Cologne Fine Art runs through November 26 this year, revolving around the theme “Discover Art. Discover Design. Discover the Exceptional”. “In a temporary chamber of curiosities, 89 art dealers and galleries from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland are presenting an exquisite selection of antiques and old masters, Asian and Non-European art, design and jewelry as well as modern, post-war and contemporary art,“ says Cornelia Zinken, Director, Cologne Fine Art. A Cologne native, she has helmed the fair since 2012. “One of the highlights is our Young Collectors Room. It’s a place for encounters, information and of course commerce; one which is explicitly oriented to a new generation of collectors. Conceived as a pavilion, all exhibitors of the art fair are invited to submit objects that fulfil the quality standards of the fair, but with prices not exceeding 5,000 euros. A selection of these objects is presented in a carefully curated interaction in the Young Collectors Room. In combination with daily art lunches on various themes revolving around collecting and the art market, a place for mediation at all levels comes into being,“ she adds.
Blouin ARTINFO spoke to Zinken about the best places to visit, dine and stay at in Cologne, known for its diverse art scene and Gothic architecture.
What are your recommendations for must-visit places in Cologne and why?
Of course, there is the Grand Cathedral, which is the hallmark of Cologne. From the top of the Gothic church, visitors have a great view. There are also lots of great art museums such as the Museum Ludwig which is well known for its extraordinary exhibitions of contemporary and modern art. Also, the Kolumba Museum deserves a mention. It is the art museum of the Archdiocese of Cologne and allows the visitor to experience two millennia of western culture in a single building. Another great place in Cologne is the Belgian Quarter. It’s like a microcosm with many little cafes and lots of great restaurants.
What restaurants, bars, and cafes would you recommend in Cologne and why?
My recent favorite is Bali, a hidden gem on the Brüsseler Platz in the Belgian quarter. Fantastic Indonesian cuisine, white table cloths and a good wine list make this a very nice romantic spot. It also offers good vegetarian dishes. For more local Cologne flavor (and I am a native Cologner after all), I recommend Malzbier-Brauerei Gerhard Fischenich in the Weyerstrasse; they have a severely limited menu of just two dishes, one of which is the best pork leg, cooked and grilled, absolutely heavenly if you are a carnivore. If you like red velvet seats, golden chandeliers or plastering ceilings, Bar Schmitz with French food and cocktails is the right spot. Two of my other favorite places are the restaurant Hase, which has fresh dishes and a really chic ambience, as well the American Long Island Grill and Bar with a great Rhine river view.
Where would you go and what would you do if you had a free morning or afternoon in Cologne?
I would go to Café Central which is also a great meeting place for artists and having a coffee. Afterwards, I would visit some of the great galleries in Cologne such as Nagel Draxler, Michael Werner or Philipp von Rosen. My final stop would be at the bookstore König just to browse through some old books of art.
Where would you head to in Cologne for the best shopping and what would you buy?
The fashion store Heimat which has the most cutting-edge haute couture in the Rhineland, Andreas and Andy, the owners, are amazing and always have items by designers such as Issey Miyake and Comme de Garcon. For a more mainstream fashion sensibility the Concept Store Appropo in the Mittelstrasse is great — it’s also good for an afternoon tea or coffee. Also, the Jeweler Rudolf Klein in the St. Apern Strasse; here I would buy anything and everything, Rudi is very talented and his creations are magnificent.
Where would you recommend people stay (hotels etc.) when they visit Cologne?
The Excelsior Hotel Ernst is the best hotel and opposite of the Dom, the Bar is a nice place to meet friends and enjoy a glass of bubbly. The Hotel Chelsea is also a nice place to stay. It was built in the 80s and offers some great art within the hotel. Last but not the least, the Qvest hideaway should definitely be named. The neo-gothic building is located at the center of Cologne and decorated with design icons of the 20th century.
What are the best places to see and buy art in Cologne?
This depends on what kind of art: there are many places, and practically covering the entire spectrum. Galleries like Michael Werner, Karsten Greve, Daniel Buchholz, Gisela Capitain, Boisseree, Benden, Choi&Lager and Nagel/Draxler when they do one of their pop-up shows are the top addresses for post-war and contemporary art. Michael Kaune has a great photography collection. Also, I recently discovered a new gallery called Julian Sander: he has a fantastic selection of vintage photography and his grandfather was August Sander! And of course, there are several great museums which I already named and off-spaces spread all over the city.
What are the best places to see live bands or musicians in Cologne and why?
The Cologne Philharmonic of course. But if people are looking for nightclubs with electronic or hip hop music, I can recommend “Zum Scheuen Reh”, “King Georg” or “Heinz Gaul”. For live music, Cologne offers numerous concerts in the Lanxess Arena or in the Stadtgarten.
What are the best spots for experiencing Cologne's nightlife after spending the day at an art fair?
The Excelsior Hotel Ernst Bar, here you meet art dealers and get the inside scoop on the deal making. King Georg is also a great place to get rid of all the stress of the day depending on the live music they are offering.
What projects are you currently working on/involved in?
Right now, we are basically preparing everything for Cologne Fine Art. It’s just great to see how all of your theoretic plans come to reality. I have a great team which supports me in all kind of matters from building up the booths, creating several events for the fair, winning new galleries or sponsors, and marketing and communication. It all comes together in the end.
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