Review of Art Cologne 2018-2019

Today’s Art Cologne as a fair for classical modernism, post-war art and contemporary art goes back to the “Art Market Cologne ’67”, which opened on September 15, 1967 in Gürzenich, the medieval dance and department store of the city of Cologne, and the international art market should change forever.

The inventors of this fair were the Cologne gallery owners Hein Stünke and Rudolf Zwirner and their idea was born out of necessity, because although the development of art and the public interest in art had broken into a phase of enormous dynamism at the end of the immediate post-war period, the German art trade was everything else as well.

At that time, French art dominated the market, with Paris as the capital of the art market, which was replaced soon after the second documenta in 1959 by American art and New York as the new global art metropolis. With the war Germany had lost its capital and its former art centers. The new center of the German art business now became the Rhineland, which developed into the industrial engine of the German economy and the hub of the Western European economy and housed Bonn as the new capital.

To this day, North Rhine-Westphalia and the neighboring Benelux countries in Europe have remained the region with the highest density of industry, capital and collectors, which was already a very good prerequisite for the art market at the beginning of the 1960s. With their fair, Stünke and Zwirner wanted to establish a new art center at least ‘temporarily’; in the long term, they wanted to promote the new national art production, i.e. the young German artists, and place it internationally and interest a new collector audience.

As we know today, they succeeded in all of this to a degree that they would hardly have thought possible at the time, and their invention made history. The history of ART COLOGNE was not only formative for significant developments in the history of the international art trade, but also in the international art history par excellence.

Art Cologne 2019
The 53rd edition of Art Cologne, The oldest art fair in the world, this year’s event has brought together 176 galleries on two floors of the Koelnmesse exhibition center, spanning modern and contemporary galleries, as well as platforms focusing on young galleries and collaborative presentations. As in years past, the showcase boasts a strong German presence, with around 97 galleries hailing from the region.

Alongside its sections for emerging galleries and its main sector, Art Cologne will this year also feature a new section titled “Collaborations,” which will highlight joint efforts between galleries and artists. Among some of the more blue-chip galleries presenting work this year at Art Cologne are David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, Thaddaeus Ropac, White Cube, Sprüth Magers, and Michael Werner.

The young, up-and-coming galleries of the “Neumarkt” sector are located on the same hall level as the galleries of the “Contemporary” sector. As usual, the “Modern / Post War” sector can be found in Hall 11.1. A total of 14 different “Collaborations” complement the presentations on both levels. The 2019 edition of Art Cologne also features special exhibitions such as “Archivio Conz”, and a talks programme.

A supporting programme of exhibition openings and events in museums and institutions throughout the Rhineland, as well as integrated services, pleasant lounges and the best food service round off the trade fair and make Art Cologne one of the events of this year in Germany.

In the modern art section, there’s no shortage of museum-quality masterpieces. Notable works include A Singer on the Piano (1930) by the German Expressionist artist and founder of the Die Brücke artist group, Ernst Ludwig Kircher; Otto Mueller’s Russisches Mädchenpaar (Russian Couple) from 1919 at Dusseldorf’s Ludorff; and a pair of fascinating figurative works by Otto Dix at Fischer Kunsthandel, respectively. Another highlight here is Gerhard Richter’s brilliant Abstracte Bilde (1984), a kaleidoscopic mash-up of shimmering jeweled tones at Galerie Von Vertes.

A standout booth in the contemporary section is Berlin-based König Galerie, directed by the Cologne-born dealer Johann König. On view is an installation by breakout Polish artist Alicja Kwade. A panel of mirror is sandwiched by two slabs of dusty-pink marble, one appearing to slide down to the floor in defiance of gravity.

The young Berlin artist Michasel Sailstorfer’s Tear Rack installation, composed of green and brown tearshaped glass bottles, cleverly riffs on Marcel Duchamp’s 1914 bottle rack readymade. Flanking König’s booth is a thoughtful presentation of gestural paintings by Karl Horst Hödicke, in a series titled “Berlin 89/90” in acknowledgement of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The mega blue-chip international galleries brought out their German best too. David Zwirner—whose father, Rudolph Zwirner, was one of the fair’s founders—shows a selection of pieces by Sigmar Polke, Neo Rauch, Isa Genzken, and Josef Albers. Lining White Cube’s booth is a collection of 120 patterned sailing ropes by the celebrated Brazilian artist Jac Leirner, With strips geometrically displayed in ascending order of thickness, the work reveals reflects her interest in Brazilian Constructivism as well as Arte Povera.

London and Berlin’s Blain|Southern dedicates its booth to the YBA artists, including early installations by Damien Hirst, such as Fear from 1994, a glass-and-steel cabinet containing surgical equipment; and a blue neon titled fuckingbeautiful (Ice Blue Versio) by Sue Noble and Tim Webster.

The dubbed Collaborations, which Cologne gallerist Natalia Hug and Berlin-based Aurel Schiebler teamed up to show a collection of pigmented and sanded plaster wall pieces by emerging talent Caroline Eidner. Esther Schipper, one of the most important German contemporary galleries, meanwhile, joined forces with the up-and-coming Cologne-based Drei to present works by artist Julia Scher.

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The new market category takes a similar barrier-breaking approach, a section dedicated to young galleries and named after the neumarkets, or town squares, that are a hallmark of German urban planning. Among the 27 galleries, visitors will find a number of exciting discoveries.

Art Cologne 2018
The 52rd edition of Art Cologne, among the heavyweight exhibitors are Gagosian, David Zwirner, White Cube, and Hauser & Wirth. In a “Neumarkt” sector for galleries that have been in business for less than ten years, smaller shops will include Paris’s 22.48 m², Riga’s Alma, and Seoul’s Kiche. Galleries returning to the fair or exhibiting for the first time include Lisson Gallery, Clearing, Gió Marconi, and Kamel Mennour.

Art Cologne 2018 appeal to young gallerists, artists, and collectors, the event featured more than 200 galleries from 33 countries, and offered a wide variety of modern and contemporary art in four different sectors: Contemporary, Modern/Postwar, Collaborations and Neumarkt.

Starting out in the Modern/Postwar section, Tokyo’s Whitestone Gallery displayed important paintings by Gutai artists, and Berlin’s Aurel Scheibler showed powerful portraits by American painter Alice Neel and a minimalist sculpture by German artist Norbert Kricke.

In the Contemporary sector was David Zwirner, where we found a “Gazing Ball” painting by Jeff Koons juxtaposed with masterful canvases by German painters Sigmar Polke and Neo Rauch. London’s White Cube presented ceramics by Chicago conceptualist Theaster Gates and a dot painting by YBA Damien Hirst. Additionally, Gagosian presented hyperrealistic figure of a window washer by Duane Hanson, plus Swiss artist Urs Fischer’s life-size figure of a businessman being embraced by an enlarged monk who’s holding a dagger and a prayer book.

In the New Market, offered solo and group presentations of new work by both established and emerging artists, with most exhibitors choosing to highlight the latter. In the contemporary art, Berlin’s Future Gallery blurred the boundary between abstraction and our image-infested world by showcasing lenticular screen collages mounted on cut-up sections of car radiators created by Marseille duo Estrid Lutz and Emile Mold.

London gallerist Rob Tufnell, meanwhile, exhibited paintings by British artist Edward Kay that prodded the notions of vice and virtue via appropriated pornography and a cartoon worm possessing a childlike innocence. Working with the idea that his pop-up show would be seen by a savvy art-world audience, Kay meticulously hand-painted his canvases to simulate the style of Sigmar Polke’s coveted silkscreen works.

Art Cologne
The Art Cologne is one of the oldest art fairs in the world for contemporary art. It takes place every spring on the Koelnmesse site in Cologne-Deutz. It was launched in 1967 on the initiative of the gallery owners Hein Stünke and Rudolf Zwirner as the “ Cologne Art Market ” in Gürzenich, Cologne.

Eighteen galleries took part in the first Cologne Art Market in September 1967. With 15,000 visitors and a turnover of one million German marks, the event in Gürzenich in Cologne was a great success. The organizer was the association of progressive German art dealers founded by the founding fathers Hein Stünke (Der Spiegel gallery), Rudolf Zwirner and five other colleagues.

In 1968 the fair moved to the more spacious Josef Haubrich Kunsthalle, which existed until 2001. Additional galleries were admitted, including from abroad, in order to prevent a competitive event with international participation in neighboring Düsseldorf. In 1974 the fair, called Cologne Art Market from 1970, moved to the Rheinhallen in Cologne-Deutz. The organization was transferred to the Cologne fair company. In 1975 the name of the fair was changed to “International Art Market” (IKM). For the first time, the Art Cologne Prize was awarded in cooperation with the Federal Association of German Galleries (BVDG)awarded. The fair took place alternately in Cologne and Düsseldorf. In 1984 the fair was given a new name for the last time: the IKM became Art Cologne, which has only taken place in Cologne since then.

In 2007 Art Cologne was postponed from the traditional autumn date to spring. Cologne Fine Art, also launched by today’s organizer Koelnmesse, will now take place in autumn. The director of Art Cologne has been the US art dealer Daniel Hug since 2008. He succeeded Gérard Goodrow, who had been in office since 2003.

The “Art Market Cologne” has had competition in its own environment since the beginning of 1967. As all galleries that applied were never allowed to take part, there were always alternative offers in the context of Art Cologne: 1967 “Demonstrative” Cologne, 1968 “Prospect 68” Düsseldorf, 1969 “Neumarkt der Künste” Cologne, 1971/72 “Internationale Art and information fair “Düsseldorf.

In 1992 the Cologne gallery owner Christian Nagel launched the counter-fair “Unfair”; In 1995, Nagel was one of the co-founders of the Art Forum Berlin, an expressly competing event. ART.FAIR has been establishing itself as a counter-fair since 2003. In 2007, three more new art fairs started at the same time: the “List Cologne”, the “Tease Art Fair” and the “dc duesseldorf contemporary”.

In 1994 the Society for Modern Art at the Museum Ludwig awarded the Wolfgang Hahn Prize, named after the collector and chief restorer of the Museum Ludwig, for the first time during the fair. In 2006 Rudolf Zwirner, co-founder of Art Cologne, received this award.

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