March 11-21, 2010
TEFAF (The European Art Fair) occurs annual in the charming, small city of Maastricht in southern Holland. Thousands upon thousands flock to the art fair eager to view the stupendous collections of paintings, antiques, jewelery and, new this year, prints on paper. I was lucky enough to attend the opening day, March 11th and revel in the myriads of serious art collectors and wealthy buyers. (Not to mention the passed drinks and hor d’oeuvres)
Among the many highlights of this year’s fair, a few stood out to me in particular. The first is Marino Marini’s oil on canvas, Il Teatro delle Maschere at Landau Fine Arts. The asking price is $7.5million.
A second favorite is the remarkable Golden Fleece bracelet by Giovanni Corvaja. The bracelet is made of both 18 and 22 carat gold and took the artist 1,250 hours to make. The bracelet actually features 1,200,000 single gold wires (28km of wire) though is light as can be to the wearer.
With over 263 of the world’s most prestigious art and antiques dealers, hailing from 17 countries, TEFAF is a veritible wonder show of who’s who in the world of precious art. An admitted ignoramus when it comes to Art, I was a taken with the vastness of the collection and the elegance of the entire presentation. I enjoyed noting which galleries/dealers went to extra effort to decorate their stands and present their heralded collections in a welcoming and attractive environment. I was astounded by the accessibility, even for a novice like myself.
Among the many galleries, I found myself returning often to Dickinson Gallery out of London. Their collection of Pissaro, Renoir and Seurat beckoned me from one corner while the impressive Cavallino and Renaissance art called from another. I found I was hardly alone in my favortism towards the gallery.
Of course, TEFAF is also known for the remarkable antique jewelery dealers that show at the fair. From the big name brands (Graff, Bulgari, Chopard) to the heralded historic ones (Buccellati) to the entirely antique collections (S.J. Phillips Ltd), the offerings were enough to make two hours easily slip by. Amusingly, the main alley with the jewelery stands was named Madison Avenue.
My personal favorite is the italian jewelery, Andrea Buccellati. His handmade designs and silverware are among the very best in the world. Hi silk fabric-walled stand and gilded mounted cases presented his collection in a rarefied setting.
The sheer magnitude of high-valued art in the fair is unbelievable but, what is even more impressive, is the amount of vetting that each piece is subjected to prior to entry. TEFAF’s board of ambassadors is one of the most prestigious boards in the world and their vetting system is among the strictest, if not the toughest. Every item is checked by one of 26 vetting committees made up of over 155 internationally respected experts. I was fortunate enough to tour around with the gracious, Michel Witmer, one of Tefaf’s Ambassadors and Board Members, who splits his time between France, NYC, Palm Beach, FL and Greenwich, CT. Michel’s knowledge of not only the fair, but Fine Art in general made strolling the carpeted hallways of TEFAF a truly exceptional experience.
Michel was gracious enough to sit down with me and discuss the fair, namely its accessibility to first-timers, and the tremendous success it has as a buying fair, in general. It’s difficult to visit TEFAF and disregard the immense amount of personal wealth that flows through the halls and the tremendous, though discreet, consumerism that occurs throughout the fair. In the past, Michel has offered private tours of the fair and I can say, without a doubt, that he is the man to have with you when you make your visit to TEFAF. His affable company and expertise enrich the visit tenfold. For more information on Michel and his tours, please contact me.
Most years, sales were denoted by small stickers alongside the art plaques, this time though, many galleries opted out of stickers and some pieces simply went home later that day. Depending upon the gallery, some work on consignment, the art is a set price. Nevertheless, hushed discussions appeared to be taking place in each stand’s corners.
I was asked which was my favorite piece at the fair and I can honestly say that I did not have one. (Okay, the Buccellati ring / bracelet was up there). My most memorable takeaway from the fair was not one individual element but rather the whole of the tremendous show. From appearances by Dutch Royalty, Princess Marilerie for the Rijksmuseum, to the elegant party (passed hor d’oeuvres and wine) on opening day to the myriads of notable impressionistic paintings, I was sincerely taken with it all. I look forward to returning next year and hope to encourage as many other art enthusiasts to do so as well.