One of Berlin’s more revered dealers, Giti Nourbakhsch, has announced via YouTube that she is closing her gallery. The video shows her dancing to the song of German rock legend Udo Lindenberg. The chorus translates, “I will do my thing / Regardless of what the others say.” A link to the video was pasted into a short e-mail that offered little in the way of explanation or future plans. It read only, “The gallery closes in March.”
The announcement came just days after the official list of Art Basel 2012 participants was released, and she was not among them. Asked by A.i.A. whether she had applied for the fair, Nourbakhsch declined to comment. In 2011, the gallery was ousted from the fair after five years. She made waves in the Berlin art world and beyond for penning an open letter accusing the Art Basel selection committee of favoritism. Three of the six committee members were Berlin dealers-Tim Neuger of neugerriemschneider, Claes Nordenhake and Jochen Meyer of Meyer Riegger. (Judy Lybke of Eigen + Art also fought back after being dropped from the fair in 2011.) In her letter Nourbakhsch alluded to her colleagues in Berlin: “I have lost all desire to continue working in this cliquey city.”
Last Saturday, at the opening of her final exhibition, she told A.i.A., “It would be ridiculous to think such a major decision was based on certain events of the last one or two years. . . . At most these events accelerated the decision-making process.”
Showcasing works by six of the gallery’s artists in two solo and one group show (through Mar. 3), the offerings were too unspectacular to have been intended as a farewell, although Spartacus Chetwynd’s installation includes a dropped curtain, which might suggest a finale.
Neighboring gallerist Christine Heidemann told A.i.A., “I am sad to see the gallery close. I always found inspiration in Giti’s program and the atmosphere she created.” Dealer Alexander Duve said he was “astonished.”
Nourbakhsch is respected among colleagues for her pioneering gallery program and her ability to spot new artistic talents. She was one of the first galleries to show artists such as Anselm Reyle and Katja Strunz. Those artists departed for blue-chip dealers in the mid-2000s. Nourbakhsch replaced them with emerging figures like Ida Ekblad and Joachim Koester.
Nourbakhsch told A.i.A., “One cannot close a gallery with an overhanging debt. I’m able to close my gallery because I have no open invoices.”
One Berlin gallerist left a flower pot with two blue Hyacinths, traditionally offered as an expression of sincerity, on the front desk at Nourbakhsch.
Giti Nourbakhsch and her Assistent Adel Halilovic in 2009. Photo by Birgit Krause.