Hollywood and Rhine

Cologne
04.24.08

Left: Dealer Gisela Capitain. RIght: “Open Space” curators Meyer Voggenreiter and Kathrin Luz with dealer Daniel Hug. (All photos: Saskia Draxler)


Given that Art Cologne, founded in 1967 as the world’s first contemporary art fair, was, due to lack of interest from international dealers and collectors, more or less declared dead two months ago, it was a welcome surprise last weekend to find the city on the Rhine living up to its avant-garde reputation. The week’s first event to properly mix jet-setters with laid-back Rhineland bourgeoisie was a ceremony the Monday before last at the Museum Ludwig honoring Peter Doig, winner of this year’s Wolfgang Hahn Prize. Doig, ever gracious, mentioned in his speech how proud he was to receive the award—despite having never before heard of its existence. The afterparty took place in the city’s famous Wartesaal, formerly the waiting room for Cologne’s train station and the venue (during the 1980s) of a well-known German talk show. Per the artist’s request, guests—among them Phillips de Pury’s Michaela Neumeister, collector Julia Stoschek (sporting a new pageboy haircut), AXA’s Bodo Sartorius, and artists Andreas Gursky and Jonathan Meese—danced to a set comprising nothing but reggae music. Museum Ludwig director Kasper König was joined on the floor by his dealer sons, Leo and Johann.

The next morning, Art Cologne opened its doors for a professional preview. In the past, the ground floor featured contemporary galleries and the upper floor modern dealers. Over the past four years, however, the grounds have become increasingly dominated by “Open Space,” an unconventional area (this year featuring fifty galleries) where booths lack walls, copious seating is available, and the floor is covered by a white velourlike carpet, both strange and beautiful. This unique arrangement was organized by Kathrin Luz and Meyer Voggenreiter, who will be working with Art Cologne’s new director, Daniel Hug, who begins in May. Wandering the space, attendees encountered artist Christian Jankowski playing a television-show moderator who auctions art in front of a patient audience, and Kitty Kraus’s ice sculpture, at Gabriele Senn’s booth, covered in black ink and melting into dark puddles. Young German artist Thomas Schroeren also impressed with his work Teach Me Some Manners at the booth of Berlin dealer Sandra Bürgel. As for the rest, a reduction in the number of galleries from 190 to 151 raised standards of quality, and the mood at the preview was typically buoyant.

Left: Artist Isa Genzken. Right: Dealer Daniel Buchholz.


That evening, the LA dealers Patrick Painter and Javier Peres joined Reiner Opoku, an art consultant and founder of TheArtFund, to open a temporary exhibition called “My Generation” at the spacious postindustrial venue Spichernhöfe, in the Belgian quarter. Directly across the street, collector (and notorious party animal) Sabine DuMont-Schütte hosted a reception in a tiny bar with canapés, wine, and lots of Kölsch. The crowd bounced back and forth between grand, flashy international statement (featuring the art of Liz Craft, Andre Butzer, and Tim Berresheim, among others) and cozy neighborhood get-together.

More LA imports were featured two nights later at the Excelsior, a five-star hotel located across from the Cathedral. There, in the banquet hall, Voggenreiter and Hug presented “Hotel California: Art from Los Angeles,” featuring works by, among others, Kirsten Stoltmann, Sterling Ruby, and H. K. Zamani. The champagne flowed in celebration of this cross-continental axis, and Hug, eager to begin his work resurrecting the fair, toasted all those present.

Saskia Draxler

Left: Artist Thomas Schroeren. Right: Kunsthalle Düsseldorf director Ulrike Groos and dealer Lutz Becker.


Left: Dealer Christian Nagel. Right: Daniel Hug with art consultant Reiner Opoku.


Left: Kunsthalle Zurich director Beatrix Ruf. Right: Museum Ludwig director Kasper König.


Left: Blanket Contemporary Art's Natalia Tkachev and RENTAL gallery's Joel Mesler. Right: Artist Peter Doig.


Left: Coma Gallery's Kolja Gläser. Right: AXA Arts's Cornelia Zinken.


Left: Deutsche Bank's Britta Faerber and Julia Felshart. Right: Artist Andreas Diefenbach.


Left: Texte zur Kunst's Anke Ulrich and Monopol's Jeremy Higginbotham. Right: Collector Thomas Grässlin.