ART COLOGNE Prize 2022
Monika Sprüth - ART COLOGNE - 2022 Prize recipient
This year the ART COLOGNE Prize is paying tribute to a gallery owner, who has set benchmarks for contemporary art mediation. Her presentations have been attracting the public to ART COLOGNE – and further international art trade fairs for decades. The gallery of Monika Sprüth was founded in Cologne in 1983. At the end of the 1990s she entered a partnership with Philomene Magers and has been operating as SPRÜTH MAGERS ever since. It is considered to be one of the most important galleries. Her artists are represented in many private collections as well as at public museums.
At that time the cathedral city was a centre of contemporary art mediation on an equal footing with New York.
Monika Sprüth founded her gallery in Cologne in 1983. At that time the cathedral city was a centre of contemporary art mediation with its large museums, galleries, collectors and ART COLOGNE - on an equal footing with New York. Monika Sprüth kicked off her exhibition programme with the interesting, artistic works of the outsider artist Andreas Schulze. Followed by Rosemarie Trockel and the Swiss artists Peter Fischli & David Weiss. Up until today, the gallery has close ties with them and with most of the subsequent artists as well.
Together with Rosemarie Trockel, Monika Sprüth's target was to strengthen the significance of the artistic work of women, something which was historically long overdue. In addition to the presentation of important artistic and conceptual works of George Condo, Walter Dahn, Peter Fischli & David Weiss, Alighiero Boetti and John Baldessari, the actual focal point of the gallery was the mediation of the works of back then younger artists such as Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Cindy Sherman and of course Rosemarie Trockel.
Monika Sprüth positioned herself confidently and strategically on the then men-dominated art market. This not only included exhibition projects, but also the "Eau de Cologne" magazine she published in the 1980s, which she used to create a hitherto unknown resonance for outstanding women on the art and cultural scene with the aid of her articles and interviews.
Together one is stronger: In 1998, the partnership with Philomene Magers ensued, who also ran a gallery in Cologne and expanded the programme to include works of the American Minimal Art – by Dan Flavin, Donald Judd and Robert Morris – as well as interesting, younger female artists such as Sylvie Fleury.
With double the girl power, the way to further expansion was predefined. In 2003, the SPRÜTH MAGERS gallery opened in London. After moving to an historical town house in London Mayfair, the photographer Andreas Gursky was featured in the opening exhibition.
In 2016, the first gallery was opened in the USA: in Los Angeles, opposite the legendary LACMA.
In the year 2008, SPRÜTH MAGERS expanded to Berlin, where they opened a gallery on Oranienburgerstraße, not far from the Museum Island. On space spanning 700 m² with a central, high hall, Thomas Scheibitz and George Condo were presented at the opening. The exhibitions there are always crowd-pullers, which can certainly compete with the public institutions.
In 2016, the first gallery was opened in the USA: in Los Angeles, opposite the legendary LACMA. The interest and the sensibility for rooms and cultural contexts of the former architect Sprüth and her partner Magers was tangible here too. The cubic building with an elegant, rhythmic circumferential window façade won the famous Wallpaper Design Award for Best New Gallery after it was redesigned in the opening year - with a John Baldessari exhibition.
The subsidiary on the West Coast - where many of the gallery's artists live - was followed by a second location in the USA this year. In June 2022, Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers opened their first gallery in New York. Here too a location was found, a listed brick building from the late 19th Century, in direct proximity to one of the most important museums worldwide: the Metropolitan.
The four locations with their exhibition activities - as well as many representatives in Asia and an office at the original location, Cologne - reflect the immense commitment of SPRÜTH MAGERS for its artists of several generations.
In addition to the already-mentioned artists, the gallery's programme above all includes artists like Bridget Riley, Hanne Darboven, Astrid Klein, Kara Walker, Thea Djordjadze, Sylvie Fleury, Andrea Zittel, Analia Saban and Anne Imhof. As well as Ed Ruscha, Richard Artschwager, Gilbert & George, Joseph Kosuth, Reinhard Mucha, Cyprien Gaillard and last, but not least Bernd and Hilla Becher.
As Thomas Demand once put it in a nutshell, the gallerists strengthened the confidence of all of these artists at precisely the right moment." Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers have been enjoying this same trust among international collectors and in their collaboration with curators and institutions for 40 years now. In this way, their gallery was entrusted with nine important artists' estates too.
Monika Sprüth puts the gallery's success down to the fact that she placed great importance on recognising the potential, cultural significance of the artists at an early stage and her success in doing so. She hopes that these contemporary artistic decisions will shape art history long-term.
Monika Sprüth's second passion is football. She loves the game in itself and considers football to be a piece of art when played at the highest level. She sees many parallels to the world of art, for example the early recognition of talents and their promotion. Since she comes from Cologne, Monika Sprüth particularly supports FC Köln and Viktoria Köln. As a form of relaxation she attends youth games at the weekend, where she also tries to recognise talents.
The ART COLOGNE Prize for exceptional performance in the communication of art is presented annually by Koelnmesse and the German association of galleries and art dealers (BVDG).
In the year 1988 the first ART COLOGNE Prize went to Ileana Sonnabend, who had decisively shaped the American art market with her New York gallery since 1971.
Since then, female gallerists, who have recognised and promoted the new artistic developments, have repeatedly been distinguished with the ART COLOGNE Prize, which is endowed with Euro10,000 in prize-money: Denise René (1992), Annely Juda (1993), Maria de Corral (1994), Dina Vierny and Charlotte Zander (1997), Bärbel Grässlin (2010), Anny de Decker (2012) and Rosemarie Schwarzwälder (2014).