“Bilderstreit” at the Rheinhallen, Cologne

The Rheinhallen

The profane and very intense fight unleashed by “Bilderstreit” (Picture fight) has focused not so much on the chosen artworks as on the market dynamics and power positions in the current art business, with even a majority of Cologne art dealers actually signing a joint declaration protesting what they called a “market-politics selection” of artists and works in the show. Furthermore, several artists objected more or less sharply—Anselm Kiefer and Donald Judd indeed very vehemently—to the inclusion of their pieces. And finally, with very few exceptions, almost every West German art critic has written off the exhibit as a failure and fiasco.

In the fallout, one faction of the artworld has been exploiting the very nasty polemics against “Bilderstreit” to drive one of its curators, Siegfried Gohr, from his position as director of Cologne’s Museum Ludwig; while the indignation of another faction

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