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Best Art to view in Hamburg
Hamburg was a merchant city – a wealthy albeit conservative one. As most port cities, its economy cantered around commerce and trading, with little acknowledgement of the arts and architecture unless they were a sound business investment. But in the last 25 years, Hamburg has become a city with an exciting landscape of young galleries and artists. In that time, two major modern museums were opened, making an impact in the international art scene, creating opportunities for modern artists and galleries. Now, you can easily spend an entire long weekend dedicated to the arts in Hamburg.
Opened in 1997 and located in an exquisite part of the city overlooking the Alster, this white cube has become a Hamburg landmark and has evolved into an internationally renowned museum for contemporary art. Technically, it is the third and latest instalment of the large Museum complex known as the “Hamburger Kunsthalle”. The old red-bricked Kunsthalle (the main building built in 1849) is the centrepiece and the Kuppelsaal (the domed-hall built in 1921) is the first annex. Both buildings are home to traditional collections: Rembrandt, Rubens or Caspar David Friedrich, Monet, Francis Bacon, Max Beckmann, Paul Klee and even Pablo Picasso. The contemporary art collection in the Galerie der Gegenwart, however, has truly established a high international reputation. With a number of top-notch exhibitions and extensive collection from pop art to present day, the museum has become a major attraction for Hamburg in recent years. Modern painting is represented with major bodies of work by German greats, such as Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter and Georg Baselitz. There is an important focus on conceptual art by the likes of Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, Robert Mangold and Hanne Darboven. The modern sculpture section gathers works by Thomas Schütte, Reinhard Mucha, Rosemarie Trockel and the great Isa Genzken. Finally, there is a collection of video installations by Bruce Nauman or specially commissioned works by Jenny Holzer.
The two beautiful halls (Hallen) are iconic, modern buildings dating back to 1911-1913, ranking among the major European exhibition halls for contemporary art and photography. The Deichtorhallen’s two halls house two institutions: The ‘Hall for Contemporary Art’ located in the northern Deichtorhalle is the largest single coherent exhibition space for contemporary art in Europe. The ‘House of Photography’ in the southern Deichtorhalle, is now the proud home to a major photographic collection of an exceptional international standard. Both halls are spacious and luminous – a real pleasure to spend time in, whether 30 minutes or 3 hours. The Deichtorhallen are located in the city centre, no more than 500 meters away from all the major hotels, the HafenCity and the Alster. There is also a metro station (U-Bahn Steinstrasse) close-by.
The Bucerius Kunst Forum is a private art gallery located in the heart of Hamburg, right next to the City Hall. It displays international artwork in four rotating exhibitions each year. Over the years, this venue has flourished into a top-notch attraction. Each exhibition is marked with exciting events, from concerts, readings and discussion panels by artists. The works displayed here encompass a range of Europe’s finest, with a focus on modern classic painters like Monet, Picasso, and Miro. Recently, some edgier works have been added, including photography by the great Anton Corbijn. Inside the gallery you also have one of the best lunch options in the city.
As one of the oldest art societies in Germany, the Kunstverein Hamburg has been showcasing international contemporary art since 1815. This venue has lived through the ups and downs of history and seen difficult days: the beautiful room near the central station was at one time requisitioned by the Nazis to display their approach to art. After the war the society re-emerged as a small but important gallery in Germany, and continues to challenge the status-quo of the art world. The Kunstverein is a true authority on avant-garde works in Germany and Europe. Visitors here tend to be young and open to even the most minimalistic form of art or the loudest light and sound installation from lesser-known artist.