Cologne’s best galleries for Street Art
In seeming contradiction to its name and original point of reference, street art has long since conquered the gallery space. In there, one may often recognize the same motives and materials already known from the streets. And yet, presenting one’s work in an indoor space also always issues an entirely new challenge to street artists who accept the dare by creating specially devised artworks or by immediately painting and building into the white cube. Often enough, their work will not remain restricted to the exhibition space, but rather pushes back outside in order to paint and paste the streets anew. Cologne is home to a stunning number of galleries and initiatives dedicated to street and urban art. In the following, I would like to introduce you to some of the most exciting and innovative Cologne spaces and exhibition projects for the urban arts. Dropping by is a must for every aficionado!
The gallery on Pfeilstraße is home to two veterans of the Cologne street art scene: “Banana sprayer” Thomas Baumgärtel, who has been all over Cologne with his banana stencils since the 1980s, and xxxhibition, who makes his appearance with ever-new motives and media on the streets of Belgian Quarter. Yet also apart from these two, gallery owner Gerard Margaritis represents a large stock of artists that ranges from German street artists such as mittenimwald, Van Ray, and seiLeise to international protagonists like AVone. Murals, stencils and paste-up by 30works regulars may be found all over Ehrenfeld and the Belgian Quarter.
Inside the new exhibition space in Ehrenfeld, gallery owner Nils Müller, himself known for his photographic documentation of the graffiti scene, time and again presents works by a number of famed street artists.
Among them are US-American artists Mark Jenkins and Brad Downey, noted for their lifelike figures and urban hackings, respectively, as well as Hendrik ECB Beikirch, who has made a name for himself with his super-sized portrait works on giant urban surfaces. In the backyard of the gallery’s former location in Bismarckstraße 70 one may discover Beikirch’s largest mural in Cologne. Just around the corner, pop-up gallery POP;68 continues to show smaller exhibitions.
After several years of nomadism ArtyFarty Gallery has found a new permanent home in Ehrenfeld. In the relaxed backyard atmosphere of its new rooms, ArtyFarty presents fresh positions from the broad spectrum of the urban arts. This often includes redesigning its interior or exterior spaces, thus creating an intriguing interplay between art and architecture, gallery and street space. Regular barbecues and live DJ sets attract additional visitors in summertime. But also during its ‘homeless’ years Arty Farty’s activities never ceased: large-scale murals, realized in collaboration with Taroe & Tictone (2019) and Sozyone Gonzalez (2021), may still be discovered in the vicinity.
ArtyFarty Gallery | Leyendeckerstraße 27 | 50825 Cologne
Kunstbruder gallery offers low priced art prints with motives by local street artists just as much as by giants like Banksy. Part gallery, part studio space, this place is humming with creativity that often enough bursts out onto the walls of Roonstraße and the entire Belgian Quarter. No matter if spotted in the gallery or on the streets, Kunstbruder motives, such as the colorfully exploding tree, bright portraits of Frida Kahlo or all those cool, wise-cracking monkeys, immediately jump into one’s view.
Initiated by Cologne street artist seiLeise, Straßengold (street gold) considers itself first of all as a forum for street art in and around Cologne. However, part of its concept also comprise regular group exhibitions. The first two of them were realized at Kulturbunker Mülheim and featured the who is who of Cologne’s vibrant street art scene. Together with their colleagues from all over Germany, they have also always left their marks in the urban space on these occasions. On the project’s webpage a lot of valuable information on participant artists may be retrieved – always a practical tool when trying to identify the creators of new street gold!
Urban Loft Hotel
Urban Loft Hotel opened its doors on Eigelstein (not far from Cologne’s central station) in 2020. Even if not each of the countless artworks adorning its rooms and hallways may be labeled street art, the hotel’s interior and exterior nevertheless have to offer some urban highlights. Since the hotel’s opening, works by urban and pop artists are regularly exhibited in the lobby. Outside, the hotel’s back facade was painted by Berlin street artists Stohead and Mina. This abstract mural as well as a couple of other large wall paintings between central station and Hansaring may be best spotted when rolling by in a train.