When it comes to art in Berlin, it can be hard to decide where to start, especially in a city famed for such a lively and burgeoning creative scene.
As with the recently opened Venice Biennale 2022, contemporary women artists are currently leading the way in Berlin, with institutional highlights being American art icon Barbara Kruger’s takeover of the upper level of the recently refurbished Neue Nationalgalerie, local artist and former fashion designer Alexandra Bircken’s nightmarish installation at the Kindl, and Candida Höfer’s staggering portraits of vacant public spaces at Museum für Fotografie. Also not to be missed are Swedish sculptor Nina Canell’s meditation on minerals, animals, and technologies at Berlinische Galerie, and Libby Heaney’s musings on quantum physics at Schering Stiftung.
Following on from Gallery Weekend Berlin, we’ve collated some first picks to get you started:
Exhibition: ‘Die Blüten von Berlin’ (Petrit Halilaj & Alvaro Urbano with Annette Frick) Gallery: ChertLüdde Dates: until 28 May
Berlin-based artists Petrit Halilaj and Alvaro Urbano, who are partners in life, have worked together to produce pieces that reflect the polarity of built environments and natural spaces. Their show at Chert Lüdde, named after a song by late drag queen Ova Maltine, pairs their monumental flowers with Frick’s intimate photographs of the queer and punk subcultures of Berlin. They have also created vibrant, two-dimensional artworks out of repurposed wallpaper from the recent renovation of the gallery space – which had been a decoration store for 70 years – in an additional nod to Berlin’s history.
Exhibition: Xenia Hausner, ‘Unintended Beauty’ Gallery: König Dates: 29 April – 19 June
Austrian painter Xenia Hausner presents 12 new paintings exploring her idea that ‘in art, terror is nothing but the start of beauty’. Hausner’s defined but dream-like images take on new layers of meaning when we learn of her former career as a set designer. Hausner describes the people she paints being a part of her story. Her work is a theatre in itself, capturing intriguingly staged moments of fictional connection.
Exhibition: Sterling Ruby, ‘In Warm Shroud. Kissing the Bloom Crux. A Frost Window.’ Gallery: Sprüth Magers Dates: until 30 June
Sterling Ruby’s wide-ranging new show captures the artist’s ability to move seamlessly across mediums, resulting in striking and dizzying works that dominate spaces and immerse viewers. ‘In Warm Shroud. Kissing the Bloom Crux. A Frost Window.’ draws from themes of verticality, duality, craft, domesticity, and shifts in scale – notably in a series of new, monumental wall-based works for the show that blend the worlds of painting and textiles.
Exhibition: Thomas Struth Gallery: Galerie Max Hetzler Dates: until 21 May
Spread across two of Galerie Max Hetzler’s Berlin galleries, German photographer Thomas Struth’s untitled show encompasses two bodies of work with juxtaposing aesthetics but interlinked themes. Bleibtreustraße 45 holds images of environments, from the tangled cable web of scientific research facility basements to the winter landscapes that Struth became familiar with across two years of pandemic-induced isolation. Across the road is Bleibtreustraße 15/16, which holds new additions to his 1985 Family Portraits series. The two spaces pay homage to the mutual experience of solitude, and the paradoxical unity we have all felt in more recent times.
Exhibition: Ai Weiwei, ‘The Pleasure of Home’ Gallery: Neugerriemschneider Dates: 30 April – 14 May
Ai Weiwei explores a variety of mediums in his new show, which spans photography, film and images created from Lego. His starting point was a set of photographs he found on the shores of Lesbos, which are assumed to be lost by refugees on their journey to Europe. Ai welcomes the refugees into his creative and personal space by placing these images next to similar personal images of his own family. He then contrasts the playful medium of Lego with images of incarceration and military activity, and in doing so raises questions about social discourse and rouses the viewer to take a stand against violence and oppression.
Gallery Weekend Berlin runs from 29 April – 1 May 2022. gallery-weekend-berlin.de
Receive our daily digest of inspiration, escapism and design stories from around the world direct to your inbox
Martha Elliott is the Junior Digital News Editor at Wallpaper*. After graduating from university she worked in arts-based behavioural therapy, then embarked on a career in journalism, joining Wallpaper* at the start of 2022. She reports on art, design and architecture, as well as covering regular news stories across all channels.
BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA brings Esther Mahlangu’s art to life at Frieze LA
BMW’s Art Car Project has rarely impacted on the company’s everyday business of building cars. With the BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA, could all that be about to change?
By Jonathan Bell Published
This Walter S White house in Indio is given a new lease of life
This Walter S White house in Indio, California, has been redesigned for the 21st century by Sean Gaston
By Hadani Ditmars Published
The Arts Foundation Futures Awards 2024 celebrate UK’s rising creatives
Here are The Arts Foundation Futures Awards 2024 winners, spanning theatre writing, jazz composition and regenerative design
By Tianna Williams Published
Lawrence Lek’s depressed self-driving cars offer a glimpse of an AI future in Berlin
Lawrence Lek’s installation ‘NOX’, created with LAS Art Foundation, takes over Berlin’s abandoned Kranzler Eck shopping centre
By Emily Steer Published
Ryoji Ikeda and Grönlund-Nisunen saturate Berlin gallery in sound, vision and visceral sensation
At Esther Schipper gallery Berlin, artists Ryoji Ikeda and Grönlund-Nisunen draw on the elemental forces of sound and light in a meditative and disorienting joint exhibition
By Harriet Lloyd-Smith Published
Monica Bonvicini ‘I do You’ review: bondage, mirrors and feminist takes on masculine architecture
Emily McDermott reviews Monica Bonvicini’s much-anticipated exhibition ‘I do You’ at Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie
By Emily McDermott Last updated
Artist Ian Cheng explores the technological and aesthetic potential of AI
In Berlin’s cavernous Halle am Berghain, New York-based artist Ian Cheng plunges viewers into an immersive world of AI and existential anime in ‘Life After BOB’
By Will Jennings Last updated
Documenta 15 review: social practice, controversy and food for thought
Mired in evolving controversy, Documenta 15 has raised critical questions about transparency, accountability and creative freedom. Emily McDermott travels to Kassel to explore how an edition filled with social practice art urges active participation and throws global power structures into sharp relief
By Emily McDermott Last updated
12th Berlin Biennale review: a fiercely political exploration of reparation and modern angst
As the Berlin Art Week festivities enter full swing (14-18 September) it's the last chance to see the 12th Berlin Biennale curated by Kader Attia. It tells a poignant, sometimes-crushing story of globally interconnected histories and the angst of modernity
By Hili Perlson Last updated
Artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen on how VR can bring us closer to nature
Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen leverages virtual reality technologies to reorient our relationship with the natural world.
By TF Chan Last updated
Thomas Struth on the day he photographed the Queen and Prince Philip: ‘It was an experiment’
To mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, German artist Thomas Struth looks back on the moment he created a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip: ‘It’s an exotic part of my oeuvre because of who they are’
By Harriet Lloyd Smith Last updated