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Thursday, May 10, 2012

BRINGING BACK ART COLOGNE



Bringing back Art Cologne
The new director has made the fair “come back to life” but he still needs to work on attracting international dealers

By Anna Sansom. Web only
Published online: 24 April 2012

The general consensus of the 46th edition of Art Cologne (18-22 April) is that its director Daniel Hug is steering the fair in the right direction by improving its quality, but it needs to become more international. Hug, who took over in 2008, secured the participation of big-hitters, such as David Zwirner from New York, Thaddaeus Ropac from Paris/Salzburg and Ben Brown from London/Hong Kong, for this edition. However, several exhibitors regretted that the fair clashed with Art Brussels and hope that it will attract more international galleries and collectors next year.

“I’m a hometown boy and grew up in Cologne,” Zwirner said, a first-time exhibitor whose father Rudolf Zwirner co-founded the fair, originally called Kölner Kunstmarkt, in 1967. “Under Daniel Hug’s directorship the fair has come back to life. Although it’s quieter than Art Basel, Frieze in London or Fiac in Paris, it’s much stronger than expected. The German art market is technically Europe’s biggest with the density of museums in the Rhineland and high-quality collectors,” he added. Zwirner’s sales included a Baselitz painting for $3m and an Isa Genzken column from 2001, covered in photographs, for €250,000. “My only critique would be that it conflicts with Art Brussels.”

“We came back after ten years because Daniel Hug has done a very good job,” said Arne Ehmann, the director of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in Salzburg. He added that, although collectors “were mainly regional, from Düsseldorf and Cologne, we’re hoping it will become more international and busier”. The gallery’s top sale was a Warhol acrylic and silkscreen on canvas from 1985, Head (After Picasso), Number 5, for $1.1m.

“It was quite good, the quality was better than the years before, it has an international focus and it has galleries from the whole of Germany,” said Philipp Dieterich from the Am Anfang war der Apfel foundation in Heidelberg. “We didn’t buy any works for the foundation but for the private collection of the owner [Dr Rainer Wild].”


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