Munich Dealer Raimund Thomas Awarded 2016 Art Cologne Prize

He was selected for his outstanding contribution to the arts.

Raimund Thomas Photo: Robert Haas
Raimund Thomas
Photo: Robert Haas

The veteran German art dealer Raimund Thomas has been awarded the 2016 Art Cologne Prize for outstanding achievements in the arts, the Federal Association of German Galleries (BVDG) announced on Tuesday.

Thomas is a founding member of “Kunstmarkt Köln,” the first art fair founded in 1967 out of which Art Cologne was born.

Since opening Galerie Thomas in Munich 52 years ago, the dealer developed his gallery into one of Germany’s leading proponents of modern art, German expressionism, and international contemporary art.

Today Thomas runs the gallery with his daughter Silke. Photo: Galerie Thomas, Munich

Today Thomas runs the gallery with his daughter, Silke.
Photo: Galerie Thomas, Munich

Thomas’s reputation was built on a program that included the majority of artists responsible for shaping German art history in the 20th century. Painters such as Willi Baumeister, Max Ernst, Erich Heckel and Wassily Kandinsky, as well as sculptors such as Ernst Barlach and Lothar Fischer were all exhibited by the gallery.

Broadening his scope across the Atlantic, the inclusion of iconic American artists such as Louise Nevelson, Frank Stella, and Tom Wesselmann underscored Thomas’s foresight.

From 1987 to 1990 Thomas operated A11 Art Forum—an experimental art space in a former industrial bakery—allowing him to exhibit works by cutting-edge artists without commercial pressures. Artists such as Joseph Beuys, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Keith Haring were shown there, as well as emerging Chinese artists and Italian contemporary artists including Francesco Clemente and Mimmo Paladino.

The gallery program blends 20th century masters with contemporary art. Photo: Galerie Thomas via Facebook

The gallery program blends 20th century masters with contemporary art.
Photo: Galerie Thomas via Facebook

A fervent publisher, Thomas also released over 200 art publications and books including volumes on Picasso’s lithographs and Botero’s sculptures.

In an email to artnet News Thomas said that he was “Surprised by this public attention.” He said it was an opportunity “to pause for a moment and reflect on what has happened over the last half century—from the typewriter to the computer, form ZERO to pop art, to todays stylistic pluralism—and what I myself have achieved; from a modest start-up gallery with local clientele, to a business of international standing.”

Looking into the future, the gallery is banking on its founder’s daughter, Silke, who shares her father’s passion for modern art accentuated by selected contemporary artists.

The Art Cologne Prize is awarded annually by the Federal Association of German Galleries and Art Cologne for outstanding achievements in the arts. Last year, the Düsseldorf-based gallerist Hans Mayer was awarded the prestigious distinction, and in 2014 the award went to Vienna-based gallerist Rosemarie Schwarzwälder.


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