The origins of today's ART COLOGNE as a trade fair for classic modern art, post-war art and contemporary art go back to the year 1967. Kunstmarkt Köln ’67 was launched on 15 September 1967 in a historic Cologne building – the Gürzenich. In medieval times it served as an arena for festivities, banquets and dances. Later, it served as a merchants' hall.
The launch of the Kunstmarkt Köln ’67 was to have a profound impact on the international art market. The founders of the new fair were Cologne-based gallerists – Hein Stünke and Rudolf Zwirner. Their project was sparked by the urgency of the need to put new life into the lacklustre art market in West Germany. Although the immediate post-war period saw a tremendous revival in art and radical changes to public attitudes to modern art, the art market in West Germany faltered.