Forty-eight years later and Germany’s premiere art fair (and the world’s first), Art Cologne looks set to continue on its upward trajectory this week (April 10-13) at the Koelnmesse. Under the leadership of Daniel Hug since 2008, the fair has seen increased international participation—nearly half of the 200-some galleries exhibiting this year hail from outside Germany and around a third of visitors as well—and the winning back of some key Germans as well. Two Berlin heavyweights, Esther Schipper and Contemporary Fine Arts, are back in Cologne this week after lengthy hiatuses. “They couldn’t afford not to be there,” commented one inside source regarding the move.
Hug has introduced one major addition to Art Cologne this year, a special section dedicated to video art, which springs forward from his presentation of works from the Julia Stoschek collection last year and will feature pieces by the likes of Keren Cytter, Christian Jankowski, Anthony McCall, Marcel Odenbach, Martha Rosler, Anri Sala, and Erik van Lieshout.
The fair’s two-year-old collaboration with New York’s New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) got a remodel for 2014. Previously confined to its own section of the Messe’s second floor, participating galleries will now be mixed in amongst the galleries of Art Cologne-proper for “Collaborations.” The section highlights booths in which two or more galleries combine their efforts on a single-artist show or in which a gallery presents a collaboration by two or more artists. Translation: more galleries get to participate for less money on more experimental projects. One might also expect the move to increase foot traffic to the NADA galleries, which have complained at times of playing a noticeable second fiddle where collector interest is concerned. But even established names who have typically shown in the main fair like Galerie Thomas Schulte or Tanya Leighton signed on for the new section.
The two new offerings are sure to bring some youthful vim and vigor to Art Cologne’s second floor. But, considering the typically-conservative collecting tendencies of Germany’s Rhineland and Hug’s shakeup of the floor plan last year which saw more primary market, contemporary dealers brought downstairs, opening hour focus will likely fall most heavily on that first floor.
Flanking the entrance for a second time are Thaddaeus Ropac and David Zwirner. For this year’s edition the duo are taking refreshingly divergent paths. At Ropac, the name of the game for 2014 is works with serious museum provenance. Principle among those is a brand new Georg Baselitz bronze Zero Ende (2013). The piece is slated for his major exhibition this fall at the Haus der Kunst in Munich and comes from his new series Coté Sombre (Die dunkle Seite). It was carved via chainsaw from a single log before being cast in bronze. Also on the booth is Alex Katz’s extensively exhibited painting from 1982 Morning Nude, Arnulf Rainers painting from a series show four years ago at Munich’s Alte Pinakothek, Votivkreuz (c. 1980), and a 1986 Warhol Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup Box said by the artist’s foundation to be one of only four or five in existence worldwide.
Zwirner, whose father founded Art Cologne 48 years ago, shoots for the new in the opposing booth. Freshly minted art star Oscar Murillo premieres a series of works such as sculpture Untitled 1 (anomalies from a candy factory) (2013/14). The works will subsequently be featured in his first show at David Zwirner New York opening later this month and for which Murillo plans to build a chocolate factory inside the gallery space. After much success with his works at last year’s Art Cologne, Zwirner will also show a pair of new Photogram works by Thomas Ruff. Yayoi Kusama’s colorfully geometric canvas Where the Youth Is (2013) and Neo Rauch’s oil Brandung (2004) round out the booth’s highlights.
Hauser and Wirth shifts gears from last year’s German-heavy booth of Isa Genzken and Christoph Schlingensief among others. This year, Americans dominate. Richard Jackson’s large, fiberglass sculpture Bobble Head (2013), a studio-fresh multimedia wall work by Rashid Johnson Four Guys (2014), and 1992 Paul McCarthy sculpture Alpine Man—in which a lederhosen-clad man with shorts pulled down gets friendly with a beer keg—are set to highlight the booth.
Of the first floor’s slightly older work, Dadaist Hannah Höch’s Woman and Saturn (1922) on offer at Remmert and Barth’s booth stands out for having hung in the artist’s Berlin studio until she passed away in 1978. Fellow Dusseldorfers Galerie Schwarzer’s first time ever recreation of Le Corbusier’s series of 19 lithographs, Le poème de l’angle droit (Poem of the Right Angle, 1955) should also prove a highlight. But, In terms of collector interest, Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale (1960) at Galerie Karsten Greve might just be the one to beat.
Upstairs, Contemporary Fine Arts makes a splashy reentry to the fair with two solo presentations. First up are the Cologne-based Romanian twins Gert and Uwe Tobias, who will show a new series of their recently much-sought-after woodcut paintings. Tal R’s Invisible Chair (2013) features among the works in the Copenhagen-based painter’s complimenting show.
Fellow returnee, Esther Schipper’s booth features a best-of from recent shows. An untitled Matti Braun painting on silk from her current exhibition is a highlight, as is Angela Bulloch’s plinth-like sculpture Rhombi Kind with Beryl Head 007 (2014) from the exhibition previous. Tomás Saraceno’s series of six modules, Air-Port-City/Cloud-City/ 6 Cloud Modules 30 SC (2013) are poised to pick up on interest generated from his recent, monumental installation at the Kunstsammlung NRW in nearby Dusseldorf.
Over at London’s Marlborough Contemporary, Sigalit Landau’s sleekly black twisted tubular work, Pickaninny Baby (2013) plays sculptural counterpart to a painting- and work on paper-heavy both of pieces by the likes of artist-of-the-moment Diango Hernandez showing Fingerprints in Motion (2013), Laurence Kavanagh showing The Lonely House (Bedroom) (2009), and Pamela Golden showing The ‘General’ (2013).
Art Cologne prize winner Rosemarie Schwarzwaelder’s Galerie Nächst St. Stephan shows one of the fair’s largest sculptures, an untitled, brightly colored number by Katharina Grosse, which measures in at around 11x6x5 feet. Schwarzwälder also has paintings by Grosse, Helmut Federle’s The Background Chronical III (2013), a series of works by Günther Umberg, and an untitled work each from Herbert Brandl and Michal Budny.Follow artnet News on Facebook.