In March 2020, the European Fine Arts Foundation’s annual fair was one of the first victims of Covid-19. While at the time only one exhibitor was known to have contracted the disease, it would be more than two years before the prestigious art fair – which brings together prominent dealers in everything from Old Master paintings to furniture from the 20th century – returns to its home port in the picturesque Dutch city of Maastricht. Last week, TEFAF made a comeback and collectors flocked in, eager to make up for lost time.
What sets TEFAF apart from other outlets on the international art circuit is the variety of its exhibitors (from top-notch contemporary galleries like White Cube to jewelers like Hemmerle and specialists in everything from illuminated manuscripts to Japanese armor ) and its rigorous verification process. It’s a fair for real collectors, those who aren’t just interested in what’s in vogue but are crafty about, say, 16th-century Flemish tapestries or French Art Deco design. We were there for the preview day of the fair and the excitement was palpable – there were several well-known collectors as well as representatives from the Metropolitan Museum, the Louvre and some 90 other leading institutions, all in a rush from stand to stand.
Certainly, there was an abundance of finds to be made. A handful of exceptional pieces caught the most attention, such as a drawing by Jan Lievens recently rediscovered and missing since 1888, an old painting by Gustave Courbet and a work by Yayoi Kusama. infinity net series. But, again, everything on display was exceptional – and some of the best finds were those that weren’t headlined. Here are eight of the most idiosyncratic treasures that caught our eye.