Sunday, March 18, 2012

TEFAF - Maastricht - 2012

Returning to New York from Santa Fe for a few days we then flew to Brussels to take the train to Maastricht and attend TEFAF, The European Fine Art Fair.  What Basel and the Venice Biennale are to the contemporary art world TEFAF is to the old master world. At TEFAF the dealers show many different fields, periods and countries.  They include paintings, drawings, decorative arts, sculpture and a whole lot more.

One of the pictures seemed to show just how we felt and we named it 'Early Jet Lag'.  It is an 1851 watercolor by Adolfo Menzel showing a couple traveling in a first class carriage on the train, nothing has changed, except we get there faster!

"On the Train" by Adolfo Menzel
First day in Maastricht is to get acclimatized and shake off as much jet lag as possible.  We are staying at the intimate and atmospheric Hotel Orangerie.  Ubiquitous with Maastricht at this time of year are TEFAF signs, triple the normal hotel rates and as always the bicycles.  The children must learn to bike at the same time as they learn to walk.

The fair itself takes place in the Maastricht Exposition Hall known as the MECC.

Maastricht Exhibition Hall
TEFAF has opened and it seems like the world has descended. 10,413 people poured through the doors to see the 288 exhibitors on its, invitation only, opening day.  Last year there were over 72,000 visitors to TEFAF during its 10 days.  Who knows if the record will be broken again.  Museum directors and curators from all over were at the show.  Of course, some had served on the very serious vetting committees and they had already been there for several days.

Shortly after the doors opened I heard a man say to his wife very quickly, "it's a million dollars", as if you say it fast enough, it seems like less!  A Woman coming in who obviously had a goal at the other end of the fair said to her friend:  "Are you capable of walking by all these other booths?"  That is a challenge because almost in every booth there is at least one work of art you would like to see up close.

This is TEFAF’s Jubilee years.  In its 25-year existence this fair has survived starting out and staying in a small Dutch town on a European border, boom times and recession with a number of prestigious dealers both entering and exiting as exhibitors.  Though one might consider one year better than another, on the whole it is always strong and one finds objects in one field or another to salivate over!  They have produced a second catalog this year to go with their usual huge tome celebrating their Jubilee.  There I found many museum directors and curators who had brought groups and purchased works of art making tributes.  TEFAF has by now proven an institution in the art world that has been beneficial to participants and visitors alike.

It is hard to pick favorites.  I have already illustrated “Early Jet Lag” above and here are a few others.

Of particular note was the bronze at the Tomasso Brothers by Giovanni Francesco Susinni representing the Farnese Bull after a Roman 16 foot marble statue found in the Baths of Caracalla  in Rome and moved to Naples.  A most incredible feet of engineering.

"Farnese Bull" by Susinni
It compares with the Los Angeles County Museum moving its 340 ton rock from the Riverside quarry to  to the Museum recently.  The complex composition of the bronze both copies the marble and at the same time conveys the monumentality of the original.

At di Castro were a pair of French 18th century terracotta reliefs of Chinoiserie Subjects and a marvelous relief by Soldani Benzi representing “The Mystical Marriage of St. Rose of Lima”.

"The Mystical Marriage of St. Rose of Lima" by Soldani Benzi
A painting that appealed was a small Canaletto of the Torre di Marghera, the identical scene as one painted by another famous 18th century Venetian artist Bellotto as well as several others.

"Torre di Marghera" by Canaletto
So much to choose from one could stay and make discoveries for a week!

1 comment:

  1. As always an abundance of impressions. I'm always looking forward. The painful feet at the end of the day taken gladly. TEFAF wonderfull!!!!