Ralf Haensel started 401contemporary in Berlin in March 2009, driven by two motivations; to provide young artists with rooms in which to exhibit, a ‘spatial’ platform, but also to offer them a ‘time’ platform, a possibility to discover a connectedness with other artists across the boundaries of time. This concept provided the framework for a clear-cut and coherent gallery profile. The openings exhibition, presenting the Brazilian minimal artist Fernanda Gomes, followed, also in 2009, by the exhibitions ‘Linie (Line)’ and ‘ZEROplus’ are exemplary for the gallery’s methodology.
The relatedness between the gallery’s young and relatively established artists and their key works created in the 60s, 70s and 80s, has often initiated new interpretations and provided important stimuli for all parties involved.
At the start of 2011, 401contemporary moved from ‘Berlin-Mitte’ to Potsdamer Strasse, one of the most flamboyant art-creating-and-trading areas of the roaring-twenties-Berlin. This inimitable time capsule, together with the out-of-the-ordinary atmosphere evoked by the Cold War and later by the fall of the Berlin Wall, have had a tremendous impact on the artistic outpour of the city, and as such also on the positioning of the gallery.
In this context, 401contemporary seized a unique opportunity when in September 2011 the exhibition ‘Baumann & Fuchs’ took stage in the villa and atelier of Anton von Werner (1843-1915), imperial court painter and first Director of the University of Visual Arts.(Today: UdK). A meandering experience, ‘Baumann & Fuchs’ guided the visitor through the palimpsest made up of parts of the 19th, 20th and 21st century which converge in the rooms of this historical location, neighboring 401contemporary’s own spaces.
Bringing young artists and their work into this hologram of past and present through which they may find sound and meaningful ways to further carve out their future, is the gallery’s main mission.