Krist Gruijthuijsen Takes the Reins at Berlin’s KW Institute for Contemporary Art

The Berlin institution gets a major overhaul.

Krist Gruijthuijsen
Photo: courtesy Grazer Kunstverein

Berlin’s KW Institute for Contemporary Art announced today the appointment of Krist Gruijthuijsen as its new director.

Gruijthuijsen’s appointment marks a change in the institute’s structure: He will act as both director, replacing Gabriele Horn, and as chief curator, replacing Ellen Blumenstein. The restructuring was possible thanks to an increase in the institution’s subsidy from the Berlin Senate.

Gruijthuijsen will take up the new position on July 1, and begin to program the institute’s exhibitions in the fall, after the Ninth Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art closes. KW will continue to be the responsible body and main location for the Berlin Biennale, with Horn continuing to serve as the biennale’s director.

The 36-year-old Dutch curator and critic Gruijthuijsen is coming to Berlin after four years as artistic director of Grazer Kunstverein. During his tenure, he also acted as course leader in the department of fine art at the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam.

Gruijthuijsen is also a co-founder of Amsterdam’s Kunstverein, which he directed from 2009 to 2012, and was a consultant to Manifesta 7, with numerous exhibitions across Europe under his belt.

“As reflected in the selection committee’s unanimous decision, we are confident that Krist Gruijthuijsen is eminently qualified for this post and that he will be highly motivated,” KW board’s chairman Olafur Eliasson said in a statement.

“Krist is an independent and creative thinker, and an experienced exhibition maker with excellent connections to artists and colleagues of different generations, who was nominated multiple times. We are extraordinarily happy to have succeeded in creating conditions under which we can now enter a new era at KW with Krist Gruijthuijsen as artistic director,” Eliasson added.

Ellen Blumenstein, Chief Curator of KW Institute for Contemporary Art. Photo: Courtesy of KW Institute for Contemporary Art.

Ellen Blumenstein, outgoing Chief Curator of KW Institute for Contemporary Art.
Photo: Courtesy of KW Institute for Contemporary Art.

Ellen Blumenstein has been chief curator at KW Institute for Contemporary Art since January 2013, and became known for staging discursive exhibition formats. Her focus on themed exhibitions—though sometimes polarizing critics’ opinions—helped raise the public profile of KW, as well as its visitor numbers.

Blumenstein is credited with mounting the first institutional solo shows of Kader Attia, Ryan Trecartin, and Kate Cooper in Germany, as well as bringing the first major retrospective of Californian artist Channa Horwitz to Berlin.

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