About 400 private jets left from the Maastricht Aachen Airport this week after the close of The European Fine Art Fair, TEFAF Maastricht, which held its 28th edition from March 13 to March 22. With some 200 fairs and 100 biennials packed into the global art world calendar, TEFAF is established as the most prestigious of them all.
TEFAF was first organized in 1988 from a merger of the earlier fairs Antiquairs and Pictura. The fair specializes in Old Master works and antiquities, with excellence, expertise, and elegance as its three core values. While the best fairs are increasingly competitive, TEFAF is the most selective with 175 international experts in 29 categories who evaluate every object from every gallery for quality, authenticity, and condition.
This year’s edition included 275 dealers from 20 countries. There were 75,000 visitors in ten days, including representatives from 262 museums.
More figures from TEFAF include: 10,000 guests at the Private View on March 12 who consumed 13,600 glasses of champagne, displays that included 58,500 tulips (so Dutch), and collectors from at least 65 countries.
TEFAF includes an institutional attendee each year for an exhibition of works that are not for sale. Previous exhibitions have come from the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. This year’s loan was from the Teylers Museum, which is the oldest in The Netherlands. The exhibition of drawings included works by Michelangelo, Rafael, and most notably, Rembrandt van Rijn’s Christ and His Disciples. The work is dated 1634 and is the largest drawing known to have been completed by Rembrandt.
A notable Dutch masterpiece that was for sale was a 1644 still life by Willem Claez Heda. It was offered by French & Company (New York) for $12 million, and was sold by Christie’s only last July for £5 million.
Dickson (London) presented a recently rediscovered and authenticated work by Vincent van Gogh, Moulin d’Alphonse, for $10.6 million. The 1888 watercolor is from a private collection and has not been on public exhibition since 1910. Read more from The Guardian.
Dickson also offered Kees van Dongen’s 1908 Lailla for £4.8 million, which was sold by Sotheby’s in 2012 for £3.6 million.
Les Enluminures (Paris, New York, and Chicago) offered The Liesborn Gospels for $6.5 million. The Ottonian Gospel Book is dated ca. 980 and was described in a 1945 catalogue as “one of the most valuable manuscripts of the gospels in private hands.”
Like other fairs, TEFAF is divided into sections. They include Paintings, Antiques, Classical Antiquities, Haute Joaillerie, Design, Paper, Modern, and Night Fishing. Modern was added in 1991 for works from the 20th and 21st centuries. The section has offered masterpieces by Renoir, Picasso, and Matisse, and more recently has included works by living artists including Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor, and Banksy.
Expanding to capture the contemporary market, TEFAF added the Night Fishing section in 2015. In this inaugural year, Night Fishing was curated by Sydney Picasso with works by Georg Baselitz, Tony Cragg, Cristina Iglesias, Wolfgang Laib, Nam June Paik, Markus Raetz, Mark Manders, and Richard Deacon. TEFAF will not compete with Frieze or Art Basel (though it is concurrent with Art Basel Hong Kong), but the Modern and Night Fishing sections make the fair practically encyclopedic with works ranging across 7,000 years of art history.
TEFAF Maastricht is hosted in the Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre (MECC) and will take place in 2016 from March 11 to March 20. AXA Art has been the principal sponsor of TEFAF since 2004 and has pledged continuing support through 2018.