Some describe it as "intimate", as a soothing contrast to the largest art fairs: TEFAF, which is actually based in Maastricht, opens its doors in Manhattan for the eighth time this weekend. They're big, old gates: Park Avenue Armory, a 142-year-old former arsenal of guns, occupies an entire block on the Upper East Side. From a gallery on the first floor you can see the stands in the hall. The hallway is already cramped up here, but the pink carpeting, suspended ceilings and flower arrangements seem to absorb any hustle and bustle. Collectors stand in front of the bars like at the cocktail reception, you take your time at the "Collectors Preview" the day before the opening.
Down in the hall, the stands are only half the size compared to TEFAF Maastricht, about thirty square meters. This should not detract from the importance of the New York branch: 91 exhibitors show art and design from 7000 years - and some see an advantage in the modest size of the fair. It is like a "jewel box," the "New York Times" quoted the gallery owner Thaddaeus Ropac. Here, exhibitors are forced to choose what they present particularly carefully.
Exclusive to affordable
The White Cube gallery from London is presenting an oil painting by Georg Baselitz: "Hannoversche Treue" – named after an iron ore mine in Salzgitter – shows an abstraction of wings on a blue background over which black paint has flowed. The purchase price for the painting, which was created in 2010, is given by the gallery as 1.75 million dollars before taxes. If you're looking for something more affordable, you might also find it at White Cube: a black-and-white photograph by filmmaker Larry Clark from 1971 costs $10,000. It shows a man sitting in front of a U.S. flag aiming a pistol into the room.
A small traffic jam forms in front of Gustav Klimt's study of a Gorgon for the Beethoven Frieze of 1901. A dozen visitors want to take a closer look at the standing nude at the booth of the Viennese gallery Wienerroither & Kohlbacher, whose black hair covers her face and her hands cover her breasts. Drawings that are considered unique testimonies of Indigenous American history are presented by the New York gallery Donald Ellis. Between 40,000 and 200,000 dollars cost the works of the artists Nokkoist and Ohettoint. Captured in Fort St. Marion in Florida, between 1870 and 1880, they drew columns of soldiers, steamships, and memories of the cultural life of their Cheyenne and Kiowa communities of origin.
A happy coincidence
Design and jewellery are also widely represented in the former armoury. In addition to historical pieces, a massive piece of furniture by the Swedish-French sculptor Ingrid Donat catches the eye – the Carpenters Workshop gallery has set a purchase price of 850,000 dollars for "Commode Scarabée". New York's Bernard Goldberg Gallery is offering two $120,000 wooden chairs that once adorned a "medieval room" in a Manhattan hotel. They were made by Winold Reiss, who had emigrated from Germany before the First World War. Two other works by Reiss already caused a sensation at the opening of TEFAF: his oval murals, which depict female nudes paradisiacally with snakes or leopards, were considered lost. They once graced the Longchamps restaurant in the Empire State Building. Historians assumed that they had been destroyed during renovations in the sixties. The fact that the pieces are now hanging at Goldberg's booth is due to a happy coincidence: Three years ago, they fetched less than 3000,<> dollars each at an auction in New York, then someone offered them for sale online. Goldberg's director Ken Sims noticed this, historians rated the find as significant, after all, the gallery bought the works for a "low five-figure sum". Now they are expected to bring in a "low seven-figure sum" together. The gallery's founder, Bernard Goldberg, told local media that he hoped that the remaining six Reiss works from the restaurant, which was replaced today by a "Starbucks" branch, would still emerge – perhaps also due to the attention at TEFAF.
The trade fair, which had just been reduced from two to one date a year, can only be helped by this publicity. New Yorkers who want to collect or view art can choose from a number of events in May: Frieze is without a doubt the most famous, but Focus, Nada and Volta also compete for customers. Most of the trade fairs are located in the Chelsea district. Not far away, in Hudson Yards, Frieze will start in a few days. The cultural center "The Shed" offers a more modern setting than the arsenal of weapons on Park Avenue – but according to many locals, the surrounding area lacks any character. Nan Goldin, who has just joined Gagosian from the Marion Goodman gallery, is not deterred by this. Her works are already being treated as one of Frieze's main attractions: nine of the photographer's works will be on display at the fair.
TEFAF New York, Park Avenue Armory, until May 16, admission $55