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An Art Show in Superlative Terms:
This year, Deutsche Bank is a first-time co-sponsor of the TEFAF in Maastricht

Durchgang zur Ausstellungshalle Foto: Pieter de Vries

Passing colorfully lit walls with water flowing down them, the visitor traverses a passageway flooded with light before reaching the rooms of the TEFAF in Maastricht. Year after year, the internationally known art and antiques fair transforms Holland's oldest city into a Mecca for collectors, museum people, and art enthusiasts alike. In the press, terms such as "chamber of wonders" or "Island of the Blessed" are used again and again to describe the event, which seems anything but exaggerated. Even the interior decoration seems to indicate that everything about this event is high-brow: in the entrance area, hundreds of columns of white amaryllis and orange tulips are hanging from the ceiling. More than 200 art and antiques dealers from 14 countries attract around 65,000 visitors from around the world. The TEFAF resembles an opulently furnished museum in which everything is up for sale. Regardless of whether it's a brooch from the Russian crown jewels, a Rodin sculpture, a landscape by Claude Monet, Fragonard drawings, European Renaissance furniture, or a painting by Breughel: the TEFAF is and remains a show in superlative terms.

Antiquitäten bei Frank-C. Möller, Hamburg Foto: Pieter de Vries

This year, Deutsche Bank will be co-sponsoring the fair for the first time. An extensive accompanying program offers guests "expert talks" in the already traditional VIP lounge, with art experts from the bank, galleries, and other professionals such as Henry Wyndham, the director of Sotheby's Europe, serving to provide clear insight into the market's chances and risks.

Tulpensäulen im Eingangsbereich

This year, the TEFAF has a special accent in store. For the first time in the fair's history, a particularly remarkable selection of works by Pablo Picasso can be discovered, including Buste d'homme and Le Fumeur, both from 1969, offered by Landau Fine Arts (Montreal). Even at the TEFAF, the trend towards the art of the 20th century is unmistakable. Along with Picasso, artists such as Picabia, Klee, de Chirico, Warhol, Richter, Tapies, and Bourgeois can be seen in the Modern Art section, just to name a few.

Thus, in her welcoming speech on the first day of the fair, Dr. Christina Schroeter-Herrel from Art Advisory Deutsche Bank discovered that the general market share on old masters had gone down from 26 to 19 percent, whereas the amount of 20th-century art had increased from 41 to 44 percent. Despite this development, Ms. Schroeter-Herrel advised her listeners not to lose sight of the old masters or ancient art. Collectors' passion at the TEFAF, however, always amounts to a question of capital.

The sky's the limit as to how much one can spend here in Maastricht. This time, the fair's most expensive object is probably The Golden Star, a 101.28-carat diamond glittering in breathtaking yellow that can be admired at the booth of the renowned jeweler Graff. Its price, however, is as mysterious as its shine: it is not officially stated.

Kunst der Moderne auf der TEFAF Foto: Pieter de Vries