CNBC Business Magazine, Nov. 1, 2011
Ute Litzkow is pretty pleased. She has sold three art works so far at Berlin’s annual Kunst Herbst (‘Art Autumn’). The 38-year-old is standing next to one of her pieces, a vibrant multicoloured version of a traditional Japanese print, in one of the countless large booths that are lined up in rows in a cavernous hangar of the former Tempelhof Airport.
The crowd is heaving on the opening night of Preview Berlin, a satellite show dedicated to emerging art that usually occurs alongside the city’s traditional art fair, the Art Forum. However, this year the main event is not taking place and Litzkow says she has heard that several international collectors have not been spotted this year. “Berlin without an art fair,” she says. “It’s crazy.”
The cancellation of the floundering Art Forum, which had been going for 15 years, wasn’t a huge surprise, but it occurred against the background of a sluggish market, closing galleries and a spat between artists and the city government in what has been a turbulent year for Berlin art.
“After years of promises, and of feeling that Berlin is going to be the next big city, it feels now that it’s not going to be any bigger,” says Thomas Eller, an artist who also served as managing director of the Temporäre Kunsthalle, a temporary exhibition space set up on the old site of the Berlin palace in 2008. “That is why there is a certain air of disappointment here.” The way Eller sees it, there is a feeling that the city may be peaking as an art market.
While Berlin has long enjoyed a reputation as a vibrant creative centre attracting artists, both struggling and successful, it has not really been able to translate that into a thriving commercial hub. And there is frustration at the government’s lack of understanding of the needs of the city’s artistic community and at its failure to fund a really strong public infrastructure. Continue reading
What happens when a Hollywood heartthrob and the art world collide? Berlin is about to find out as it plays host to James Franco’s first ever commercial gallery show. The actor spoke to SPIEGEL ONLINE about the challenges of overcoming the skeptism and embracing his own celebrity in his art.
The idea that Berlin has become a mecca for young artists from across the world has become something of a cliché, but the buzz surrounding a new art opening on Saturday night has less to do with the much-hyped city than the global celebrity of the artist himself.
Hollywood actor James Franco is launching his first commercial gallery show in the German capital, with works that address the anarchy and confusion of adolescence, and that also play with the unavoidable fact of his own fame.
The show features “childhood motives and images,” Franco explained to SPIEGEL ONLINE. “It’s about coming of age or defining oneself and the kind of self-definition that comes when you’re younger.” Continue reading
Odor expert and smell artist Sissel Tolaas straddles the worlds of art, science and commerce. She believes that humans are not reaching their olfactory potential and that we need to get rid of the notions of good and bad smells.
Sissel Tolaas is difficult to label. She’s an artist, chemist, odor theorist and smell missionary. Now she can add “magazine curator” to her CV. The current issue of MONO.KULTUR, an arts quarterly published in Berlin, features 12 of the scents she has produced in her Berlin lab. All you need to do is scratch and sniff.
The Scandinavian smell expert, who has degrees in chemistry, art and language, is on something of a mission to change the way we think about our olfactory capabilities. She argues that an appreciation of our sense of smell can allow us to live our lives to their full potential. “We can be nothing without the nose,” she told SPIEGEL ONLINE in an interview. “The moment we stop breathing we are dead. With every breath we take in thousands of molecules.”
For 20 years, the Norwegian-born Tolaas has been engaged in researching odors, collecting an archive of some 6,700 smells in her West Berlin apartment and training her nose to not just detect scents but to remove her emotional baggage about notions of odors being good or bad. Her interdisciplinary research and conceptual approach has led her to put on art installations, work with universities on research projects and put her knowledge to commercial use. Continue reading