A Review of The European Fine Art Fair, Maastricht, 2020

This year heralded an off-colour TEFAF Maastricht as the Coronavirus prevented the fair going to the full 10 days. Visitor numbers were down by about 20% on the first day but visitor numbers are never the best barometer for sales – and there were certainly some decent acquisitions made. Overall the quality of the works of art on offer was outstanding: indeed far superior to recent years. Hammer galleries were exhibiting the best stand I have ever seen in 20 years of visiting TEFAF. It was so, so sad therefore that the show had to close early, and I fear many galleries will not have made money. That said, the initial response from buyers was positive with the first two days seeing major sales take place. Applicat Prazan had six sales under their belt after the first two days. Dickinson could even boast the sale of a 15m Euro Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) painting: ‘Paysanne devant une Chaumière’.

Overall my favourite stands were as follows:

Hammer Galleries showed a large Edgar Degas (1834-1917), ‘Three Dancers in Yellow Skirts’, in oil, which is just about the best I have seen in my career on the private market. As well as a Paris period Van Gogh Howard Shaw (gallery president) had unfurled the very highest calibre Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) painting entitled ‘Summertime’ – these were both from the Armand Hammer collection and were simply unforgettable.

Dickinson had a wonderful stand including a small, classical, ‘return to order’ Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) oil and the 1880s, Nunen-period, Van Gogh mentioned above.

David Levy showed a glorious little Joan Mitchell (1925-1992) of 1975 opposite two lovely small oils by the incomparable ‘Fauve’, Andre Derain (1880-1954).

Yares Art were a gallery I had not encountered but they showed a fine selection of wonderful post-war paintings by Morris Louis (1912-1962), Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011), Kenneth Noland (1924-2010) and Sam Francis (1923-1994).

Uterman exhibited a stunning ‘Heuschober am Walde’ (Haystacks) by Emil Nolde (1867-1956) which was from a fascinating series that rarely appears on the market. This example was acquired directly from the estate.

Mayor gallery always exhibits a wonderful stand as James’ taste is marvellous, not to mention genuinely affordable, with a small yellow Turi Simeti (b. 1929) available for a thoroughly reasonable 10,000 Euros.

Ben Brown’s stand was as strong as ever with a few genuinely world-class things, from a large Anselm Keifer (b. 1945) to a François-Xavier Lalanne (1927-2008) ‘Donkey desk’ which was a rare, fun, treat.

Prices were ambitious for certain pieces (mainly second-rate old masters which I fear is a truly dying market outside the big names) but there was value to be had if one looked closely. My two days in Maastricht are always a highlight of the year and despite the Virus and some understandable jitters it was as good a showing as I can recall.

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