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EMERGING MARKET: THE BIRTH OF THE CONTEMPORARY ART FAIR

WITH THEIR RELENTLESS EMPHASIS on the new and the now, it is perhaps fitting that the origin of today’s rapidly multiplying contemporary art fairs has, at least on this side of the Atlantic, disappeared into the dustbin of history. When and where, even, was the first contemporary art fair of the kind, for better or worse, so familiar to us all? It was held not in Miami, or in New York, or even in Basel, but in Cologne. And from the moment KUNSTMARKT 67 opened its doors on September 13, 1967, it inaugurated a model that remains surprisingly close to its current successors, which so often trumpet both their mercantile and aesthetic innovations. There were not just booths crammed with a motley selection of art—kunterbunt, as one critic put it—but also internecine feuds between the dealers who acted as gatekeepers of the event and those they pointedly kept out. There were spin-off exhibitions,

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