The Best and Worst of TEFAF 2012
The Best and Worst of TEFAF 2012
The 25th edition of the European Fine Art Fair, better known as TEFAF, opened in Maastricht last week, marking the quarter-century anniversary for world's most exclusive art fair. There was certainly plenty of action on the floor, yet in this time of economic queasiness in Europe, most dealers played it safe, showing mid-priced artworks. Paintings over €10 million were hard to find. Moreover, as a fair with an origin in Old Master sales, it did seem to lack a centerpiece like last year's emblematic Rembrandt, "Portrait of a Man With Arms Akimbo" (1685), which failed to fetch its $47 million asking price at Otto Naumann (New York) but provided an unforgetable image for fairgoers nevertheless.
Nevertheless, there were stand-outs. Here, ARTINFO selects our six favorite items from the fair (and mentions a few sour notes as well):
1. Schönewald Fine Arts (Düsseldorf), together with Anthony Meier (San Francisco), came to TEFAF with an equally topical and exciting mixture of Gerhard Richter paintings. On the first day, they had already sold 80 percent of the Richter works as well as a Katharina Fritsch sculpture. The key Richter piece, “Kleine Strasse” (1987), sold within the first hours for a seven-digit figure to a private collection.
2. Spirits were high at the shared booth of Bernheimer and Colnaghi in the Old Masters / Paintings section. They sold Peter Paul Rubens’s “The Crucifiction,” “within the first 90 minutes of the opening,” Blanka Bernheimer told ARTINFO. The list price: €3.5 million ($4.6 million).
3. In the TEFAF Paper section Emanuel von Baeyer showed a great selection of works on paper including a sketch by Karl Friedrich Schinkel dated 1825 and rediscovered in 2010, which featured a design for a plinth to support a marble bust by Christian Friedrich Tieck of the crown princess Elisabeth of Prussia. The price was upon request only. The booth also showed off Carl Andre’s “Six Wire Run” (1971), which came with a price tag of €80,000 ($105,256).
4. Sperone Westwater (New York) offered an eclectic mix of modern and contemporary art in the Modern section, including Gilbert & George’s “Photo-Piece” (1971), an arrangement of some 30 black-and-white vintage photographs available for $1.2 million and a brand new large-scale Jan Worst painting titled “Darkness Visible” (2012) for $80,000.
5. Karsten Greve (Cologne, Paris, and St. Moritz) brought high-quality works to the TEFAF Modern section, including Salvador Dali’s painting “Paysage aux Papillons” (1956), Lucio Fontana’s unusual enameled ceramic “Crocifisso” (1951) and a noteworthy selection of works by Louise Bourgeois presented in a separate section of the booth.
6. Every boy’s dream, a selection of Samurai memorabilia, looked outstanding at the booth of Giuseppe Piva Japanese Art (Milan) in the Showcase section, which this year invited six young dealers to show their wares for a reduced booth price of €5,000 ($6,600). “Ryubu Menpo,” a 17th-century Samurai mask, had a price tag of only €6,000 ($7,924).
1. Paris-based Galerie Berès, specialists in 19th-century France, which in the past have exhibited Goya, Manet, Marquet or Toulouse-Lautrec at the gallery, brought a meager selection of modern and contemporary artists to their primely located TEFAF-booth. Showing these small-scale paintings by Georges Mathieu or Simon Hantai means they will surely have to worry about their booth-placement next year.
2. The booth of Jacques de la Béraudière (Geneva) was approached with caution by potential buyers. Formerly named Galerie Cazeau-Béraudière, the gallery had been involved in the Beltracchi-scandal, which uncovered a number of faked paintings, including a work by Max Ernst, “Tremblement de la Terre” (1925), which had been shown on TEFAF in 2004.
3. As one of the very few contemporary specialists, Haunch of Venison (London, New York) disappointed many visitors. After losing artists like Adrian Ghenie to Pace Gallery, it looked like more disappointment at TEFAF. The booth was kept in a somber grey-in-grey tone with rather middle-of-the-road works that included Afro Basaldella (known as Afro), Cy Twombly, and Pierre Soulages. With this list of names it seemed all the more surprising that the gallery’s co-director confirmed that there were no secondary market pieces available on the booth at all.
4. French & Co. (New York) brought the most unsurprising work to the fair: Max Beckmann’s “Perseus' Last Duty” (1949), a painting that has been around the block. The gallery bought the work in 2001 for $3.85 million over an estimate of $700,000-$900,000 at the one-collector-only Stanley Seeger sale in 2001 at Sotheby’s. It attempted to sell it a year later on TEFAF for $7 million. In 2005, it was offered at Sothebys’s again, estimated between $4-6 million. In 2008, it was back on the TEFAF and worth $8.5 million to the gallery. This year, French & Co. are trying to get rid of it for $6.5 million. That’s a saving of $2 million on last year’s price. Grab a bargain while you can!