The artist-proprietors, Georg Glueckman
and Suwan Laimanee, proudly describe their
establishment as the only European gallery
open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Located
at the end of a cul-de-sac in Berlin`s rough-and-ready
district of Kreuzberg, the Flower Automat Gallery
offers mainly the works of these two artists.
The vending machine that once dispensed
bouquets to the neighborhood florist`s after-
hour customers had long since been
abandoned as unprofitable, and reprogramming
it to accept more than the equivalent of $4.50
was nearly impossible.
But for Glueckman and Thaiborn Laimanee
the empty glassfronted compartments
seemed a perfect showcase for their miniature
sculptures. They easily persuaded the florist to
lend them the space. The "gallery" officially
opened in October 1987 as the latest of the
artists`offbeat experiments to bring their work
directly to the public. They had once tried
running their own gallery, but it left them too
little time to make the art.
Such alternative approaches boast a tradition in
Kreuzberg, where artists`collectives and self-help
galleries have provided a forum for new talent. It
was here that many of the Neo-Expressionist painters
of the early `80s first showed their works.
While Berlin`s alternative scene often bristles with
political provocation, the Flower Automat Gallery
adopts a playful pacific tone. Though Laimanee produces brightcolored fire-breathing "demons" and
space-age "monsters", often made from egg cartons
or matchboxes, the wit counteracts any sense of threat.
And though Glueckman sometimes addresses urban problems (contrasting natural images with technological forms), it is never without humor.
Every four weeks the sculptors hold an opening in
front of the automat. Glueckman and Laimanee have
an ever-widening circle of collectors, undeterred by the
fact that prices have risen to about $6.50 for a signed
original. After all, by dropping in the coins, customers
get a bonus computer-generated sound-and-light show.
The automat recently showed guest artists from Poland, and others are welcome, but for now, to add variety, the artists sometimes slip into alter egos, like
the Spaniard "Pedro Cabral" and the American "Ramon
The success of the Berlin experiment has led to the
installation of an automat at the Art Museum in
Recklinghausen and the artists are eyeing sites in
Vienna for two other installations. For these two,
bringing art to the masses is more than just a slogan.
--- David Galloway
(Text from ARTnews Magazine, December 1989)
The Flower Automat Gallery was found in 1987
and closed in 1992
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