For TEFAF it was the Park Avenue Armory, the Gothic Revival landmark from 1880, which hosted 91 exhibitors from May 6-10.
For Eye of the Collector, which ran from May 12-14, Two Temple Place was the venue on London’s Embankment, another tribute to Neo-Gothic architecture.
“It was wonderful to see so many visitors open to cross-collecting. The dynamic atmosphere at TEFAF New York offers the collectors a unique platform for organic discovery”, said Charis Tyndall, director of dealership Charles Ede.
The Mayfair antiquities specialist was one of just a handful of exhibitors not focused on works from the 20th century and beyond.
A monumental marble head of a man was among more than 12 Roman antiquities it sold. The head was offered for $320,000 and was one of a clutch of works from the 1st century BC to the 2nd century AD to leave the stand. Beyond its Roman offerings, the gallery also parted with an Etruscan engraved mirror, a bas-relief from the tomb of Mentuemhat and a rare chthonic bronze with the figure of a snake.
The fair ran from May 6-10 and was the first in-person event from TEFAF since the early closure of TEFAF Maastricht in March 2020. It was also the first spring New York fair since the autumn edition was scrapped.
Other stand-out sales included several Plains ledger drawings, three Yup’ik masks and artefacts from the Ipiutak archaeological site offered by Donald Ellis Gallery, a specialist in Native American Art.
White Cube sold Park Seo- Bo’s Ecriture No. 51-79 (1979) for $1.3m and a Cy Twombly work on paper Gladings (Love’s Infinite Causes) for $500,000, while The Mayor Gallery found a new home for an untitled metal sculpture by Alexander Calder at a price between $300,000 and $500,000.
Founder and CEO Nazy Vassegh’s vision for Eye of the Collector, which launched as a physical event last year, was to present the artworks as they might be in a personal collection rather than on individual stands.
The idea appears to have worked: exhibitors reported steady sales and 1500 people visited on the invitation-only day (May 11). This was up on 800 on the first day of the inaugural event in September last year.
Among the early sales was a William Scott (1913-89) Blue and Black Still Life from 1962 that sold from Alan Wheatley Art for a price of £320,000.
Other early sales included three Cissie Kean (1871-1961) works that sold at £9500, offered by Whitford Fine Art.
For Contemporary pieces, prices started at £1,600 and nearly half of the artists and designers featured were female, in keeping with the fair’s theme for this staging.
Visitors were encouraged to browse and speak with fair assistants armed with iPads and knowledge. A gallery or artist representative could be summoned with a quick WhatsApp message if they are elsewhere in the building. Or, for those eager to buy quickly, scanning a QR code on the information panel close to each artwork enables a purchase online via Artsy.
There were 24 participating galleries and artist representatives and 155 works offered.
Vassegh kept a tight control on the way the fair is displayed and what had been chosen.
“We are curatorial led and we learnt from the first event in September. This time it is even more refined and edited. We have exercised a much tighter curatorial approach. Everything here has been selected in advance and we spent weeks and weeks planning on where we place the artworks and how they are lit.”
Vassegh added: “The artworks need to be at the heart. It is about quality not quantity. We wanted to provide the ability for people to see and enquire and stand back and look at the art without it being frenetic. We want to forge relationships with collectors.”