We remember Horst Leichenich (1948 – 2021).
Artists friend and collector
Horst Leichenich was a central figure in Cologne’s cultural life. In 1974, with the founding of the legendary ROXY in Cologne, he made it possible for the international art business to have a unique meeting place. The city’s legendary art scene had been
formed informally at the end of the 1960s. For decades, the focus of the avantgarde scene had been the ROXY, a club with international appeal. A fertilizing effect showed in particular the networking with the music scene. With Spex, Cologne had the flagship of German-language pop criticism. The art scene was driven by the art market and the galleries, including Max Hetzler, Monika Sprüth or later Esther Schipper, Christian Nagel, Tania Grunert and many others who contributed to making Cologne a hotspot of the international art scene – on a par with New York.
Musicians like Arno Steffen, Wolfgang Niedecken or Jürgen Zeltinger in collaboration with the brilliant music producer Conny Planck could often be found here or used the premises also for their sound recordings.
From the very beginning, the permanent guests included Jürgen Klauke, Michael Buthe, Heinz Zolper and the gallery owner Baroness von Oppenheim. He also had a particularly good relationship with Sigmar Polke, with whom he had been since the late 1960s on friendly terms until Polke’s death.
Horst Leichenich managed to make the ROXY known not only on the Rhine area and nationwide, but also internationally. The club became the go-to address for the French, Belgians and, above all, the Dutch. But there was no getting around the ROXY for artists from Great Britain or the USA either.
Over the time, the capacities were often no longer sufficient when musicians such as the rock band Moody Blues, Ian Dury, Willy DeVille, Boy George performed. In 1983 the company moved to Aachener Straße 2, on Rudolfplatz, with the opening as a private club. The circle of cultural workers widened. Also for other big names in the Rhenish and international art scene, such as C.O. Paeffgen, Gotthard Graupner, Theo Lambertin, Rune Mields, Katharina Sieverding, it became the second living space. Gerhard Richter also arrived regularly. Gallery owners, including Erhard Klein, Gugu Ernesto and Mac Krips met to relax and to be close to their artists. Rudolf Bonvie, Astrid Klein and Ulrike Rosenbach also belonged to the circle of friends. International stars like Dennis Hopper, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring felt they belonged to the ROXY family. Regular guests had been also actor Heiner Lauterbach, or Hollywood stars like Christine Kaufmann and Udo Kier, who hat worked at the beginning of the ROXY even worked as a waiter; later they came to visit during their regular stays in Cologne. German music heroes Udo Lindenberg, Herbert Grönemeyer and Marius Müller-Westernhagen expanded the canon of the inner circle as well. Politicians like the almost powerful Cologne SPD leader Günter Herterich, to whom Cologne owes a great deal of its steep rise as an art metropolis, or Walter Scheel, the later Federal President, Annemarie Renger and Hans-Jürgen Wischnewski
were guest and became parti of the ROXY-system. ROXY was not just a place to celebrate, make friends and prepare contracts. It was a place, artistic concept ideas were discussed, works criticized and new ways of art were discussed. The ROXY has become trendy for many people working in the arts. Musicians, visual artists, private and public art brokers, collectors and politicians could easily get into contact. No doubt, Horst Leichenich was the boss, the impresario, the artist friend and he stood by his guests and especially the many artists as an intermediary, sponsor and collector. During this time he had amassed an extensive art collection.
Horst Leichneich, to whom we were connected for many years, died in September 2021 in Roermond, the Netherlands.
Horst Leichenich – rest in peace.