Yesterday, I was at the TEFAF (The European Fine Art Foundation) art and antique fair in Maastricht in Southeastern Netherlands. A European crowd puller for ordinary art lovers (like myself), people with fat wallets, and professional buyers. Mostly classic but also contemporary art – about 20 percent, judging from the bulky catalog. I’ve been there before – please read my 2014 report here.
Always a spectacular experience to walk around and admire works of masters like Vincent Van Gogh, Alexander Calder, and Pablo Picasso, antique busts, classic Danish furniture design, thumb large diamonds, Ming vases, and contemporary installation art consisting of a series of logs.
The painting of a veiled, presumably Muslim naked woman, ‘Laila’, painted in 1908 by Dutch Kees van Dongen, got my partner and me thinking the same thing: Depiction of Muslim naked women seems to be in order, or at least not provocative enough for extremist Muslims to send death threats or worse. Dishonor, disrespect? Apparently not when it is “only” a woman !!
Well, fun to glance at other visitors, many of whom are 60+ and seem to live a good life. Predominantly classic style, but occasionally passing a man in green or orange pants (quite Dutch, I believe) or a lady in ‘artistic’ outfit (for instance an elder lady dressed in 6-7 different purple shades, leaning against her husband in matching purple loafers).
I find the modern part of the fair most appealing. Last year, I felt tempted by South African Gavin Rain’s dot paintings. This year, I was drawn to a painting by Spanish Juan Genovés (b. 1930), and I was not the only one: His oval painting depicting tiny crowds and a big, bold red/black fringe attracted many visitors. Several stopped, photographed and/or poked their nose up to the canvas to see what gizmos he had painted into the tube-fat acrylic color. There was no price tag. Then you know it is an astronomical amount. Subsequently, I found on the internet one of his similar works sold for 157,875 pounds at Christies.com.
I didn’t even buy a cup of coffee or a piece of fish in the sushi bar (of course the fair had a champagne bar, a sushi bar, and a lobster bar). Instead, I had a coffee at a gas station on my car ride home to Wassenaar. But, browsing is free, and I felt uplifted, inspired, and privileged to once more experience this extravagant and interesting art market.