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The creative city of Cologne in western Germany is home to more than 1,000 artists, who along with musicians, poets, writers and other creators, make the art scene in town a lively one indeed. For those without a day or two to browse portfolios, here are seven contemporary artists worth investigating further.
The grandfather of the Cologne art scene is, of course, Gerhard Richter. Born in 1932 in Dresden, Richter studied first as a set and sign painter before going to art school. He considers himself a Surrealist and is most famous for blurred portraiture, explaining that his style serves “to make everything equally important, and equally unimportant”. In 2015, Richter’s painting Abstraktes Bild sold at Sotheby’s in London for US$44.52 million, the highest price paid for a painting by a living artist.
After studying free painting and costume design in Trier and Cologne, painter Andrea Temming now splits her time between Cologne and Bergen, in the Netherlands. A freelance artist since 2002, Temming paints mainly high-contrast portraits of women that are both abstract and figurative. In recent years she has concentrated on capturing a single instant, with her inspiration coming from day-to-day life.
If the grandfather of the art scene is Richter, the grandmother role can only be filled by photographer Candida Höfer. After studying in Cologne from 1964–1968, Höfer began with a job taking portraits for a newspaper. She was one of the first German photographers to use color film, and became famous for her large format images of empty public spaces such as banks, offices and waiting rooms. One of her later series consists of images of the Louvre Museum without any visitors in sight.
Painter Brigitte Reisz was born in Karlruhe, German in 1964, and after studying in Vienna and Düsseldorf, settled in Cologne. Well, sort of – regularly traveling and studying in places like India, Syria, Iran, Romania and Uzbekistan, Reisz constantly seeks to invigorate her practice. Often using egg tempera either on paper or canvas, her work is at once bold and dreamy.
For Heike Weber, it’s all about repeating patterns and floors. She does paint and draw, but her most well-known pieces are large-scale installations involving permanent marker and 5,000 square feet of floor or wall. Galleries all around Europe and in Istanbul have shown her work, which only continues to become more complex as different media are developed to help with reliably speedy reproduction.
“There are no formal restrictions in my art,” says Ati von Gallwitz.”I see my artistic work as the confrontation of art and nature.” Her primary medium is work and even at age 70, she still does all the work herself, even the pieces that require a bit of chainsawing or a blowtorch.
After studying textile arts and free painting at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences in the 1980s, ceramic painter Sabine Schaffmeister has made a career of creating pieces of painted porcelain. Her work is characterised by strong shapes and lines and bold colours – this is not your grandmother’s dinner service.