The European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht is a golden cash cow for the hotels, bars and restaurants of this small, quirky Dutch city.
Private jets deposit the world's fabulously wealthy uber
collectors, to quaff champagne and obscure Dutch canapés while
hopefully dropping a few mill, while the rest of us mere mortals
arrive cattle class on the new Ryanair flights from London or via
that long and tedious train route via Brussels.
Without eulogising too much, while some of the Modern and
Contemporary art dealers question TEFAF's supremacy -
Art Basel is the altar at which they worship - for
the rest of Europe and the USA's traditional art trade,
TEFAF is the zenith, its name synonymous with quality.
Started in 1975 as Pictura, with just 28 Old Master
paintings and medieval sculpture dealers, it has expanded over the
years to encompass furniture, jewellery, works on paper, tribal
art, antiquities, illuminated manuscripts, design and Modern and
Contemporary art. And the audience has grown accordingly - more
than 70,000 visitors attended the 2013 event, up on 64,500 the year
This year the fair runs from March 15-24 in its customary venue,
the vast Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre (MECC), and is a
little larger than last, at 274 exhibitors compared to 2013's 264.
More so than any other continental fair, TEFAF is
very much Brit-heavy - this year, 80 are UK-based, followed by a
40-strong home team and 39 from France, with 37 from America and 33
The waiting list may be long but, like all fairs, people do
leave. It might be the world's best, most revered art and antiques
fairs but that doesn't mean it works for everyone and, given the
hefty expenses involved in coming here, the financial pressures are
Stand rents and transport costs aside, the obligatory
entertaining of clients commonly results in the 'Maastricht inch'
phenomenon, leaving exhibitors slimmer of wallet and heftier of
girth as they return home.
The morning of the preview day, before guests are admitted and
when pesky journalists pester exhibitors, even the alpha males of
the European trade can be found pacing around their stand looking
distinctly green around the gills. But maybe that is just the
excesses of the previous night.
Departures allow for fresh blood and this year 17 newcomers have
managed to take the step-up to a stand in the main body of the
David Lévy, originally selected for this year's
TEFAF Showcase, has been upgraded to a permanent position
in TEFAF Paper, while former Showcase exhibitor, Old
Master dealer Fergus Hall, exhibits
Also new in Paintings are Paolo Antonacci
Antichità (Rome), Bijl-Van
Urk (Netherlands), Carlo
Orsi (Milan), Galerie Talabardon et
Gautier (Paris) and Galerie Florence de
The Antiques section
welcomes Riccardo Bacarelli
(Florence), Galerie Aveline (Paris),
Antichita (Florence), Galerie
Chevalier (Paris), Galerie Didier
Claes (Brussels) and Christophe de
Quénetain (Paris), while three art dealers go to
Modern - Paul Kasmin
Gallery (New York), Merrin
Gallery (New York) and Galerie von
Vertes (Zürich) - and Galerie
Cybele (Paris) to the Classical
Meanwhile, the selected 2014 TEFAF
Showcase candidates, recently established galleries given
a small stand on a one-year-only basis, are: Dr. Klaus
Kleinschmidt (vintage photography, Germany);
Galerie Mathivet (20th century decorative
arts, Paris); Porfirius (kunstkhammer
objects, Belgium); Rutherston & Bandini
(Japanese art, London); and Floris van Wanroij Fine
Art (Dutch Old Masters and early European sculpture,
The TEFAF brand may be omnipotent in the West but
it is not infallible nor easily transplantable and, due to some
reluctance from key exhibitors, the plan for a proposed TEFAF
Beijing fair, a collaboration with Sotheby's Joint
Venture in Beijing with GeHua, was put on hold in December as it
was deemed "not viable at the current time".
A blow to its supporters, and doubtless a topic of conversation
around the aisles of Maastricht this year.
For a full list of exhibitors and more information see www.tefaf.com
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