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Art Cologne 2022

November 16 to 20, 2022
Hall 11.2., Booth B 401

With Klaus vom Bruch, Lena Henke, Matt Mullican, Rosemarie Trockel, Jorinde Voigt and Lawrence Weiner

NEW POSITIONS: Wilhelm Klotzek, “Kunstbuchhandlung”, 2022

Wilhelm Klotzek’s Kunstbuchhandlung (II) (2022) reproduces the facade of Walther & Franz König’s art bookstore in Cologne. A sleek frame made from steel and glass, it displays one hundred and twenty-nine book titles imagined by the artist. Earlier this year, these same titles were displayed in the Cologne bookshop’s window.[i] Unlike the publications sold in art bookshops like König’s and the artists’ catalogues one finds dotted around art fair booths, Klotzek’s books cannot be opened or read. After inventing and printing his book’s cover designs, he glued each of them to a wooden panel. Page-less dummies, these are sculptural objects that pose as books. Promising content they do not deliver, those who encounter these “books” are asked to imagine the stories they tell.

Though Kunstbuchhandlung (II) remakes the König bookshop facade, the artist maintains that his large scale sculpture is not a “monument” to the enterprise.[ii] Naming it Kunstbuchhandlung (II) rather than Buchhandlung Walther König and choosing to reproduce neither the shop’s signage or branding, it is the art bookshop and the artist’s book in general that fascinates the artist.[iii] Klotzek’s dummy books’ titles and graphic design mimic the appearance of many art publications: the coffee table book, specialist art history volume, exhibition catalogue, and the artists’ publication. He adopts the language and aesthetic of these books to spoof on the “various clichés of art-publishing jargon,” to pay homage to the artists central to his artistic development, and to playfully enlarge the scope of the artbook industry’s offerings. [iv] As with other Klotzek artworks, Kunstbuchhandlung (II) channels the aesthetic of minimalist sculpture. A canonical movement that has been indiscriminately borrowed from by artists, designers, and architects across the world, Klotzek’s piece draws upon this look to bear down upon our propensity for the derivative.

Kunstbuchhandlung (II) toys with themes central to art production, its intellectual dissemination through art publications, and fine art’s ties to commerce. Displaying his reproduction of the König window and his library of dummy books in an art fair gallery booth, Klotzek produced an imagined, “original” artwork that self-consciously questions the difference between fiction and fact, the authentic and original. How ironic that Kunstbuchhandlung (II) points to its status as a copy, a facade, and a dummy while it sits awaiting sale in a marketplace that traditionally likes to sell the “real thing.”

Text by Jo Vickery


[i] Walter König’s conversation with curator Hans Ulbrich Obrist in 032c Magazine provides a good overview of the shop’s history and cultural standing. March 26, 2012. Accessed on October 28, 2022. Available at:
[ii] Author in conversation with the artist, November 1, 2022.
[iii] Klotzek has also made a number of his own artist’s books. They include: Vincent Grunwald & Wilhelm Klotzek, Konkrete Oberflächen. Berlin: AKV Berlin, 2011; Wilhem Klotzek, Trefferia. Berlin: Bom Dia Boa Tarde Boa Noite, 2017; Wilhem Klotzek, Durex Duplo Resterampe. Berlin: AKV Berlin, 2014.
[iv] Bettina Klein, Text to accompany the exhibition Wilhelm Klotzek Katzen & Architektur. Accessed on October 30, 2022. Available at: