February 2, 2012 - Art Cologne - 2012 Prize: Wide White Space
February 2, 2012

2012 Prize: Wide White Space

Marcel Broodthaers, Departement des Aigles, 5 October 1969, Any de Decker, Stella Jonas and Bernd Lohhaus. Photo by Maria Gillesen.

ART COLOGNE Prize 2012: Wide White Space
18–22 Apr 2012

46. Internationaler Kunstmarkt

Vernissage on Tuesday, April 17th, 5 pm

Axa Art Professional Preview on Tuesday, April 17th, 12 pm


The Antwerp gallery Wide White Space is the winner of the 2012 ART COLOGNE Prize. The Prize is sponsored by the Bundesverband Deutscher Galerien und Kunsthändler (BVDG) and Koelnmesse. It is awarded annually in recognition of outstanding services in the promotion and encouragement of modern art.

The 10,000-euro Prize will be presented to Anny De Decker on 19 April 2012 in Cologne’s Historisches Rathaus. De Decker ran the legendary gallery together with her husband Bernd Lohaus from 1966 to 1976. Lohaus died in 2010.

The ART COLOGNE Prize is being awarded for the first time to a ‘historic’ gallery—one that has not been active for several decades. But Wide White Space’s vigorous and innovative promotion of avant-garde art continues to have a defining impact. The artists it showed have all achieved wide recognition. For many it was their exhibition debut. In choosing Wide White Space as this year’s prize winner ART COLOGNE adds another important name to the list of prize winners from the gallery world—outstanding gallerists like Ileana Sonnabend, Denise René, Rudolf Springer, Otto van de Loo, René Block and Michael Werner.

When Anny De Decker and Bernd Lohaus opened their gallery in Antwerp in 1966 they were already members of the young avant-garde art scene. De Decker was an art historian and Lohaus a pupil of Joseph Beuys at the Düsseldorf Academy—ideal qualifications for interacting and working with a new generation of ambitious young artists. The list of exhibitions and performances, many of them conceptual, spatial or site-specific, reads like a roll call of what was an exciting period of artistic innovation at the cutting-edge of modern art. Just some of the names who exhibited at Wide White Space include Carl André, Richard Artschwager, Marcel Broodthaers, Christo, Dan Flavin, Gotthard Graubner, Edward Kienholz, Bruce Naumann, Richard Long, Piero Manzoni, Panamarenko, Gerhard Richter, Dieter Roth, Bernard Schultze, Niele Toroni, Günther Uecker, Victor Vasarely and Andy Warhol. Wide White Space worked particularly closely with Joseph Beuys, who was at the start of a remarkable career. In 1968, the gallery staged one of his first exhibitions outside Germany. This was his groundbreaking ‘action’ titled ‘Eurasienstab’ which was recorded on film.

Wide White Space’s unconditional support of its artists’ careers and interests and its achievement in seeing them increasingly widely represented at major exhibitions brought the gallery international recognition. Thanks to its excellent network of contacts, the Amsterdam/Antwerp/Cologne-Düsseldorf axis became a hub of the avant-garde in the 1960s and 1970s—a hotbed of artistic exchange. Artists, collectors and curators shuttled frequently back and forth inside the triangle and strong inter-gallery relationships emerged.

Many of the works shown by Lohaus and De Decker are in leading museum collections and the artists they represented are now established names in the history of twentieth-century art. Despite the gallery’s international pulling power, Lohaus and De Decker decided to go new ways in 1976 – Bernd Lohaus to resume work as an artist and Anny De Decker to work as an art historian.

Klaus Gerrit Friese, the chairman of the Bundesverband Deutscher Galerien und Kunsthändler, commenting on this year’s ART COLOGNE Prize, said: ‘The award gives Wide White Space the recognition it deserves for an immense artistic contribution achieved in a relatively small space. Even if the gallery no longer exists, its artists do. Everyone knows them. It’s time to reward the financial risk this avant-garde gallery took, and time to reward its courage and effort in cultivating such intensive personal working relationships with so many outstanding artists. The ART COLOGNE Prize will revive the memory of Wide White Space and the high standards Bernd Lohaus and Anny De Decker set for future generations of gallerists.’

The Zentralarchiv des Internationalen Kunsthandels (ZADIK) will be organizing a small documentary exhibition at ART COLOGNE to mark the work and achievements of the gallery. It will be staged at the BVDG stand.

ART COLOGNE Prize 2012: Wide White Space
Art Cologne
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