« The success of TEFAF confirms our capacity to present the best of art across 9000 years of history »
TEFAF New York ended with great success and significant attendance. The general manager of TEFAF fairs, Will Korner, confirms that the biggest art and antiquity fair worldwide, famous for spanning 9000 years of history, has become influential in modern art.
By Bettina Bush Mignanego08 juin 2023
Closing on May 16th, the New York TEFAF – founded seven years ago on the same model as TEFAF Maastricht, the biggest European art, antiquity, and design fair – recorded strong attendance, a very positive signal for the art sector. Supported for the seventh year by Bank of America, TEFAF New York recorded a 50% visitor increase at its opening. Tens of thousands of aficionados, celebrities, and collectors visited the fair during five opening days. From the collector Yusaku Maezawa to the curators Klaus Biesenbach and Hans Ulrich Obrist, as well as many stars such as Woody Allen, Emily Blunt, Scarlett Johansson, John Krasinski, and even Julianne Moore, all of them were able to admire artworks of modern and contemporary art, jewels and antiquities exhibited by 91 international galleries in the prestigious Park Avenue Armory.
Significant sales were recorded, including the Almine Rech gallery's for oil on canvas Ohne Titel (2008) by Günther Forg, valued between 1.4 to 1.5 million dollars. White Cube sold White Semaphores, a mobile (1962) by Alexander Calder, for 1.1 million dollars. Significant interest is to be highlighted for women artists, for sculptures by Tecla Tofano and Felita Bursztyn Line Vautrin, and Meret Oppenheim.
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This success follows that of the largest art fair, TEFAF Maastricht, last March, with 268 exhibitors, and is explained by Will Korner, director of TEFAF fairs, in an exclusive interview with Luxury Tribune.
TEFAF Maastricht ended last March. How did it unfold, and what surprised you the most?
It went very well. It was wonderful to resume a large-scale fair in our usual art calendar after Covid. Our 270 exhibitors were able to present the best artwork on the market after having spent four years collecting. The regular guests of Maastricht shared their satisfaction regarding the extension of the exhibition space, specifically dedicated to "younger" galleries. Our success in modern art surprised everyone, our teams first and foremost. Our selection has always been strong, but with so many existing fairs for this period, it confirmed that TEFAF Maastricht shows the best in each category, an ensemble that spans over 7000 years of history, even 9000 years this time, as some exhibited objects dated back from the dawn of civilization: 7000 B.C.!
Can you tell us about the differences between the two TEFAF fairs and why you felt the need to create a New York TEFAF?
In 2016, we opened two fairs in New York to continue nurturing our presence in this key art market. The one organized during the Fall was dedicated to ancient art, and the one in Spring focused on modern and contemporary art, as well as design, alongside some jewels and tribal art. Unfortunately, we could not maintain our Fall fair due to challenges faced by the pandemic, but our Spring fair never stopped growing. It now encompasses the 90 most important galleries of their countries.
How is the TEFAF brand unique compared to other big international fairs such as Art Basel, and which role does TEFAF play in the art world, particularly the New York fair, on the non-European scene?
We wanted to exhibit the best of artwork and antiquities in all categories and through time. The human spirit and art history should not be limited to the newest and trendiest artists, as it is in many contemporary fairs. We have a rich community of exhibitors, museum professionals, collectors, and a wide audience. Our will is to gather them to present new discoveries and research. For example, thanks to the carefully controlled process which happens each year during the fairs, it is well-known that problematic objects are removed before the fair opens – but what is less appreciated is that new attributions are made or discovered thanks to the presence of over 200 experts worldwide. New York is the most important art market worldwide, and it has always been crucial for TEFAF to have a strong presence and strategy, and TEFAF New York is its realization.
What about this TEFAF New York edition?
We have a few new fascinating exhibitors, such as important Korean and Brazilian galleries, PKM Gallery, and Nara Roesler, as well as other more established galleries, which have as well widened their scope to artists in both countries. We have noticed, among other strong points up until now, new exhibitors such as the Mitterand Galerie of France, which dedicated its stand to Claude Lalanne, while the London Mayor Gallery dedicated a retrospective to Verena Loewensberg, forgotten up until now.
You stand alongside a giant such as Bank of America. What have you organized together?
TEFAF and Bank of America share a long-standing partnership, so presenting TEFAF New York together is very interesting. The bank has followed us since 2017 and faithfully supported us during the pandemic. Its support allows TEFAF to continue enriching our art aficionado community – both the existing patrons and a new generation of collectors – visible in our unique program. One of my favorite collaborations over the years was the exhibition of the famous photo portrait series "Artfully Dressed: Women in the art world" by photographer Carla Van de Puttelaar, based in Amsterdam. Sixty powerful and varied photos by Puttelaar covered the hallways of Park Avenue Armory's first and second floors. This exhibition really resuscitated the art world through photography and was very well received.
Can you tell us about the value of the Park Avenue Armory location?
It's a unique location for an art fair, in a central leading position in one of the most important cities in the world. Due to its easy access, we particularly appreciate the fact that many visitors walk through the doors several times during the fair and each time with a new guest!
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