VIEW THE SLIDESHOW HERE>>TEFAF Maastricht 2009 — which took place in Maastricht, the Netherlands from March 13 to 22 — was billed as “the world’s most influential art and antiques fair” and it certainly lives up to its boast. We arrived from Amsterdam on the final day of the fair to experience it for the first time. A record number of 239 dealers participated in the 22nd edition of the fair and showed antiques, classical antiquities, medieval manuscripts, rare books, maps, jewelry, modern and contemporary art, photography, ceramics, glass, and design.
Maastricht is a city that’s rich in history and filled with luxury — and the fair had more than its share of such delights. The aisles were overflowing with gorgeous fresh flower arrangements and the booths with classical European art and furniture and ancient Asian art were designed to look like palatial chambers. While we enjoyed soaking up the old with the new, our focus remained on modern and contemporary art and design.
Dickinson from London and New York showed a mix of great works — ranging from an 1889 Van Gogh painting of the garden at the hospital where he spent the final year of his life to an Anish Kapoor reflective, concave wall sculpture from 1997. Geneva’s Jacques de la Béraudière exhibited seminal paintings by Willem de Kooning, Kees van Dongen, Henri Rousseau, and Yves Tanguy, while Galerie Hopkins-Custot from Paris flaunted colorful contemporary masterpieces by Frank Stella and Niki de Saint Phalle.
Montreal’s Landau Fine Art surprised us with their exquisite selection of paintings by Fernand Léger, Joan Miró, and René Magritte. Michael Werner from New York and Berlin smartly juxtaposed a Picabia painting from the late-’20s with an ancient Lobi sculpture in wood. Hauser & Wirth from London and Zurich also had a striking Picabia painting from the mid-’20s and a room full of sculptures and works on paper by Louise Bourgeois and Alberto Giacometti. Meanwhile, Galerie Karsten Greve from St. Moritz, Paris, and Cologne featured Bourgeois with Piero Manzoni and Cy Twombly.
London’s Ben Brown Fine Arts hung a pair of cut and punctured monochromatic paintings by Lucio Fontana next to an animal shaped desk by Francois-Xavier Lalanne. London’s Daniella Luxembourg collaborated with New York’s Amalia Dayan to present Disasters, a group show that included an Andy Warhol car crash painting, a Richard Prince joke painting about death, and a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting of a house on fire, amongst other modern and contemporary gems.
Kukje Gallery from Seoul exhibited a moving video portrait by Bill Viola — titled The Innocents — that had a continuous crowd watching it. New York’s Sperone Westwater also had a showstopper with Evan Penny’s distorted, 3-D portrait of a young man, complete with real hair. Nearby, Van de Weghe Fine Art from New York caught the crowd’s attention with a realistic sculpture of an Old Man on a Bench by Duane Hanson.
Photography was handsomely represented by Kicken Berlin, which showed Helmut Newton’s 1980’s Big Nude series, Karl Blossfeldt’s coveted portrayals of simple plant-life from the late 1800s, and small, classic modernist studies of people and places by Andre Kertesz. New York’s Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs exhibited early 19th and 20th century photographs made from paper negatives, including a group of original prints by William Fox Talbot, one of the founders of photography.
Twentieth century design was presented for the first time in a new section at TEFAF, with eight galleries featured. Sebastian + Barquet from New York and London had a unique lounge chair from the ’70s by Vladimir Kagan and a fantastic sculpted front cabinet from 1972 by Paul Evans; Galerie DOWNTOWN François Laffanour showed a whimsical 1983 fountain sculpture by Pol Bury; and Vienna’s Bel Etage, Wolfgang Bauer exhibited a great group of furniture and objects by the Viennese master architect and designer Josef Hoffmann.
Everywhere we looked, there were objects of desire, which could be relished without really having to take them home.