Neighborly Relations: The Regional Anchoring of ART COLOGNE
Audience at the Art Market Cologne, 1967, photo Peter Fischer, Courtesy Historisches Archiv Stadt Köln
It all began in 1967 with the idea of bringing the art market out of the galleries and into the heart of the city. In the beginning, the aim was to present a wide range of art, and, at the same time, to lower the public’s inhibition threshold. Initially, a lot of graphic art was shown and the fair was reserved for galleries from Germany. Very soon, however, there was a protest action on Neumarkt, where artists who were not established yet offered their work.
The Neumarkt section between future and tradition
Andy Warhol and Hans Mayer, 1979, photo: Franz Fischer, Courtesy Historisches Archiv Stadt Köln
Today, of course, ART COLOGNE is international. But the Neumarkt section for young, up-and-coming galleries points to its local history, as does the loyalty to the fair of important galleries based in the Rhineland or nearby.
Among them are Boisserée, Ludorff, and Samuelis Baumgarte in the Classic Modern/Postwar section. The contemporary sector is reliably represented by Michael Werner, Gisela Capitain, Daniel Buchholz, and Esther Schipper, who moved to Berlin a long time ago but remains faithful to Cologne, where she began her career as a gallerist. The same is true for Philomene Magers and Monika Sprüth (Galerie Sprüth Magers), who this year won the ART COLOGNE Prize for her successful work as a gallery owner.
ART COLOGNE is regarded as a reliable platform for the surrounding metropolises.
While Petra Rink and Kadel Willborn are coming to Art Cologne from nearby Düsseldorf, Bärbel Grässlin and Anita Beckers are traveling from Frankfurt. This, too, reflects the fair's anchoring in the surrounding metropolises. For all of them, the event is an important platform for meeting collectors and presenting their highlights.
The return of ART COLOGNE fair date to autumn provides relief for art dealers and collectors from the Benelux countries
Special show art scene New York, 1984, photo: Koelnmesse, Courtesy Historisches Archiv Stadt Köln
Last but not least, the fact that ART COLOGNE switched from spring to fall last year creates a new situation. The old dates overlapped with fairs in Brussels, which put many galleries and collectors from the Benelux countries under time pressure. Director Daniel Hug’s decision to hold ART COLOGNE in the autumn now enables numerous art dealers to attend the fairs in both cities. In total, the number of participants from Belgium and the Netherlands has grown to fifteen galleries this year, including Rodolphe Janssen, Keteleer, and Baronian, where visitors will encounter works by Takis and the British duo Gilbert & George. For Hug, this once again demonstrates the “close art connection” between the neighboring countries.
Text: Christiane Meixner