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Exclusive Fireworks
The Deutsche Bank VIP Lounge at the TEFAF Art Fair

TEFAF 2007
Photo: Loraine Bodewesl

The world's most opulent art fair was even more opulent this year. The 2007 TEFAF, an abbreviation for The European Fine Art Fair, showed exquisite antiquities dating back 7,000 years as well as Old Masters' works and classical Modernist paintings. 20th and 21st century art was better represented than ever before, with the spectrum of artists ranging from Picasso and Picabia to Louise Bourgeois and Paul McCarthy. And the Asian art section was widened to cater to collectors' growing interest in asiatica. In keeping with these trends, Deutsche Bank Art presented a current video work by the Chinese star artist Cai Guo-Qiang at a stand in front of its VIP lounge.

Eingangshalle zur TEFAF 2007
Photo: Pieter de Vries

On the occasion of TEFAF's 20th anniversary, the TEFAF featured a new design. Instead of the traditional sea of tulips, this time the fair design reflected modernist objectivity. An illuminated ensemble of horizontal black-and-white Op Art stripes guided visitors to the exhibition halls. Reduction was also a watchword when it came to the number of visitors: less is more. As could be observed on the opening day of this year's Armory Show, art shows are currently being frequent by less but wealthier clientele, and not only at the previews. The anniversary motto, "Simply the Best", therefore takes on another meaning. The number of visitors fell by 15 percent to 71,000, the intentional result of higher entrance prices. This gave the fair a "more constructive sales climate and a more pleasant atmosphere", in the words of a TEFAF spokeswoman. At the same, the number of private jet landings at Maastricht-Aachen Airport reportedly increased by 45 percent to 200.

Chinesische Tapir-Figur
bei Littleton & Hennessy Asian Art, London

According to a gallery owner, collectors of modern art continued to increasingly buy Old Masters' paintings. Among the Impressionist works sold were paintings by Degas, Sisley, and Caillebotte . The most expensive antique bronze piece from China to date, a 2200-year- old tapir that sold for 9.23 million euros, will now return to where it came from. A Chinese private collector bought the precious animal, which was used as a wine jug, and now intends to present the piece in an "important Chinese museum". A private collector purchased a portrait of a woman by Picasso from 1936 for 11.26 million euros. In addition, works by Braque, Jawlensky, Campendonk, Imi Knoebel, and John Chamberlain were sold, ensuring that Modernism "fared excellently" at the TEFAF, originally established as a fair for Old Master paintings.

Cai Guo-Qiang, Illusion II: Explosion Project
Photo: Hiro Ihara, (c) Courtesy of Cai Studio

The growing importance of the section for contemporary art was underlined by a prominent newcomer. While the New York Gagosian gallery was not present this year, Hauser & Wirth made a spectacular debut. In addition to works by Paul McCarthy, John Currin, Elisabeth Peyton, the stand featured one of Louise Bourogeois' gigantic spiders (four million U.S. dollars). In addition, there was a huge selection of works in the Asian room at this year's event, including objects discovered on archaeological digs, porcelain and furniture from the Ming Dynasty, as well as a camel sculpture ridden by a monkey from the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD) which was sold for 130,000 euros by Vanderven & Vanderven Oriental Art from 's-Hertogenbosch.

Video-Installation von Cai Guo-Qiang am Stand der Deutsche Bank Art
Photo: Maria Morais

By contrast, Deutsche Bank presented a very contemporary work at its VIP lounge. The video work Illusion II by Cai Guo-Qiang was on display in the lounge entrance area. Guo-Quiang created the work in 2006 for his exhibition Head On at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin. In an empty lot in the middle of the city with the professional support of the Babelsberg Film Studio and according to the artist’s instructions, a small, to all appearances typically German house was constructed. Fireworks and rockets of all types and effects filled the house’s interior. In the background the ruins of the former Anhalter Bahnhof added a very special aura to the scenery. Before a setting sun in the evening Berlin sky, a fascinating spectacle began that lasted for 20 minutes: fireworks exploded in colorful cascades and stars, and the house went up in flames.

Die VIP-Lounge der Deutsche Bank auf der TEFAF 2007 vorher...
Photo: Maria Morais

Guo-Qiang's explosive work was shown at the TEFAF in a modernist ambience inspired by the motif of fireworks. In a rhythmic arrangement large, printed mirrors were positioned on the walls showing collages from fireworks motifs, abstract glitz and glamour elements, and spherical rings. Thus, in the design minimalist and Concept Art tendencies of the 1960s and 70s were coupled with fin de siècle influences. Festive and elegant, Deutsche Bank's VIP lounge boasted a design that combined the impressive moment of Illusions II with the exclusive character of the art fair, which is turning increasingly to modernist works.
Maria Morais

...und nachher
Photo: Maria Morais

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