He’s been a frequent visitor to the Maastricht fair in past years and holds with the view that it is the world’s “pre-eminent” art and antiques fair. It’s due to the current political situation in the US and Europe that Ellis says he finds it difficult to forecast sales and that he’s going into the fair with “modest expectations”.
Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and now could be the perfect time to start pushing the gallery’s stock to a wider audience.
This Donati Studio Mask on Donald Ellis’ stand was made c.1890 and is a shamanistic piece created by the Yup’ik people of Alaska.
Made of wood with other elements such as sinew and replaced feathers, the mask measures 2ft 10in (86cm) high and at Maastricht this year is available for a mid-sevenfigure price.
Ellis is the first Native American-focused exhibitor ever to stand at the venerable fair.
Though he says it still trails African and Oceanic art by a good distance, “Native American art has been increasing its audience in Europe in recent years and we are hoping to expand that interest further”.
Adding the event to the gallery’s growing roster of fairs at home and abroad seemed a logical next step, and there is always the hope of enticing a new audience.
“TEFAF has a strong reputation for attracting museum groups from the US and Europe and we are looking forward to speaking to new people from that sector.”
The gallery has also taken part in the Armory Show, Art Toronto, Parcours des Mondes and the Seattle Art Fair. It also appears regularly at Frieze Masters, where Annabelle Selldorf of Selldorf Architects designs the stand.
She has also completed the stand design for TEFAF, where Ellis brings around 40 items with a focus on sculptural work from the north-west coast and the Yup’ik peoples of Alaska.
In pride of place will be an old headlinegrabber, the Donati Studio Mask, which Ellis sold in 2010 to a collector for more than $2.5m, setting a record for US indigenous art.