Image courtesy of Financial Times
Istanbul is known for its breathtaking architecture, cuisine, and some of the warmest people. Geographically, it straddles two continents, with the western half situated in Europe and the eastern half in Asia. Istanbul is Turkey’s biggest city with a population of over 15 million people, it is also the economic, financial and cultural center of Turkey.
The best time to visit Istanbul is either in Spring or Autumn when the weather is moderate and crowds are less hectic. Getting around Istanbul by taxi is made a little easier with smaller denominations of Turkish Liras (in 5s, 10s, 20s). You can also opt to travel by the metro of the ferry as long as you have an Istanbulkart.
Istanbul has been known to have art events ranging from glamorous party spots to converted Ottoman power stations, showing works by emerging artists to masters. It is also home to Contemporary Istanbul, the leading art fair in Turkey that offers a platform for the city’s thriving art scene. Returning in September, it coincides with the Istanbul Biennial that stages its 16th edition in 2019.
The Artling brings you the Istanbul City Art Guide, highlight galleries, institutions and non-profit spaces worth checking out if you find yourself in Turkey’s bustling capital.
Founded in 2005 by Asli Sümer, .artSümer is a gallery that showcases cutting-edge contemporary art by artists. Expect works by local and international emerging as well and mid-career artists. They seek to represent artists who are at the early stages of their career, across a wide array of mediums from painting to photography, to sculpture.
Anna Laudel showcases young emerging and international artists not only within their dynamic exhibition program but also at international art fairs worldwide. Their gallery space is situated in a historic building boasting a vast exhibition space that spans 5 floors. They are a platform for public art discussions, workshops, and interdisciplinary readings. Their building also offers an art shop which offers prints, photographs, sculptures, ceramics, art journals of local and international artists.
Art On Istanbul was founded by art collectors Nil and Oktay Duran in 2011. It is a space that runs interdisciplinary programs with contemporary approaches to its exhibitions. The gallery aims to play a functional role between the artwork and audience by bringing together different aspects of their exhibition at any given point.
Founded in 2013 under the umbrella of Bozlu Holding, Bozlu Art Project has taken on a view on artworks that reaches beyond the usual cliques, aiming to develop an alternative discourse on all elements of art by way of projects such as holding panels, discussions sessions, creating an archive, producing exhibitions and contributing to a new literature. They are situated at the historical Mongeri Building built in the mid-1920s by architect Giulio Mongeri of Italian origin, a prominent figure in Turkey’s Early Republican era architecture. This site is home to Bozlu Art Project’s exhibitions, library, archive, publication work and artists’ talks.
C.A.M. Gallery was founded in 1992 and has since grown to become one of the most established and leading galleries representing both Turkish and international artists. C.A.M. Gallery participates in leading international art fairs and emphasizes on supporting young artists. 26 years on, they showcase exhibitions for their established artists and continuously discovers emerging talents.
Dirimart was founded by Hazer Özil in 2002 and has since aided in strengthening Istanbul’s role in the global artwork. Since its initiation, it has introduced internationally acclaimed artists to the Turkish arts scene, such as Hermann Nitsch, Bernard Frize and Sarah Morris to name a few. Additionally, they promote Turkish artists to the international platform.
In 2016, they launched a second gallery space, Dirimart Dolapded in Istanbul. This location not only offers a gallery space but also an outdoor sculpture garden, making it one of the largest galleries in Istanbul.
Galeri Miz was opened in 2011 with the aim of becoming a platform for contemporary art. With an Artists-in-Residence program as well as a Visiting Artist Program, they seek to develop not only the Turkish art scene but also bring international artists into their scope. The works produced at these residencies are exhibited within the gallery’s annual program.
Galeri Nev Istanbul is one of the most active and relevant commercial art spaces in Turkey. Building on a legacy of working with some of the country’s key modernist and contemporary artists, it has launched the careers of many established artists of today. Established in 1987, Gallery Nev is among the longest-running galleries in Turkey, and is recognized as one of the leading institutions at the forefront of shaping contemporary art history in the country.
Since 2001, Galerist has not only been promoting the careers of Turkish contemporary artists but also brings international art to Istanbul. As such, they have grown to become one of the leading contemporary art galleries in Turkey. In 2006, they published Art Unlimited, now one of the country’s leading art magazines. Their main gallery space, Galerist Tepebasi, is situated in a historical building that dates back to the 18th century.
A contemporary art space, Mixer aims to develop the new generation of Turkish artists by focusing exclusively on emerging talent. From helping artists visualise alternative ways of exhibition to developing public art projects, they have become a leading gallery that supports young artists at home and abroad.
Öktem Aykut was founded in 2014 by Doğa Öktem and Tankut Aykut, and is an art gallery that focuses on Turkish contemporary art. They aim to lead the younger generation of Turkish artists forward in their careers, and to strengthen their inter-generational connections within the Turkish art circles.
Pg Art Gallery was founded in 1993 and is committed to showcasing mid-career to established Turkish artists. They were one of the first Turkish contemporary art galleries to be initiated, and have also taken to exhibiting international artists in their program. Pg Art Gallery additionally gives special attention to young Turkish artists who live abroad and do not have local representation in Istanbul.
Founded in Istanbul in 1998, Pi Artworks expanded internationally and in 2013 moved its headquarters to Fitzrovia in London. Their Istanbul location continuously forges artistic relationships across the region and globally though working with institutions, art festivals and biennials. Their second London location has grown to help realise major institutional exhibitions in the UK.
PILOT is an inter-disciplinary space that supports creative projects. A converts nightclub from back in the 1970s, its 700 square metre gallery has been transformed into a rare space that offers various purposes, including an exhibition space, foyer and showroom. PILOT continues to introduce historic works in the canon of contemporary art, as well as works to come.
Sanatorium began as an initiative and after staging exhibitions at national and international levels, evolved into a gallery. This evolution into a gallery has allowed them to take part in international fairs, showcasing works by artists that they represent. One of their main missions is to serve as a platform that offers space for intellectual approaches, even if they contract one another.
Located at the heart of Nişantaşı, the arts center of Istanbul, Sevil Dolmacı Art Gallery showcases the works of young Turkish artists. Its gallery space at the St. Regis Istanbul Hotel periodically stages exhibitions for their Turkish artists.
x-ist is one of Turkey’s leading art galleries, founded with the aim of supporting young contemporary artists who produce universal ideas and mentoring them throughout their careers. Having moved to Karaköy from its address in Nişantaşı 14 years after its foundation, x-ist continues to be one of the strong actors of the contemporary art world, collaborating with galleries of have similar understandings.
Founded in 2008, Zilberman Gallery stages 10 to 12 exhibitions every year at its main space in Istanbul as well as its Berlin space. Their Istanbul space occupies two separate floors of Mısır Apartment, one of the most famous examples of art nouveau architecture in Istanbul. Each year, they end their exhibition with ‘Young Fresh Different’, a group show of works selected by an independent jury made to a nationwide open call.
Istanbul Modern is Turkey’s first museum of modern and contemporary art. Founded in 2004, they host an array of interdisciplinary activities that share Turkey’s artistic creativity and cultural identity. Established in an 8,000 square meter site in Karaköy on the shores of the Bosphorus, it has now moved to a temporary space in Beyoğlu, where it continues to visitors from May 2018 onward for three years while its new building is being constructed.
In 2019, Akbank Sanat is celebrated its 26th year. The center supports the development of contemporary arts in Turkey and hosts many international projects in different artistic fields, giving special attention to empowering young artists by creating opportunities for their artistic development. Their Contemporary Art Gallery has hosted over 200 exhibitions since 1993 and continues to showcase various projects throughout the year. Within the context of the gallery’s exhibition program, Akbank Sanat organizes exhibitions of world-renowned artists and hosts "Akbank Contemporary Artists Prize Exhibition" in order to support emerging artists. Akbank Sanat also has a contemporary art studio, multi-purpose hall, library, dance studio, and cafe.
Borusan Contemporary showcases work from the Borusan Contemporary Art Collection. This space houses a multi-platform program of exhibitions, events, educational activities, new commissions, and site-specific installations. Most of the program takes place at the Haunted Mansions (yes, you heard right) in Istanbul and coexists with their offices, creating a unique museum within an office paradigm. Outdoor terraces with breathtaking views of the Bosphorus are open to the public on the weekends.
The Elgiz Museum was founded by collectors Sevda and Can Elgiz in 2001 and is the first contemporary art museum in Turkey. Their privately-owned and non-profit institution takes on the mission to support the development of contemporary art with an international identity in a 2000 square meter space open to the public. This museum that houses their private collection is situated amongst the highrise buildings of Istanbul’s business district Maslak, within which its open-air terrace provides an exhibition platform for sculptors and land-art projects.
Expect works by notable contemporary artists such as Gilbert & George, Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger, Tracey Emin, Tony Cragg, and Sol LeWitt.
SALT’s activities are distributed between SALT Beyoğlu (on İstiklal Caddesi) and SALT Galata (on Bankalar Caddesi) in Istanbul. Salt explores critical theory in visual culture, cultivating innovative programs for research and experimental thinking. Expect to be challenged, excited, and provoked, as SALT is a site of learning and debate that encourages everyone to offer critique and response.
To check our more City Art Guides, click here.
Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.
Back to Top