The European Fine Art Fair, better known as TEFAF, opened just hours ago and it’s already off to a good start.
Strikingly designed by Tom Postma, who also makes Art Basel and Art Basel Miami Beach look good, the 25-year-old art fair has long been considered the top of the art-world heap. Mixing everything from tribal art and Old Master paintings and antiquities to modern and contemporary art, photography, and design, the fair is a virtual delight for connoisseur collectors from Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, and the UK, as well as the world over.
“I’m impressed with how civilized and focused the collectors are here,” said Whitney Museum of American Art director Adam Weinberg, who was here on his first visit and making the rounds with a group of the museum’s supporters, including Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond Learsy. “There’s a physically different pace to the fair,” he added. “People are moving slowly, speaking in more hushed tones, and really looking at the objects. It’s very refreshing — especially after being at other fairs, where you feel like you’re seeing everything from a bus window.”
While there has been some anxiety from dealers about this year's fair, given the major investment involved to participate and the ongoing financial turmoil within the European community, the overall mood is positive. “The art market continues to be strong,” said Ben Brown of London-based Ben Brown Fine Arts. “We’ve had a good start to the year. There are new buyers that are pushing the market up and, therefore, the old buyers realize that they have to pay up, despite what’s going on in the real world.”
Some early sales re-enforce Brown’s positive attitude. Daniel Blau, who is featuring 25 early, unpublished Andy Warhol drawings from a cache of 200 works that he got from the Warhol estate, was upbeat. “The fair started out well,” said Blau. “We sold several drawings, priced between €20,000 and €60,000 each, before the fair had even opened to the public. People are confident and they are buying.”
Georg Laue, of Munich’s Kunstkammer Georg Laue — perennially one of the most intriguing booths at the fair — added to the upbeat vibe when stating that he had sold 10 pieces priced between €5,000 and €50,000 in the first two hours. Exhibiting a madcap array of intricate skulls, inlaid boxes, hourglasses, carved wood animals, ivory figures, and much more in a dynamic show titled “Exotica,” Laue is the ultimate explorer of the “Cabinet of Curiosity” concept at which TEFAF always seems to excell.
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