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PRINT March 2003

RIPENING ON THE RHINE: THE COLOGNE ART WORLD OF THE ’80s

In an Italian restaurant in Frankfurt, some blocks from where I live, a huge, bluish Martin Kippenberger painting hangs on the wall. I am sitting at one of the tables there, with a stack of books and magazines from the ’80s: a few catalogues, issues of Spex and Wolkenkratzer, and a twenty-year-old essay on “New German Painting” by the critics Wolfgang Max Faust and Gerd de Vries. This is where I’m starting to write the article you’re reading, about the creative scene that sprang up over two decades ago in a town some hundred miles away: Cologne in the ’80s.

My own blurred memories are of little help. I recall some tumultuous openings, late nights in hotel lobbies and bars, a mixture of languages (mainly German and American English), and a great sense of excitement. But I was just a visitor from abroad, with little grasp of what was really going on, and the decade was nearly over by the time

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