What’s the Early Verdict on TEFAF New York?
The Maastricht transplant has New York talking.
Following Wednesday’s jam-packed opening of the first spring edition of TEFAF New York, the scene was decidedly quieter on Thursday (May 4) with fair fans presumably having decamped to Randall’s Island for the VIP opening of Frieze.
Leaving aside questions about fair competition on the New York landscape, the numerous dealers we spoke with at TEFAF were extremely upbeat about the crowds that had streamed through the Park Avenue Armory for TEFAF’s opening day and evening gala.
“There was a wave of people that came in when the doors opened, and they were quite serious people,” Acquavella Galleries director Michael Findlay told artnet News. He characterized TEFAF attendance as “Basel strength” adding, “I’m not saying they came in and grabbed everything off the walls, but there were serious conversations going on all day.”
David Zwirner Gallery, which now represents the estate of Josef Albers, reported the sale of a large Homage to the Square, hanging on an exterior wall of its eye-catching booth, to a private New York collector. The asking price was $2.2 million.
TEFAF New York “has the potential to be the premiere fair for modern and contemporary art in New York,” Zwirner partner David Leiber told artnet News. “They have transformed the Armory. We saw this last fall with its first iteration. It has been a great two days so far.”
Similarly scaled Albers works are rare to market. “More than half are in museums,” Leiber said. “These are exceptionally rare and there was a lot of interest in [the piece sold at TEFAF].”
Indeed, Albers appeared to be quite popular in general. His work was everywhere at TEFAF, with roughly half a dozen galleries showing him.
Among other major sales, the gallery sold two sculptures by Ruth Asawa, one in the range of $1.5 million and the other in the $400,000 range, as well as one of her works on paper (range of $100,000) within the first hour of the fair. “I thought it would be interesting to show Josef and Anni [Albers] in relation to Ruth Asawa, who was a student of Josef Albers at Black Mountain in the 1940s,” Leiber explained.
Leiber described TEFAF as “very strong across the board.” Asked if he foresees Zwirner continuing to do this fair, he said “no question—but always with a curatorial focus.”
Lisson Gallery did quite well with a solo show of smaller, late 1940s to early 1950s painting by Carmen Herrera, the 102-year old Cuban-born American artist whose work has generated intense, albeit long overdue interest, in recent years.
“We are pleased with the strong interest,” said Lisson director Alex Logsdail in an email to artnet News. First day attendance at TEFAF was strong, he noted, “Several paintings have been placed in great collections, and a work is headed to a major museum.”
Prices ranged from $350,000 to $750,000.
New York dealer David Tunick, who specializes in works on paper, reported sales including Joan Miró‘s, Constellations (1959), a series of 22 pochoir plates and additional black and white etching and one color lithograph on Arches paper with text by André Breton.
The gallery also reported the sale of a Henri Matisse portfolio, Jazz (1947), comprised of 20 pochoirs, printed in colors, after collages and cut paper designs, as well as Fernand Leger’s Les Constructeurs (1950), a gouache and pencil on paper mounted on cardboard. Price range for the Miro was “high five figures” while ranges for the Matisse and Leger were “high six figures” according to Tunick. All sales were to private collectors the gallery had not met previously, he noted.
Having exhibited at TEFAF Maastricht for the past 20 years or so, Tunick called the fair “a great success,” adding : “I’m glad it isn’t over because a quality crowd continues to stream through in really large numbers. The word I hear more than any other about the entire fair is ’spectacular’.”
“We really could not have asked for a better first day,” director Eric Gleason told artnet News.
Of the overall fair he deemed it “wonderful,” adding, “I thought it was extremely smart and sophisticated.” With Kasmin Gallery having participated in TEFAF Maastricht in the past, Gleason said “there is definitely enthusiasm for TEFAF on New York’s turf. We’re thrilled with the level of connoisseurship and sophistication that has been transported to New York.”
A standout booth that exemplifies the rare and exquisite work TEFAF is known for: Tokyo’s Yufuku Gallery, which specializes in contemporary artists using traditional materials but with a modern interpretation, ranging from bamboo (above), to glass, and hammered steel.
Owner Wahei Aoyama explained to artnet News that the works are “made by hand, not fabricated. They’re using craftsmanship and taking these mediums to different levels.”
Yufuku is more than familiar with TEFAF’s exacting standards, having exhibited at Maastricht as its only Japanese exhibitor, according to Aoyama. That was also true for this inaugural spring New York edition.
“I think it will be the fair New York deserves,” said London and Paris dealer Daniel Boulakia, whose booth was anchored by a large, compelling Basquiat featuring a Xerox collage.
Having exhibited in the past at TEFAF in Maastricht he said he chose a mix of American painters and some of the best European artists in his stable to show in New York. At Wednesday’s opening night he noted many museum curators. In addition, he said, “All the major collectors are here and exhibitors made a very good effort to show our best inventory.”
Leiber said Zwirner gallery will continue to participate in TEFAF New York, though the super-gallery is also hedging its bets, showing concurrently at Frieze New York. “I have a feeling a number of dealers will want to join this next year,” he predicted.
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