Nine questions during the countdown to ART COLOGNE
1. Daniel Hug, how did ART COLOGNE get through the pandemic?
Daniel Hug: "ART COLOGNE got through reasonably well. After all, it is an event of Koelnmesse, which belongs to the city of Cologne and the state of North-Rhine Westphalia. For one thing, the company was able to apply for short-time work and thus could retain its workforce. As an important company for Cologne and the region, we also received municipal support. By the same token, however, we were only able to draw on funds from the NEUSTART KULTUR initiative to a limited extent. We passed on the entire amount of the subsidies paid to Koelnmesse by NEUSTART KULTUR to our exhibitors. As a result, the costs for the exhibitors were reduced significantly, which was an enormous boon."
2. On account of the coronavirus, some international galleries did not travel to Cologne in 2021. Can you welcome them all back now?
Daniel Hug: "The situation is completely different after the pandemic-related postponement of ART COLOGNE. The fair is now held in the fall instead of the spring, some galleries that were not there last year won’t be there this year either, and other galleries, some of them new ones, are now on our exhibitor list. It will take another year or two for things to settle down and sort themselves out. There is, after all, a lot of movement at art fairs. The Armory Show is now also a fall art fair, there are new events in Seoul and Paris, and there are art fairs that cannot take place again."
3. There are also numerous exciting new additions....
Daniel Hug: "That’s right. We’re very happy to have Kamel Mennour and Lelong back from Paris, Max Hetzler and Mehdi Chouakri from Berlin, and Rodolphe Janssen and Albert Baronian from Brussels. And very interesting medium-sized quite important galleries like Sofie van de Velde from Antwerp, The Hole and Bitforms from New York, and Carl Kostyal from London and Stockholm will also be there."
4. ART COLOGNE has been moved from the spring to the fall. What speaks in favor of this change?
Daniel Hug: "To be honest, the fall has both pros and cons. The fall, after all, it is the traditional time of ART COLOGNE. The fair only switched to the spring in 2006. The fall has the advantage that we don’t have any overlap with Art Brussels, which prevented some Belgian galleries and collectors from coming to Cologne in the spring. Minus points include the dreary weather in November and the fact that some of the blue chip galleries come into conflict with the West Bund Art & Design Fair in Shanghai. The mega galleries are less flexible than galleries with only one or two branches. I’m very confident that many, if not all of them, will return in the next few years. The mid-level galleries are and will remain very important for us. It makes sense for them to strengthen their ties to European art regions and not to focus so much on a global strategy."
5. Originally, COLOGNE FINE ART & DESIGN was held at this time. Will that fair now be merged into ART COLOGNE?
Daniel Hug: "No, COLOGNE FINE ART & DESIGN was a stand-alone art fair, which is now no longer held. But we have added a new sector to ART COLOGNE called ART + OBJECT. This new section focuses on modern and contemporary applied design and art, as well as historical works that predate 1900. This helps us understand where the roots of contemporary art lie. In contrast to ART COLOGNE, whose composition is determined by the advisory board, we hired a curator for ART + OBJECT, Sebastian Jacobi, who proposes exhibitors and supports us organizationally."
6. What’s Jacobi’s main focus?
Daniel Hug: "Sebastian Jacobi, who is himself a collector and dealer of eighteenth-century neoclassical furniture up to twentieth-century Italian design, brings his knowledge and focal points to ART + OBJECT. So it’s a very broad approach. My personal favorites are the textile works that Jochum Rodgers brings from Berlin and the kinetic jewelry pieces by Georg Hornemann."
7. There are even more innovations in Hall 11!
Daiel Hug: "We decided to place the mega galleries, which previously occupied the pole positions in the entrance areas, in a new layout. This step democratizes the fair for all participants, so to speak, by putting more focus on the young galleries. In addition, we’re working with a color concept in the hall aisles on all levels, giving rise to circular visitor movement. It’s now a real tour, as it were, which makes it easy for visitors to see each gallery.
Each hall level additionally has four squares, or plazas, around which the important galleries are grouped. As a consequence, there are highlights throughout the fair. The Neumarkt sector with the young galleries can be found in three of the plazas. They are marked with white carpeting, giving them a special visibility."
8. And the newcomers will stand out even more in the future.
Daniel Hug: "That’s the intention. Cologne has always been a good sales platform for German galleries; they have a home game, so to speak. It’s much more difficult for international galleries to make their mark, so a good placement with good colleagues in the neighborhood is important. Our hope is that the hall layout can help in this respect."
9. Thanks to Neustart Kultur, the participants will not have to pay rent for their booths this year. Will some of them no longer be able to afford ART COLOGNE when the funding program ends in 2023?
Daniel Hug: "Thank you for bringing this up. We were informed just a few weeks ago that we would once again receive funding from 'Neustart Kultur'. But our application phase for participation in the fair started at the beginning of the year. At that time, the galleries that applied did not yet know about the funding from BKM, the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. This year we again received a grant from the BKM, like last year, which we will pass on completely to our exhibitors. Apart from that, ART COLOGNE has its own initiatives, including NEUMARKT and COLLABORATIONS, which support young galleries. On the whole, ART COLOGNE has the largest number of young galleries and artists of any art fair in Germany."
Text: Christiane Meixner