TEFAF, a substantial edition, a gloomy context

 Maastricht  |  9 April 2016  |  AMA  |  Tweet  |  LinkedIn

This year, TEFAF welcomed 270 dealers and 70,000 visitors — a slight drop compared to the 75,000 who flocked to the fair’s alleys in 2015. Among these visitors, 254 museums are said to have been represented. Clare McAndrew’s long awaited report on the art market noted a 7 % dip in the market — 63.8 billion dollars in 2015 compared to 68.2 billion in 2014. This climate was reflected by the fair where dealers often expressed their wariness regarding the market.

Post-war art going strong
Having taken part in sixteen editions, Franck Prazan (Paris) has seen the fair’s modern sector develop rapidly. “When we first came to TEFAF, we were amongst the first to offer post-war art. The sector has obviously widened. Today, with fifty or so participants, I think that the modern sector is the fair’s second or third best sector.”

The dealer commented on the subdued note of this year’s fair: “TEFAF started off well, but without euphoria. In the end, results are middling with three sales and one discussion underway — an important one at least!” One of his major works, Jean Hélion’s Dos au pain (1952), was nonetheless sold to an Asian client who is “currently building his private museum.” A second version of the painting is conserved at the Tate Modern.

A few artists were well represented at the fair: Gerhard Richter and his Abstraktes Bild, Jean Dubuffet, Cy Twombly as well as Calder —  his drawings rather than his mobiles. First-time participant Pearl Lam Gallery (Hong Kong, Shanghai) sold several works from Su Xiaobai’s studio, each for $250,000.

The Keitelman Gallery (Brussels) offered a fine selection of works by Marcel Broodthaers. According to Valérie Palacios-Keitelman, “Broodthaers is one of the artists we present systematically in Maastricht.” The gallery namely exhibited a panel of mussels, held in a private collection, kept out of the public’s eyes for 40 years. The gallerist describes the calmness of the fair: “TEFAF is quiet this year despite the presence of many visitors.” This calmness is widespread in the art world: “Collectors are thinking more and more before buying. There’s a slowdown, it’s been harder for a few months now.” But he concludes with a smile: “Good works sell all the time, so we stay positive.”

Meanwhile, the Mayor Gallery (Great Britain) sold at least six works in the first days, including Superficie tre ovale rosso (2016), an acrylic by Turi Simeti (born in 1929). Karsten Greve sold a polychrome terracotta by Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale (1952), for around €350,000.

In TEFAF Paper, the Galleri K (Oslo) was one of the rare galleries to represent photos only at the fair. Its selection included prints by Warhol and Wolfgang Tillmans and large formats by Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer and Thomas Struth — his series from his time spent in an EPR. “In a fair usually devoted to Old Masters, it’s a bold move to choose to present large-format photographs. I wanted something different.” This choice is also motivated by the current exhibition on at the Museum Folkwang: “Thomas Struth, Nature and Politics” until 29 May 2016.

Also at TEFAF Paper, James Butterwick sold two works by Alexander Bogomazov to the private museum Kröller-Müller (Netherlands), one in charcoal, the other in red chalk: Memories of the Caucasus (1916) and Landscape, Caucasus (1916).

Second edition of TEFAF Curated
2016 also marked the second edition of TEFAF Curated, the fair’s modern and contemporary exhibition space. Last year, Sydney Picasso proposed the theme “Night Fishing”. This year, it was the turn of Mark Kremer, an author and independent curator based in Amsterdam, who offered a rereading of a work by Beuys, Zeige Deine Wunde (Show Your Wound), presented in an underground passage in Munich in 1976. The curator selected seven artists and galleries for his tour: Folkert de Jong, (Fons Welters Gallery), Pedro Cabrita Reis (Sprovieri Gallery), William Tucker (Buchmann Galerie), Helmut Federle (Nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwalzwälder Gallery), John Murphy (Galerie Nadja Vilenne) and Klaas Kloosterboer (Ellen de Bruijne Projects).

The gallery Laurent Godin (Paris) also took part in TEFAF Curated. According to a spokesperson from the gallery: “This is our first time at TEFAF. Without Mark Kremer’s invitation, the gallery wouldn’t have had the opportunity to participate.” Laurent Godin showed Peter Buggenhout. “The exhibition offers works relating to the body, wounds, the image of the world. Peter Buggenhout’s sculptures and abject materials are related to suffering and the state of the world.”

According to curator Mark Kremer, “visitors were intrigued and touched by the exhibition that became a new focal point in this section of the fair.”

Tribal arts well represented
Tribal arts were also well represented. Lucas Ratton, taking part for the third time, was “impressed by the concentration, both quantitative and qualitative, of important and institutional clients.” The young dealer also appreciated one innovation: “This year, the four tribal art stands gathered together. It’s a wonderful idea. And we weren’t the only ones affected: the distribution of stands was reconsidered and this brought new life to the fair.” The gallery namely presented a spectacular rambaramp figure from the end of the 19th century to the start of the 20th century: an ancestral statue obtained in situ by a French collector from the Malekula Islands in Papua New Guinea. “There are three at the Quai Branly. I wanted to recreate the scenography of the space.” The dealer expressed great satisfaction about his sales, mentioning a Kuba cup sold to the Detroit Museum. “My first museum sale.”

Nearby was the stand of Didier Claes, showing a caryatid Songye seat by the master Aga Khan. The gallery also presented a painting by Antoni Tapiès. According to Alexandre Claes, brother of Didier Claes, “all our big clients collect modern art, and we like mixing African art with these modern works.”

The gallery also made another announcement to Art Media Agency: it is moving from Sablon, the district where it has been located since 2002. “We’re going to Chatelain where there are contemporary-art galleries such Xavier Hufkens. We don’t have any more passer-by clients at Sablon. The clients who know us will follow us and we’d like to open up to modern and contemporary art clients.” The inauguration of the new space is scheduled for September 2016.

Bernard de Grunne showed, at his sixteenth TEFAF, a Baoulé sculpture stand: 18 “museum-quality” pieces, mainly Baoulé seated sculptures from the Côte d’Ivoire. The gallery says that four years were needed to put the stand together.

As for Asian archaeology, Ben Janssens sold nearly fifty pieces including a Tang dynasty ceramic horse for around €100,000.

The kings of TEFAF, the Old Masters
But what would TEFAF be without TEFAF Paintings? A few interesting sales took place. From the outset of the fair, Colnaghi (London) sold seven paintings — for close to €12 million according to Colin Gleadell. Meanwhile, the Weiss Gallery also made a few sales early on including Jupiter en satyre – fragment de Jupiter et Antiope, a painting by Anthony Van Dyck acquired by a private collector and placed on long-term loan to the Rubenshuis in Antwerp.

Another work caused a sensation during the fair: a painting from Rembrandt’s youth, sold by Talabardon & Gautier to the Leyden collection — for around $3 million. Simon Dickinson sold six works including Au Bord de l’Eau (1885) by Pierre Auguste Renoir.

Said Konrad O. Bernheimer, owner of Colnaghi (London): “The Old Masters market focuses on a few master works. Outside of these high-quality pieces, things are becoming really complicated. The big issue for dealers today is finding works of this calibre, and that also is becoming really complicated.” Taking the example of Roelandt Savery’s Nature morte de fleurs (1615) that he sold to the Mauritshuis for €6.5 million, the dealer remarked: “It only took me 18 years to obtain this work…”

The dealer also commented on TEFAF’s strategy as a member of its board: “We had the opportunity to expand with two fairs in the United States. We took it up. The United States is the world’s biggest market, and among our visitors we’ve always had many American clients.”

Already, readers can note that the next edition of TEFAF Maastricht will be held from 10 to 19 March 2017 at the MECC in Maastricht. TEFAF New York Fall will be on from 22 to 27 October 2016 while TEFAF New York Spring will be on from 4 to 9 May 2017, both at the Park Avenue Armory.

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