Travel Istanbul: Artistic Growth Among Unrest

In recent years, Istanbul has made news headlines, but not for anything one looks forward to. Attacks, a government coup, and a tightening of security and strengthening of government control have aided in a more negative atmosphere and prying eyes from outside of this historic city. However, opposition in attitudes foster artistic creativity, and Istanbul’s display of this creativity is blossoming. In this ancient location, where old and new are cherished together, the clash of historical cultures has created a dynamic city, where extremes coexist. Now ripe with museums, galleries, and home to the Contemporary Istanbul Art fair and the 16th Istanbul Biennial in 2019, it is well overdue to highlight some of the outstanding places to find fine art in Istanbul.


Contemporary Istanbul The 13th annual Contemporary Istanbul fair is being held in September at the Istanbul Congress Center, complete with a program to support international gallery participation. The booming Istanbul art scene acts as a central hub for contemporary art worldwide, and galleries to be included this year come from as far away as Miami, Barcelona, Cape Town, and Berlin.

ISTANBUL BIENNIAL Since 1987, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts has been hosting this event, designed to build an international community of artists, with this location supporting worldwide inclusion. The Biennial is considered an esteemed art fair, with others held in large at-centric areas like Venice and Sao Paolo.  The Istanbul version is unique in its focus on individual artists and not represented by specific countries. It is a significant exhibition event in the contemporary art world.


artSümer. Home to emerging artists cultivated by director Asli Sümer, this gallery is a perfect place to discover new talent in all mediums.

SALT Beyoğlu. This gallery closed abruptly at the height of increased government control, leading to rumors about the reasons (political pressure?). It reopened the spring of 2018 and, along with its sister facility, SALT Galata presents works in current issues in the world, and encompasses a wide variety of mediums, including visual presentations, concerts, a library, and programming for visitors.

Yapi Kredi Cultural Center: supported by Yapi Kredi, the largest bank in Turkey, this is a cultural gem for the people of Istanbul. Since 1988, the organization has been building a collection of Turkish art I order to celebrate and support area artists. After a period of renovation in 2015-2016, Yapi Kredi gifted the renovated facility to the city, offering expanded facilities so the community could benefit from concerts to workshops, and increased its display space and works of art.


Istanbul is an ancient city and bursting with art and culture from multiple ethnicities and nations. The sites and sounds of this bustling metropolis offer just a hint of the beautiful artistry found in the art fairs and galleries filling the city streets. So, take a deep breath, imagine the thousands of years of history before you, and discover this gem of the art world.