Location as Success Factor
Daniel Hug on the 49th ART COLOGNE

He led Art Cologne out of crisis. Under the leadership of Daniel Hug, Germany’s most important art fair has gained international recognition again. In an interview, the director of ART COLOGNE reveals his recipe for success and talks about what awaits visitors in the NEW CONTEMPORARIES section, which caters to young galleries and is sponsored by Deutsche Bank for the first time this year.
In 2015, ART COLOGNE has a new hall structure. What has changed for fair visitors?

Daniel Hug: The portfolio of ART COLOGNE encompasses three major epics: Classic Modernism, postwar art, and contemporary art. This has been the fair’s profile from the very beginning and its unique feature. At ART COLOGNE, visitors can engage with all aspects of progressive art, can find classics, see historical lines, and discover emerging art fresh from the artists’ studios. With this new hall planning, we intend to strengthen this profile further. In hall level 11.1, visitors will find Classic Modernism and postwar art. Hall level 11.2 is devoted entirely to established contemporary galleries. And the upper level of Hall 11, 11.3, features NEW CONTEMPORARIES, galleries that are a maximum of ten years old and offer recent art. In addition, there is the COLLABORATIONS sector, which we organize together with the New York-based New Art Dealers Alliance, as well as the curated section FILM COLOGNE Hall 11.3. The new structure will offer viewers better orientation, and the galleries can make particularly good use of their strengths.

NEW CONTEMPORARIES, the sector for young galleries, which is sponsored by Deutsche Bank for the first time this year, contributes significantly to the profile of ART COLOGNE. Looking at this year’s offer, which themes is the young art scene currently occupied with? Which tendencies and artists have struck you in particular?

Striking features include a renewed interest in abstract art and the experimental use of materials. This is very apparent in the works of Jens Einhorn at Galerie DUVE from Berlin and the works of Jan Pleitner at the London gallery Ancient + Modern. I’m also very fond of the colored sheepskins of Anna Betezbe at Kate Werble from New York and the distorted canvases of Matthew Chambers at the Hezi Cohen gallery from Tel Aviv. ‎I also like the post-Internet art of Josh Kolbo and Timur Sin-Qin, both represented by the Berlin-based Galerie Société. At Greene Exhibitions from Los Angeles, exciting works by the performance artist and drawer Aaron Garber-Maikovska are on view, as well as new works by ‎Marcus Herse.

A few years ago, ART COLOGNE was in a crisis. Under your leadership, the fair has regained its old strength. What is your recipe for success?

The first ART COLOGNE under my direction was in 2009. Initially, my aim was to make the art fair smaller and improve the quality. The fair was simply too big – at one time nearly 390 galleries took part. Visitors can’t take all of this in. Without a doubt, the most important step was to reduce the number of galleries participating to around 200. In addition, I successively increased the number of non-German galleries. Today, ART COLOGNE offers a good mix, which reflects the German art market on the one hand, and at the same time attracts young emerging galleries from the USA and the whole world to Cologne.

Other art fairs abroad are expanding. Would that also be an option for Art Cologne?

No, we have no such plans. I’m convinced that the location of ART COLOGNE is a very decisive success factor. The Rhineland has an immense density of collectors, museums, institutions, and academies that exist in this form only here. Why should the fair be held in a different place? In my opinion, its attachment to the Rhineland and Germany defines the character of ART COLOGNE and distinguishes it from other art fairs with their satellite events.

Next year, Art Cologne is celebrating its 50th birthday. What do you want to have achieved by then?

In recent years, we have managed to earn ART COLOGNE an excellent reputation in the eyes of collectors from Europe and the USA. The fair offers a great mixture of relevant twentieth and twenty-first century art. The numerous applications submitted by galleries from around the world enable our advisory board to make a good selection. We assume the 50th ART COLOGNE will garner even more attention. And for the round birthday there will be a few surprises of course.

49th ART COLOGNE
April 16 – 19, 2015
Cologne Tradeshow Halls