Sunday, March 23, 2014

TEFAF 2014

I had decided that since this was the second year that I could not go to the fair I would not write about it.  Then I started to see messages on line from curators on Facebook.  One said I will be in the drawings section at 5 pm.  If you are going to TEFAF (The European Fine Arts Fair) I will see you there.  Another wrote that he was on his way to Holland and a third told of the trials and tribulations of cancelled airline flights to that destination.  Luckily he had started out a couple of days early.  Then there was the curator who just posted a picture of a canal in Amsterdam, a sure give-away that she was headed to Maastricht. I just could no longer ignore one of the most important events in the world of older art.

"Canal" - photo credit: Nadine Orenstein

If you are on any art world lists you are sure to have received many emails from art dealers telling you where to find the dealer’s booth.  I love Stephen Ongpin’s site promotion.  He is an important drawings dealer from London and if you follow him on Facebook you will find many images of his booth often with a member of his staff, his family or his visitors.  Carlton Hobbs, the well-known English furniture dealer with a mansion in New York, addressed his public directly saying if you couldn’t come to the fair, here is some of my inventory.  He showed the grand rooms of his gallery with the furniture in situ.  Then he added views of his booth. He further professed to be enjoying himself in Maastricht.  Usually dealers say that the fair is very hard work but then they let loose after the show closes for the day with great food and drink at one of the gourmet restaurants in and around town.  Maastricht being on the Dutch border could mean that they are eating in Germany or Belgian that evening.

Restaurant Chateau Gerlach

Twitter is another source of information regarding the European Art Fair.  One individual twittered his lament, “Missing Maastricht this year – boo!  Fine Art worth and estimated $5.54 billion are on view.”  Another was bored with the art after a while and suggested that one focus on the flower arrangements which are always quite sumptuous.

"Flowers" - photo credit: Loraine Bodewes

TEFAF has an excellent web site where I saw that the Metropolitan Museum had bought an important piece of silver from the  Parisian Galerie Kugel.  The announcement is surprising  since it takes a meeting of the board of trustees to confirm a purchase even if the money is available, but what if a donor was accompanying the curator, then the chance of board approval rises substantially!

Museum directors in Europe can often decide what their museum is buying on their own if they have lined up the funds to pay for it.  As a result, the director of the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague  bought a painting by Matthijs Maris (1839-1917) from the Amsterdam dealer, Douwes Fine Art.  In the old days the directors visited the galleries but today one stop shopping is the order of the day.

"Visitor" - photo credit: Loraine Bodewes

If you know that Maastricht, where the fair takes place has a total population of 120,000 you can believe that the TEFAF opening was a success when you learn that there were 10,000 visitors attending.   The crowds continue at least for the first 4 or 5 days with every restaurant full and the hotels charging triple what they charge during the rest of the year.

"Preview" - photo credit: Harry Heuts

Good sales have been reported in the press including a Roman Janiform Herm, a Francois Clouet, a number of Dutch 17th century paintings, a Picasso drawing, a Frank Auerbach, an Alexander Calder, Asian and Italian decorative arts and the most important jewelers of Europe and book stores and insurance companies are also there vying for attention.   Of course, with 275 dealers from 20 countries exhibiting there are bound to be many disappointments besides the expense of setting up your booth and shipping your art, travel, room and board for you and your staff there is no profit until after that.

Yet, this is the place to be for both exposure and sales as far as the exhibitors are concerned and the visitors get to meet friends and colleagues they may not see at any other time of the year.

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