Germany’s leading art fair may have been established in 1967, but Art Cologne's relevance still holds firm as one of the key venues for 20th and 21st century art. This year, the 51st edition sees 200 galleries from 28 countries bring approximately 2,000 works. Major contemporary art galleries such as Thaddeus Ropac (Salzburg/Paris), Sprueth Magers (Berlin/London/Los Angeles), Perrotin (Paris/New York/Hong Kong), sit alongside modern art spaces, bringing secondary market works, such as Ben Brown Fine Arts (London/Hong Kong), Borzo (Amsterdam) and Minotaure (Paris).
Belying its vintage, Art Cologne encourages fresh talent and young galleries, such as German-based Deborah Schamoni, London’s Project Native Informant or New York’s ESSEX STREET, and still attracts that blue-chip crowd: visitors this year will be treated to offerings from new participants Gagosian (almost everywhere), Pearl Lam (Hong Kong) and WHITE CUBE (London).
The two main gallery halls filled with several noteworthy booths will include highlights such as sculptures by Phyllida Barlow from Hauser & Wirth (London), Tracey Emin at WHITE CUBE, Sigmar Polke’s print work at Michael Werner Kunsthandel (Cologne), and an impressive line up from Galerie von Vertes (Zurich) featuring Willem de Kooning, Jean Dubuffet, Sam Francis and Gerhard Richter.
One of the main high points of this year's fair though will be the debut of the NEUMARKT section which will join the GALLERIES, NEUMARKT COLLABORATIONS and NEW POSITIONS sections. NEUMARKT is set to feature a series of solo exhibitions by emerging artists from a substantial portion of French galleries, such as Antoine Levi and Joseph Tang, alongside what Art Cologne describes as leading, cutting edge galleries like Max Mayer (Dusseldorf) and LambdaLambdaLambda (Pristina). Paired with their NEW POSITIONS section, a sponsorship programme that enables young artists to present their own booths next to that of their gallery, Art Cologne serves as a central platform for promoting galleries under a decade old that are at the frontline of the scene.
In line with the fair's proactive efforts to showcase and support emerging artists, it was announced in mid-April that Art Cologne was in talks with abc art berlin contemporary (14-17 September 2017), a more innovative contemporary art fair in format, to collaborate on the creation of a new fair called Art Berlin. It will “focus on a new direction elevating the two most important art centres in Germany – Berlin and Cologne – nurturing and supporting these two cities as art fair destinations,” representatives from abc said in a statement. While the new fair will share its venue and dates with abc, Art Berlin will be owned and under the financial liability of Art Cologne. The parental fairs will share directorship (Daniel Hug of Art Cologne and Maike Crus of abc) and the aim is that it will become an experimental platform.
This development follows what has been described as a slow period in Berlin. Despite staging events such as Gallery Weekend Berlin and promoting the 2008-born abc alongside Art Forum Berlin fair (cancelled in 2010), the city appeared to lose its verve with collectors opting for alternative art hubs. By joining forces with Art Cologne, which is on the rise under Hug’s new guidance, in addition to formerly rival fair Art Dusseldorf (now owned by MCH, Art Basel’s parent company), it seems that Germany’s position as creative producer as well as a marketplace is ready for a comeback.
Art Cologne runs 26-29 April at Koelnmesse, Cologne, Germany. For more information visit artcologne.com