By Nora Quintanilla
New York City, US, May 5 (EFE).- Art dealers and collectors arrived in New York City on Thursday for The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) fair, the most exclusive in the market and which leads the industry’s convention season in the Big Apple.
The young New York edition of TEFAF precedes the veteran event in Maastricht, Netherlands, and was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Until next Tuesday it will welcome more than 91 galleries from around the world loaded with thousands of art pieces worth millions of dollars.
The historic Park Avenue Armory building filled up fast Thursday ahead of the official opening, only accessible by invitation and for media.
Every detail was designed to captivate the senses – from the flower arrangements to the champagne, the filet mignon canapés and the oysters distributed by the waiters, or the works of Anselm Kiefer and Carmen Herrera that decorated resting spaces.
The Colombian León Tovar, one of the most recognized promoters of Latin American art and who has his gallery in New York, told EFE that during the pandemic there was no choice but to “learn to sell online – but people want to touch and look.”
Tovar, who has presented at TEFAF New York since its inception in 2016 and also for several years in Maastricht, highlighted the “demanding” process to be an exhibitor, in which a committee of 200 experts evaluates the selection offered before giving the green light.
The only Spanish gallery, Mayoral, brought pieces by the most important post-war artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Manolo Millares, with a range between $35,000 for a textile sculpture by Aurelia Muñoz and $2 million for a Joan Miró painting.
In a tour of the fair’s treasures, the price of which is only known by asking the vendors directly, two paintings by exponents of pop art stood out: “Figure with Banner” by Roy Lichtenstein ($5.5 million),and “Piglet Goes Shopping” by Keith Haring ($5.5 million).
Although they were not the most expensive, the first sculptures of classical African art presented at TEFAF were also highlights – the most expensive at $700,000, and whose dealer, the Frenchman Bernard Dulon, was encouraged to find “new collectors” after the pandemic impasse.
As evidence of the movement of the market, François-Xavier Lalanne’s “Gorilles de pièrre” sculptures were already “reserved” an hour after opening, according to a representative of Galerie Lefebvre, who refused to reveal the selling price.
TEFAF headlines the first “Art Week” in New York, which includes other fairs such as Frieze, VOLTA and Future Fair; auctions at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips, and extensive exhibitions in museums such as the Whitney, which is having its biennale. EFE