London and Paris, are on the scene.

Raabestrasse Prenzlauer

Raabestrasse Prenzlauer

Has Berlin’s art scene graduated to mainstream? Can you jump a Berlin flight and see the same quality here as in Paris, London and New York?

Yes and No.

On Auguststrasse, a short stroll away from Museum Island in Mitte, where Berlin’s main national museums draw a strong, constant arts crowd you’ll see art that rivals London and Paris.

This is where the landmark “Berlin 37 Räume,” or Berlin 37 Rooms, a cutting edge exhibition that was held in 1992 in 37 different empty apartments along the street, and is now lined with galleries. This is reason alone to fly to Berlin.

Auguststrasse

Auguststrasse

See the Kunst-Werke, or KW Institute for Contemporary Art, founded in 1991 by Klaus Biesenbach, a pioneer on the Berlin arts scene and the man responsible for the 37 Räume show and, four years later, the Berlin Bienniale for contemporary art. A former margarine factory, KW is now a handful of immaculate buildings around a courtyard that includes a trendy café where events like fashion shows and readings.

unapologetic art

unapologetic art

Along the same street, heavyweight galleries like Eigen + ART, Galerie Neu and Neugerriemenschneider cluster, while around the corner, back on Oranienburger Strasse, nestles Sprüth Magers, whose list of artists is a roll call of today’s arts wunderkinder, running from the 30-year-old French rising star Cyprien Gaillard, who won the Marcel Duchamp prize this year, to long-established names like Cindy Sherman and John Baldessari.

Still, not all is slick and expensive in Berlin. The city isn’t totally overpriced yet and the pinging of artists from quarter to less expensive quarter continues.

neu museum

neu museum

The newest spot where you’re going to see them crop up is along Potsdamer Strasse, in West Berlin’s Tiergarten district, which was actually once the art spot in Berlin.

Yep, until World War II, around 200 art and antiques dealers were there but never returned, until recently.

street art

street art

The gallery cluster on Potsdamer Strasse, is almost hidden from the public: the street is lined with cheap clothing shops, Turkish vegetable markets and empty storefronts, while most of the galleries are on upper floors or hidden in back courtyards.

Gallery owners are coming because they want to be part of something new. People like Martin Klosterfelde, a veteran Berlin gallery owner who moved his gallery Klosterfelde from a large hall near Checkpoint Charlie in 2009. Not far from his main space, Mr. Klosterfelde also runs Helga Maria Klosterfelde Edition,  in a former stationery store.

Blain|Southern

Blain|Southern

And then there’s massive loft like spaces and  vast halls housing cool international art scenes like the  high-end London gallery Blain|Southern which opened in April. And the almost 11,000-square-foot avant-garde fashion emporium, opened in July by the Berlin-based fashion impresario Andreas Murkudis.

Andreas Murkudis

Andreas Murkudis

But for all the new additions, there is still plenty of old-school scruff, including the nonprofit Freies Museum Berlin which hosts large group exhibitions and art-related talks in an unrenovated brick courtyard building.

Freies Museum Berlin

Freies Museum Berlin

The former red-light district of Schöneberg-Tiergarten to the south is another emerging art spot. And if the art begins to tire, there are always lots of things to do here at night, if you catch my drift.

red light art

red light art

No matter what you do, you can’t take the grit out of Berlin.  Art continues to roam, to ping, bounce off places always searching for a temporary home.  But one thing is for certain, Berlin is an art scene on par with the rest of the world.

Hop on a flight to Berlin and see what you’re missing…and don’t forget to book your cheap flights to Berlin for the upcoming Berlin Film Festival in Februrary.

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