KOW was founded in 2008 in Berlin as the fruit of previous cooperations between Alexander Koch (Berlin based curator and art theorist), Nikolaus Oberhuber (former director of the gallery nächst St. Stephan in Vienna) and the Parisian gallerist Jocelyn Wolff, who quit the project in 2011.

KOW opened in September 2009 at Brunnenstrasse 9 in Berlin-Mitte in a remarkable new building designed by Arno Brandlhuber that was constructed on the ruins of a failed investment from the early 1990s. With a programmatic focus on the field of socially oriented art, the gallery’s exhibitions as well as its curatorial formats and publications aim to address a broad international public.

KOW represents international artists from different generations, cultural backgrounds, and approaches to media who share the engagement with social realities and respond to political challenges with aesthetic consciousness. Artists such as Franz Erhard Walther (b. 1939, German), Barbara Hammer (b. 1939, American), Alice Creischer (b. 1960, German), Hito Steyerl (b. 1966, German), Tobias Zielony (b. 1973, German), Renzo Martens (b. 1973, Dutch), Michael E. Smith (b. 1977, American), Hiwa K (b. 1975, Iraqi) and Chto Delat? (founded 2003, Russian) have made crucial contributions to the artistic discourse and created outstanding bodies of work supported by reputable institutions. Many of them had their first gallery exhibitions in Europe at KOW.