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“Since 30 November 2013, I have been placing fresh flowers in a bicycle basket outside my studio. I will continue this act until I regain the right to travel freely.” – Ai Weiwei
This statement by Ai Weiwei at the entrance to the 48th edition of Art Cologne, juxtaposed with images of flowers, served as a stark reminder of how fortunate the globe-trotting art world is, visiting fair after fair in city after city.
Since American director Daniel Hug came to the helm in 2009, Art Cologne has become a far more important destination on the art world map. Its quality has been steadily improving and it is now widely regarded as the fair of Germany. Heavyweight galleries among the 221 exhibitors included David Zwirner, whose father Rudolph co-founded the fair in 1967, Hauser & Wirth, Victoria Miro, Sprueth Magers, and Victoria Miro.
The fair is particularly popular with the Rhineland collectors seeking serious, intellectual work. This edition was a bit quiet, however, possibly because it was taking place just one week before Easter. Whitewall went on a hunt to pick out some of the more unusual pieces.
William Crawford at Galerie Susanne Zander (Cologne)
There’s a riveting backstory to the suite of erotic drawings, each priced at €750, by William Crawford at Galerie Susanne Zander. Around 950 of his drawings were discovered in an abandoned house in Oakland, California, a few years ago and were made in the 1990s. The gallery had them on commission from a collector who bought the lot. Some of them were made on the back of prison paper, suggesting that the artist was an inmate drawing out his fantasies about scantily clad women with visible bikini marks, sex, and gang bangs. Apparently not much is known about Crawford, or even whether this is a real name or a pseudonym.
Mary Reid Kelley at Susanne Vielmetter (Los Angeles)
Mary Reid Kelley’s black-and-white film, Priapus Agonistes (2013) is a labour-intensive delight. Spoken in rhyme, it features a cast of characters that is each acted by the artist. Kelley made all the masks, outfits and props herself. In addition to the video, priced at $8,000, there are collaged watercolors ($3,000-6,000).
Thomas Kilpper’s Untitled (Angela Merkel/Destroy All Monsters), 2013, at Galerie Nagel Draxler (Cologne/Berlin)
This etching of a glum-looking German chancellor, worried about austerity measures perhaps, made a few faces smile.
Ryan Mosley’s All about Eve (2012-13) at Eigen & Art (Berlin/Leipzig)
We love the color-saturated, intense vibrancy of this painting by Mosley, a 34-year-old British artist.
Gert and Uwe Tobias solo presentation at Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin
Whitewall featured the Tobias brothers a few years ago and keeps getting inspired by the fantastical, folkloric style of their signature paintings.