Art Cologne 2009: A Step in the Right Direction

(C) Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: 'Halbakt mit erhobenen Armen' ('Halfnude with raised hands') courtesy of Henze & Ketterer Gallery / art cologne

When the recent Art Cologne ended some 56,600 visitors attended the fair. In currently difficult times this is an acceptable number.


Director  Daniel Hug moved the mother of all art fairs in the right direction:


  • There were less galleries
  • The overall quality of the works was ok
  • Important galleries came back
  • Critics have cleverly been integrated in the making of the fair
  • The region and city provided an additional  framework for the fair


But there were also external factors not even Mr. Hug would have been able to influence:


  • The German art scene has been shifting from Rhineland to Berlin.
  • The economic crisis doesn't make it easier for art fairs in gerneral.


Mr. Hug focused on the remaining strength of Art Cologne: Classic modern art and post-war art.   As we mentioned already last year: If you want to buy a Nay, Kirchner or Poliakov Cologne is a good place to do so. Maybe even a better place to bargain for discounts than  Basel....   After having passed the modern area you enter the young art area

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. It is not easy to find your way aoround there but having spent part of my youth with the girl scouts I could manage.   In recent years of the art market hype Cologne has  not really been part of it anymore. This might be an advantage now, as expectations of the visitors are not overrated.   The core advantages of Art Cologne is that its region, the Rhineland, has always had a strong tradition of collecting contemporary art and quite  a number of important collectors. They have been collecting before the boom and they will be collecting art after the boom.    
(c) David Hockney: 'Bugthorpe Valley', 2005, Courtesy Annely Juda Fine Art / Art Cologne

Annely Juda Gallery, London, is targeting at this group of collectors with a Christo wrapped sculpture and a beautiful landscape painting by David Hockney. (There is a Hockney landscape exhibition starting in May at the private Würth Museum.)


(c) art cologne 2009 - Entrance South / art by Bernar Venet, 'Three Indeterminate Lines', 2005

Mr. Hug has managed to form a joint effort of the region's cultural institutions to create an attractive framework during the art fair. I just want to point out the excellent Christopher Wool retrospective at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne.


I would not agree to the voices who now praise Art Cologne as new rising star of art fairs. It is certainly not yet an  Art Basel or Frieze or Armory show.  If  Art Cologne wants to rival these, it will take some more years. But, thanks to Daniel Haug, the direction is the right one.


by K. L.




Read more about Art Cologne 2008


Read more about Art Basel 2008


Read more about Armory Art fair 2009



Back to magazine overview








Karsten, 14-05-09 09:49
I am quite relieved that the Art Cologne got back on track again.

I miss the times (in the 80s) when Cologne was the epicenter of contemporary!

It was always great fun with Kippi... ;-)
Kelis, 07-08-11 18:48
What a neat aritlce. I had no inkling.
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