Last week, TEFAF was literally written all over Maastricht. Along the roads, flags with the five letters waved, and the city buzzed with visitors on their way to TEFAF, one of the largest art and antique fairs in the world. 275 dealers from more than 20 countries exhibit and offer for sale more than 35,000 pieces of art, design and antiques. The fair has grown every year since it first opened in 1975. Last year there were more than 70,000 guests. Exhibits are expensive and include works by masters such as Van Gogh, Picasso, and Warhol.
And indeed many visitors appeared to be affluent – men and women in suits, carrying expensive watches and jewelry. However, anyone could buy a ticket, and some, me included, just came to be part of the game and see famous and impressive works of art. We also enjoyed the flower decorations consisting of more than 140,000 flowers, mostly tulips of course.
SHOWCASE: Special opportunity for younger dealers
This year, a greater proportion of modern art and younger artists was represented at the fair. Originally, TEFAF was a trade show for classical art, but since the mid- 90s , there has also been a TEFAF MODERN section, this year with 50 dealers of modern art occupying a quarter of the total exhibition area. A long waiting list used to make it difficult for younger dealers to gain access to the fair, but since 2008, a SHOWCASE section of the fair has been reserved especially for them.
Big money, but total sales unknown
The total value of the objects offered for sale at the fair is unknown. But, to give an impression of the size of transactions, artmarketmonitor.com reports that Pablo Picasso’s drawing, Tête Couronnée (1960) was sold for US$485,000, and Alexander Calder’s mobile ‘Black 2-2-6’ from 1965, was sold in the region of the $2.6 million asking price. At the cheaper end of the scale was, for instance, Gavin Rain from South Africa with a mathematical/scientific approach to the creation of celebrity portraits. His works were offered for between €1,500 and €2,000, and according to the dealer, they went like hotcakes: Four of Rain’s pieces were sold during the first two days of the fair.
- TEFAF stands for The European Fine Arts Foundation, the organizer of the fair.
- The fair took place March 14-23, 2014, in the MECC exhibition and convention centre of Maastricht
- The exhibition space covered over 31,000 m2
- More information on tefaf.com