The arrival of online art galleries like Exhibit A has made art accessible to a wider range of people. Yet, even as online galleries proliferate, nothing can beat the buzz around an event like The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in Maastricht, The Netherlands. TEFAF’s 2011 edition just ended on 27 March, and it attracted visitors from over 181 museums across 20 nations.
According to the Maastricht-Aachen airport, TEFAF is the busiest time. This year, some 154 private jets touched down at the airport, prodding officials to use one of the runways as a parking space for the numerous aircraft. The fair recorded some 73,000 visitors this year. TEFAF began on 18 March 2011 with over 30,000 artworks, ranging from ancient times to the very contemporary. No wonder the fair is often described as a museum where every exhibit is on sale.
One of the fastest movers this year was a tapestry by Ganaian artist El Anatsui. A Russian collector picked up this artwork, which was made from beaten red and gold bottle tops, for a stunning $965,532. Modern art enthusiasts turned to gape at “Oiseau Lunaire” (moon bird), a sculpture by Spanish artist Joan Miro, which sold for $5 million.
Then there was Van Gelder’s Indian Jewelry – antique designs featuring South Sea pearls. There was also an Egyptian water clock featuring Alexander the Great, Rembrandt’s “Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo”, Renoir’s “Woman Picking Flowers”, Secessionist furniture from Kolomon Moser and Chinese textiles from Jacqueline Simcox in London.
On Day 1 of the fair, entry was by invite only. Thereafter, art enthusiasts were allowed entry for 50 euros (about $75).