A new book presents artists’ workspaces

Leipzig. They work where galvanizing used to take place, children played or baked bread. The places where Leipzig artists work almost always have the adjective “former” attached to them – including the cotton spinning mill, which has been associated with Leipzig’s art scene worldwide for over two decades and is now one of the more expensive places. “Atelier Leipzig” is the name of a book that presents the artists’ residences and approaches a phenomenon that the publisher Frank Zöllner treats in a light and serious way in the first sentence of his introduction: “Leipzig is a city of studios, the number of which alone probably is unparalleled in Germany.”

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View of Ellen Akimoto’s studio in Mockau.

Zöllner is professor of art history at the University of Leipzig. The book is a collaboration, the result of a two-semester exercise. The texts about the study visits are written by students. Apparently, there’s also a little anger involved: “I had something like the Leipzig music number in mind for studies, but no one was interested in it. In the end, the study book idea came out of it,” says the art historian. It’s a good idea that you want to be able to help get started at the end of the first. 18 studios are presented in the book, including Werner Tübke (1929-2004), which is now a museum. Artists from all generations are represented.

Paint under the basketball hoop

A basketball hoop still hangs in David Schnell’s studio. The artist, born in 1971, works in a former high school in the western part of Leipzig. He needs space, movement, distance and proximity to the dynamic landscapes that are created here. Isabelle Dutoit (born 1975) also works, always accompanied by her dog Menne, in a former school building, the old commercial school in Kleinzschocher, on the second floor, where chemistry classes used to take place. The concept “The New Leipzig School” thus acquires another area of ​​association.

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In Laura Link’s seven-metre high studio, chickens sometimes pass by. She paints in a large format in Zschernitz near Wiedemar in North Saxony in a former parsonage. Half an hour’s drive from the city of Leipzig and its tense real estate situation, the artist (born 1987) and her family are realizing their dream of living and working with space and freedom.

Drivers and victims of gentrification processes

A book about the workspaces of Leipzig artists is always also a book about the city’s industrial history; it’s about overwriting, painting over, new in the old. Above all, however, the history of the studies is also a history of urban development. With the processes of deindustrialization and shrinkage, large empty spaces emerged in the 90s that artists used. They brought with them what project developers call “flair” or “atmosphere,” and were thus unwitting drivers and victims of gentrification processes that continue to this day.

A look at Sebastian Burger's studio in an old galvanizing factory in the eastern part of Leipzig.

A look at Sebastian Burger’s studio in an old galvanizing factory in the eastern part of Leipzig.

Cheap housing is almost only found on the outskirts, as in the Pittler plant in Wahren, where Erik Swars works, for example. But even in the center there are still rooms. Katrin Brause paints in the studio building in Frühauf on Windmühlenstraße, a self-directed project.

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Titus Schade’s “Francis Bacon Cave”

Piles of crape tape on the floor, mountains of painting tools, a stuffed cat—Titus Schade works in what the book calls a “Francis Bacon cave,” whose chaos contrasts with the structure of his images. He is the only artist seen in the book, so to some extent he becomes a sculpture himself. He has had his studio in the old cotton mill since 2012. Just like Michael Triegel, Maria Schumacher or Agnes Lammert.

The Connewitz villa in Hartwig Ebersbach, born in 1940, is a living museum, a place where living and working go together. Martin Wühler’s “Atelier without fixed location” is an alternative. The artist (born 1983) gave up his last permanent studio in 2014. Since then he has worked, among other things, in exhibition rooms, with friends in the countryside or in a greenhouse. This dynamic, the book says, activates him and his art. Above all, Wühler sees studies as a status symbol.

Loosely dabbed cartography of art

“Atelier Leipzig” is a collection of readable reports on trips to normally closed places. A loosely dabbed cartography of art emerges – in a city that probably still hasn’t quite grasped the energy its artists bring to the table.

Info: Frank Zöllner (ed.): Atelier Leipzig. MM Koehn Verlag; 112 pages (many color illustrations), 24 euros

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