David Zwirner’s 80s New York and Cologne show
No Problem: Cologne/ New York 1984-1989 pairs works from the US metropolis and the German city
We know that Paris was the centre of the art world during the 19th century, just as New York took on that mantle in the latter half of the 20th century. However, was 1980s Cologne ”arguably the European centre of the contemporary art world’? That’s the claim the New York-based (but Cologne-born) gallerist David Zwirner is making pretty convincingly with his new show, opening this Friday, May 2.
No Problem: Cologne/New York 1984-1989, at David Zwirner’s exhibition spaces at 525 and 533 West 19th Street and 537 West 20th Street, looks back at that decade through the lens of these two art scenes. The show examines what kind of dialogue took place between the two cities, “focusing on the international artists who showed in both New York and Cologne between 1984 and 1989 and the key gallery and museum exhibitions of the period that took place in both cities.”
Certainly, it’s hard to find a European city with more important painters during this period; Cologne was home to Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz and Martin Kippenberger, as well as notable gallerists, such Karsten Greve, Paul Maenz, Rolf Ricke, Michael Werner, and Rudolf Zwirner, David’s father.
“This exhibition is of personal significance to me,” explains David, “as I grew up in Cologne above my father’s gallery and was very much inspired by the creative and collaborative spirit of this particular generation of artists gallerists, curators, and critics. This exhibition will examine a particularly vibrant period of dialogue and exchange that remains influential today.”
New York is represented by artists commonly associated with NYC, including Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Jenny Holzer, as well as other Americans, like Mike Kelley, whom we might more readily associate with other US cities. Cologne, meanwhile, gets the likes of Kippenberger and Rosemarie Trockel, as well as some near European neighbours such as Franz West, and Peter Fischli/David Weiss.
Geographical nit-picking aside, it certainly looks like a really interesting way to look back on this period; by placing the alienated, post-war German art alongside the punky New York material we can see how two separate artistic communities were driven by distinct historical forces towards similar ends.
Find out more about the exhibition which runs until 14 June, here. Meanwhile, for a richer understanding of the artists on show, consider our new Cindy Sherman book, our Richard Prince monograph, our Mike Kelley overview, our Franz West title, our Peter Fischli/David Weiss book and our Jenny Holzer edition. Buy them all from the people who made them, here.