Cologne 07.–10.11.2024 #artcologne2024

EN Icon Pfeil Icon Pfeil
EN Element 13300 Element 12300 DE

A History of the first Modern Art Fair by Günter Herzog

Launching a ground-breaking project

The origins of today's ART COLOGNE as a trade fair for classic modern art, post-war art and contemporary art go back to the year 1967. Kunstmarkt Köln ’67 was launched on 15 September 1967 in a historic Cologne building – the Gürzenich. In medieval times it served as an arena for festivities, banquets and dances. Later, it served as a merchants' hall.

The launch of the Kunstmarkt Köln ’67 was to have a profound impact on the international art market. The founders of the new fair were Cologne-based gallerists – Hein Stünke and Rudolf Zwirner. Their project was sparked by the urgency of the need to put new life into the lacklustre art market in West Germany. Although the immediate post-war period saw a tremendous revival in art and radical changes to public attitudes to modern art, the art market in West Germany faltered.

Paris was at the cusp of losing its central role as the capital of the modern art world and modern French art was about to lose market leadership. This occurred in the wake of documenta 2 in 1959. With the boom in modern American art, New York took over as the new art capital. At the end of the war West Germany had lost its capital city and its cultural foci. With Bonn as the new capital city, the Rhineland – an industrial powerhouse at the centre of Europe driving the West German economy and acting as a hub for the entire western European economy – took over as the centre of the West German art world.

Even today, North Rhine-Westphalia and its neighbouring federal states have very high concentrations of business and industry – and art collectors. In the early 1960s these were ideal preconditions for any art market project. Stünke and Zwirner's initial plans were of a short-term nature but their long-term aim was to promote the new art being produced by young German artists. They intended to introduce these artists to an international market and to attract new buyers to their work. They vastly exceeded their expectations – their project made history. ART COLOGNE has played a decisive role in the development of the international art market and has had a formative influence on all later art-market developments.

1967 to 1969: 'Kunstmarkt Köln'

In order to obtain municipal funding for the launch of Kunstmarkt Köln it was necessary to set up an organization. To do this, Stünke, Zwirner and sixteen other dealers founded the Verein progressiver deutscher Kunsthändler [association of progressive German art dealers].

A deal was struck with the municipal arts Dezernent Kurt Hackenberg to allow the association to use the Gürzenich as the venue for its event. All entrance takings were to go to the city treasury. And so the first Kunstmarkt Köln was staged in the entrance area and banqueting hall of the Gürzenich in the five days between 13 and 17 September 1967. The galleries exhibiting were: Aenne Abels, Cologne; Appel & Fertsch, Frankfurt; Block, Berlin; Brusberg, Hanover; Gunar, Düsseldorf; Müller, Stuttgart; Neuendorf, Hamburg; Niepel, Düsseldorf; op-art Galerie Mayer, Esslingen; Ricke, Kassel; Schmela, Düsseldorf; Springer, Berlin; Stangl, Munich; Thomas, Munich; Tobies & Silex, Cologne; and van de Loo, Munich.

Prices ranged between DM 20 – for works on paper – and DM 60,000 for top-of-the-range objects. In its five-day run, the Fair booked astonishing turnover figures of one million D-marks. To put the turnover figure in context: at the time, a brand-new VW beetle cost DM 5,150 – about three times as much as a good-sized Gerhard Richter oil. A West German dealer and a West German artist set new records at the 1969 edition of Kunstmarkt Köln: René Block sold a work by Joseph Beuys – known later as Das Rudel – at DM 110,000, making Beuys the first West German artist to beat the one-hundred-thousand mark.

1970 to 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 to 1983: Internationaler Kunstmarkt (a Fair alternating between Cologne and Düsseldorf)

In autumn 1973, the Verein progressiver deutscher Kunsthändler masterminded the founding of a European art dealers’ association, the Europäische Kunsthändler-Vereinigung (EKV). Its objective was to organize a more internationally-oriented Cologne fair and attract a larger group of international dealers. The new association was set up on 17 December 1973.

In 1974, the EKV organized a revamped Internationaler Kunstmarkt Köln. The fair relocated from the Cologne Kunsthalle, its venue since 1968, to Halls 1 and 2 of the exhibition centre run by the Cologne trade fair organization. Here it occupied some 10,000 square metres of space – space it needed as it now played host to 80 international exhibitors. The winner of the 1974 EKV Prize was Alfred H. Barr, founding director of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

With market conditions deteriorating in 1974, the EKV and the IKI decided to join forces by setting up the 'Internationaler Kunstmarkt Köln 1975' (IKM). By this time, the event occupied the entire ground floor of the Rheinhallen (Halls 1-3). A highlight at the 1975 event was the Fair's supporting programme, curated by Elisabeth Jappe. Jérôme Savary’s 'Grand Magic Circus' from Paris performed in Cologne city centre, the English group 'Welfare State' gave Celebratory Theatre performances and Friedrich Gulda gave two concerts. The winner of the 1975 Prize was Arnold Bode, a founding father of documenta. On 9 September 1975, the German members of the EKV and the members of the IKI met to set up the Bundesverband Deutscher Galerien (BVDG).

The next edition of Internationaler Kunstmarkt Köln was held in 1976, the year in which the contemporary art fair FIAC was founded in Paris. It was staged in Düsseldorf as a concession to the Düsseldorf-based IKI. From 1976 to 1983, the venue of Internationaler Kunstmarkt alternated between Cologne and Düsseldorf. Winner of the EKV and BVDG Prize in 1976 was Paul Wember, the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Krefeld, a museum famed for its avant-garde programme. Elisabeth Jappe's line-up of supporting events titled 'Kunst live' showcased a range of international theatre performances and actions by Mauricio Kagel, The Mabou Mines (New York), the Squat Theatre (Budapest) and many other attractions.

In 1977, Internationaler Kunstmarkt Köln focussed on the feminist movement. The Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst staged an exhibition titled Künstlerinnen - International 1877-1977. The BVDG organized a Performance Festival that outdid the Performance section at documenta 6. Prizewinner in 1977 was Knud W. Jensen, the founder of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark. However it was an unsatisfactory fair in many ways. Attendance was down, critics identified a burn-out malaise and an absence of innovation. Exhibitors bemoaned the high costs in relation to turnover. It was the first crisis in the Fair's history. There was even talk of plans to skip a year.

In 1978, Bogislav von Wentzel replaced Alexander von Berswordt-Wallrabe as BVDG chairman. He decided to stage the Fair in Düsseldorf but with a drastically reduced line-up of only 100 galleries. Exhibitors were selected by a BVDG committee. A further change was the introduction of a special supporting exhibition designed to attract museums to present their collections. The Städtisches Museum Abteiberg in Mönchengladbach, under its director Johannes Cladders, was the first exhibitor. The 1978 West German art-market prize went to Giulio Claudio Argan, the celebrated art historian and one-time mayor of Rome. No further Fair prizes were awarded until 1984

In 1979 it was Cologne's turn to host the event and again, only 100 galleries exhibited. The market had, however, recovered. The supporting exhibition featured the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, showcasing new purchases acquired for the Staatsgalerie's new extension designed by James Stirling.

The year 1980 saw the introduction of one of the Fair's particularly successful new projects. BVDG secretary Gerhard F. Reinz and the Bonn gallerist Philomene Magers introduced a sponsorship programme for young artists, the 'Förderprogramm für junge Künstler'. Reinz successfully raised funds from the Düsseldorf and the Cologne trade fair organizations, the cities of Düsseldorf and Cologne, the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the West German Federal Government. The programme is currently titled 'New Positions'. The sponsorship scheme gave the established and classically-oriented Fair a new avant-garde dimension. In Düsseldorf, the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven showcased work by forerunners of the Neuen Wilden – artists like Baselitz, Lüpertz, Penck, Kiefer and Immendorf. The exhibitor list was increased to 123 galleries. Turnover and attendance also increased.

Some representatives of the Neuen Wilden had already made an appearance in 1980. At the 1981 Fair they were in strong evidence at sponsored stands. The special museum show was staged by Dieter Honisch and showcased recent acquisitions by the Nationalgalerie in Berlin. In 1982, it was the turn of the Kunstmuseum in Bonn to present work by German artists from the museum's collection. Despite the boost in attendance figures and turnover at the 1983 Düsseldorf edition, opinion from outside West Germany strongly suggested that in its role as West Germany's leading art fair, Internationaler Kunstmarkt Köln now needed a fixed venue. It also needed to clarify its identity and sharpen its profile vis-à-vis the large number of European competitors. Discussions were held between the BVDG and a number of German trade fair organizations and the choice of venue fell to Cologne.

From 1984 to 2000: ART COLOGNE

The BVDG, under its new chairman, Gerhard F. Reinz, took over Internationaler Kunstmarkt Köln from the Verein progressiver deutscher Kunsthändler in 1984, rebranding it 'ART COLOGNE'. The 18th edition of the Fair was held in November with 160 exhibitors from 10 countries. Rudolf Zwirner curated a widely-praised contemporary show titled Kunstszene New York. The special museum show showcased works from the collection of the Kunstmuseum Bern. Attendance figures reached 50,000, making ART COLOGNE the focus of the art boom in the Rhineland and the world's most successful art fair in 1984. This market upsurge confirmed the city of Cologne's status as a world art-market centre.

The 1985 edition of ART COLOGNE had an enthusiastic reception from the press with a West German art critic, in a glowing review, noting: 'It is probably the finest art fair of them all'. Documenta had been called a Museum der 100 Tage and echoing this, ART COLOGNE was dubbed a Museum der 7 Tage. Visitor figures of 55,000 were registered and 165 galleries exhibited. They included the Staatlicher Kunsthandel der DDR, the East German state gallery. An exhibition titled Der Schein des Objektiven was a first for photography specialist Klaus Honnef. In 1986, the outstanding show of modern Canadian art titled Focus gave an overview of artistic developments in Canada in the period 1960 to 1985. This fine exhibition reconfirmed the Fair's reputation as a stronghold of quality.

In 1987, ART COLOGNE celebrated its 20th anniversary. The Fair had clearly established itself internationally as the leading platform for contemporary art as the Rhineland art boom reached its peak. The Berlin Kupferstichkabinett staged a special exhibition titled Grafik des 20. Jahrhunderts and this helped to support a revival in the market for original prints. A new prize for artists was introduced – the Defet Prize, sponsored by Marianne and Hansfried Defet of the da Vinci Künstlerpinselfabrik, Nuremberg. Rainer Barzen was the winner.

In 1988, kölnmesse and the BVDG reinstated the prize set up in 1973, and last awarded in 1979, by the Verein progressiver deutscher Kunsthändler. It was renamed the ‘ART COLOGNE Prize’. The first prizewinner was Ileana Sonnabend. A magnificent exhibition showcased her career achievements. The sculptor Yuji Takeoka was the winner of the Defet Prize. In the same year, kölnmesse and the BVDG launched a gala fundraising event at ART COLOGNE and called it the 'Benefiz-Eröffnung'. The sum of DM 120,000 was raised. It was donated to the Museum Ludwig's acquisition fund.

1989 saw the fall of the Berlin wall. Prior to 1989, the exhibitor list had been restricted to 165 galleries. It was now increased to 189, partly as a result of the launch of a project titled 'Sonderprogramm junge Galerien' showcasing young galleries. The Cologne gallerist Monika Sprüth and her colleagues Max Hetzler and Jörg Johnen oversaw the project. It enabled 31 emerging galleries specializing in cutting-edge contemporary art to exhibit at subsidized rates. The programme made an important contribution to the new image of the Fair and to new awareness of artistic trends and developments. The museum exhibition, designed by Erwin Heerich, showcased works from the collection of the Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg. To mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of photography, a photography show was organized by eight galleries specializing in the field. By 1989, photography had emerged as a major sector in the art market. The 1989 ART COLOGNE Prize went to the curator and expert Harald Szeemann. In its second year, the 'Benefiz-Eröffnung' raised funds for the purchase of Sigmar Polke’s six-part Biennale-Zyklus by the Städtisches Museum Abteiberg in Mönchengladbach. The Zyklus had been awarded the Golden Lion at the 42nd Venice Biennale.

1990 saw ART COLOGNE expand dramatically in terms of floor space. Prior to 1989, the Fair had occupied the ground floor and part of the upper level of the Rheinhallen (Halls 1-3) at the Cologne Trade Fair Centre. In 1990, exhibition space was extended to include Hall 5 which adjoined Halls 1-3. The number of exhibitors was increased to 268. As befitted the year of German reunification, the special museum exhibition was drawn from the collection of the Kupferstichkabinett in Dresden. Titled Verdecktes Sammeln, it showcased the difficulties of museum management in East Germany The 'Benefiz-Eröffnung' raised DM 205,000 for the acquisition programme of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden. The ART COLOGNE Prize went to Katharina Schmidt, Director of the Städtisches Kunstmuseum in Bonn.

ART COLOGNE demonstrated its resilience in 1991, the year of the international economic crisis in which Japan was hardest hit. Anniversary celebrations were staged for Hein Stünke, the 1991 ART COLOGNE prizewinner who had first put pen to paper twenty-five years earlier to draft his ‘Proposal for a COLOGNE MODERN ART FAIR’. In his acceptance speech, Stünke announced that he would be donating his gallery archives to the BVDG. The BVDG, at a general meeting on 14 November 1991 – the opening day of ART COLOGNE – decided to adopt a proposal made by its chairman, Gerhard F. Reinz, and set up what is now known as the Zentralarchiv des Internationalen Kunsthandels ZADIK [central archive of the international art trade]. A special exhibition titled Positionen provided a historical review of the 'Förderprogramm für junge Künstler' with its sponsored stands for young artists (now titled 'New Positions'). The 'Benefiz-Eröffnung' raised DM 200,000 towards the Schloss Friedenstein sculpture project organized by the city of Gotha.

In 1992, three Cologne gallerists – Tanja Grunert, Christian Nagel and Michael Jansen – staged their own event. They titled it 'Unfair' and it ran in parallel with ART COLOGNE. They were joined by the artist Heike Kempken. The fair was dedicated exclusively to young galleries. It was to have an important influence on the planning of future editions of ART COLOGNE. Denise René, the distinguished Paris dealer and publisher, was the winner of the ART COLOGNE Prize. The sculpture project organized by the city of Gotha was the focus of the museum exhibition. Member galleries of the BVDG joined forces to fund the gift of an important body of 150 original works on paper, dating from the period 1945 to 1975, to the Busch-Reisinger Museum in Harvard. By 1993 attendance had reached 70,000. The exhibitor list ran to 283 galleries. A spectacular supporting exhibition titled Young British Artists der Londoner Sammlung Saatchi included ground-breaking pieces like Damien Hirst's The Physical Impossibility of Death (Shark). The ART COLOGNE Prizewinner was also from Britain – the famous London dealer Annely Juda. In 1994, the exhibitor list was enlarged to a record number of 323 galleries. This increase was due in part to the integration of the international galleries on the 'Unfair' exhibitor list. ART COLOGNE Prizewinner was Maria de Corral, the Madrid museum director and curator.

In 1995, ART COLOGNE, Europe's biggest art fair, was in every way a fair of superlatives – in terms of the number of exhibitors, attendance figures and the length of its run. Earlier editions had runs of between five and eight days. The 1995 edition was lengthened to nine days. In the same year, the Repentance Day public holiday was abolished and the Fair's organizers saw a need to add an extra weekend. The two non-working days of the additional weekend were designed to compensate for the loss of a mid-week non-working day. Applications streamed in from galleries wanting to exhibit. In the face of strong competition, 349 galleries were accepted and 110 saw their applications rejected. Attendance figures surged to 81,000, 27,000 artworks were on show and exhibition space now ran to 42,000 square metres. The ART COLOGNE Prize went to Rudolf Springer, a doyen of the post-war gallery scene in West Germany and a founding father of ART COLOGNE in its original format as Kunstmarkt Köln ’67. Criticism of the length of the exhibitor list was growing and the nine-day run was felt by many to be too long. This impacted on the planning of the 1996 Fair. It was cut to eight days and the exhibitor list reduced to 279 galleries. The Fair hosted two supporting exhibitions. SK Stiftung Kultur der Stadtsparkasse Köln staged an exhibition of 80 photographs from the August Sander Archives. Three rooms in Hall 5 showcased Robert Wilson's installation titled The Waterjug Boy. Professor Peter Littmann, Chairman of the Executive Board of Hugo Boss AG, was awarded the ART COLOGNE Prize.

The year 1997 marked ART COLOGNE's 30th anniversary. It was a year of change. Dietmar Löhrl was now chairman of the BVDG, having replaced Gerhard F. Reinz. There had been a steady drip of criticism that the BVDG was monopolizing the Fair and this criticism had been in circulation since the founding of the Fair. The BVDG was also exposed to legal action on the part of applicants who had been rejected and this had caused the association considerable expense. The BVDG signed an agreement transferring organization of the Fair to kölnmesse and acted from then on in a sponsorship capacity only. The new independent admission committee chaired by the gallerist Karsten Greve reduced the number of exhibitors further, to 243 galleries. Attendance in 1997 was 71,000. The Photographische Sammlung staged a supporting exhibition of photographs by Albert Renger-Patzsch. A first at ART COLOGNE was an exhibition designed to provide a platform for the Cologne Kunsthochschule für Medien. It was curated by the media artist and filmmaker Valie Export. The ART COLOGNE prize was awarded jointly to two gallery owners – Charlotte Zander, Munich, and Dina Vierny, Paris. Just two weeks before ART COLOGNE opened its doors came the surprise announcement of a new competitor – art forum in Berlin.

The 1998 edition of ART COLOGNE saw exhibition space focussed on the original two levels of Halls 1-3 of the Rheinhallen. Hall 5 was now excluded. A wholly new sponsorship scheme to promote young galleries was launched and it was initially planned with a two-fair run, to run in parallel with the sponsorship scheme for young artists. The new 'Young Galleries' scheme – supported by SK Stiftung Kultur der Stadtsparkasse Köln – showcased 23 emerging galleries, each with a 30 square-metre stand priced at fifty per cent of the normal cost. The Photographische Sammlung der SK Stiftung Kultur staged a photography exhibition and the Kunsthochschule für Medien its own special show. A ground-breaking step was the introduction of a new section focussing on sculpture. It was titled 'KölnSkulptur' and hosted 36 galleries showcasing an impressive range of sculptures and installations. ART COLOGNE Prizewinner was Gerhard F. Reinz, the Honorary President of the BVDG. Both the 1998 and the 1999 editions of the Fair attracted 70,000 visitors. Turnover continued to grow and hit a new high. The second edition of the 'Young Galleries' scheme was a major success. Both the 'Young Galleries' scheme and 'KölnSkulptur' were to become permanent features of ART COLOGNE. The exhibitions staged by the Photographische Sammlung der SK Stiftung Kultur and the Kunsthochschule für Medien were to be consistent features of ART COLOGNE right up to 2009. The art dealer Otto van de Loo, one of the original 'progressive German gallerists' and founders of Kunstmarkt Köln '67 was awarded the ART COLOGNE Prize. ART COLOGNE 2000 was unaffected by the collapse of the dotcom bubble in March 2000. On the contrary, for many exhibitors it was 'the best Fair in years'. Winner of the ART COLOGNE Prize was Johannes Cladders, director of the Städtisches Museum Abteiberg in Mönchengladbach. A number of changes were planned to carry the Fair into the new millennium. They included a shorter run and an exhibitor rotation system to keep the list manageable but also ensure as few applicants as possible were turned away. Very regular exhibitors were to be restricted to signing up only every second year.

2001 to 2004: Only five days left for ART COLOGNE

ART COLOGNE in 2001, at which the gallery owner and collector Ingvild Goetz received the ART COLOGNE Award, only took place for five days. With 65,000 visitors, the decline in the number of visitors due to the shortening of the duration was relatively minor. However, even more American collectors were kept away by the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001 than by the auctions taking place parallel, which were now, also in Europe, dedicated not only to old, but also contemporary art, and thus confronted the art fairs with a new source of competition. The fear of terror and war, the effects of the European currency transformation to the Euro, many company bankruptcies and the effects of the dotcom crisis, now also tangible in Europe, had just as much of an impact on the atmosphere of ART COLOGNE 2002 as increasing criticism of the appearance and changed basic conditions of the fair, which, given the increasing globalisation of the art fair market, were meant to focus its profile and lead it back to its strengths. Initial steps took place with wider passages, new flooring, new lighting and the cautious reform of hall placement, and were welcomed by the 258 galleries and 65,000 visitors. A collector was honoured for the first time with the ART COLOGNE Award: Frieder Burda.

New competition in an increasingly differentiated fair landscape, now also focusing more on special fairs like Paris Foto (since 1998), arose for ART COLOGNE in 2003 with the Frieze Art Fair in London. The 'satellite fairs' in the retinue of a successful fair should be viewed more as a compliment then as competition. Such a fair came into being with the 'art fair' in the neighbouring city of Mülheim. The fair encountered these events and the economic slowdown with its own innovations. ART COLOGNE for the first time had an artistic director in Gérard Goodrow. Another innovation was the founding of the 'Friends of ART COLOGNE' association, a circle of patrons chaired by Gerhard F. Reinz, who, together with Koelnmesse, wished to top up the nearly non-existent budget for acquisitions of the Cologne museums with considerable sums of money. The Photographic Collection of the SK Stiftung Kultur foundation, the Academy of Media Arts Cologne and, for the last time, Köln Skulptur, were part of the supporting programme. The Insel Hombroich foundation presented itself in another special event. The art biennale and the Zentralarchiv des internationalen Kunsthandels (ZADIK, central archive of the international art trade) were represented for the first time at the fair with a special event. With 'Kunstmarkt Köln 67', the ZADIK offered a retrospective of the origins and development of ART COLOGNE as the 'mother' of all fairs for modern and contemporary art. The art historian, curator and former director of the Centre Pompidou, Werner Spies, was presented with the ART COLOGNE Award.

ART COLOGNE 2004, the last event in the Rheinhallen, which from this point on were to be made available to the television broadcaster RTL, presented further innovations with the slogan NEW ART. The sponsorship programme for young artists was now called NEW TALENTS, and the sponsorship booths for young galleries NEW CONTEMPORARIES. The significance of collectors was honoured with the exhibition of works from private collections in Cologne and the region, curated by Caroline Nathusius under the title Pollenflug (pollination). Other special events were stocked by the Falckenberg Collection, the Ann und Jürgen Wilde foundation and the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum in Cologne, the Photographic Collection of the SK Stiftung Kultur, the German Photographic Association, the ZADIK, the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, SOundArt Köln 2004, the KunstFilmBiennale Köln 2004, 235 Medien Köln and the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate Gallery London, was awarded the ART COLOGNE Award for his collections policy. In addition to 'art fair 2004', another parallel event arose, rheinschau. art cologne projects, organised by Claudia Neumann and Kathrin Luz, while the first video fair in the world was born one week later with loop 4 in Barcelona.

2005 to 2007: New halls, new architecture

In 2005, ART COLOGNE took place in halls 9 and 10 of koelnmesse. The new architecture offered broader passages, better lighting and a modern infrastructure, which received a lot of praise from 260 exhibitors and 72,000 visitors. The most spectacular innovation was the incorporation of the exhibition concept realised in the previous year by Claudia Neumann and Katrin Luz as rheinschau into ART COLOGNE, where it was received with general applause as OPEN SPACE, with 50 galleries, each of which offered a one-man show. Exceptional among the special events was 25 sqm, curated by Renate Goldmann, a look back at the sponsorship programme for young artists from the years 1980 to 2005 founded by the federal association of German museums and art dealers (BVDG) and ART COLOGNE, which was able to present discoveries like Rosemarie Trockel, Mischa Kuball, Gregor Schneider, Neo Rauch, Thomas Ruff, Olafur Eliasson, Tracy Emin and many others. The ART COLOGNE prize winner of 2005 was René Block, a member of the 'Verein progressiver deutscher Kunsthändler' (association of progressive German art dealers), and thus one of the founding gallery owners of ART COLOGNE, and subsequently exhibition curator and director of the Museum Fridericianum in Kassel.

With a reduced number of exhibitors amounting to 190 galleries, of which 45 percent came from abroad, the art fair presented itself in 2006 in halls 4 and 5. A new exhibition accent was introduced with HIDDEN TREASURES. Among the exceptional special events was the Homage to Jannis Kounellis, curated by Marc Scheps, with a reconstruction of Kounellis' Opus I, No. 9, untitled (Living Horses) in the Galleria L'Attico in Rome in 1969 and the exhibition organised by ZADIK for that year's ART COLOGNE prize winner Rudolf Zwirner, entitled 'Around 1967 - Rudolf Zwirner and the early years of Kunstmarkt Köln', which took place not at the fair itself, but instead in his former Kolumba(kirch)hof 2 gallery spaces in the Cologne city centre. The ADKV (working group of German art associations) prize for art associations was awarded for the first time this year in cooperation with ART COLOGNE. Prize winner was the ACC Galerie in Weimar.

After taking place for 40 years in November, ART COLOGNE experienced its most significant change in 2007 with its rescheduling to April. The short period of time of only five months following the last autumn fair brought not only organisational problems with it, but was in fact also a significant reason for the lower number of visitors of 60.000, which was nonetheless compensated for by the sales figures. Nonetheless, the critical attitude of influential galleries toward ART COLOGNE director Goodrow intensified, and was also increasingly noticed by the press. As the best part, it once again celebrated the OPEN SPACE, which in this year offered 40 galleries a forum in 2,500 m2. Caroline Nathusius continued her special event from 2004 under the title Pollenflug (Pollination)/ Austria, this time with works from Austrian private collections. ART COLOGNE prize winner was the gallery owner Erhard Klein. ART COLOGNE Palma de Mallorca, a satellite fair planned for 19-23 September 2007, which was already anticipated with concern in advance, given the in any case tense situation, already cast a shadow. Although several galleries ultimately experienced business success there, a sequel was not meant to be. The negative press response provided the Goodrow critics with more ammunition, which finally escalated into a boycott threat and occasioned Koelnmesse to part company with Goodrow.

2008 to 2010: ART COLOGNE in upheaval

In 2008, not only ART COLOGNE, but rather the entire German fair landscape, was in a state of transformation: dc düsseldorf contemporary went on hiatus, the fine art fair frankfurt took a break, the Art Forum Berlin was postponed from September until the end of the year. ART COLOGNE 2008, prepared by its team of many years headed by Heinz Schnock, and still without a director, used the opening as the occasion to present Daniel Hug as the new artistic director, who would take up his office immediately following the fair. Hug, who had most recently managed a gallery under his name in Los Angeles, was a member of the selection committee of Art Chicago at the end of the 1990s and curated the Art Los Angeles Contemporary fair in 2007 and 2008. With around 150 exhibitors from 23 countries and another 50 galleries in OPEN SPACE, ART COLOGNE once again maintained its leading position among the 280 annual art fairs with its broad offering extending from modern art to art of the present. Among the special events was 'Global EurAsia', curated by Renate Goldmann and Young Hee Lee, and the Palermo exhibtion of ZADIK. The ART COLOGNE Award was presented to Suzanne Pagé, director of many years of the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

The FAZ newspaper called it "The miracle of the Rhine" on 25 April 2009 and celebrated the generally established success of ART COLOGNE 2009 under new leadership in the year following the outbreak of the global economic crisis, in which the art fair was especially able to profit from its classic orientation, which Daniel Hug positioned convincingly. With the new, representative south entrance with outside staircase and entrance hall, containing large sculptures by Bernar Venet and Stephan Balkenhol, the new hall 11, a new exhibition architecture, the reduction of the number of participants to 180 and further reforms, Hug was immediately able to create a new atmosphere of excitement. In doing so, he also retained proven features: the OPEN SPACE, the sponsorhip programme for young galleries with contemporary art entitled NEW CONTEMPORARIES and the sponsorship booths for the new generation of artists as NEW POSITIONS. With Harald Falckenberg, the ART COLOGNE Award was once again awarded to a dedicated collector. Klaus Benden took over the chairmanship of the 'Friends of ART COLOGNE' from Gerhard F. Reinz.

If ART COLOGNE had hardly felt the effects of the financial crisis up to this point, the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökkul on 20 March, with its massive impact on transatlantic air traffic, made itself apparent in that many collectors from overseas were unable to come. At the same time, Hug was able to bring back many galleries that had turned their back on the fair in the meantime, and was also able to attract many important new ones. Thus, around 200 galleries from 23 countries participated this year. The public was welcomed at the south entrance by twenty Rocking Chairs (2010) from Lilian Bourgeat, which invited guests to rock outdoors, and in the entrance area by the 15 metre long Collective Unconscious (2007) sculpture of the Chinese artist Yin Xiuzhen. At the heart of the OPEN SPACE on the top floor of hall 11, Jeppe Hein's Circus Hein was a crowd puller. This year, an entire family was honoured with the ART COLOGNE Award: Anna, Bärbel, Thomas, Sabine and Karola Grässlin.

2011 to 2013: Another innovation

At the beginning of 2011, there was one more innovation on the market of fairs for modern and contemporary art: the VIP Art Fair presented itself as a virtual fair in the World Wide Web from 22 to 30 January, whereby VIP stood as an abbreviation for 'Viewing In Private'. When the 45th ART COLOGNE started, nobody knew that the Art Forum in Berlin would no longer take place in September, but participants, the public and the press of ART COLOGNE had already decided the competition of the two art fairs in favour of Cologne in rare unanimity. This year, 200 galleries from 22 countries, also including 30 from Berlin and several high quality returnees and first-timers exhibited in Cologne. In the end, 60,000 visitors were received at the main entrance, already highly visible from a distance, by Paul McCarthy's larger than life aluminium sculptures 'Apple Tree Boy' and 'Apple Tree Girl' from Galerie Hauser & Wirth. Just as impressive in the foyer were the adventurous 'Flying Objects' of Panamarenko, whose career began in the Rhineland, where Beuys invited him to the Düsseldorf Art Academy in 1968 with his sculpture 'Flugzeug' (Airplane). In its seventh version, OPEN SPACE presented itself as especially open, and as a kind of book salon in its bar area as 'Books' P(a)lace'. The 43 young galleries of NEW CONTEMPORARIES, which were able to participate at reduced booth prices, were this time spread over the top floor between the established galleries. The Raster gallery from Warsaw received the #Maurice Lacroix Art Award for NEW CONTEMPORARIES, this year being awarded for the second time. Leimer, the Austrian by choice, received this year's 'Audi Art Award for New Positions'. Klaus Gerrit Friese, chairman of the BVDG, referred at the press conference to the in the meantime 30-year success story of the sponsorship measures and determined that around 80 percent of those artists sponsored were still represented by their galleries at that time. The ART COLOGNE prize winner of 2011 was the gallery owner and art dealer Michael Werner. The ADKV Award for art associations this year went to Nuremberg. The Viennese sociologist and publicist Jens Kastner received the ADKV Art Cologne Award for art criticism.

A spectacular entrance to ART COLOGNE 2012 was He Xiangyu's 'Man on Chairs', an installation of bulky wooden chairs, made possible in the context of the 25th anniversary of the twinning of Cologne and Peking. In the foyer, Galerie Hauser & Wirth had two 60 sqm pieces of the floor of Dieter Roth's studio in Iceland, which Roth had declared works of art, installed vertically. The most important innovation of the fair in 2012 was the strategic partnership with the 'New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) already initiated in the previous year, an association of mainly American galleries and non-profit institutions for "new voices in contemporary art", which had been organising the, in the eyes of international critics, most important satellite fair of Art Basel Miami since 2003, and had already been considering a European fair appearance for quite some time. Daniel Hug had positioned 32 NADA members in place of the now abandoned OPEN SPACE. The NADA members were now responsible for the experimental, avant garde part of the fair, which they, however, shared with the NEW CONTEMPORARIES and the NEW POSITIONS, but also with galleries offering thoroughly established and more expensive art. The Galerie KOW from Berlin was presented with the 'Maurice Lacroix Art Award for NEW CONTEMPORARIES' this year. Jürgen Staak, the winner of this year's 'Audi Art Award for New Positions' even had double the good fortune, because his entire booth was acquired by the purchasing commission of the Federal Republic of Germany. The trade fair, which was perceived as being very well balanced on the whole, was able to present two new, heavyweight exhibitors: Thaddaeus Ropac und David Zwirner. The mood of the German exhibitors was clouded by the much-discussed, imminent increase to the value added tax for art from 7 to 19% to align it with the EU standard. A gallery was honoured with the ART COLOGNE Award that had contributed to the writing of the history of the avant garde during the short period of its existence from 1966 to 1976, with artists like Broodthaers, Panamarenko, Beuys and many other important figures: Anny de Deckers and Bernd Lohaus' 'Wide White Space' in Antwerp.

"Untitled" were the two gigantic colour bodies (2012) of Katharina Grosse, which were positioned in front of the entrance of ART COLOGNE in 2013 and welcomed around 55,000 visitors. The Julia Stoschek Collection presented its works of media art in front of the entrance to the exhibition levels under the title 'Das Bildermuseum brennt' (The painting museum is burning). The show, which was consistently praised by the critics, was meant to offer a foretaste of a new fair format, with which Daniel Hug planned to open a forum for galleries of artists doing experimental work in the fields of video and media art. Also new was the schedule, which placed the art fair closer to the Berlin Gallery weekend, much to the pleasure of visitors travelling from abroad and looking for synergies, and at the same time creating a two-day distance from Art Brussels, which made it possible for some galleries to participate in both fairs. At the same time, the opening was rescheduled from the less favourable Tuesday to Wednesday, and the duration of the fair was reduced by a day at the request of exhibitors. 206 galleries from 25 countries were approved. Attending once again were members of NADA, whose stand area now provided space for 40 presentations. In this year, the sponsorship programme of the trade fair and the city of Cologne for NEW CONTEMPORARIES benefited 38 young galleries, of which the Corbett vs. Dempsey gallery from Chicago was distinguished with the Maurice Lacroix Award for its presentation. The Audi Award NEW POSITIONS went to Zbyněk Baladrán. The students and graduates of the Academy of Media Arts Cologne (KHM) showed video art, experimental cínematic works and other time-based media compiled by Heike Ander under the title "MY EYES HURT". The ZADIK told the success story of the 'Galerie Heiner Friedrich – Munich, Cologne, New York', which was also an early station in the career of this year's ART COLOGNE prize winner, the Munich gallery owner Fred Jahn. In the tenth year of its existence, the 'Friends of ART COLOGNE' provided around one million Euro in donations to help acquire works by Richard Tuttle, Walter de Maria, Tony Conrad and Dominik Lang at the fair for the Museum Ludwig, a drawing by Lovis Corinth for the Wallraf-Richartz Museum and a work by Ann-Kristin Hamm for the Museum Schnütgen.

The press was unanimous: with the 47th ART COLOGNE, the fair had "really taken off" (Annegret Erhard: Durchgestartet. Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 20.4.2013), "found its way back to old strengths" (Sebastian Preuss: Die Art Cologne findet zurück zur alten Größe. Die Zeit, 25.4.2013) and was "once again playing in the first division" (Hanna Styrie: Wieder in der ersten Liga. Kölnische Rundschau, 23.4.2013).

2014 to 2016: The 50th ART COLOGNE

Daniel Hug, in cooperation with Galerie Karsten Greve, had a steel sculpture by Joel Shapiro, 'Elevation I and II' (1994) placed before the stairs of the south entrance to ART COLOGNE 2014, and around 55,000 visitors could in turn walk through a non-commercial wall paper work by Ai Weiwei with photos of bouquets of flowers, which was realised together with the gallery owner Alexander Ochs, on their way into the exhibition. Since 30 November 2013, the artist had placed a bouquet of flowers in the basket of a bicycle standing in front of his studio, and wished to continue doing so until his passport was returned to him. From around 800 applications, the approval committee selected 221 exhibitors from 25 countries in this year. The NADA was also there again, not with its own exhibition space, but instead as a co-organiser of the new COLLABORATIONS section. Pavilions were spread to the four corners of the upper hall level. The NEW POSITIONS were distributed to 19 sponsorship booths. The FORT artist group (Jenny Kropp and Alberta Niemann) received the ART COLOGNE Award. Another innovation was the FILM COLOGNE section, at the premiere of which the highly-frequented film bar in passage 3-11 played a programme curated together with the art broadcaster 'Souvenirs From Earth SFE' consisting of 50 works from 50 years of film art by artists that had been represented by exhibiting galleries. The programme could also be followed in the Internet and on cable television. Also well-suited to this was the exhibition with 10 video and sound installations, experimental films and intermedial works of the Academy of Media Arts Cologne (KHM), which Heike Ander had compiled under the title 'Eden Was Never So Close'. This year's ART COLOGNE Award went to the Viennese gallery owner Rosemarie Schwarzwälder (Galerie nächst St. Stephan). Barbara Buchmaier and Christine Woditschka received the ADKV-ART COLOGNE Award for art criticism, the award for art associations went to Bielefeld. ART COLOGNE cooperated with the Quadriennale Düsseldorf. The admission ticket for the fair provided access to the exhibitions of the 13 Düsseldorf art institutes at a reduced price during the Quadriennale and vice versa. Unclarified tax questions were the dominant background noise of the 48th art fair, because the previously lower value added tax of 7 % (instead of 19 %) valid for paintings and sculptures, but not for photography, was increased at the beginning of the year under pressure from the EU.

"483 hours of work" was written on the 4 cubic metre cube of black concrete, with which the Spanish artist Santiago Sierra thematised work and exploitation. Around 56,000 visitors had to pass by this work of art in 2015 to see what 209 galleries from 23 countries had to offer. At the opening, they could have encountered the artist Hans Peter Feldmann, who carried a cardboard panel with the inscription "Hell erstrahlen alle Mienen bei dem schönen Wort verdienen" (All expressions shine brightly at the beautiful word earn) through the airy passages of the newly structured fair, thus turning his visit into a performance. For the first time, all three levels of hall 11 were 'played'; only half of levels 1 and 3, but in such a way that resulted in a restructuring of the sections: modern and postwar art on level 1, contemporary art on level 2 and NEW CONTEMPORARIES (sponsored by the Deutsche Bank) and COLLABORATIONS on level 3. Thanks to the cooperation with the online art portal '', it was already possible to see the offerings of the exhibitors in advance in the Internet and determine that many galleries had dedicated their booths to only one or two artist personalities, and that a revival of the art of the 1960s was taking place. In its second year, the new FILM COLOGNE section was formulated in cooperation with three institutions dedicated to the promotion of the film art of Flanders: 'Flanders Art Institute', 'Flanders Image' and 'Argos'. Philippe Pirotte, rector of the Städelschule and Fabian Schöneich, curator at Portikus Frankfurt, had chosen the artist films and videos presented in the theatre and lounge area of level 3. NEW POSITIONS offered 21 artistic solo presentations, and the ART COLOGNE Award, this year financed by Deutsche Telekom, went to Sabrina Fritsch. In the 25th year of its existence, the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, which had been publishing the works of its students and graduates at the fair in special events since 1997, presented the exhibition with the title 'What Subject Can We Sensibly Discuss?'. The Bundesverband Deutscher Galerien und Kunsthändler (BVDG) (German association of galleries and art dealers) celebrated the 40th anniversary of its founding at the fair. Hans Mayer, who was one of the founding gallery owners of Kunstmarkt Köln `67, was presented with the ART COLOGNE Award. The ADKV-ART COLOGNE Award for critics went to Stefan Kobel, the award for art associations to the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen (Art association for the Rhineland and Westphalia) in Düsseldorf.


In 2016, the 50th ART COLOGNE could be presented and its eventful history be relived with an exhibition and a 400-page, opulently illustrated publication of the ZADIK together with the Walther König publishing house. To celebrate the occasion, Mayor Reker opened the press conference. From 14-17 April, 218 galleries and art dealerships from 24 countries showed around 60,000 visitors their works on the three levels of hall 11, among them this year a conspicuously large number of sculptures and installations, as well as works selling in the millions range. Twenty-nine galleries presented themselves upstairs at NEW CONTEMPORARIES and 41 with COLLABORATIONS. For the anniversary, Ellen de Bruine and Stella Lohaus curated the special event "Eins, zwei, Wechselschritt – 50 years of ART COLOGNE and the Avant Garde in Contemporary Art in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands' at the Entrance South, in which works by Joseph Beuys, Marcel Broodthaers, Panamarenko, Georg Baselitz, Rosemarie Trockel, Marlène Dumas and Peter Buggenhout thematised the reciprocal artistic influences between Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Just as appropriate for the anniversary, the new section FILM COLOGNE, introduced in 2014,offered a retrospective of five decades of film art under the title "Rhine Scope". With Raimund Thomas as ART COLOGNE prize winner, the fair and the BVDG honoured a member of the "Verein progressiver deutscher Kunsthändler" (Association of progressive German art dealers), and thus one of the founding gallery owners of 'Kunstmarkt Köln '67', from which ART COLOGNE arose in 1984. The ADKV ART COLOGNE Award for art associations went to Arnsberg and the Harburger Bahnhof, while Jörg Scheller received the ADKV ART COLOGNE Award for art criticism. The ART COLOGNE AWARD for NEW POSITIONS went to Gerrit Frohne-Brinkmann The curator award for the best exhibition of 2015, presented for the first time by the art magazine "art", went to Susanne Pfeffer for the exhibition "inhuman" in the Fridericianum in Kassel. The private tour of the Australian artist Stuart Ringholt, whose participants explored the fair completely unclothed (before the official opening hours), the consequences of the planned amendment to the Cultural Protection Act and the impending collision of ART COLOGNE with the Berlin Gallery Weekend in 2017 due to the unfavourable timing of the Easter holidays in North Rhine-Westphalia provided lots of material for discussion. For Heinz Schnock, who had been responsible for ART COLOGNE on behalf of Koelnmesse since 1977 as project manager, this was to be the last fair prior to his retirement. He was succeeded by Benjamin Agert.

2017 to 2018: Big names, great art

For the opening on 26 April, visitors to the 51st ART COLOGNE 2017 were received in the large Entrance South hall with the 350 m2 installation 'L' by Michael Riedel, and thus not by an already historical work, but instead by the first of the contemporary artistic positions that would characterise this space from now on. The fair was also otherwise able to make an impression with a new appearance designed by the BOROS agency, which met with a broad positive response right from the start. Not only the press celebrated the first participation of the Gagosian gallery (with the room installation 'Buddha's Fingers' by Chris Burden), which now took the foremost position among the global super galleries represented at the fair. The art fair offered 2,000 artists from 200 galleries from 28 countries, once again spread over three levels. The previous platforms NEW CONTEMPORARIES and COLLABORATIONS were merged in the new NEUMARKT sector on level three (for galleries not older than 10 years of age), with which the promotion of young art was to be further expanded upon. Topics of discussion at the fair were its shortened duration without the Sunday, a concession to the Berlin Gallery Weekend, which may also have resulted in a lower number of visitors (52,000), the acquisition of shares by the Swiss fair company MCH (Art Basel) in Art Düsseldorf, the cooperation of ART COLOGNE with 'art berlin contemporary (abc)', founded in 2008, already planned for the coming September and the increasingly manifesting competitive disadvantages for the German art market and its participants due to the political decisions revolving around the value added tax, Droit de suite (right to follow) and the protection of cultural assets. The ART COLOGNE Award for NEW POSITIONS was presented to the Hamburg artist Paul Spengemann, the ADKV-ART COLOGNE Award for art associations to Hartware MedienKunstVerein Dortmund and this year's ART COLOGNE Award to Günter Herzog (ZADIK).

The new, 100 metre-long and 40 metre-wide plaza designed in black, around which the major international galleries were grouped, "epitomises", according to Uta M. Reindl, "the self-confidence of the 52nd ART COLOGNE" 2018. However, the around 55,000 visitors were first able to walk through the "Speed", "Hype", "Cash", "Mega" and other screeching, woven comic figures laid out as carpeting in Zuzanna Czetabul's 'Higher Than the Sun' in the entrance hall in order to advance to the 210 galleries from 33 countries and their works of art at prices ranging between 120 and 3.6 million Euro. It was Daniel Hug's 10th ART COLOGNE, and Marcus Woeller from the 'Welt' newspaper agreed with many of his colleagues: "The Rhineland is once again the heart of the German art world, and Art Cologne is basking in the splendour of regained strength". The galleries were once again spread over the three levels of hall 11. There was no longer a printed catalogue this year, but instead a print magazine informing about the fair and the art city of Cologne – the catalogue information could be accessed online. Radek Krolczyk received the ADKV-ART COLOGNE Award for art criticism, and the 'Temporary Gallery', founded in 2009 in Cologne, the ADKV-ART COLOGNE Award for art associations. The ART COLOGNE AWARD for NEW POSITIONS went to the Cypriot artist Lito Kattou. The media art collector Julia Stoschek was honoured with the ART COLOGNE Award for 2018.