Portikus is an exhibition hall for contemporary art in Frankfurt am Main. Its name derives from the surviving portico of the Stadtbibliothek (public library) from 1825 that was destroyed during World War II. In 1987, the vestige of this classical building once again fulfilled its architectural function as a facade when the Frankfurt-based architects Marie-Theres Deutsch and Klaus Dreißigacker built a simple but precise white cube: the Portikus gallery. As well as presenting current work from internationally renowned artists, Portikus showcases important young perspectives from around the world.
Due to the reconstruction of the former public library in 2003, after 16 years and more than 100 exhibitions, Portikus moved into the ground floor of the historical building known as the Leinwandhaus. This temporary location was designed with the artist Tobias Rehberger. Rehberger developed a spatial concept which, through the introduction of various modular elements such as platforms and boxes, allowed the integration of the gallery, office, reading area and storage space into a large and rustic hall. In collaboration with the Zumtobel Staff, the artist Olafur Eliasson designed the lighting of the exhibition space. Until the beginning of 2006, the exhibition program will continue in this space under the name “Portikus im Leinwandhaus”.
“Now the time has come for the institution’s third phase. In April 2006 Portikus moved to a new space, designed by Frankfurt architect Christoph Mäckler. The new building is located on a small island in the river Main at the very centre of the city. Olafur Eliasson has realized a light installation located in the building’s large glass roof. It will develop over two years and continuously change the appearance of the building.”
The relationship of Portikus to the city is defined by its association with the Städelschule, Academy of Fine Arts; this link allows an intense exchange between the exhibiting artists and the students of the art academy.