A History of the First Modern Art Fair by Günter Herzog

1970-1973: 'Kölner Kunstmarkt'

The success of Kunstmarkt Köln quickly spawned other art fairs, some of them satellites and some of them set up in direct competition to it. An early reaction had been the setting-up of the Düsseldorf fair titled Prospect ’68. The most successful and enduring of all the reactions was Art Basel, founded in 1970.

In the same year, the Verein progressiver deutscher Kunsthändler launched a second Cologne-based fair designed as a competitor to its own Kunstmarkt Köln. It was titled Internationale Kunst- und Informationsmesse (IKI). In 1970, Kunstmarkt Köln was rebranded 'Kölner Kunstmarkt'. It remained under the sponsorship of the Verein up to 1973. In 1972, the IKI was relocated to Düsseldorf and showed signs of presenting a threat to its sister fair. In 1973, the year of the recession caused by the first oil crisis with its negative impact on the art market, the IKI also began to run into difficulties.

By 1973, the Verein had built up an international exhibitor list of 39 galleries. It set up a prize to be awarded annually to a outstanding individual ‘in recognition of his/ her services in the promotion of contemporary art’. The first prizewinner was Willem J. H. B. Sandberg, one-time director of the Stedeleijk Museum in Amsterdam. The prize was the forerunner of today's ART COLOGNE Prize.

1974-1983: 'Internationaler Kunstmarkt' (a Fair alternating between Cologne and Düsseldorf)