WHEN: April 13-17
WHERE: Hall 11, Koelnmesse Exhibition Center
HIGHLIGHTS: Billed as the world’s oldest art fair, Art Cologne was founded by gallerists Hein Stünke and Rudolf Zwirner in 1967 and welcomed 60,000 visitors last year. The event suffered a decline in prestige during the aughts, but fair director Daniel Hug restored its former luster when he took the helm in 2009, creating a more welcoming experience with a slightly trimmed gallery roster. Among this edition’s highlights is New Contemporaries, focusing on young galleries, whose participants will be competing for the Maurice Lacroix Art Award, which will fund the winner’s participation in next year’s fair. Open Space, a juried-exhibition section for a limited number of galleries in the fair’s bar and meeting area, will be organized around the theme Books’ P(a)lace, with an emphasis on knowledge, stories, and texts. In addition to regional exhibitors, there will be galleries from 24 countries, including Spain, Switzerland, France, and the U.S.
Hotel im Wasserturm
This renovated water tower became a hotel in 1990. Although the circular shape creates some odd configurations, the rooms have been beautifully appointed by French designer Andrée Putman. The 11th-floor restaurant, La Vision, offers views of Cologne Cathedral and the city from its roof terrace.
Excelsior Hotel Ernst
Located next to the city’s celebrated cathedral, this 19th-century hotel prides itself on attentive service. Its piano bar, winter garden, and collection of Old Master paintings provide an air of old-world sophistication, and its restaurant, Hanse Stube, serves first-class cuisine.
RATES: FROM $285
Popular with business travelers, the Dom has a lovely terrace café during warm weather. One can admire the adjacent cathedral from the corner suites, Le Mérou restaurant, and Sir Peter Ustinov’s Bar, which is decorated with photos and memorabilia of the late British actor and has live entertainment five nights a week.
RATES: FROM $260
Located in Cologne’s Deutz neighborhood, on the right bank of the Rhine, this luxury hotel is within walking distance of Art Cologne. The spacious and modern structure offers a lovely glass atrium, a great fitness center, and 306 stylish rooms and suites. Its Biergarten, which opens for the season in April, offers splendid vistas of the city on warm evenings.
RATES: FROM $220
Grandhotel Schloss Bensberg
How often do you get to spend the night in a castle? Located on a hill nine miles outside Cologne, this Baroque palace was built at the dawn of the 18th century, but all the rooms have been updated with modern conveniences. Relax by the fireplace in the stately lobby, or take advantage of the spa and gorgeous pool. The Vendôme, helmed by chef Joachim Wissler, is regarded as one of the top restaurants in Germany. Cars, with or without drivers, are available for guests’ use.
RATES: FROM $285
For more than 20 years, Le Moissonnier has brought a taste of Paris to Cologne. French chef Eric Menchon gives tradition a contemporary twist in such dishes as venison with Asian spices and suckling pig with soba noodles. Friendly service and a charming setting make this restaurant a favorite with locals.
Located in the Excelsior Hotel Ernst, Hanse Stube has earned a reputation as Cologne’s gute Stube, or "good room," for its French- and German-influenced cuisine. Mouth-watering dishes include Alsatian goose for four (which must be ordered in advance) and gilt-head bream with saffron gnocchi and Riesling foam.
Das Kleine Stapelhauschen
It doesn’t get more authentic than this. Situated in the charming dining room of a quaint timbered house and hotel, Das Kleine Stapelhäuschen serves classic German cuisine. Try the roast beef marinated in a dark brown vinegar sauce with raisins and almonds and the potato soup, a regional favorite.
After checking out the shops in the Neumarkt neighborhood, stop by this spacious and welcoming café for organic coffee and delicious apple strudel. If you crave heartier fare, there is a full menu of dishes made with local ingredients as well as an extensive wine bar. On Thursday and Friday evenings, enjoy live piano music under the elegant chandeliers.
Wallraf Richartz Museum & Fondation CorboudThis modern, boxy structure houses an extensive collection of medieval and Renaissance pictures, with excellent examples of the panel painting that flourished in Cologne from 1300 to 1550, as well as Baroque, Realist, and Romantic works. In addition, by merging with the Corboud Foundation in 2001, the museum acquired the largest collection of Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist works in Germany. In April it hosts a show of paintings by the overlooked French academic painter Alexandre Cabanel.
Explore Cologne’s Roman heritage through such articles of everyday life as jewelry, portraits, pottery, and the largest assemblage of locally produced Roman glassware in the world. The collection highlight is a stunning mosaic of Dionysus from the 3rd century a.d. that was discovered in 1941 during construction of an air-raid shelter. Since it would have been difficult to move the work without damaging the tiles, the museum was constructed around the site where it was found.
Located next to the cathedral, this museum has an incredible collection of art from the 20th and 21st centuries, including the world’s third-largest Picasso holdings (after Barcelona and Paris). In April it will show work by American sculptor Joel Shapiro.
Kathe Kollwitz Museum
Devoted to the works of its namesake painter, printmaker, and sculptor and located on the second floor of the Neumarkt Passage shopping arcade, this museum celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. Its extensive holdings are exhibited according to such themes as war, mothers and children, and self-portraits, with the highlights being Kollwitz’s socially engaged prints and 15 bronze sculptures.
Galerie Karsten Greve
At his gallery, founded four decades ago, Karsten Greve shows an impressive array of artists, including Tony Cragg, Robert Ryman, and Cy Twombly, and he continues to seek out new discoveries among the younger generation.
Galerie Michael Werner
Michael Werner will be honored with the Art Cologne Prize this year for his exceptional work during his nearly 50 years as a dealer. His roster of artists includes Georg Baselitz and Sigmar Polke.
Perla Zayek Modedesign
The Lebanese-born Perla Zayek showcases her timeless evening and wedding gowns, elegant footwear, and handcrafted bags in her boutique in the Neumarkt Passage shopping arcade.
WaltHer Konig Bookstore
Walther König is Europe’s largest independent bookstore, with a branch in London’s Serpentine Gallery. New titles from its staggering selection include books on Cologne resident Gerhard Richter, Maurizio Cattelan, and the fabric works of Louise Bourgeois. The shop also has its own imprint and recently published a beautiful catalogue of Anish Kapoor’s outdoor sculptures.
Located on a great shopping street in the Neumarkt neighborhood, Lothar Heubel is known for furniture and other home-decor items from China, India, Thailand, and several African countries, as well as fine fabrics and handcrafted accessories. But what really makes shoppers swoon is the jewelry, especially new and antique silver.
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For more destinations, go to indagare.com
"When in Cologne ... for Art Cologne" originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of Modern Painters. For a complete list of articles from this issue available on ARTINFO, see Modern Painters' March 2011 Table of Contents.