The tender is closed.

To give to 25 former advertising columns a new use between February 2024 and January 2025, the City of Cologne's Office of Cultural Affairs is currently organizing an artistic competition exclusively addressing the visual arts, including artistic photography and urban art. 

We are seeking artistic designs for posters featuring a wraparound layout that will cover the surface of the 25 Cologne art columns, each with an individual motif for a duration of two months per artist. The art columns are located in various districts of Cologne in clearly visible and well-frequented locations.

© MAKK, Ute Vogel

Artist's are called upon to submit applications that features concrete motifs for the art columns. Moreover, curators or free art spaces and initiatives as well as the City of Cologne's museums and art institutions are invited to suggest artist's. In these cases, a concrete artistic design concept as well as its visualization is required too.

The tender is closed. 

The City of Cologne's Office of Cultural Affairs will cover the costs of printing the posters, plastering, and maintenance of 3.500 euros each, as well as a remuneration of 600 euros for each of the selected artist's.

Background and reason for the tender

The Cologne municipality has managed to establish contractual parameters that will enable the action Art on Cologne Advertising Columns to continue until 2029. A total of 25 advertising columns will be turned into "Art Columns of the City of Cologne" – an open air museum and an unexpected pioneering role for Cologne.

The art column project arguably offers the most direct form of cultural participation for the city by enabling us to distribute works of art throughout the whole city and making them visible to everyone every day,

stressed the former Head of Culture Susanne Laugwitz-Aulbach on occasion of the press conference on 26 March 2019. She went on by expressing the hope that

there will be unexpected encounters with art and thus hopefully many conversations about what art is and what public space means to the citizens.

The art column action can also be understood as a harbinger of Cologne's cultural development planning because it will attach a greater relevance to art and culture in public spaces.

History of the advertising column aka Litfaßsäule

Advertising columns or Litfaßsäulen go back to the inventor, printer and publisher Ernst Litfaß (1816-1874), who first developed the idea of a freestanding pillar in public places. They served as notice boards for announcements and posters but were also conceived to counteract the random pasting of posters all over Berlin. In 1855 the first 100 columns were set up in Berlin and named after their inventor. As a medium for urban mass culture – above all in European metropolises – the advertising columns were the most important innovation in the field of outdoor advertising. They promoted the expansion of consumer goods marketing and the dissemination of both poster culture and aesthetics, thereby shaping the image of the anonymous metropolis at the beginning of the 20th century. Within the context of media and cultural history, they are closely related to the parallel commencement of organisational and administrational developments (that means in the field of transport, technology, medicine, infrastructure) in modern metropolises that were part of the enormous modernisation boost that set in at the end of the 19th century.

Who can apply?

  • Professional artists from Cologne, Germany and abroad

Who is also eligible to suggest artists with concrete motif drafts?

  • Cologne-based curators
  • Free art rooms and art initiatives as well as art festivals from Cologne
  • The City of Cologne's museums and art institutions


What needs to be taken into consideration with the designs?

  • Focus is on the development of artistic motifs that are suited to be plastered around a complete column, specifically providing a wraparound layout for the 360 degree viewing of the pillar. Moreover, the same concept needs to be realised on columns with varying circumferences or thickness. Therefore, the application must clearly illustrate as to how the constantly differing column circumferences will be dealt with.
  • The submitted motif designs should take into account both the view from far away and at close range in conceptualisation and layout.
  • A short and easy to understand text (maximum three lines) that is integrated into the motif and located at each column's base is to communicate the concept to passers-by in German and English.
  • According to the terms and conditions of the City of Cologne signed by the company Ströer, who operates the columns, motifs or partial motifs of the design will be rejected, if "the contents are unconscionable (that means motifs with extreme political, ideological, religious or xenophobic content or offending good taste or generally accepted public morals), or are in violation of federal German laws or bylaws of local administrations or are in contravention to the interests of persons or companies who own the property on which the advertising column is located".
  • The submitted drafts may make use of graphic, pictorial or photographic motifs and design methods but must be realisable as digital print in 4/0 C euroscale format on 115 grams per sqaure meter blueback paper (commonly used for posters). The designable area has a size of 4,76 meter by 3,36 meter, whereby the minimally varying thickness of the columns will be compensated with lining paper. As an alternative, it will also be possible to create three posters in an 8/1 format (measuring 119 centimeter by 336 centimeter, with spaces between them also filled with lining paper).
  • The specific topics that the design can relate to are manifold and expressly not predetermined. It is, however, encouraged to look into the history of the advertising column as a medium and the past motifs from the period between 2015 and 2023 as well as the urban relevance and locations of the columns over a range of diverse residential districts.
  • Each artist or initiative may submit a maximum of two drafts.
Looking back on the Cologne art pillars between 2015 and 2023

Documents that need to be submitted

Please use the following numbers for naming the files of your application.

  1. The fully completed application form. Per submitted motif one application form must be filled in, a maximum of two application forms are allowed.
  2. Further explanatory textual and visual descriptions of the artistic design. The text is limited to a maximum of two A4 pages.
  3. Explanatory text for passers-by with a short description of maximum three lines (in English and German) that is supposed to be printed at the base of the art columns.
  4. Illustrations of the submitted motif
  5. Artist's vita with details on education, latest exhibitions or projects with a focus on art and installations in public space, awards, scholarships et cetera.
Download application form

It is expressly requested that the project application is only submitted digitally.

Please make sure to send the application including the illustrations of the submitted motif via email to the Office of Cultural Affairs. When naming the files, please adhere to the numbering mentioned above and the maximum total size of all files of ten Megabyte.

The tender is closed.

The subject of the E-Mail should be: Application, Art on Cologne Advertising Columns.

Please note

  • If the occupancy plan allows for it, applicants who are not Cologne residents are eligible to stay in the guest studios at the Neue Kunstforum on the Alteburger Wall 1. Rates are ten euros per day plus a one-off 50 euro cleaning fee. Travel expenses are not refunded.
  • The contract for the realisation of the project will be concluded directly between the City of Cologne's Office of Cultural Affairs and the respective artist, even if the draft was submitted by a curator, a free initiative, a municipal museum or art institution.
  • With their application, artists commit themselves to provide the relevant print ready files as well as further material or information that might be required at the predetermined dates should their project be accepted. This involves the finalisation of the printing file, the provision of an explanatory text for the press release as well as the photographic documentation of the plastered motifs with a minimum of three professional photos.
  • The artists' copyright does not entitle them to a claim the preservation of their plastered artwork on the columns. With the application they give their consent that following a period of two months their motif on the 25 Cologne art columns may be covered by a new layer of posters.

Selection procedure

The Office for Cultural Affairs summones a jury. It is for the jury of experts to decide on the selection of drafts. Relevant criteria comprise the quality of presentations and the consistency with the annual programme. Drafts should be partly from Cologne artists, partly from domestic and international artists. The overall impact of the project plays a major role for the City of Cologne and the Fine Arts Advisory Board of the Office for Cultural Affairs as well as for the jury. This is the reason why Cologne museums were also given the opportunity of suggesting an artist with a specific motif for a poster that refers to the current exhibition programme.

If you have any further questions please contact us via E-Mail.

E-Mail, if you have questions