The Best of Cologne, As Seen By Fair Director, Daniel Hug | BLOUIN ARTINFO
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The Best of Cologne, As Seen By Fair Director, Daniel Hug

Daniel Hug, art director of Art Cologne
(Gene Glover)

Art Cologne — the Rhineland’s long-standing trade fair for Modern and Contemporary art—boasts 210 galleries from 33 countries for this year’s edition, April 19-22. Launched in 1967 and officially deemed a trade fair since 1984, it was the first to include performance art in its offerings; early on, it established a dedicated sector for young artists as well as for emerging galleries.

Overseeing the continued success of the fair for the last decade is Swiss-American Daniel Hug (who just so happens to be the grandson of the famous Hungarian artist László Moholy-Nagy). Hug has previously worked as a curator, consultant, gallerist and selection committee member (notably for the Art Chicago International Art Fair). The polymath revealed his local picks in the German metropolis: his preferred heritage café, a thorough array of local galleries, and the bookshop where you can in fact meet the namesake publisher in person.

How long have you been living in Cologne?

It’s been 10 years now. The 53rd edition of Art Cologne this April will be my 10th fair in Cologne.

What are your “can’t leave without seeing this” recommendations for the city?

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, of the Archdiocese of Cologne. It allows the visitor to experience two millennia of Western culture in a single building.  

What is the most overrated thing people advise visitors to check out when they’re in town?

The Kölscher Klüngel — Google it.

What restaurants and/or cafes would you recommend, and what makes them unique?

The most underrated cafe is Cafe Printen-Schmitz, in the center of town in the Breite strasse: great for people-watching. (I’m sitting there right now, and workers from the Buchholz gallery are at the table next to me.)

A fantastic restaurant is Pure White in the Antwerpnerstrasse — the best steaks and seafood. In the Maastricher Strasse, a new organic market opened called Markt Halle. They have a great restaurant on the lower level, cooking with ingredients from the food sellers in the upper level. I had an amazing Bretonian fish soup there.

What would you do if you had a free morning or afternoon in Cologne?

I would go to the Museum Ludwig and get lost in their fantastic collection, or go to Walther König Books, where you can still meet Walther König.

Where would you head for the best shopping?

In the center of town, the Hohe Strasse, Breite Strasse and the Mittelstrasse have lots of stores. In the Belgian quarter, the Maastricher strasse has great hip restaurants and shops.

Where would you recommend people stay when they visit? (i.e. favorite neighborhood, and/or favorite specific hotel/s?)

The Excelsior Hotel Ernst is the best hotel and opposite of the Dom. The Qvest hideaway should definitely be cited — it’s a neo-Gothic building located at the center of Cologne, decorated with design icons of the 20th century. The Hotel Chelsea is also a nice place to stay; it was built in the ’80s and offers some great art. 

What are the best venues to check out the city's art offerings?

The Cologne galleries publish a nice monthly gallery guide:

What are the best places to buy art?

From Michael Werner, Karsten Greve and Heinz Holtmann to important players in the Contemporary market like Daniel Buchholz, Gisela Capitain, Nagel Draxler, Delmes Zander and Thomas Zander.

Great photography dealers are Priska Pasquer, Bene Taschen and Julian Sander.

And there are great young galleries like Jan Kaps, Clages, Natalia Hug, Drei, Berthold Pott and Martinetz — as well as young international players such as Rob Tufnell from London who just opened a new space and Nino Mier from LA who will open his Salon Mier during Art Cologne. 

What are the ideal spots to see live music?

I saw Franz Ferdinand a few weeks ago at the Palladium. 

What are your favorite bars to relax in after spending the day at the fair?

The bar in the aforementioned Excelsior Hotel Ernst is a nice place to meet friends and enjoy a glass of bubbly.

What are you most looking forward to about this newest edition of Art Cologne?

We have never been so international, and visitors will see art from all over the world.

We also commissioned the young artist Zuzanna Czebatul, who is doing a large-scale floor installation at the south entrance that will look fantastic. We also have some special exhibitions such as FILM COLOGNE, with video art of Southeast Asia, or ZADIK (Central Archive of the International Art Trade) presenting its “Kölnshow,” the art scene of the 1990s.

— Art Cologne runs April 19-22

Founder: Louise Blouin