Istanbul Art Scene-Check it out!

Pera Art Museum

Of all the art scenes I have observed around the world (out side of the US and Western Europe) Istanbul has one of the best contemporary art scenes around. A complex mix of high end art, international avant-garde, photography, installation pieces and the funky. After living for most of the year in South East Asia where museums tend to be historical and anthropological it was a real treat to hit a city with a vibrant gallery scene.stanbul Modern Museum

I have mentioned the Pera Museum in a previous post so I don’t have to tell you again what a little jewel it is….however, I must tell you about the Istanbul Modern. Located in an old warehouse on the edge of the Bosphorus this handsome update houses a permanent collection of 20th and 21st century Turkish art along with a great collection of photography. Their traveling exhibits represent important international artist from around the globe. I have visited the museum twice now and it keeps getting better. One of the draws of this space is its view of the Bosporus and the city behind it….the restaurant with its stunning views and great food is a wonderful place to hold up from being a tourist. Sit for awhile and watch the action on the Bosporus…Priceless.

Gallery Riff Art Project

Ahmet Ertug @ Gallery Riff

The Beyoglie area, which is due north of the Museum,  is where the majority of galleries are located. Leaving the Modern and going up hill towards Taksim Square I went up  Bogazkesen Caddesi. The street happened to be full of the more avant-garde of the cities galleries. I would be lying if I told you it was all wonderful…much of it did not appeal to me.  However the first gallery I walked into…Gallery Riff Art Project was a two story clean white gallery showing the works of the AMAZING Turkish Photographer/Architect/publisher….Ahmet Ertug. Five foot square photographs of architectural interiors…Baroque Theaters, Ottoman Mosques, Derelict Power Plants and Factories, Libraries and Museums….he captured the light beautifully and all of the images shown with such clarity and fineness of detail.The images sell for $30,000 each so they are not for the average Joe, but they were a joy to behold.Interior Store in Istanbul

I traveled up the street stopping in a art gallery here and an hip interiors store there until I came to the street that houses one of the art oddities of Istanbul…. The Museum of Innocence.  This micro-museum was conceived and funded by the Nobel Prize winning author Orham Panuk. Set in an old working class neighborhood this five story home is a collection of everyday objects…from cigarette buts to bits of porcelain. Groups of object collected in glass boxes…artfully grouped and beautifully displayed….each assemblage represents a chapter in the book and as you travel up from floor to floor the story unfolds. Brilliant! If you show up with your copy of the book you get free admission. If you are in the mood for a bit of quirky…Don’t miss it.

Museum of Innocence

Museum of Innocence

I kept traveling uphill from The Museum of Innocence and soon came to Istikal Caddesi which is one of the main commercial streets and a happening place. Primarily a pedestrian street it is lined with galleries, book stores, coffee shops, clothing stores, embassies, monuments museums etc.….the Beyoglie area is the place to be in Istanbul. Two of the galleries I discovered on this street…Rodeo and Art Sumer Galleries…. both exhibit high quality international contemporary art and are worth a visit.

Istikal Caddesi

Istikal Caddesi

If you feel like going up scale for a cocktail at the end of a hard day(and don’t I always) of museums and galleries then walk up past Taksim Square a few blocks till you get to the Hilton Hotel. Built in the day when glamour was still in vogue it is a tranquil oasis with a great bar and a incredible view. The hotel was built when Elizabeth Taylor was married to Nicky Hilton and all of Hollywood showed up for the Grand Opening…the walls are lined with pictures of all the stars there for the event…fun to check out.

Istanbul Neighborhood

Istanbul Neighborhood…Museum of Innocence street

Walking the neighborhoods between the Bosporus and Beyoglie was fun…always going uphilI as I zigzaged through residential neighborhoods window-shopping and stopping in a cafe or two and I kept  thinking… could I live here….well yeah, but only if I was part mountain goat and was looking for a heart attack!

I loved my day of Art in Istanbul.

In the cafe's of Beyoglie

In the cafe’s of Beyoglie

About Larry Bosco

In 2010 I had one of those “Is this all there is” moments and so in January 2011 I retired from Real Estate Appraising, sold off all my worldly goods and headed out as a solo traveler in search of a new place to live. Since then I’ve traveled around the world, made new friends and had many great adventures and some not so great. After staying almost a year in Cuenca, Ecuador I have headed back to South East Asia where I began the journey in 2011. Currently I am living in Chiang Mai, Thailand
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5 Responses to Istanbul Art Scene-Check it out!

  1. WOW! This place is a great find! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about all the art galleries. I clicked on all the links and looked through the work. Very stimulating! Of course you know I love Ahmet Ertug’s work! How wonderful that you could see it again. The Museum of Innocence looked very interesting I would love to see it one day and in fact all the galleries and museums there. I was intrigued with Orhan Pamuk so I read a little about him and order the book “Snow” from the library here. I see that he has gotten many awards for his writing. That restaurant that over looked the city seemed wonderful and it looked like it was open air too. And the Hilton!

  2. Thanks so much Larry for your writing and info about art in Istanbul! I’ve been wanting to get to this amazing city someday, especially when the art biennial is happening. Keep enjoying your travels and journey on!

  3. Ed Tohid says:

    Fabulous. This one brought back all kinds of memories. Istiklal Cadessi was the center of Istanbul for us the last time we spent a week there. I have to start planning a new trip now…

  4. James Voyles says:

    Great, Larry, I feel I have toured these places you write so descriptively about. Keep the posts coming for your devoted fans.

  5. You mean you’re not part mountain goat yet?

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