This photo portrait was originally published as a longer feature on Freunde von Freunden under the title “Daniel Hug, director of Art Cologne, on the Cologne art scene and the Germans’ passion for collecting.”
“Cologne wasn't cool when I got here—everyone wanted to go to Berlin,” Daniel Hug, the Managing Director for Art Cologne recalls. Yet this “uncool” city on the Rhine has a long and important history with art. Hug explains:
Starting in the ’60s, Cologne was the art capital of Germany. The Cologne-based art collectors Peter and Irene Ludwig were collecting Pop Art before the Americans themselves had even thought about it. Even today, the city has a very strong art scene. There are important and established galleries here. Cologne is a large city and at the same time intimate. You can build and maintain personal relationships and friendships within the industry and have more opportunities for exchange than anywhere else.
As the Managing Director of Art Cologne since 2008, Hug has made some crucial changes to the fair, making it more competitive, but also championing young galleries and artists. He reduced the number of exhibitors from nearly 300 down to around 190 galleries, and introduced new, logical structures: small stalls at cheaper rents for emerging galleries and more space for established exhibitors. “Critical thinking,” claims Hug as he describes his approach, “you find creative ways to solve a problem. And don't go by the book.”
In particular, he wants to use Art Cologne to better promote and support young galleries. Calling it the “Neumarkt” (new market), this year Hug is introducing a private area in which young exhibitors can present individually or as part of a group. He’s keenly aware of trends, but also his responsibilities in the capricious business of art: “If you’re not a young gallery owner anymore, you're no longer interesting. The expiration date of a gallery is about five years nowadays. A trade show has about 10–12 years before they start having difficulties.” Yet as the oldest art fair in the world, celebrating its 51st season this April, Art Cologne has long left this limit far behind.
Leading up to Art Cologne, which runs April 26–29, photographer Michael Englert trailed Daniel Hug at his home, office, and gallery in Cologne for Freunde von Freunden. You can read the whole profile here.
Photography: Michael Englert
Adapted from text by: Sascha Abel; Translation: Brenton Withers
See the full portrait on Freunde von Freunden.
Tags: art fairs Art Cologne Fruende von Freunden Daniel Hug, photography