How to do an art trail around Istanbul

A vintage photograph of workmen standing and sitting by a wall.

Artwalk Istanbul cofounder Saliha Yavuz prepares a route that allows you to discover the city's museums, galleries and alternative art spaces on foot

By Saliha Yavuz   Tuesday 12 November, 2019

Beyoğlu, Soho House’s neighbourhood in the the heart of Istanbul, is the perfect place to begin if you want to experience the city through art. Saliha Yavuz, cofounder of Artwalk Istanbul, prepares a route that allows you to discover its museums, galleries and alternative art spaces on foot

Istanbul Modern
Your first stop should be Istanbul Modern in its temporary venue near the House, where you can see works by Turkish and international artists. In the photography section, an exhibition curated in partnership with Ara Güler Museum traces Istanbul's evolution since the mid-20th century through Güler’s lens, and the collective memories yielded from this change.

Asmalı Mescit, Meşrutiyet Cd, No 99, Beyoğlu;
A contemporary photograph of a person sitting in a jungle.
Another of Soho House’s neighbours, Galerist is located in Passage Petits-Champs, one of Beyoğlu’s oldest buildings. You’ll be captivated by the magnificent architectural style before you’ve even got to the art, which includes the unique narratives and styles of artists such as Nilbar Güreş, Seza Paker, and Şahin Kaygun.

Asmalı Mescit, Meşrutiyet Cd, No 67/1, Beyoğlu;

Art On
Art On was founded by couple Nil and Oktay Duran. Collectors of contemporary Turkish art, their fervour for young artists can be felt across the gallery, with new names to be discovered on each visit. Favourites of mine have been the sculptures of Seçkin Pirim and Canan Dağdelen, and the paintings of Nuri Kuzucan and Erman Özbaşaran.

Meşrutiyet Cd, Oteller Sk, No 1A, Hanif Binası, Beyoğlu;
An artwork consisting of red balls suspended from the ceiling into a cube shape in a gallery.
Kıraathane Istanbul Literature House
A public reading room and beautifully furnished cafe (kıraathane has its origins in Arabic/ Persian and means coffee house) where customers have visited to read and recharge since the 19th century. In addition, Kıraathane offers a full programme of art lectures and exhibitions.

Asmalı Mescit, Meşrutiyet Cd, Yemenici Abdüllatif Sk, No 1, Beyoğlu;

The former Arter art venue in Meymenet Han on İstiklal Street is now home to Meşher, whose programme has themes ranging from the medieval to the contemporary. Visit for a tour of its first exhibition Beyond the Vessel, a collection of ceramic works focused on myths, legends and fairy tales, curated by Catherine Milner.

İstiklal Cd, No 211, Beyoğlu;
A modern sculpture.
Zilberman Gallery
End the day at Mısır Apartment, which stands out for its Art Nouveau style, built in 1910 in one of the area’s main meeting points, Galatasaray. In addition to famous writers, artists and pashas who have stayed in the building, the apartment has hosted many art galleries in recent years, Zilberman Gallery being one of them.

İstiklal Cd, No 163, Mısır Apartment, Beyoğlu;

Images from top: A 1954 photograph by Ara Güler on display at Istanbul Modern; 'The Eye, 2018' by Nilbar Güreş at Galerist; 'Uprise, 2017' by Canan Dagdelen at Art On; 'Timescape III, 2018' by Burçak Bingöl at Zilberman Gallery    
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