TEFAF (The European Fine Art Fair) Maastricht swept into the Park Avenue Armory for five days at the end of October. Boasting 94 dealers from 13 countries, this fair of very high-end arts and antiques filled the Drill Hall, as well as 15 Period Rooms on the second floor. What a show: antiques, paintings from the 14th to the 20th centuries, small sculptures, medieval religious art, furniture, jewelry, rare books and maps… and almost every piece had a label which delineated its provenance. (The Fair’s catalogue contained the vetting criteria). The dealers were very friendly, and I enjoyed the fair. It will return in the spring with a contemporary show. Here are some of my favorites:
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam showed a short film about Hercules Segers, a 17th century Dutch painter and printmaker. Segers specialized in paintings and etchings of landscapes, expertly detailed, but imbued with imaginary elements, giving them a fantastical feel. Not much is known about him today, but his work was admired by Rembrandt, who owned eight of his paintings. Around 1653, Rembrandt acquired one of Seger’s etching plates Tobias and the Angel, which Rembrandt reworked into The Flight Into Egypt (you can see a trace of the Angel’s wing in the print). The Rijksmuseum is now hosting an exhibit of Seger’s paintings and prints, which will come to The Met next February – I can’t wait!
Gregg Baker Asian Art from London had a lovely booth, featuring the work of seven Japanese artists. The gold ground screen, with its Autumn Leaves abstract calligraphy by Ryoji Koie (2011) provided an eye-catching backdrop.
The 20th century artist Tanaka Isamu had three lovely pieces. I especially liked his copper abstract sculpture with its central design in gilt on a green and brown patinated ground.
Les Enluminures exhibited fabulous illuminated manuscripts, but what really caught my eye was this Book of Prayers entirely machine woven of gray and black silk, using the Jacquard system of punched-cards in Lyon in the late nineteenth century. It is evidently the only woven book ever produced, and the technique anticipates computer programming.
Galerie Eric Coatalem from Paris showed some especially fine paintings, drawings and sculptures from the 17th to the 20th century – this oil by the Alsatian painter Sebastien Stosskopff – especially the celestial globe – grabbed my attention.
Galerie Jacques Germain from Montreal exhibited figures and masks, mostly from West Africa:
Galerie Didier Claes from Brussels had a small but wonderful display of masks from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria. The masks themselves were exquisite, but the lighting added a dramatic note.