Berlin’s art scene, once wild and free, is increasingly commercialized

Jeffrey Fleishman in the Los Angeles Times:

Screenhunter_02_jul_10_1149There’s a Starbucks near where the orgies used to be, and although the aura of Bohemia is distinct, things aren’t as unhinged as they were 17 years ago when punkers, pornographers, anarchists, squatters and artists of all persuasions landed amid the rust and drizzle of this liberated city.

It seems an era from a scrapbook, a time of cheap rents when everyone with a brush and a bit of brio claimed a garret. Some were talented; many were not. But they roamed the east side of a fallen wall, scavenging ideas and materials to make art and revive a naughty, creative spirit that resided here before decades of fascism and the Cold War.

The zeitgeist these days is more commercial. Galleries serve sushi amid prattle about hedge funds and economic indexes. Berlin has become a production center for works sold from Portugal to Dubai. Rents are going up. The dilettantes have departed. The foreign purveyors have nestled in. What remains is less the innocent verve of the past than an atmosphere that — although aesthetically adventurous and more open to experimentation than in most cities — has matured with a shrewd eye toward marketing.

More here.