Travel Inspiration By A Pro Trip Designer





Maastricht, Holland

March 11-21, 2010

One of the many elegant stands at TEFAF
One of the many elegant stands at TEFAF

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.

The work has remained in private hands and out of public view for more than 3 decades

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.

The asking price here is $200,000

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.

The tasteful setting at Tefaf
The tasteful setting at Tefaf

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.

The lovely Dickinson Gallery
The lovely Dickinson 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.

Window shopping on Madison Avenue
Window shopping on 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 Buccellati showroom with Murano chandelier
The Buccellati showroom with Murano chandelier
I was particularly taken by the antiqued designs in the lefthand case.
I was particularly taken by the antiqued designs in the lefthand case.

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 Witmer and President of Tefaf, Willem Baron van Dedem
Michel Witmer and President of Tefaf, Willem Baron van Dedem

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.

i witnessed the purchase of this DALI and then noted its absence from the wall the following day
I witnessed the purchase of this DALI and then noted its absence from the wall the following day

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.

Posted in: Europe

Published by Meg, Sunday, March 14, 2010 No Comments

Affordable Art Fair




October 28th, 2009

Upon my move to Amsterdam, I reached out to the Dutch Tourism Board in an effort to introduce myself (get plugged into upcoming events) as a  new journalist. Just  my luck, they were extremely responsive (far nicer than the PR department at KLM) and right away I was invited to the preview party of Amsterdam’s annual Affordable Art Fair.


I must admit, I was very eager to go and for more than just professional reasons…after all, this was to be my debut on the Dutch media scene!   And maybe, just maybe, my husband and I would spot something suitable for our new home.

The Affordable Art Fair in Amsterdam

The Affordable Art Fair in Amsterdam

The Affordable Art Fair debuted in London in 1999 by a gallery owner in Battersea and from there the idea caught on like wildfire.  Cities like New York, Melbourne and Glasgow called him, eager to do the same – encourage art enthusiasts of all wallet sizes with over 500 galleries showing.  Though the AAF events are connected by name, each city has its own management office and given art tastes differ from city to city. In Amsterdam, the art tends to be more Modern than traditional or contemporary.

Stalls in the Westergasfabriek

Stalls in the Westergasfabriek

The entry price for Amsterdam’s fair  is said to be 100 euro, though the least expensive thing I spied was 600.  My husband and I biked to the fair (naturally), which was housed in a former gas warehouse just beyond the center of the city – very industrial chic.

The opening party attracted hordes of people (so much for it being the exclusive press debut I had hoped for) and appeared to be a huge success. People were milling about, wine glass in hand jovially chatting while gallery reps were eager to share information and push the sell. Some looked as though they were there purely for the social benefit.

Walking around, I was surprised to find a few things that caught my eye. Admittedly, I am hardly an art conaisseur, let alone Modern Art.

Dutch contemporary artist

Popular contemporary Dutch artist

One of the artisits whose work I very much liked but which was sadly  NOT affordable

One of the artists whose work I very much liked but was sadly NOT affordable

Just as we were about to leave, my husband and I actually happened upon a print that we both adored. As the gallery manager pushed his go-to line, “It’s so rare when both members of the couple are drawn to a piece equally”. We shared a longing look and excitedly secured of our first art purchase.

Entitled "Cowger" with the caption "The Cow who wanted to be a Tiger"

From up-and-coming English artist Carl Moore, “The Cow Who Wanted to be a Tiger” caught us both with its charm and color scheme and given our own tiger fantasies, seemed like a must-have. The print is one of a series of 25 animals that Moore has done and we hope (once our wallets expand) to add a few of the others to our collection.

The Affordable Art Fair in Amsterdam runs through the first week of November and then heads back down to Sydney and then to London in March 2010. Be sure to check any of them out if you can. They’re a great time to mingle if not, purchase.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Posted in: Shopping

Published by Meg, Saturday, October 31, 2009 No Comments

about meg

About Meg


Meg is the founder of luxury travel consulting company, Friend of a Friend Consulting. Her three books, Italian Hideaways, Caribbean Hideaways and England's Hideaways are published by Rizzoli. Passionate about travel, hotels and wine, she continues to write freelance travel pieces and is currently pursuing a Masters in Wine through the WSET.

books and apps

follow meg

The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not reflect separate business relationships with the subject. Whenever posts are supported financially, they are designated as such.