ART.FAIR – Fair for modern and contemporary art
Fresh positions and a few household names in Cologne
I’ll never be able to afford a Rothko (an American painter, btw). That’s a fact and I’ve dealt with it. But it’s pushed my interest in all kinds of other directions, like undiscovered artists, or subversive positions, or works of art that may just be within my budget. ART.FAIR is an excellent opportunity to delve into that world – in my home town, no less. Between 27 and 30 October (opening night: 26 October from 5 pm), over 100 exhibitors will be in Cologne.
Cologne’s youngest art fair seeks to appeal to anyone who values fresh forms of expression over big names. A low-threshold event, if you like. But what’s more, ART.FAIR is designed to tear down established walls: street art and urban culture heroes are just as welcome as 20th century household names. It’s a philosophy that makes ART.FAIR such an attractive proposition, even in the 14th year of its existence. Although meanwhile very much a regular at the trade fair grounds in Deutz, the fair is still aimed squarely at the non-establishment.
The decision’s been made: as soon as halls 1 and 2 at Koelnmesse open their doors, I’ll be putting in a discreet appearance at Galerie Kronsbein’s booth (C02) – not just because they’ve promised some Warhols. After all, we have Andy to thank for the bananas that started to appear on Cologne city walls a number of decades ago. The music of Velvet Underground. And Pop Art as we know it. No, I’ll be heading there chiefly because the Munich-based gallery represents Banksy, the mysterious British artist who burst from the street onto the elitist art scene with a bang. On my personal hit list, he’s pretty high up.
As a Colonian, I’ll be sure to pay my respects to the local galleries as well. I’m familiar with the offerings of Angela Reitz (G17), which I see when I stroll past her gallery in Rheinauhafen. I like the photography of Belgian artist Claude Roegiers, whose motifs from China are filtered so as to appear almost otherworldly. I am also curious about Galerie Roy (I11) from Zülpich near Cologne, which represents some big names. Of course I’ll take a good look at Lüpertz, Baselitz and Immendorf, but I definitely don’t want to miss the works of the great Armin Mueller-Stahl. I’ve done my research: his hand-signed silkscreens are said to be in the affordable range – so of course they deserve a longing glance, maybe two.
True art, so they say, shouldn’t be too kind to the senses ¬– in fact it should shake them up (at least a bit). So I am excited about the installation that’s been announced by Bernd Reiter’s studio in Hürth, which mainly consists of a decommissioned Russian MiG-21 fighter plane and a couple of mangled American road cruisers. Its promising title? Irony of Fate. I expect to be fully impressed.
Blooom: The offshoot
Stagnation is death, so any art fair worth its salt has at least one offshoot. That of ART.FAIR is known as Blooom. The three “o”s are meant to symbolise a long flowering period, but the spelling’s not all that is special about it. Blooom’s 22 exhibitors (also on site at Koelnmesse) turn the principles of the art world upside down. I’m looking forward to Eliot The Super (BL-C06), who has close ties with street art and the urban underground. De Galerie from Den Haag in the Netherlands (BL-A03) is expected to be equally spectacular. Among the artists in their portfolio is Crail Moansburg, whose works reflect his previous career as the manager of a strip club.