Based in Stuttgart - Bad Cannstatt at the time, Galerie Peter Herrmann was the first gallery in Germany to go online – and with the first documented exhibition, 1995’s Around and Around, probably the first anywhere. Several superlatives followed, and at times, site traffic climbed to a record 55,000 visitors per month >. Peter Herrmann taught at computer schools, was interviewed by the press and sounded out by colleagues. Nowhere, as a result, were there more galleries with a web presence in 1999 than in Stuttgart. Though they may not know it, many artists from Africa owe their international recognition to the fact that for years, theirs were the only names that popped up in search engine results using dozens of keywords in several languages – “art from Africa,” for example, and “African artists,” “l’art africain,” “artists from Africa and diaspora,” “African art” and “contemporary art from Africa,” to name a few >.
The same holds for classical art from Africa. Peter Herrmann deviated from the usual presentation of African works in art books, freed them from traditional terminologies, rejected dramatic lighting in photos and published images online as exhibition documentations. Photos of works he exhibited can now be found worldwide in online forums and blogs; passages from his articles can be read on popular and scholarly sites; and many texts that would otherwise have been published only in ethnological journals for a specialist audience have found a broader, art historically orientated readership. All over the world, links point the way to the gallery’s webpages, while countless requests come in from print catalogs for high-resolution images of works.
In 1999-2000, the domain’s operating value was estimated by IT specialists at 400,000 Deutsche Mark. The gains in reputation yielded by these web-related activities cannot be measured in monetary terms, but they were enormous. Today, both have declined as programming has become easier and web designers more affordable; these days, every little company has a web presence, and search terms are no longer exclusive.
In Stuttgart, Galerie Peter Herrmann was the first to transition completely to email and, upon its arrival in Berlin, the first to send out an html newsletter. Today, as the most comprehensively presented gallery online, its edge lies in the amount of information it offers. Many visitors report getting downright lost on the pages. At a quantity comparable to fifty catalogs, no wonder…