For one week, all of New York was completely abuzz about the glories to be seen at TEFAF, an art and antiques show held at the Park Avenue Armory. Many called TEFAF the finest show of its kind that the city has ever seen.
Agreed! I have gone to many (MANY!) art and antiques shows at the Park Avenue Armory, and it was by far the best one I have ever attended. With this blog post, I hope you will feel like you have been there.
Now that it is all said and done, it is hard to imagine that last week’s mavelous art and antiques bazaar was an effort to shore up a flagging institution. But it’s true.
For years, TEFAF has been held in Maastricht, the Netherlands. It is a remote location. Some felt, however, that it was its very remoteness that led to serious buyers. Such shows are held, after all, to sell things. The collectors who can afford to purchase at TEFAF are a rarefied, quite wealthy group who would only travel to Maastricht if they intended to acquire something.
That strategy worked for quite awhile, but recently the fair organizers noticed a drop in attendance and purchases. Many argued for move to New York, hoping that the more central location would draw in new collectors. On the flip side, mounting a show in New York would be much more expensive, thus eating into profits. Plus, window shoppers (like me) would come in droves, as opposed to serious collectors.
I honestly don’t know if TEFAF was profitable for the dealers, but the spectacle itself was magnificent and the objects shown were astonishing. This show focused on ancient art through the 1920s. It featured sculpture, jewelry, porcelains, fine art, books and furnishings among many other items.
The Park Avenue Armory was transformed. In some areas, the Armory’s dark wood walls and permanent artwork were covered with translucent scrims so as not to distract from the dealers’ wares.
Highly inventive booths populated the main hall. Richard Feigen’s stand was one of my favorites. He created a ghost of a mural behind his art that drew the viewer in.
Phoenix Ancient Art also presented a fine booth, recreating a mini pantheon to show off sculpture, some of it before Christ.
These masks (B.C.) are rather Game of Thrones, don’t you think?
Upstairs, a select group of dealers chose to place their objects in newly renovated period rooms in the Armory–the first time these rooms were on view to the public after restoration — creating a special dialogue with the architecture.
Venerable dealer Axel Vervoordt did this best, but I also appreciated the starkness of ancient sculpture against warm deep paneling.
Even the flowers awed. Walls of of blooms cascaded from the ceilings.
TEFAF Best in Show
My absolute personal favorite was the paintings on view.
I was told that the dealers, feeling pressure from the burgeoning contemporary art market, were hoping to spark an interest in earlier paintings and hoped to suggest that the genres could be mixed. Worked for me! The colors in the paintings shown simply leapt off the canvas. I could not get enough.
I snapped this selection of art details with my phone while at the fair. Bear in mind that I did not pump up the saturation in these shots. Wonderful hues, don’t you think?
I apologize for not providing all of the relevant information about each work, and simply running the photos. I am recovering this weekend from a spinal injection to hopefully treat an cervical herniated disk. Bad news, as it is my second herniation, and I already have one plate in my neck. I hope to minimize my time at the computer today. Please do leave a comment if you have any questions.
You also can follow me on Instagram @decorartsnow, where I will be sharing more images from TEFAF.
TEFAF returns to NYC this spring to showcase objects from 1920 onwards.
I can’t wait.
Photo credits: All photos by Lynn Byrne for Decor Arts Now, except for the following: First photo from Instagram @alexsviewpoint. Photo of Meissen lavender porcelain from Instagram @artdisclosed. First Armory photo from Instagram @miguelitomartin. Second Armory photo of scrim from Instagram @etruscanone. Photo of Phoenix Ancient Art booth from Instagram @tefaf_art_fair. First photo of Axel Vervoordt’s booth from his Instagram. First photo of flowers from the ceiling from Instagram @arleneangard.