The opening of the 51st edition of Art Cologne was marked by discussions about the changes under way in the German art scene. For the first time, two of the most important events in the German art calendar—Art Cologne (until 29 April) and Berlin’s Gallery Weekend (until 30 April)—are clashing this year. This overlap triggered a collaboration between the organisers of Berlin’s ABC fair and the Cologne fair, who are in negotiations to launch a fair in September called Art Berlin to replace the experimental but dwindling ABC.
The April clash resulted in fewer Berlin galleries at the fair in Cologne this year, and that has given way to several newcomers.
A remarkable booth by Gagosian, a first-time participant at Art Cologne, presents works by four artists, Chris Burden, Cady Noland, Richard Prince and Rudolf Stingel. Works by Noland, one the most expensive living female artists, are exceptionally rare at art fairs, as she has no official gallery representation and is known for disavowing her works. The booth’s centrepiece is a small set of Burden’s familiar cast-iron street lamps, similar to those installed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His late work Buddha's Fingers (2014-15) comes with a likely price tag of over seven figures, but whether the work will find a buyer at Art Cologne remains to be seen.
“A necessary change” was to bring all young gallery sections under the Neumarkt umbrella, says Daniel Hug, the fair’s director. “The art market is going through changes and it’s critical to support young galleries.”
The fair’s New Contemporaries section features small (20 sq. m), relatively affordable booths with solo presentations by young galleries. Polish newcomer Piktogram features a much talked about solo presentation of works by Krystian Truth Czaplicki. The display includes some of his autobiographical collages incorporating his snowboarding equipment, razor blades and vodka-filled glasses. And New York’s Lyles & King brought paintings by Chris Hood.
Gallery collaborations also helped bring new faces to the fair. New York’s Essex Street paired up with Düsseldorf’s Max Mayer in a presentation of works by the Belgian avant-garde artist Jef Geys. And hip London gallery Project Native Informant and Munich’s Deborah Schamoni have mixed a few artists from their roster, including Amalia Ulman and the DIS collective.
“Fascinating rediscoveries” can also be found at the fair this year, Hug says. Josef Scharl, an eccentric outsider artist active in the 1920s and 30s, is on show at the Hagemeier booth. Volker Boehringer, a contemporary of Georg Grosz, is at Valentin. And works by Gotthard Graubner, a post-war German artist starting to be known for his monochrome pillow paintings, feature on the booths of several galleries.
CORRECTION: This article was corrected on 27 April to reflect that works by Richard Prince are on show at Gagosian's stand. He was omitted from the earlier version.