From March 11-20, the city of Maastricht in the Netherlands will welcome over 75,000 visitors, many of them art collectors, gallerists, buyers, residents and admirers for the 29th annual The European Fine Art Fair called TEFAF by most insiders the leading and most prestigious art fair in the world. This past Thursday (3/10) before it opened to the general public, they hosted an early viewing Vernissage. VIP guests were already lined up, as seen below, eager to get a first look and dibs on the pieces of art that ranged from Old World Masters, Modern, Post War contemporary, design and Haute Joaillerie.
Art fairs typically use Vernissage, a private preview of an art exhibition or showcase before the formal opening, as an opportunity for their very important and private guests to get a first look at the pieces of art up for sale/display and chat with the galleries on acquiring said pieces. With reports of more than 60 private jets already parked in Maastricht – Aachen airport the day before, the the fair certainly lived up to its moniker of being the top art fair in the world. VIPs including friends of galleries, museum administrators, buyers and collectors wandered through the aisles stoping to gaze at Picasso’s, Basquiat’s Monet, Savery, Klimt, Candida Höfer, rare and collector item books, even a Rick Owens curated design booth.
As they walked into the MECC Maastricht, guests were greeted with 2 giant floral installations which upon closer inspection were individual white roses and dutch tulips inserted in a testube like object and woven together, a backdrop for perfect photos and selfies.
As the day got into motion, one of the first big sales of the fair was announced: London’s Colnaghi gallery had sold Roeland Savery’s Still Life of Flowers to The Mauritshuis in the Hague for €6.5m.
10,000 visitors from spanning 65 countries including China, Brazil, Belgium, Germany, US, UK were in attendance but it was the hospitality provided that really set the bar for this Vernissage, which was by invitation only.
Turn left, turn right, walk up or down, you were bound to run into servers at the ready with Bollinger champagne bottles, wine and sumptuous appetizers including lobster, oysters, foie gras and duck rillete to name a few because if you’re going to sell art in the high thousands and millions, flaky spanakopitas and cheap wine will most definitely be scoffed upon.
With the knowledge that there would be a lot of walking especially for the guests in high heels during the fair which spanned 101,700 sq. ft, again the organizers put all that into account with seating areas placed liberally all around the MECC; as they say in Dutch, the European life is prachtig!
It wasn’t just all about champagne and lobsters, the main reason they were really there was for the art unlike fairs like Art Basel Miami Beach (parties). The big thing that sets TEFAF apart from the other art fairs is their vetting process and exacting standards, “bringing together only the finest specialists across a wide range of disciplines to create both a vibrant marketplace and a vital forum for collectors, museum curators and international dealers.” Some preview day sale highlights included the The Metropolitan Museum, New York, acquisition of Aristoteles Head, 1925, woodcut print, by Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita (1868-1944), from E.H. Ariëns Kappers and Kröller-Müller Museum, Netherlands acquired two works by Alexander Bogomazov from James Butterwick gallery.
Oscar Graf gallery, sold the most important pieces on his stand, including a pair of dining chairs for the Evans House, 1908, stained oak, leather, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), to a private collector.
Now that you’ve seen how it goes down at TEFAF, start planning your trip to Maastricht next year. Though a good deal of the artwork at the fair were over 10,000, there were pieces in the lower end goes to show that as long as you have an appreciation for art, your budget can accommodate it. Can’t wait until 2017? The European Fine Art Fair will be hosting a satellite fair, the first in TEFAF history outside of Maastricht, in New York City this October and another one to be held next year in the Spring.
TEFAF Maastricht certainly lived up to its reputation as the world’s leading art fair, renowned for its commitment to excellence, expertise and elegance. With the amount of exclusive artworks and pieces from Old Masters to Modern and antiques, we see why it’s a destination in the yearly travel circuit of the Superrich.