Johann König makes Art Pop
Johann König likes to do things out of the ordinary. Art has always been a constant in his quite extraordinary life with lows – as a child he almost lost his sight – as well as highs. One of them being König Galerie Berlin, which is one of the most prestigious galleries of Central Europe. Why? Johann König wants to make art accessible to everyone and that you can see in everything he does with the gallery. We talked about his so-called megalomania, his approach to art, and the digitization of the scene.
Mister König, you describe yourself as a megalomaniac?
I’m always trying out new things, and I’d rather experience that something didn’t work out than not have tried it. That’s why some things might seem megalomaniac, but maybe I’m just more fearless than others sometimes. Even the founding of my gallery was actually extremely reckless at the time, but fortunately, I dared despite all skepticism and all warnings.
You were practically born with art in your cradle. What path would you have taken otherwise?
Due to my visual impairment, many things were out of the question. But I knew I wanted to work with art and artists. I didn’t have the confidence to make art myself, therefore the only option was to open a gallery.
When you were eleven, you almost lost your sight in an accident with a starter pistol. You refer to this moment as the “big bang”. How can we understand this?
It was a defining moment that had a significant impact on the rest of my life. My childhood was basically over at that time. For me, art was then accessible primarily on the conceptual level for a long time, which also had a strong influence on the gallery program, especially at the beginning.
In the industry, you are considered the “pop star” among gallery owners. How would you describe your approach to art?
For me, art is a defining element in my life that has already helped me through difficult times. Therefore I want as many people as possible to have access to art and for galleries to lose this elitist veneer. We want to bring art closer to people in the gallery through various channels, such as exhibitions, Instagram, the podcast “Was mit Kunst” and also the magazine. We don’t see ourselves solely as sellers, but also very much as art mediators.
Read the full interview in our new print magazine – The Reconnect Issue – to find out how the König Galerie has reacted to the Corona crisis and how Johann König thinks the art scene will change within the next years, facing Corona as well as the general digitization of the industry.
Along with other exclusive interviews with legends in the industry like artist Felipe Pantone, street photographer Martha Cooper and illustrator Christoph Niemann, the fourth Forward Magazine print issue is available here!