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Cologne Fine Art: A Successful New-look Edition

Published on , by Pierre Naquin et Hugues Cayrade

Under the leadership of Daniel Hug, the COFAD had a decidedly more colourful feel in this late autumn period. After fifty years, Cologne Fine Art may even have found a second wind.

The Kollenburg stand at Cologne Fine Art & Design 2019.COURTESY COLOGNE FINE ART... Cologne Fine Art: A Successful New-look Edition

The Kollenburg stand at Cologne Fine Art & Design 2019.

From 21 to 24 November, nearly 20,000 visitors turned up to the fair's 50th edition. This undeniable success with the public (the average figures over the past years have been more like 15,000) is undoubtedly due to the new master of ceremonies, Daniel Hug (also the director of Art Cologne since 2008), who has refreshed and modernised this long-standing fair dedicated to antiques, Old Masters and 19th and 20th century art: it now has a more contemporary side to it in the form of design. A hundred-odd galleries and dealers came together for this jubilatory edition with its "facelift", and the very large majority enthusiastically acclaimed the concept developed by Mr Hug, praising its flawless organisation and efficient way of functioning. "We were able to breathe fresh life into the antiquities and Old Master sector," says the man himself. "The addition of design broadens the fair's offer and adds a vital touch of modernity. I'm sure we're moving in the right direction."

At the Crossroads of Ancient and Contemporary
Returning to Cologne after nine years' absence, Viebahn Kunsthandel, who is based in Worpswede (Lower Saxony) and is an expert in antiquities, sculptures and watches from the rococo to neoclassicism, said: "The new organisation of the fair is perfect, and in our view, has set it firmly in the direction of the future. We are delighted to have taken part again this year: we met a lot of customers and made new contacts." Meanwhile Andreas Petzold from the Am Elisengarten painting and jewellery gallery in Aachen, though very happy with the number of visitors to his stand and his sales, would like to see Cologne Fine Arts & Design become even more international. "The level of exhibitions presented was really very high this year, reminding us that Cologne has always been a prime destination for the fine arts and intends to stay that way," said Ofer Gildor from London's Gilden gallery. Specialising in African and Oceanic art, Brussels-based Patrick Mestdagh was also delighted with his transactions in Cologne: "A rather rare Bulibuli-style club from Fiji soon found a buyer, as did a very fine Zulu dish. We also sold a pair of ceremonial paddles from Madagascar through the "Young Collectors" operation: an excellent initiative from the organisers. The German market still needs to be explored. The public are quite reserved, but interested and knowledgeable." His compatriot Herwig Simons sold a pair of cast-iron figurines from the Val d’Osne and saw his visit to the fair in a very positive light, even though he would like there to be more antique dealers participating in the next few years.

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