Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Man With Arms Akimbo (1685), tagged $47 million at Otto Naumann (New York) and undoubtedly aimed in the direction Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, due to open an entire wing dedicated to the Dutch painter, demonstrates some of the TEFAF’s prestige. However, influential young Amsterdam gallerists like Martin van Zomeren, Juliette Jongma and Diana Stigter were unanimous in telling A.i.A. they could only envisage their respective galleries at TEFAF “in a hundred years.”
Now in its 24th edition, TEFAF Maastricht, the year’s longest art fair, at 10 days—March 16–27—hosted 260 fine arts and antiquities dealers from 16 countries. Over the years, the fair has sought to update its program, allowing contemporary art into “TEFAF Modern” and adding special sections for works on paper and design.
While contemporary blue-chip galleries like Gagosian, The Pace Gallery and Michael Werner have all participated in recent years, none of these re-enlisted this year. Even Hauser & Wirth, whose name figured in the fair’s documentation, was seemingly a last minute “no show,” although Florian Berktold, director of the gallery’s Zürich branch, insisted, “The decision not to take part at TEFAF was taken in the fall of 2010.” Their corner booth went to Harry Blain and Graham Southern. The latter said he was “surprised that [Hauser & Wirth] didn’t show up.”
Apart from the presence of Haunch of Venison—banned from other art fairs due to their connection to the auction house Christie’s—and its new spin-off BlainSouthern, the fair’s contemporary art section was clearly not the focus. This despite the presence of contemporary art collectors from The Netherlands, like collector couple Robert and Renee Drake and the Rhineland’s Thomas Olbricht. Berllin’s Christian Boros told us he liked two large Cy Twombly paintings dated 1967 at the booth of Düsseldorf dealer Paul Schönewald.
One hurdle for exhibitors was a recent decision by the Dutch government caused tax on the sale of artworks to more than triple this year, from 6% to 19%. The regional daily’s cultural editor, Casper Cillekens informed AiA that, “some foreign traders, especially of the American galleries want to move the fair to another country because of the rise of the VAT.” This would be big news for the region, but rumors of TEFAF relocating have circulated for years.
Instead of exhibiting, gallerists lingered in the Modern and Contemporary sections. At the VIP preview non-exhibiting gallerists Rafael Jablonka and Christian Nagel from Cologne, and Berlin’s Henrik Berinson, paced the aisles.
The Modern section included important works, such as Francis Bacon’s Head (1949) and a rare wall-sculpture by Richard Hamilton titled The Solomon R. Guggenheim (Metalflake) (1965–66) both at the booth of Dickinson (London, New York).
Contemporary works at other stands included less than first-rate examples of Damien Hirst, at Barbara Mathes (New York), Gana Art (Seoul), Van de Weghe Fine Art (New York). Gerhard Richter’s abstract paintings were similarly overabundant at the booth shared by Paul Schönewald (Cologne) and Anthony Meier (San Francisco), Galerie Thomas (Munich) and Kukje Gallery (Seoul). Two Marc Quinn sculptures were on view at Hopkins Custot Gallery (London).
Bright spots included Thor, 2008, a large painting of a motorcyclist by Malcolm Morley at Sperone Westwater (New York). Applicat-Prazan (Paris) showed a recently produced vitrine containing rose-stalks and clay titled Athanor, 2007 by Anselm Kiefer, who generally does not allow his work to be showcased at fairs.
A small Tim Eitel painting, Untitled, 2005, at Haunch of Venison included the name “Galerie EIGEN + ART” on its provenance, to the surprise of Eigen dealer Gerd Harry Lybke. The dealer, who was ousted from Art Basel this year, sung the praises of TEFAF, and told AiA that he can imagine showing Neo Rauch & co. there “in a few years.”
Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo by Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, signed and dated 1658, oil on canvas,from Otto Naumann Ltd. Courtdy TEFAF Maastricht.