Being one of the most important international fairs for modern and contemporary art today, Art Cologne was originally founded in 1967 as the 'Kunstmarkt Köln '67' by Hein Stünke and Rudolf Zwirner, the owners of a gallery. Each year, around 200 international galleries from more than 20 countries come together for the occasion of the fair, and exhibit the exceptional and high quality art from the early 20th century onwards.
The exhibited works come in all price segments and from different art movements, making Art Cologne an attractive place for collectors, art aficionados and gallerists. The visitors of the fair can enjoy in artworks made by over 2,000 artists, displayed in three exhibition halls at Koelnmesse GmbH. Starting with just 18 galleries in 1967, Art Cologne is one of the oldest fairs of its kind that has grown over the years into a prime art spot for those interested in what contemporary art world has to offer.
The fair is divided into several segments, each with its unique focus on particular styles, periods, and age groups. The Galleries section is devoted to modern and postwar art, extending to contemporary art of established galleries. New Positions section is a sponsored program that is actually a platform for young artists, giving them an opportunity to showcase their work to international audiences and next to world-known galleries and artists.
Neumarkt is specifically designed for ‘cutting edge art’ presented by galleries that are on the market for less than ten years. This section also includes curated presentations, and special projects for all age groups. The fair is also supported by a series of events that are happening in the exhibition halls, including special exhibition openings, as well as by various events that will take place at the same time as the fair in different institutions throughout the Rhineland.
The location of the first Art Cologne, launched on September 15th, 1967 as the trade fair of classic modern art, was in a historic Gürzenich building. Its founders wanted to breathe a new life into a lackluster art market in West Germany at the time, which seemed to stagnate profoundly after the initial revival and surge in the post-war years. Hein Stünke and Rudolf Zwirner, the founders of the fair and gallerists, saw that Paris was losing its central role as the capital of modern art, while the French market in general was slowly faltering and losing its leadership position. At the same time the American scene was booming, with New York as the new art capital.
West Germany, however, was not without its potential in this global play, and Stünke and Zwirner saw an opportunity to include Cologne into this global art market race. Their initial aim with founding of the fair was to promote young German creatives, but the idea was soon exceeded, as the fair became the driving force of the international market, and influenced its later developments.
The 51st edition of Art Cologne brings an impressive list of galleries from all over the world, including China, the USA, Hungary, Finland, and Russia. ‘Blue chip’ galleries include David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, Gagosian, as well as WHITE CUBE from London. Among the young owners and galleries are Deborah Schamoni, Jan Kaps, Lars Friedrich, Soy Capitan, Future Gallery, KM, Silberkuppe, Teminkova & Kasela, and LambdaLambdaLambda.
The abc Gallery from Budapest will focus on the color field painter Imre Bak, and other Hungarian artists such as the sculptor Peter Szalay. Domestic scene is also in focus of the gallery Anhava from Helsinki, which will represent artists Sally Tykäane, Marika Mäkelä, who is highly respected in Northern Europe, and the sculptor Anne Koskinen. The visitors will be able to see the abstract works by Jon Pestoni at David Kordansky (Los Angeles), while the first-time exhibitors WHITE CUBE (London) will offer works by Imi Knoebel, Tracey Emin, and Christian Marclay. The Neumarkt section will give space to emerging artists who will have their solo exhibitions, including Talisa Lallai (Galerie BolteLang), Flaka Haliti (LambdaLambdaLambda), Simone Gilges (KM Galerie), Dale Lewis (Choi & Lager), HG (Lucas Hirsch), Daiga Grantina (Joseph Tang Gallery), Caroline Wells Chandler (Roberto Paradise), and Christopher Chiappa (Kate Werble), among others.
Two special events will also mark this year’s edition of Art Cologne. The first is the installation of the large letter L by Michael Riedel in the entrance hall. The L represents the meeting of the advisory board that made the decision about the acceptance or rejection of galleries to the fair. In the official documents from the meeting, the letter L appears 1,894 times.
The second event is the special exhibition titled Galerie Springer, Berlin, 1948-1998, which remembers and documents the life achievements of one of the most important Berlin gallery owners of the 20th century, Rudolf Springer. He was among a few gallery owners who were active in Berlin in the post-war years. He first worked as an exhibition manager at the Gerd Rosen Gallery, before opening his own place on 8th December, 1948. Besides promoting young German artists, Springer also followed and exhibited works from French creatives. Today, the holdings of his gallery are considered among the most important and oldest at Zentralarchiv des Interntionalen Kunsthandels E.V. (ZADIK).
The 51st edition of Art Cologne 2017 opens on Wednesday, April 26th and runs until Saturday, April 29th, 2017, at Koelnmesse GmbH, Venue Hall 11, Messeplatz 1, Cologne, Germany. Vernissage is scheduled for Tuesday, April 25th, from 4-8pm. Opening hours for visitors are: 26-28 April from 11am-7pm, 29th April from 11am-6pm. Day ticket is €25, 2-day ticket €35, and the rate for senior citizens (over 65), students, retirees, schoolchildren, and people with disabilities is €20.Vernissage ticket is €55. Tickets can be purchased here. For all additional info please visit the official webpage of the fair.
Featured images: Time Drifts Cologne - Philipp Geist Foto von Oliver Blum © Philipp Geist VG Bildkunst 2016; Tracey Emin - Walking Around My World, 2011, neon, 46 x 246 x 6.5 cm, © Tracey Emin, photo: Ben Westoby. Courtesy: White Cube; Andrzej Steinbach - Untitled (Ordinary Stones Pose I), 2016. Courtesy Andrzej Steinbach & Galerie Conradi, Brüssel Hamburg; Piotr Makowski - Untitled, 2016. Courtesy the Artist and Antoine Levi Galerie, Paris. All images courtesy of Art Cologne.