Located in the valley of the magnificent River Elbe, Dresden has long been a cultural and artistic hub that culminated in its Golden Age of the 18th century, and led to its nickname, the Florence of the Elbe. Today, this German city is vibrant and on the rise again, with new galleries and fresh creative spaces that take a modern spin on this historic city. Here are the best galleries and exhibition spaces for contemporary art in Dresden.
Kunsthaus (literally ‘art house’) is a municipal exhibition space for contemporary art and events, including screenings and talks organized in conjunction with the Academy of Fine Arts Dresden. Its location in inner Neustadt, the heart of the city, makes it an accessible venue for its six to seven yearly exhibitions in addition to its more permanent displays. Visitors can expect high quality international art, often based upon thematic developments in the art world. Established in 1981, it has been host to a number of artists around the world, including Dominik Lang and Natsuko Uchino; speakers have included Goldsmith’s Astrid Butterfly and Charlotte Klonk.
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Galerie Gebr. Lehmann
In 1992, Frank and Ralf Lehmann founded this powerhouse gallery, a classic white contemporary space in Neustadt that highlights a variety of German and other foreign artists. Though the gallery seemed to begin with an emphasis on painting, today it displays many different media including photography and installations. It has been so successful that another location has opened in Berlin. A selection of artists that have exhibited here includes Georg Baselitz, Eberhard Havekost, Tatjana Doll, and Olaf Holzapfel. Galerie Gebr. Lehmann also displays work that reflects Dresden’s burgeoning urban culture, representing young artists as well as artists who have had their start in street art, such as Martin Mannig.
Located in the Ostragehege neighborhood of Dresden since 2007+ the Ostrale is the exhibition of contemporary art in Dresden. Housed in an old slaughterhouse and abattoir that was featured in Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, the exhibitions can often include a comment on the nature of the space that they are housed in. Sarah Key’s recent exhibit focused on this theme by using imagery from the Second World War to explore the relationship between the architecture of the complex’s buildings and the art. The Ostrale is supported both publicly and privately, and curators often feature up-and-coming talent within Dresden and beyond, though the exhibitions are usually displayed for a three-month period. The 2015 edition takes place between 10 July and 27 September.
Motorenhalle, the ‘engine shed,’ is a 600 square-meter art space that shows local artistic talent in an effort to revamp Dresden’s cultural significance. In this space, home to Riesa Efau and a part of the city’s Cultural Forum Initiative, the emphasis is not only upon the experience of artwork, but also on education. Each year, four exhibitions are put on in the Motorenhalle, involving guest artists and curators with a recent example including Judith Karcheter’s exhibit on space and visualization. A variety of media has been showcased here to date, such as photography, text, installation, and video. The space also holds performances and screenings of films and videos for visitors throughout the year.
C. Rockefeller Center for the Contemporary Arts
This gallery off-space, with its widespread, high beamed ceilings is one of the more intimate galleries in Dresden. The Rockefeller’s philosophy relies upon a discerning eye for talent rather than mere business, and the quality is certainly visible in the aesthetic of the gallery space that was founded in 2010. At 90 square meters, every detail matters, and the vision of Clark Rockefeller to manifest a paradisaical space allows room for more open and bold forays into contemporary art. The gallery has hosted Vladimir Turner and Mathieu Tremblin’s exhibit on the Waldschlösschen Bridge which was a polarizing issue since it led to the removal of the Elbe Valley from UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Art @ SAP
SAP, a Berlin-based enterprise founded in 1972, launched the art SAP initiatives to display contemporary works owned by the company. The types of media include more traditional painting and newer, digital art. At art @ SAP Dresden, founded in 2012, collaborations abound between local institutions, such as the Academy of Fine Arts to show student and graduate work. A recent exhibition included works by Manfred Peckl, Jan Grossman, and John Weiss, where Grossman created large colored geometric sculptures while Peckl worked on collaged sculptures that incorporated images from space. Still, both seemed to pose questions on form and pattern. The nature of art @ SAP means that it can act as the intersection between art and industry, while advancing the Dresden art scene.
Galerie Sybille Nütt
For a glimpse into works that represent the Dresden Painting School, visit Galerie Sybille Nūtt in the Baroque quarter, where you can see works of both contemporary and past Dresden artists. It was founded in 2002 and has since held four to five exhibitions a year, with an accompanying catalogue for each one. Artists represented by the Galerie include Antje Krohn, Beate Debus, and Helene B. Grossman. A recent exhibit entitled Winter Pictures featured work from fourteen different artists; also at the gallery was a retrospective of Detlef Schweiger, a contemporary artist whose work spanned the styles of painting, sound, installation, photography, and sculpture.
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