Jörg Johnen opened his first gallery in Cologne in 1984, with an exhibition of works by Thomas Schütte and Aldo Rossi. In the 30 years of its existence, the gallery organized nearly 250 exhibitions, first as Johnen+Schöttle in Cologne, and since 2004 as Johnen Galerie in Berlin. Renowned artists such as Stephan Balkenhol, David Claerbout, Katharina Fritsch, Rodney Graham, Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Martin Honert, Yoshitomo Nara, Thomas Ruff, Anri Sala, Wilhelm Sasnal, Tino Sehgal, Wiebke Siem, Jeff Wall and many others presented some of their earliest works with the gallery.
 
In May 2015 Johnen Galerie merged with Esther Schipper. After a two-year transitional period in which archives and operations were integrated and the two teams merged, both galleries are now housed under Esther Schipper.
 
Jörg Johnen has entirely withdrawn from any operative gallery business and will continue his engagement with art privately, dedicated specifically to the presentation of his own collection in the project space JohnenPrivat.