It has been a couple of days since I attended the “Vernissage” of the “The European Fine Art Fair” or TEFAF in Maastricht. “Vernissage” is a term used for a preview of an art exhibition before the formal opening. The term is actually French for “varnishing”. Often artists would give the finishing touch to their works by varnishing them the night before the opening of an exhibition and it became a custom for patrons and the élite to visit during this varnishing. Usually these days anyone can buy a ticket to these events like the L A Art Show or Art Basil Miami and they are usually $100-200, but not here. TEFAF is universally regarded as the world’s leading art fair and it sets the standard for excellence in the art market. There are 275 of the world’s most prestigious dealers from 20 countries here and in order to attend this Vernissage you must have a formal invitation from one of those dealers.
Attending this event was an experience I will never forget. It lasted from Noon until 9 pm. I was going to be sane about it and rest up, miss the opening jam up at the door and go about 3 pm , but at about 1 pm I could no longer contain myself and I called a cab.
There are several things that make this a very special event, but the sheer magnitude of the incredibly beautiful objects in that 100,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space is mind-boggling.
I think I will start with the people and the food and the ambiance before I tell you about the art. There seemed to be something special about the crowd that was revealed in the way they dressed, the way the carried themselves and the way they kissed each other on both cheeks that projected an air of elegance and strength. Museum directors and other power brokers in the business were all in attendance along with the wealthy. I know it was a large crowd of human beings so I am sure there were a designated number of four flushers or those who were all hat and no cattle, as they say in Texas, but as a group the crowd was impressive.
The other significant people there were the dealers and I must say that after many conversations with several of them over the last few days I could not be more impressed. There are of course exceptions, but on the whole they are very friendly and respectful and their enthusiasm for what they do and their passion for their art is unmatched. It is so exciting to walk into a stand and walk up to a painting and ask the dealer what can they tell you about it and note as they take you on an adventure into this artists life and why this painting is great and why the time period is significant for them and who used to own this piece.
I need to tell you a quick word about the food and drink. At the opening wine and food were available free from Noon until 9 PM and at 5 they began pouring the Bollinger Champagne. When I say available I should note that it was not like those events where every 15 minutes someone comes by with a tray of hors d’oeuvre and they run out just before they get to you. There was an army of wait staff and drink stations everywhere. If you wanted to sit down and eat something more substantial and pay at the Vernissage or for the 10 day run of the show you can find 3 restaurants and several sit down bars around the show including a Seafood bar, a Sandwich and Salad bar, an Oyster bar, a Sushi bar, a Tapas bar and a Patisserie scattered throughout the show.
Below you can see a few of the endless appetizers including the Beef Tenderloin, French Fry, Mayonnaise and Crab Claw Meat, the Pate and my favorite the Tuna Carpaccio and Crab Claw.
I could talk for ever about the art in this show, but let me just give you a few highlights for me. I will tell you prices because this stuff is for sale and I think it is an important part of art education today to know. Remember to add 10% to convert Euros to dollars.
I spotted a cool little dragonfly pin by George Fouquet with diamonds and emeralds with a cute little ruby for a head all mounted in gold for only 130,000 Euros. George Fouquet followed in his father’s footsteps in the House of Fouquet in Paris and probably created this Art Nouveau pin around 1900. The wings are spring mounted and would flutter as the wearer walked.
How about this beautiful bust of Apollo from 16th century Florence for 90,000 Euros from the Longari Gallery of Milan.
Here is a couple of women I liked, but I do not think they thought I had enough money. The one on the left called herself Picasso and she wanted 19,000,000 Euros and the one on the right was Jawlensky and she was only 900,000 Euros. Notice the unique lighting that only hits the pictures.
Here is a couple of Kandinsky’s that would look good at my place.
Last but not least, one of my favorite ladies by Kees Von Dongen at 3,800,000 Euros.
Only two more days in Maastricht and then I head for Paris. Don’t forget to enter your email to be notified of new posts.
March 12, 2016
awesome sauce Paul. Like, really, the sauce looks yummy. The art too!!
March 12, 2016
Love the non critic non dealer eye you shed on the fair.
Did you get to the works on paper section?
March 13, 2016
Yes I did Gerald. I have been down every aisle and I spent a lot of time there, but I also know every time I go down an aisle I see something I did not see the last time.