Highlights of Art Cologne 2016

A creative riot of naked men, golden cows and faceless women

The original contemporary art fair once again pops up this week in Cologne. Established in 1967, Art Cologne’s example has inspired, through its many imitators, one of the world’s greatest revolutions in the way art is sold.

Featured in this year’s edition is a swathe of young emerging artists – including, inevitably, many from Germany. The country is a trailblazer as far as conceptual art goes, but it has also spawned some of the world’s most distinguished (and now most expensive) painters: Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, Albert Oehlen, Sigmar Polke and Martin Kippenberger, to name but a few.

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Most notable in recent times have been Neo Rauch and the New Leipzig School of painters, and this fair displays works by the generation of artists who have grown up in their wake. Star among them is Kristina Schuldt – one of Rauch’s “master pupils” at the Leipzig Academy of Visual Arts, whose painting Facing (€8,800, second picture) features one of the faceless women typical of her work, lolling languorously as two-dimensional tubes. Very different is the work of David Schnell, who also studied in Leipzig (1995-2002), whose painting Portal (€195,000, third picture) flutters with refracted light and is inspired by the buildings encroaching on the countryside where he lives in Saxony.

“Leipzig is young and fresh and a place where money is not important,” says Gerd Harry Lybke, owner of Galerie Eigen+Art, which is selling these works. “Artists there use no assistants as has become common elsewhere; it’s all about what they can do with their own hands.”

Jörg Herold’s picture Golden Cow (€9,800, fourth picture) captures the sunburst after summer rain typical of paintings by Cuyp or Ruisdael, but stains it with dark explosions of aquamarine. Another artist also harks back to another age, while commenting on this one: Martin Eder’s painting Erkenntnis läuft auf zerriss’nen Sohlen (cognition) (€110,000, first picture) features a russet-haired maiden dressed in armour like a modern-day Sir Galahad. Monika Michalko, represented by Produzentengalerie Hamburg, studied at Hamburg art school and conflates influences such as Kandinsky and Joan Miró with traditional folk art to create eye-catching ensembles like My, Your Rainy Day (€3,800).

Also worthy of mention is Thomas Zipp, the subject of an entire stand belonging to Galerie Guido W Baudach (including the striking A.O: Penrose F (€22,000, fifth picture) and Maximilian Arnold’s bright-orange painting inspired by digital screens, Untitled (€6,400), on the Duve gallery’s stand.

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Those who can’t find these pictures can ask for the help of a (nude) tour guide, but you will have to strip off yourself if you want him to show you around. Australian artist Stuart Ringholt is offering “naturist” tours of the trade fair “to allow the public to become an element of the work of art through the completely new reception experience”. It should certainly be that.

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