Maria Grazia Messina

Conceptual Art and the German Market. The Case of Paul Maenz Gallery in Cologne

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In the early Seventies, Conceptual Art found a good market in Germany, thanks to the work of galerists such as Konrad Fischer in Düsseldorf and Paul Maenz in Cologne. The reason for this success lies in the emergence of a new type of collectors, upper-middle class, inclined to a financial investment in avant-garde art, not for speculative interests nor for social prestige, but because they were attracted by Conceptual Art’s asceticism of means, coldness of expression, and system spirit. Above all, the hermeticism of its procedures and contents posed a real intellectual challenge. The article studies the role played in this phenomenon by Paul Maenz Gallery, thanks to testimonies found in the correspondence between the galerist and his clients. Maenz carries out a difficult job of mediation between the practices of artists who question authorship and originality of the work, and the discomfort of clients, who see their purchasing rights compromised. Two exemplary cases are presented here, concerning disputes related to works by Robert Barry and Daniel Buren

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