ARTnewsletter Archive

Improvements Lure Major Names Back to Art Cologne Fair

The 45th edition of Art Cologne was held from April 13–17, attracting 60,000 visitors, roughly even with the level posted in 2010.

COLOGNE—The 45th edition of Art Cologne was held from April 13–17, attracting 60,000 visitors, roughly even with the level posted in 2010.

After struggling to retain its once high profile in recent years, the fair has gained strength thanks to diligent efforts by its organizers, particularly director Daniel Hug, a former gallerist in Los Angeles.

Hug and his team have succeeded in drawing major galleries back to the event, including Annely Juda Fine Art (London), Galerie Lelong (New York, Paris and Zurich), Leo Koenig (New York), and Kewenig (Cologne and Palma de Mallorca). They have also attracted new participants, such as New York galleries Andrew Kreps and Team Gallery plus three galleries from Argentina for their first presentation in Germany and six galleries from Japan, who will donate some of their profits to the Japanese Red Cross for tsunami-relief efforts.

Dealer Judy Lybke showed a slightly larger than life-size Neo Rauch sculpture, Nachhut (Rear Guard), which represents a chimera, a kind of lion centaur: an elderly man with a lion’s hind parts (instead of a horse’s), wearing a melancholic expression and carrying two gas canisters. The asking price (for each of the pieces in the edition of three) was €600,000 ($865,000). One was sold to a German museum and another to a private collection in Germany, according to the gallery.

Dealers said a substantial number of sales were made at the private viewing on April 12, including Tom Wesselmann’s Smoker #2, 2000, for €2.3 million ($3.3 million) by Galerie Klaus Benden (Cologne). American artist Karl Haendel was sold at the booth of the Milliken Gallery, Stockholm. His work, executed in graphite on paper, Circle with Spray #2 fetched $12,000 (most galleries ask prices in euros, but some do so in dollars).

Base Gallery, Tokyo, sold, among works by other artists, smaller format pieces by Yasuhide Kunimoto for €500 ($720) each, with larger formats sold at €4,000 ($5,770). Kunimoto paints silhouettes of individuals engaged in various actions; mostly colored gray, the shapes emerge from layers of color.

Susanne Zander, Cologne, who specializes in Outsider Art, sold several works by Düsseldorf-based Horst Ademeit, who also shows with White Columns, New York. His Polaroids with inscriptions were offered by Zander for €530 ($765) each. She said half the works in her booth were sold before the fair opened to the public.

Samuelis Baumgarte Gallery (Bielefeld, Germany) had a solo show of Heinz Mack, one of the most important artists of the 20th century, who marked his 80th birthday on March 8. Mack, together with Günter Uecker, is the cofounder of the influential Zero group, of which Yves Klein was also a member. Mack worked with light and now paints in prismatic colors. He had five shows (three museum shows and two in galleries) running at the time of Art Cologne. Baumgarte sold, among other pieces, a number of his Zero-period works for €230,000/450,000 ($330,000/650,000).

The main work featured at the booth of Cologne dealer Heinz Holtmann was Cologne Cathedral with diamond dust in four colors by Andy Warhol, priced at €110,000/$159,000. Holtmann said: “We haven’t been in such a good mood for a very long time.” He sold, among other pictures, a work on paper by recently deceased Sigmar Polke for €40,000 ($58,000).

Among the most photographed works at the fair was a life-size installation, Fear and Megalomania in 15 Different States, by Spanish artist Enrique Marty. It consisted of 15 realistic (and graphic) sculptures of yuppies, some sporting devil’s horns on their heads, some bleeding, some maimed and some even beheaded. Offered for €137,000 ($198,000) by the Deweer gallery of Otegem (Belgium), the installation was bought by a private collection.

Stefan Röpke, Cologne and Madrid, sold unusual but highly aesthetic three-dimensional works made from acrylic glass with molten molds filled with black matter, by Jordi Alcaraz. Prices ranged from €16,000 ($23,000) for larger works, to €6,500 ($9,400) for smaller formats.

Ernst Hilger, Vienna, was one of the gallerists given the chance to show young artists in the “New Position” segment as well as his own offerings. He sold, among others, two works by young South African artist Cameron Platter (b. 1978) at €7,700 ($11,100) each.