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ART DÜSSELDORF: "Developing into a magnet for the regional art scene"

Published on 2/9/2017 by Christoph Spangenberg

A new name, a new home and the MCH Group as a new co-proprietor – 2017 is bringing a threefold premiere for the ART DÜSSELDORF art fair. In this interview its directors, Andreas Lohaus and Walter Gehlen, talk about the participation of the Swiss live-marketing company group, the move to Düsseldorf and how they want to develop ART DÜSSELDORF into the leading regional art fair in Germany and the Benelux countries.

Direktoren und Gründungspartner der ART DÜSSELDORF Walter Gehlen und Andreas Lohaus (MCH Group)

Mr Lohaus, Mr Gehlen, ART DÜSSELDORF is now part of the MCH Group, where it belongs to the newly created Regional Art Fairs Initiative, through which the MCH Group is setting out to build up a portfolio of leading regional art fairs and to contribute to strengthening the regional art markets. What do you expect to come of this participation?

We are very pleased indeed to be launching a strong partnership with the MCH Group as of now. With the Regional Art Fairs Initiative, the group is working actively on reinforcing the significance and success of regional art fairs and art markets. Over the last ten years, fairs with that sort of calling have assumed an important position in the international art market. We are proud to be one of the first fairs to join this newly created, international alliance.

As a brand, ART DÜSSELDORF is maintaining is own individual profile, but we will benefit perceptibly from the MCH Group’s experience and network. In addition, a strong alliance of international art fairs is being created, and they are soon going to form a partnership spanning all the continents. These ties are going to give rise to numerous exciting forms of cooperation and synergies. An enthralling development that we can enthusiastically play our part in shaping from the very beginning.

How do you want to further develop ART DÜSSELDORF and in what way can the MCH Group contribute to that?

ART DÜSSELDORF is going to offer interesting contents to appeal to top-rank established gallery owners as well as newcomers and to offer them high-quality services and accompanying programmes as well as an extensive presence in the media.

It is the shared aim of the MCH Group and ART DÜSSELDORF to become the leading art fair in Germany, the Benelux region and the Rhineland and to make it into a magnet for the entire art scene. We are immediately going to be working together on making that vision into a reality.

Back in October, you already announced that, after 14 years, you were wanting to move from Cologne to neighbouring Düsseldorf, into the Areal Böhler, a former steel mill, and to change the name from ART.FAIR to ART DÜSSELDORF. Why that step?

There could not have been a better point in time for making the move. The two cities of Cologne and Düsseldorf have moved perceptibly closer to one another in recent years, especially in art. That is a big advantage for all those involved, and so it isn’t really a matter of taking leave. We are remaining faithful to the Rhineland and also the ART.FAIR public, whose feeling for art and whose open-mindedness for things that are new as well as for exhibitors from all around the world are inspiring. With ART DÜSSELDORF sitting on the boundary between the Rhineland and the Ruhr, we find ourselves in the centre of a metropolitan region with ten million inhabitants and also a top-class region as far as art is concerned. ART DÜSSELDORF is also gaining a foothold in a new urban conurbation with separate traditions all of its own and a dense network of cultural centres.

Areal Böhler, Düsseldorf (MCH Group)

The Areal Böhler (see picture) is a new venue in a top location with huge development potential. The stylistic former industrial site was only converted as recently as 2012, but has already built up a reputation for itself as a successful host of exclusive consumer shows. The excellent accessibility of the location by many different modes of transport makes it very popular with the local Rhineland public and also with visitors from the Benelux countries and Westphalia.

There are just under nine months now until the first ART DÜSSELDORF is held. Will the cooperation with the MCH Group be immediately evident in 2017?

That is what we are all assuming. Thanks to joining ranks, we are going to have access to an international network from the very first day onwards. We have already been working closely together since last year in preparing ART DÜSSELDORF. For that reason, the first edition of the fair will already bear the MCH signature.

As a final question, would you be able to give us some sort of foretaste of the first ART DÜSSELDORF?

ART DÜSSELDORF is going to combine recognised art with innovation. It is going to be bringing the experimental and the conventional together in a direct comparison under one and the same roof. Both galleries with established reputations and young galleries are going to be showing modern and contemporary art. The art fair will celebrate what makes the region unique – at the same time as welcoming international participants too.

From the very first edition, it is positioning itself as a platform characterised by good art sales and close networking with the galleries and institutions in the Rhineland, the free art scene and the entire creative sector.

In parallel, the young kindred fair, BLOOOM, will be exhibiting convergent art. This integrated fair of young galleries, off spaces and projects has enjoyed support since 2010 and, with ART DÜSSELDORF, is now to be accorded a new place as a presentation and networking platform. An integral feature of BLOOOM is the exhibition of the ten best works by finalists from around the world in Germany’s biggest open artistic competition, the BLOOOM Award by WARSTEINER.
We are looking forward to a magnificent preview on 15 November and a successful first edition of ART DÜSSELDORF. Everyone is invited to attend the premiere and to join in the festivities with us!

ART DÜSSELDORF is taking place from 16 to 19 November 2017 in the Areal Böhler in Düsseldorf. More information at photographs shows the founding partners and directors of ART DÜSSELDORF Walter Gehlen and Andreas Lohaus and the Areal Böhler. © Nils vom Lande


The India Art Fair forms part of the MCH Group's Regional Art Fairs. The live-marketing group of companies is currently building up a global portfolio of leading regional art fairs and, in doing so, would like to contribute to the strengthening of the regional art markets. The portfolio is being assembled by entering into cooperative arrangements with experienced partners in the form of joint ventures and acquisitions, and by launching new projects. Further information.

Christoph Spangenberg

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