On 21 September 2013, Kewenig
opened its new Berlin location with Christian Boltanski's exposition Grosse Hamburger Strasse. After more than 25 years in the Rhineland, the gallery moved into the Palais Happe on the southern part of the Museum Island. The townhouse from 1688 was especially renovated for this purpose in conformity with heritage standards. Apart from that, the gallery operates a warehouse in a former transformer station in Berlin-Moabit. The gallery houses a part of Boltanski's artistical archive, which to date was located only in Malakoff near Paris; it is open to scholarly researchers.
In the exhibition Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Christian Boltanski refers to his permanent installation The Missing House in Berlin's former Barn District. In the gap left by a house destroyed in 1943, he had mounted panels with personal data about the former residents on the firewalls of the adjacent buildings to commemorate the fates of these individuals. During his research for The Missing House, Boltanski came across a picture that became the source of inspiration for many works: the black-and-white photograph shows a group of children from the former Jewish School in Grosse Hamburger Strasse. The show is a kind of personal retrospective over his entire oeuvre and a metaphor for life itself, because Boltanski not only meticulously reconstructs traces of the past, but poses questions about universal topics such as transience, recollection and the significance of each individual. "My work consists in a questioning of life, a search to understand who we are."
Christian Boltanski (b. 1944) is one of the most renowned contemporary artists. He has been repeatedly a guest at documenta and the Venice Biennale, and his works can be found in the large international museums such as New York's MoMA and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Christian Boltanski works with photography, sculpture and installation. In recent years he has created numerous monumental works such as Personne at the Paris Grand Palais and at the Hangar Bicocca in Milan, and No Man's Land at the Park Avenue Armory in New York and the Echigo Tsumari Satoyama Museum of Contemporary Art in Japan. For the French pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale, with his project Chance, he engaged with contingency and luck. The installation was shown also in Rio de Janeiro and Sydney. Most recently, the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg presented a Boltanski exhibition, Bewegt (Moved). Berlin plays a significant role in Boltanski's oeuvre. A significant work on democracy and dictatorship is on display on the basement floor of the German Bundestag.
Kewenig was established in 1986 by Jule and Michael Kewenig. The gallery's program comprises representatives of conceptual art, minimalism, arte povera and contemporary art. These include, among others, Ivan Bazak, Christian Boltanski, Marcel Broodthaers, James Lee Byars, Hanne Darboven, Elger Esser, Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, Kimsooja, Imi Knoebel, Jannis Kounellis, Hendrik Krawen, Mario Merz, Pavel Pepperstein, Viktor Pivovarov, Niele Toroni, Sandra Vásquez de la Horra, Marcelo Viquez and Ralf Ziervogel. Apart from Berlin, Kewenig retains a further location at a medieval chapel in Palma de Mallorca.