EDITORIAL # 32
Photography: Albrecht Fuchs
Thursday midday. Arrive at the Cologne Main Station. Standing in the square before the station, the first thing my eyes fall on is the cathedral. Check in to the Excelsior Hotel Ernst, because of the location, because of the bar, because of the restaurant, because of the room with a view of the cathedral and because of the breakfast. I could already end my day here if I didn’t have two appointments I was looking forward to. Through space-time and across the city to Matti Braun’s studio on the Aachener Strasse: Ludwig, Kolumba, Buchholz, König, Balkhausen, Bärendreckapotheke – stopping in here and there. “Hello Matti” […] then a coffee and sandwich together at Cafecafe next door […] “Bye-bye.” “Hey Alex, where are you?” Alexandra Bircken on the phone. We have a dinner date at Haus Töller on Barbarossaplatz […] “Be good Alex, see you soon.” I walk back to the hotel, window-shopping at Heimat and the Kölnischer Kunstverein, a longing glance at Ristorante Alfredo on Offenbachplatz and a summary evaluation of the display of Meissen’s porcelain store on Wallrafplatz. Another drink at the hotel’s Piano Bar, a Kölsch from a silver cup, a memory of a long evening with Michael Krebber. And then it’s almost time for breakfast.
After having breakfast with Agi at Eis Cafe Stefan on the Worringerplatz, a hole in the spacetime continuum opens up before us.
First we have a look at the exhibition Von hier aus – Zwei Monate neue deutsche Kunst in Düsseldorf in hall 13 of the Düsseldorf trade fair center circa 1984. Then, in 1973, we discuss the editing of Acht Stunden sind kein Tag with Rainer Werner Fassbinder at the WDR Filmhaus in Cologne.
Midday we lunch on stew and sandwiches with Bruno Goller and Adalbert Trillhaase at Mutter Ey’s at Ratingerstrasse 45 circa 1924.
Then we visit Michael Buthe in 1982 in his large studio in Cologne-Ostheim and listen to him recount his impressions from his recent travels.
We also visit Kraftwerk in the Kling Klang Studio in 1976 at Mintropstrasse 16 in Düsseldorf and listen to them record the new songs for the Trans Europa Express album. Then it’s the 24th of June, 2002 in Düsseldorf, and we’re in front of Jürgen Möllemann’s company WEB/TEC watching Christoph Schlingensiefs Aktion 18.
In the afternoon, we’re invited to a 1960 Fluxus happening at Mary Bauermeister’s home at Linzgasse 28 in Cologne. George Maciunas, John Cage and Nam June Paik among others are in attendance.
We take a walk along the Rhine on an early evening in 1970 while the WDR producer Wibke von Bonin and Gerry Schum explain the concept of the Fernsehgalerie to us. We make a quick stop at Friesenwall 120 in Cologne in 1991 while Josef Strau and Stephan Dillemuth are putting together their program for the following months.
Then it’s dinner in 1972 at Daniel Spoerri’s Eat Art gallery at Burgplatz 19 in Düsseldorf. Galerie Schmela in 1965 isn’t too far from there so we head over and have a look at Beuys explaining some images to a dead hare.
We get our first drinks at Creamcheese in 1970 at Neubrückstraße 12 in Düsseldorf. We have a whiskey with Arnold Bode while listening to Frank Zappa.
For dancing, we go to the Ratinger Hof in 1979, where Katharina Sieverding and Blinky Palermo are already waiting for us on the dance floor.
We take one last drink with Martin Kippenberger at the bar of Hotel Chelsea in Cologne circa 1987 before returning to Düsseldorf in 2016.
On any day in the city can be sometimes quite perfect depending on the amount of time that one has. My perfect day will start with a good hour jog through the park around the Aachener Weiher which is close by.
If I am lucky to get a last minute booking I love to go to the Neptun Bad for a great relaxing massage afterwards. It´s the perfect place for rejuvenating.
Time for lunch. Salon Schmitz is definitely worth stopping by at any time! Beside their delicious quiche they serve their famous ice selection (salty peanut is THE BEST!). Unfortunately there is always a pretty long line of ice lovers when it´s sunny. For something culture Kolumba Museum is always a great place to experience not only for the art but as well the architecture.
A little history; in 1945, almost 80% of Cologne and 95% of historic centre has been destroyed. The architectural redesign by Peter Zumthor a few years ago put the Kolumba Museum with it´s incredible collection back on the map. Beside the Museum Ludwig with it´s historical POP ART Collection which became iconic for the city the Kolumba shows art from Medieval panel paintings to the most radical and intense sculptures by Paul Thek.
Ok, after jogging, health treatments, a good lunch break and some cultural kicks it´s time to shop! My favorite place Heimat is a designer boutique that carries my PRIM Collection since the beginning. One can find along Issey Miyake, Christophe Lemaire, Walther Van Beirendonck and Comme des Garçons. Heimat is the most brilliant Zeitgeist selection of designers every seasons. Don´t be bemused by their anonymous facade – just ring the bell and Andy and Andreas will take you somewhere else. This is not an everyday experience but once a while it´s nice to look at your city from a different perspective. When I am in the mood I go for the Cable Car; the best and the most pleasant way to see the city over looking the Rhein in Cologne. Actually you can combine it with the Skulpturen Park. It´s close by and always something new to discover.
And at the end of the day there is just good food as the British chef Marco Pierre White put it once. So on my way home to the Belgium Quarter I stop at Pure White. Just thinking about an ice cold fresh glass of The Flying Pig white wine next to the seafood platter makes a watering mouth. Followed by the indescribable piece of beef.
If you want to celebrate the night among some younger generation artists like David Ostrowski or Michail Pirgelis stop over at their already legendary Bar called MD (named after the charismatic actor Michael Douglas). The drinks are served in thick crystal glasses with precise hand carved ice cubes. The wooden interieur battles against the purest gin there is. A perfect day but I am looking already for the jog through the park around the Aachener Weiher.
I usually go jogging towards Niederkassel with the first rays of sun rising above the Rhine. After that, I do the daily shopping at Carlsplatz and enjoy a coffee at Kaffee Reich.
When my bags are full, I scout two boys on the Königsallee, who go to school around the corner, and invite them to a casting at the agency. Then I drive to my office in Cologne.
Around midday, I go for lunch and ice cream with my coworkers at Bar Schmitz.
Both of the new boys come in the afternoon. I do their photos and immediately book them for the Prada and Louis Vuitton shows next week in Paris and Milan. We quickly send their sed cards off to print, and on the drive back, I’m already excited about dinner with friends at Lido in the harbor. We enjoy the sunset over the Rhine from Lido’s terrace.
“A perfect day in the Rhineland” starts at 9:00 a.m. for me. Since I often work in Cologne until late in the evening, I don’t start too early in the morning. As I’m walking to my studio, I meet Wolfgang Voigt on his way to the bank, and one street further, Thomas Grünfeld is sitting in a cafe, reading the daily paper while he drinks an espresso.
10:00 a.m. Answer the most urgent mails in the studio and then quickly head across to the Philharmonic to catch the midday concert with the Gürzenich Orchestra. 11:30 a.m. They play virtually unknown but excellent pieces by Claude Vivier, Jim Tenney, Xenakis and Todd Lerew, a former student from Los Angeles. 12:20 p.m. In the Museum Ludwig next door, they’re showing Dieter Roth, and a friend from Berlin is holding a lecture on the records by Roth and other artists. 01:15 p.m. Half of a lentil soup with bread while standing at Welter on the Eigelstein or, since it’s Friday, to Le Moissonnier for the “Worker’s Menu.” 02:45 p.m. A colleague’s rehearsal at the WDR, Ilan Volkov is conducting. I happen to meet an editor who tells me that the by now 86 year old Gerhard Rühm is currently doing a new piece in the sound studio and asks me if I want to drop by and say hello. Down to the sound studio, quickly say hello. Wow, it sounds amazing! Later it turns out that he wins the Karl-Sczuka Prize for it. 04:20 p.m. Time for tea and a project meeting at Cafe Reichard. Always delighted by the impressively psychedelic bathroom design. One more cappuccino at the Celentano Bar on the way back to the studio. 05:30 p.m. More emails. A friend drops by unannounced. Around 06:30 p.m. Watch a film by Harry Smith at the Temporary Gallery or the new one by Luke Fowler in the Cinemathek. From there, I make a stop at a-Musik to pick up the LPs I ordered, and then it’s almost 08:30 p.m. To the Alan Licht / Tetuzi Akyama concert at Stadtgarten, which quickly reveals itself as sensational noise. Afterwards (10:15 p.m.), a refreshment at Päffgen since my foreign friends should see something typical but don’t eat anything since you can’t do that here, and then maybe we end the evening at the African Drum next to Gold und Beton, have an almost cold beer from the bottle and take in the Afro DJ with a light organ from Conrad’s, simply the best atmosphere. You then go on without me to Gewölbe, where Terre Thaemlitz is playing tonight. They used to have fairly decent sound for a club.
the moon rise over the Rhine
the Rhine near the AXA tower at nite, expecially in winter
place for coffee is Cafe Schmitz, then go for a walk
the Temporary Gallery, then off to the Museum Ludwig
I shop at Aldi and Kaufhof a lot, when they are closed, I go to a Sports Bars for a meal
I like to ride the Bahn to get around
I like the Maritim Hotel as there is something strange going on there all the time, there are folks who only wear fake animal coverings for self pleasure
I like Saturn
City hall, as you can do protests and bring your children
I like the streets around Neumarkt
I like the bill boards on Schildergasse, it reminds me of the Sunset Strip in Hollywood
I am always pleasantly overwhelmed
Every summer I travel from Los Angeles to Cologne to visit my old hometown. Here’s everything I miss the most, everything that makes me happy when I return…
My family, friends, the flower shop on Pfeilstrasse, the display windows from Eiting Räume, Buchhandlung Walther König, Antiquariat Buchholz and Parallel Records, the cable cars, Melaten cemetery, Cafe Printen Schmitz, the Museum for East Asian Art and its beautiful cafe, tennis at the Lese Grün-Weiss tennis club in the Stadtwald, Ristorante Luciano, The Piano Bar at the Excelsior Hotel, Kolumba, Museum Ludwig, a few galleries, Honig Müngersdorff, the best honey store in the world, house shoes from Filz Gnoss…
Every time I wish I could go up on the Colonius.Over the last few years, I would also add every playground and ice cream store in a 50km radius.
A visit to the Museum Insel Hombroich – I was just there two weeks ago for the first time in ages – is a singular experience by all accounts. This mixture of wild, seemingly untouched nature and the magnificent pavilion with its outstanding art inspires me anew every single time – not least due to the uncommon experience of walking through an unguarded collection.
When we want to stay in the city, we usually do a museum tour by bicycle. Starting at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, our children are already excited about the Museum Ludwig, where a visit to Tom Wesselmann’s showering woman is an absolute must for them. Then it’s coffee and cake at the Museum’s cafe before we take the ferry over to the playground in the Rheinpark.
Professor Williams, what is your idea of a perfect day in the Rheinland?
Hmm, that’s difficult. I guess a good day in the Rheinland would begin the night before in Zurich, at a concert of Mats Gustafsson’s big band FIRE Orchestra at the Rote Fabrik. The day itself would start with a swim in Lake Zurich, preferably with a sky darkened by storm-clouds and pouring rain, an ideal water temperature of 13 degrees Celsius, for approximately 30 to 45 minutes, followed by a quick fresh mint tea on the dock before running to the station to catch the 10:00 train to Köln Hbf.
How is it that your perfect day in the Rheinland begins in another city?
One of the great things about living in the Cologne/Düsseldorf area is that you’re a simple train ride away from almost anywhere in central Europe. I choose to swim in the lake in Zurich because the small ponds surrounding Cologne frighten me.
Once in Cologne, the Museum Ludwig, literally right next door to the train station, provides the opportunity to have a glimpse of the fantastic painting by Richard Hamilton depicting a Braun toaster, along with the exceptional current Ferdinand Leger exhibition. A quick walk to Buchhandlung Walther König provides one with an overview of printed matter relating to contemporary art in the form of a simple tabletop presentation.
Opening books at random, one find reference to the Connie Plank session with Duke Ellington and his orchestra, recorded in Cologne at Rhenus Studio between April and July 1970. Of particular interest are the three takes of “Afrique”, of which take three contains a mysterious female vocalist, variously rumored to be Connie Plank’s mother or Ellington’s Scandinavian lover. Setting fact and fiction aside, this meeting of the great psychedelic producer and one of the greatest artists to emerge from the US in the twentieth century, here in Cologne, is a rare gem. Opening another volume, one is struck by the simple fact that in 1933, six young communists were, after their trail, decapitated with an axe produced by local craftsmen, in what is now referred to as the chic Belgian Quarter. My inspection of the recent publications is interrupted by the proprietor, who is eager to have me join him in the antiquarian section of the shop to look at some recently purchased examples of Hannes Jähn’s typography.
And how does your perfect day end, Professor?
While most days are consumed with practical tasks in the studio, every perfect day contains a gift which cannot be predicted. So, before the bread-baking, net-weaving, soup-cooking connoisseur of reality presents me with the cold and brutal facts, I would make a quick stop at my local barber shop then head to visit my doctor, who is always quick to remind me that none of us will make it out of here alive.
For me, a good day in the Rhineland could start with a coffee, chocolate croissant and newspaper in a green bakery on the Nordstrasse in Düsseldorf. The atmosphere is cozy, furnished with a bit of Rhineland humor. I can work there on my laptop in peace. Around 12, I head to Cologne to meet with coworkers, colleagues or friends – like the director Jan Bonny for example – at the Bar Celentano. There are photos of Adriano Celentano hanging everywhere, and the pasta arrabiata is very authentic. We discuss the next film project or music video for Stabil Elite. In the afternoon, it’s back to Düsseldorf, where I’m going to rehearse with Nikolai Szymanski, Martin Sonnensberger and Timo Hein for the upcoming Stabil Elite concert. Our second album, Spumante, has been out for a good month now – pink-red against the night where all cats are gray. In the evening, I cook dinner with Christina Irrgang, and as long as the season lasts, it’ll be asparagus with self-made hollandaise sauce. Then we go to the studio and write a new piece for our project BAR – Band am Rhein. I usually continue working on my own projects alone at night. At the moment, I’m composing and producing music for a film by Kenneth Bergfeld. On Wednesdays, I go to the Salon des Amateurs to test my pieces out on a bigger sound system or to listen to Detlef Weinrich djing. His selections are always great and inspiring.