Shark Tank

Kristian Vistrup Madsen at the 2019 Gallery Weekend Berlin

Dealers Bärbel Trautwein, Alex Schröder (Neu), and Marie Christine Molitor with collector Alexander Vilvil.

ON FRIDAY, I FLEW TO CÔTE D’AZUR in a private jet, and I am happy to confirm that the Alps are still snowcapped—it’s not all over quite yet, then. The lunch excursion was to Art Monte Carlo, an event that inserts itself into Berlin Gallery Weekend by making available a private shuttle. A luminously beautiful girl who sat with me on the plane got several hundred likes for a selfie taken in its cream leather interior. “Instagram is like alcohol: It manufactures the lack that drives it,” said a Greek collector with indigo eyeshadow who otherwise kept quiet. Her gold bangles rattled as our Mercedes pulled up to Monte Carlo’s convention center. “Everyone’s a leaky bucket,” she concluded, stepping out of the car, “but social media turns the drip into a waterfall for hydropower.” The beautiful girl nodded in agreement. It was chilly in the crammed tax haven, the sky completely black over the hills. I was there for two hours.

Dealers Stefanie Sprinz and Juan Larraín.

Back in Berlin, at Esther Schipper, Ryan Gander ordered martinis for the leaky buckets in attendance. I requested mine dry but dirty, since it was five in the afternoon and I felt the vodka ought to be watered down with something. In the far corner of Gander’s exhibition, a small mouse robot peeked out of the wall and spoke in the voice of the artist’s daughter, trying and failing to get a word in. The tiny creature made a kind of punctum for a weekend where listening has notoriously been outbid by showing and showing up.

Crowding onto the smoking balcony, visitors to Galerie Buchholz prepared themselves for the white asparagus dinner promised by the season. (In this part of Germany, “Spargelzeit”—asparagus time—is like Christmas.) “It makes your pee smell weird, but in a good way. Make sure to savor it,” said one of Anne Imhof’s dancers, a Berlin demographic I find always rich with such nuggets of wisdom. Inside the gallery, Michael Krebber still managed to piss people off with his typical slapstick sacralizing of sparse doodles on perfectly primed canvases. The artist turned sixty-five with this show, titled “Wirklichkeit erschlägt Kunst” (Reality Beats Art)—not a bad realization to achieve at that age.

Kestnergessellschaft director Christina Végh, Curator Beatrix Ruf and artist Willem de Rooij.

“Weren’t we at lunch together in Monte Carlo?” I barked at Beatrix Ruf, when we met again at Café Einstein for the much-anticipated Spargel-feast, courtesy of Buchholz, Barbara Weiss, Galerie Neu, and Sprüth Magers. Ruf had been on the jury of the Prix Solo art prize the day before. “Did you see the seascape?” she asked me. “It was amazing. As if Monaco could get any more weird!” From the terrace of the convention center, where the view of the Mediterranean should have been, a massive painting of the missing horizon covered up the construction site where Renzo Piano’s new eco settlements will stretch into the ocean. What would be really eco is to just stop everything entirely. “Prost,” I said to Ruf, still thinking about the Alps.  

But, of course, no one is stopping. Rain-soaked hordes piled into the Volksbühne’s Grüner Salon to celebrate Raphaela Vogel’s and Jana Euler’s exhibitions at BQ and Galerie Neu, respectively. Both were among the highlights of the weekend. Vogel’s video installation Tränenmeer (Sea of Tears) shows the artist on a windswept rock pounded by waves. The spectacular drone footage gives a futuristic edge to her ’80s gothic look, amplified by Italian schlager star Milva’s “Ich hab’ keine angst” (I Am Not Afraid) blasting full throttle from the speakers. There was no fear in Jana Euler’s massive paintings either, though great white sharks hurl themselves at the viewer. Likewise, when the Grüner Salon screamed along in unison to an extended house mix of Toni Braxton’s “Un-Break My Heart,” it was not out of desperation, but courage.  

Artist Pieter Schoolwerth and dealer Amadeo Kraupa-Tuskany.

From Saturday’s gala dinner I have little to report outside of how elegant and friendly everybody was, and how white wine can seem to constitute your being as well as flush it away. The Schinkel Pavilon had organized a secret bar behind the scaffold of Kino International, and what happened there is perhaps best kept secret, too. On Sunday, Vogel’s big poodle puppy Rollo was the only mammal left alive, and he even sported a fresh haircut, as much of his fur was stuffed into the Tränenmeer installation. He energetically leapt at the food served by the Babe’s Bar collective at KW, the rest of us art-vegetables happily giving agency up for lost. I ended the weekend at Éclair, a Moabit project space where the painter Magnus Andersen showed a meditative lamp installation. “It is of great ornamental value to the human mind to contemplate cabbage over a long period of time,” spoke the dramatic voice-over. And there, I think, is my next week planned out.


Writer Kirsty Bell, Frieze editor Pablo Larrios, writer Kito Nedo.



Krist Gruijthuijsen and his mom Marlie.



KW Curator Cathrin Mayer, artist Leda Bourgogne.



KW Curator Maurin Dietrich and dealer Juan Larraín.



KW Director Krist Gruijthuijsen and curator Fabian Schöneich.



Artist Math Bass and writer Emily Segal.



Nina Pohl (Schinkel Pavilion) and Maike Cruse, director Berlin Gallery Weekend.



Raphaela Vogel, artist, with poodle Rollo.



Schinkel Pavilion director Nina Pohl and Die Welt writer Boris Pofalla.



Simon Fujiwara, artist, and Stefan Kalmar of ICA London.



Tanja Wagner and Šelja Kamerić.



Tim Saltarelli from Miguel Abreu, Curator Kyla McDonald, and Mitch Speed.



Dealer Manuel Miseur (Esther Schipper) and artist Ryan Gander.



Beatrice Borromeo, ambassador of Art Monte Carlo, and Nouveau Musée National de Monaco curator Cristiano Raimondi.



Artist Jesse Stecklow and dealer Lucas Casso.



Artist Kolja Glaeser with curator Daniel Muzyczuk.



Artist Michael Krebber and Kunsthalle Bern director Valérie Knoll.



Artists Jonas Lipps and Amelie von Wulffen with dealer Daniel Herleth.



Artists Oscar Enberg and Nigin Beck in Beck's exhibition at Ashley.



Artists Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz.



Artists Tobias Spichtig and Calla Henkel.



Dealers Bärbel Trautwein, Alex Schröder (Neu), and Marie Christine Molitor with collector Alexander Vilvil.



Artist Guido van der Werde with Fluemtum founder and collector Markus Hannebauer.



Boris Pofalla, Die Welt, and Nadja Abt, Texte zur Kunst.



Carolin Leistenschneider, Eberhard Havekost and Sigrid Streletzki.



Clement Delepine and Jelena Seng.



Collector Julia Stoschek, curator Lisa Long and JSC director Monika Kerkmann.



Dealer André Schlechtriem & writer Frédéric Schwilden.



Dealer Fabienne Leclerc and dealers Florence Bonnefous and Edouard Nerino of Air de Paris.



Dealer Franco Noero.



Dealer Kamel Mennour, Art Monte Carlo fair director Thomas Hug.



Math Bass and Jamillah James.



Ellen Seiferman (Kunsthalle Nürnberg) and Nairy Baghramian.



Izabella Bortolozzi and artist Veit Laurent Kurz.