German artists have always been integral to the story of European art, notably in the movements of Expressionism and Modern Art thanks to the Blue Rider Group. Some of the most famous German people of all time are artists; you may know names such as Richter, Klee, and Dürer.
Berlin is one of the great art cities on the planet. Yes, we know, really putting our necks out there, but how else are we to start this run-through of the German capital’s best galleries? Creative types have been flocking this way since forever, eager to tap into the intangible something that makes Berlin so magical. Cities don’t come much more exciting (a night out here proves that), and that excitement extends into the best art museums and galleries in Berlin.
1. Contemporary Fine Arts
Arguably Berlin’s best-known gallery space, Contemporary Fine Arts has been promoting idiosyncratic art from around the world since 1992. Run by Nicole Hackert and Bruno Brunnet, CFA’s programme blends the outré and fresh with big names in their airy Chipperfield-designed building near Museum Island. The diversity of the roster means that at any one time, you’re likely to see works by everyone from Berlin’s infamous Jonathan Meese to Georg Baselitz, Marc Brandenburg, the late Norbert Schwontkowski, Gert and Uwe Tobias, Daniel Richter and Katja Strunz, as well as Brits including Sarah Lucas, Peter Doig and Chris Ofili.
2. East Side Gallery
This mile-long section of the Berlin Wall preserves the paintings made on the Wall’s eastern side when it was brought down and is one of the most significant open-air permanent art exhibits in the world. The East Side Gallery, featuring over 100 murals, graffiti artworks, slogans and tags executed by a collective of Berlin artists, is a memorial to the pioneering street spirit that buzzed around the city during reunification.
3. Galerie Capitain Petzel
Housed in a dramatic, Soviet-era modernist block at the top of the Frankfurter Allee in East Berlin, Capitain Petzel is a light and airy space that, in a former life, was used to showcase ideologically-friendly art during the GDR era. Today, thanks to Cologne gallerist Gisela Capitain and her partner Friedrich Petzel, the programme takes in a wide range of contemporary artists from around the world, including John Stezaker, Wade Guyton, Martin Kippenberger and Sarah Morris. Even if none of these names draws you, Petzel’s premises are worth visiting for the architecture alone.