Five thousand years of art history are being brought to life in Maastrict, Netherlands at The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) until March 20. The fair’s U.S. ambassador, Michel Witmer, travels throughout the U.S. to lecture about the art from the fair, and also organizes trips for museums and other groups. What can designers expect this year? Witmer sat down with EAL earlier this week to offer a crash course on TEFAF—as well as to share his own favorite exhibitors.
How would you describe TEFAF to the uninitiated interior designer?
TEFAF is the largest, so visitors will see quite an expansive fair. It spans 5,000 years of art history. The array feels endless. The quality is the finest available anywhere today. Being a fair rooted in art history, visitors can learn about everything there.
“Show Your Wound,” the second annual themed and curated exhibit, is one of this year’s most hotly anticipated. What are some of the other exhibitors or features you’re eagerly awaiting?
With 275 of the world’s leading galleries, they’re all good. Upstairs in the works-on-paper section, there will be an array of master drawings from the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen. Johnny van Haeften has a huge, magnificent, whimsical painting of a wedding procession by 17th-century master Martin van Cleve. Colnaghi Bernheimer has a rare large, great biblical scene by Luca Giordano. Dickinson Gallery has a beautiful Renoir landscape and a spectacular Robert Delaunay painting of Paris. Daniel Katz has a masterpiece sculpture of a lion by Clodion. Alon Zakaim has a wonderful red Marc Chagall painting.
The fair has been redesigned this year. It’s gorgeous. We’ve kept the charming character of TEFAF, but updated it with an elegant contemporary design.
Do you have any particular purchases of your own from prior shows that stand out in your mind?
Purchases that I’ve made at prior shows are great because they’re rare, and have been approved by the world’s biggest and toughest vetting committee. I bought a small, detailed Benjamin West painting that he painted at the end of the 18th century, which was a wonderful find.
TEFAF boasts a renowned vetting service that relies on 175 experts to assure the authenticity of the fair’s items. What are some of the other services offered to designers?
The exhibitors are friendly and like to talk about their items of specialty. There are numerous good restaurants, and other services at the fair. TEFAF has a concierge service that handles many needs and special requests.