The gallery was founded 1989 in Cologne and opened with General Idea’s ¥en Boutique. Many of the artists with whom Esther Schipper has worked since the 1990s, among them Angela Bulloch, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Liam Gillick, Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno, are central figures in radically rethinking the exhibition as a form and taking it as a critical medium. To this day the gallery represents AA Bronson and the Estate of General Idea. Also during the early years in Cologne, Julia Scher joined the gallery, exploring the theme of surveillance across multiple media.
In 1994, the gallery moved to Berlin and expanded its program to include both local and internationally acclaimed artists such as Thomas Demand and Ugo Rondinone. In addition to the artists mentioned above, Esther Schipper subsequently represents, among others, Ceal Floyer, Gabriel Kuri, Karin Sander, Tomás Saraceno, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané.
In May 2015 the gallery merged with Johnen Galerie. After a two-year transitional period, both galleries are now housed under Esther Schipper. Integrating archives and operations, the two teams merged as well and the gallery now represents Martin Boyce, Ryan Gander, Francesco Gennari, Rodney Graham, Andrew Grassie, Martin Honert, Prabhavathi Meppayil, Roman Ondak, Anri Sala, Tino Sehgal, and Liu Ye.
In April 2017 Esther Schipper opened its current location at Potsdamer Strasse 81E, designed by Selldorf Architects in cooperation with Berlin-based firm s1 architektur. In an adjacent building offices, archive and library have been housed since May 2016.