Sprüth Magers

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Sprüth Magers is a commercial art gallery owned by Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers, with spaces in London, Berlin, and Los Angeles, representing artists including Peter Fischli & David Weiss, Andreas Gursky, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman and Rosemarie Trockel. The gallery was founded in 1998 through the merging of their individual galleries.


In February 1983, Monika Sprüth opened her first gallery in Cologne. Advocating the talents of then-emerging artists Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman and Rosemarie Trockel, Sprüth countered a "Cologne over-run by male artists" with a gallery focused on women.[1] Divorced from the écriture feminine of 1970s French feminism as well as what is generally described as a more 'militant' American critique, the perspective advanced by Sprüth sought to acknowledge the significance of sexual politics while seeing these artists as artists first, not 'women artists' condemned to endlessly labor beneath the category of gender.

Emblematic of this perspective is Sprüth's publishing venture Eau de Cologne: an "effervescent, shape-shifting magazine, featuring almost exclusively women artists and art practitioners – which she published, with accompanying exhibitions, three times between 1985 and 1993".[1] Combining theoretical discourse with visual practice, Eau de Cologne "gave artists such as Trockel, Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Cindy Sherman, Louise Lawler and Jutta Koether a European venue to pursue their own self-making and critical empowerment".[2] While the final 1989 edition was co-edited by art historian Karen Marta and Cologne-based artist Jutta Koether, the first two editions in 1985 and 1987 were edited solely by Sprüth and featured early work by Sherman and Kruger as cover art. The Sherman photograph is taken from what is often called her 'disasters' series – an abused and mutilated grotesque – while Kruger's work is a close-up shot of a woman's sharply-taloned hands holding her face in a universal expression of grief. Bannered across the bottom of Kruger's image is the phrase ‘Are we having fun yet?’ The critic Johanna Burton observed: "We are given female portraits (basic advertising wisdom tells us that the best way to sell a magazine is to put a girl on the cover) and yet granted none of the reflexive visual gratification usually attached to the genre".[3] By adhering to conventional expectations on the one hand while defiantly severing these figures from a clichéd iconography of feminine allure on the other, Sprüth’s editorial decisions sought to render gender stereotypes explicit.

While Sprüth’s interest and belief in the aesthetic influence of women was a notable aspect of her first Cologne gallery, she also had a role in developing the early careers of such artists as conceptualists Peter Fischli & David Weiss and Louise Lawler, photographers Andreas Gursky and Thomas Demand, and painters Andreas Schulze, George Condo, Axel Kasseböhmer and Thomas Scheibitz. All of these artists are still represented by Sprüth over twenty years later.

It was also in Cologne that Philomene Magers opened her gallery in 1991, focusing primarily on an earlier generation of artists than those represented by Sprüth. These post-war figures included Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Dan Flavin, Ad Reinhardt, John Baldessari, Richard Artschwager and Ed Ruscha. Magers also exhibited work by younger artists like Sylvie Fleury and Karen Kilimnik, developing a strong international programme within a German space.

Sprüth and Magers’ complementary programmes and shared interests led to the merger of their two galleries in 1998. As J.S. Marcus writes in an Art + Auction article from 2009, this convergence created "a powerhouse on the European art scene. Serving as a primary gallery for some of the world's most important artists – including the German photographers Andreas Gursky and Thomas Demand and the American artists Cindy Sherman and Jenny Holzer – Sprüth Magers symbolized Cologne's importance as an art center".[4] Following their initial merger, Sprüth Magers expanded further with a gallery space in Munich and a London gallery in 2003, located on Berkeley Street in Mayfair.

Sprüth Magers has galleries in Berlin and London as well as an office in Cologne. Central among these locations is the Berlin gallery, which opened in October 2008 and is located in the heart of the Mitte district a block away from,[5] "the city's premier non-commercial venue for emerging artists".[6] Drawn to Berlin by its lively artistic discourse, multiculturalism and geographical location at the heart of Europe, Sprüth Magers’ relocation is both a sign of and a contributing factor to Berlin's ascent as a site of "art-world significance often compared to New York's in the ‘70s".[6] For, as Axel Lapp states in an article from Art Review, Sprüth Magers Berlin is "not so much a gallery as a museum space in a former dancehall on Oranienburger Strasse".[7] Sprüth Magers Berlin is directed by Franziska von Hasselbach and Iris Scheffler and featured as its inaugural show "sculptures by the local Dresden-born artist Thomas Scheibitz, known for his colorful assemblages".[4]

Renovated by Barkow Leibinger Architects, the multi-faceted gallery also contains Image Movement.

Image Movement[edit]

Image Movement is a high-concept film and record store with interiors designed by Sprüth Magers artists Rosemarie Trockel and Thea Djordjadze. Image Movement stocks art and architecture documentaries and show films throughout the day. In an article for Wallpaper magazine, Nick Compton describes the store as follows: "Covering art and art house, Image Movement carries the video and film work, across 600 titles, of artists such as Bill Viola, Matthew Barney, Douglas Gordon and William Wegman as well as cinema classics from Eisenstein, Chaplin, Buñuel and Cocteau".[8]

Sprüth Magers London[edit]

In 2007, Sprüth Magers London moved to a new Mayfair location on Grafton Street where it remains. Directed by Andrew Silewicz and Andreas Gegner, the gallery was named by a 2008 Evening Standard article as one of the "London Galleries to Watch". As author Ben Lewis describes, "With its 19th century carved wood and glass façade, Sprüth Magers gets my vote for the most beautiful gallery in London. This, the London outpost of Germany's leading blue-chip contemporary art gallery, has only been open in its present form for a year, and brings the rigour of German taste in international conceptual artists, photographers and new generation painters to London".[9] Home to exhibitions by such artists as Cindy Sherman, Thomas Demand and Jenny Holzer, Sprüth Magers London has also hosted film screenings of works by the Otolith group, David Lamelas, and Robert Morris.

Artists represented[edit]


  1. ^ a b Herbert, M. "The Other Half", Frieze, March 2009, pp. 32.
  2. ^ Anastas, R. "Introduction", Witness to Her Art. New York: Center for Curatorial Studies Bard College, 2000, pp. 20.
  3. ^ Burton, J. "A Will to Representation: Eau de Cologne, 1985–1993", Witness to Her Art. New York: Center for Curatorial Studies Bard College, 2000, pp. 195.
  4. ^ a b Marcus, J.S., "Paradigm Shift", Art + Auction, January 2009, p. 21.
  5. ^ KW Institute for Contemporary Art.
  6. ^ a b Bryant, E. "Berlin Rising", Art News, March 2009, pp. 92–99.
  7. ^ Lapp, A. "Berlin", Art Review, March 2009, p. 24.
  8. ^ Compton, N. "Image Movement", Wallpaper, May 2009, p. 143.
  9. ^ Lewis, B. "London galleries to watch", Evening Standard, 18 January 2008, pp. 46.


  1. Leitch, L. "The greats go head to head in The Times Modern Art 200", The Times — Times 2, 13 April 2009, pp. 2–4.
  2. Princethal, N. "Jenny Holzer", After the Revolution. Women Who Transformed Contemporary Art. New York: Prestel, 2007, pp. 144–167.
  3. Wright, B. "Art Business", Apollo, January 2009, p. 66.

External links[edit]