• Ideas
  • Jan 24, 2020

The New Arter and Its Collections

The new Arter building rises above the Dolapdere district of Istanbul. All photos by HG Masters for ArtAsiaPacific.

From the time the Vehbi Koç Foundation (VKF) opened Arter – Space for Art, in May 2010, in a restored apartment building along Istanbul’s İstiklal Avenue, the site never felt sizable enough to accommodate all the artworks that the institution’s curators wanted to display. Arter’s inaugural exhibition, “Starter,” curated by René Block, was bursting with 160 works by 87 Turkish and European artists across five narrow floors, not to mention the inflatable tank by Michael Sailstorfer (T 72, 2007) that barely fit in the building’s largest, street-facing gallery. In the 34 subsequent shows over the next eight years, the modest-sized rooms and nooks of an early 20th century residence would be filled with works—and at every opening, the narrow spiral staircase would be perilously jammed with guests, wine glasses in hand. Slightly cramped viewing experiences quickly became part of Arter’s exhibition style, and in many cases it suited works by Turkish artists who often work in home studio spaces better than, say, Istanbul Modern’s sprawling warehouse layout.