Istanbul has always been one of the hot spots of the European art community thanks to its galleries featuring the work of some of the most exciting artists from Turkey and beyond. During the COVID-19 period, galleries, like every other social venue, had to close their doors, but now with the normalization process beginning, most of them have reopened. After spending months of lockdown inside, this may be a good time to rediscover art. So, these are the most interesting and exciting art galleries open in Istanbul. Don't forget your masks!
Subtitled simply "Space for Art," Arter is an important young name amongst Istanbul’s contemporary art scene. Now located in its new spot in the Dolapdere quarter of Beyoğlu, the art center was previously housed in a tastefully-restored mansion on Istanbul's bustling Istiklal Street. It is large, bright, well-lit and set out more like a studio than a museum. It offers many exhibitions with different works such as video, paintings and sculptures. It benefits from strong international partnerships including its sister gallery, Tanas, in Berlin. It strikes a balance between tradition and innovation, and between local and international artists.
Just 150 meters down from Arter, Dirimart displays the work of emerging and established Turkish artists as well as renowned international names. It has become one of the leading galleries in Istanbul, participating regularly in national and international art fairs. The gallery opened a second location in 2016 designed by renowned architect Markus Dochantschi. It is a beautiful location full of contemporary art.
Housed in a handsome 19th-century building, Pera Museum sits on Meşrutiyet Avenue where the famous Pera Palace is also located, in a spot that rivals Istanbul's Istiklal Street in terms of architecture. Home to a substantial collection of Orientalist paintings, Anatolian weights measures and Ottoman tiles and ceramics, the museum is also known for its diverse and top-notch temporary exhibitions of artists from all around the world, including the likes of Pablo Picasso, Fernando Botero and Marc Chagall. The museum also has an in-house cinema displaying a variety of independent features, classic foreign films and shorts throughout the year.
Located in a converted warehouse in Karaköy neighborhood, Istanbul Modern is one of the most important hubs for contemporary galleries in the city. Though currently in a temporary home, it will move once the construction of the permanent presentation is completed in Galataport. The art museum not only displays the history of modern Turkish art but also other various international exhibitions. The gallery also houses a Cinema Center with a focus on new talent in the Turkish film world. One of the other attractions is the restaurant and its incredible view of the Bosporus.
Located in the heart of Karaköy neighborhood, Mixer tries to discover new talents in contemporary art, and it is the curator of some of the most exciting exhibitions in the city. It organizes various events with the aim of making modern art available to everyone. It creates space for emerging artists to realize their projects. It features a wide range of exhibitions of different disciplines including painting, collage and photography. The work of up-and-coming artists is available to buy, which makes it a must-see venue for collectors.
Salt is a nonprofit organization that promotes and supports innovation in Turkey’s cultural scene. Exhibitions held in the organization's second venue Salt Galata encompass contemporary and historic artwork. Visitors have access to digital resources, archives, a cafe, restaurant and bookstore. Workshop spaces and an auditorium also offer a wide range of experiences. Housed in a beautiful 120-year-old building that formerly belonged to the Ottoman Bank, Salt Galata is one of the most handsome structures in the city. The venue is a vibrant space located on the historical Bankalar Caddesi (Banks Street), the once-bustling financial center of the Ottoman Empire.
Yapı Kredi Cultural Center
Yapı Kredi Cultural Activities, Arts and Publishing is a center that has played a major role in the enrichment of life in Turkey. It has expanded greatly since its origins back in 1944. The center overlooking Galatasaray Square on Istiklal Street normally hosts over 200 artistic and cultural events each year. Yapı Kredi not only displays exciting contemporary art but also a number of exhibitions of literature, music, theater and more. The gallery's two rooms usually offer an interesting balance of archaeology and photographic or contemporary art.
Sharing the same building with Mixer, X-ist focuses on the future and it takes pride in discovering new modern art. It is dedicated to young and innovative artists and seeks to guide and inform visitors through the creation of works of art. The team excels in uncovering powerful and fresh creatives and craftsmanship. While informing and inspiring with its varied collections and artists, X-ist aims to become a reference point for the future of contemporary Turkish art.
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