TEFAF 2019, overwhelms in every way (blog 1)

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There is the first time for everything. Even for a visit at the widely regarded world’s pre-eminent of fine art, antiques and design: TEFAF Maastricht. Established in 1988, the art event has a rich history and the critical standards of the art are getting higher every year. And for this edition the 279 exhibiting dealers include 40 new galleries, as several new discoveries and unpublished work.

 

Text & pictures: Angelique van Os

 

I have just passed the entrance and face several ten meter high objects of lush and colorful flowers. In the middle of the space, visitor, mostly looking extravagant and exuberant, can relax on design chairs and sofas, drinking tea and coffee. Doing business and catching up with acquaintances. It is pretty crowded for a preview day. Whereas on the side, the art galleries stands look sophisticated, perfectly highlighted and presenting their masterpieces. Every time it feels like entering a tiny museum. It is obvious: this is where the international art community and where world’s top art dealers and experts comes together.   

TEFAF runs three Fairs internationally - TEFAF Maastricht, which covers 7,000 years of art history; TEFAF New York Spring, focused on modern and contemporary art & design; and TEFAF New York Fall, covering fine and decorative art from antiquity to 1920. Also TEFAF represents different aspects of art movements from ancient paintings, antiques, La Haute Joailerie, Tribal, Modern, Design and work on paper. Some new names within the section Modern are Gallery Gmurzynska (USA), Simon Lee Gallery (UK), Pace Gallery (USA), Almine Rech (Belgium) and Sprüth Magers (UK).  

Because I am a fan of ancient paintings and art that is where start. One of the first paintings which gets my attention is already a highlight: Femme nue couchée by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919). The fine oil on canvas is presented by the New York gallery Dickinson (stand 402). Also a scene of women bathing in a Morrocan hamman – Les Baigneuses Du Harem, 1901- by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904), shows beautiful colors and details. But there is no time to waste. I am a bit dazzled by tremendous offers of the fair. Some exhibitors have utilized every piece of the wall, creating a collage of paintings varying from landscapes, portraits, folk sceneries and still lives.

 

Chasing treasures

Also everywhere I look, there are religious scenes varying from the fourteenth till the nineteenth Century. A very ancient and special piece is a small panel on gold of The Virgin and Child by Paolo Veneziano (1200-Venice-1362, in the collection of Haboldt & Co). The expensive work is already sold. And that is no exception. Although the fair just started on Thursday the 14th, and will continue till March 24th, art collectors are chasing these treasures. So who is interesting to buy something in particular or special, has a lot of competition and cannot wait too long. That also counts for the amazing Two boys with a bladder by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797), presented by Lowell Libson & Johnny Yarker LTD. The use of candlelight, surrounded by the dark background lifts the portrait of the boys.

A newly discovered painting is Susanna and the Elders (1548) by the Flemish Renaissance Trailblazer Frans Floris de Vriendt (1519/20-1570). This large and early work is unveiled by Carlo Orsi-Trinity Fine Art. The painter was more renowned in his day than Bruegel the Elder. The work shows a careful study of Roman antiques and influences from painters like Raphael. According to the TEFAF curators, the artist displays sensitivity to the handling of flesh, which was exceptional in the Netherlandish art at the time. 

 

Tempera

The Spanish gallery Caylus shows some beautiful panels on wood, like Thomàs Giner’s Saint Martin dividing his Cloak with a bagger (ca. 1460). The clay technique that is used is called Tempera. Because of this, the very detailed relief splashes of the cloth. This technique is only possible to use on wood, because canvas is not strong enough for the clay. Also interesting is a modern photographic transfer on high-fired ceramic by Robert Rauschenberg, called Gilt (1983).        

Although there is so much more to see, I have to move on to see other parts of the fair. Read more about my report in the next blog. 

 

TIP: Some highlights that you must not miss:

·      Dans le pre en automne a Eragny by Camile Pissarro (1830-1903). Gallery Richard Green, stand 302

·      Portrait of a young Lady holding a cat by Antonio d’Ubertino Verdi (Bacchiacca, 1499-1572). Gallery Nicholas Hall, stand 342

·      Still life of an illuminated manuscript. Unknown painter. Gallery Salomon Lilian, stand 309

see also: tefaf.com

 

EXTRA TIP: This year TEFAF expands its program with side events in the vivid city centre of Maastricht with TEFAF and the City. Read more about this in up-coming blogs. 

 

 

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