A quick look at TEFAF Spring 2017 at Park Avenue Armory, open today through Monday, May 8.
It’s time for TEFAF Spring in New York, in which the Park Avenue Armory is transformed into the most opulent art fair in the city, amid Frieze, Context and others. We got a sneak peak today, and here’s some of our favorite works and how the show has amounted to a comment on the state of affairs: we need our humanity more than ever.
Everyone is clamoring for Jean Dubuffet. The french painter has embraced something people love: being human. Nothing draws the eye away from the price tag more than being hypnotized by grounded emotion and the rare opportunity to connect with the self. Connecting with the self starts at only $40,000, with an offering from APPLICAT-PRAZAN (Booth 59).
Lucio Fontana is one for the entrepreneurs. The artist, known for founding spatialism, was to be found in every corner of the fair, including upstairs at Ben Brown Fine Arts (Booth 4) with a particularly remarkable slash work with a decorated provenance. These boys go for a good number and are moving fast, but several are to be found. Sensitive to scale? Cardi Gallery (booth 38) has a smaller variation available for your thoughtful consideration- what kind of statement will you make with it? The piercing determination of lust for the library? Perhaps a remark on the status of childhood, a spare single slash above your toddler’s playpen? The choice is yours.
Hard to ignore were the two “Jackie” works by Warhol, nearly staring each other down, one at Boulakia (booth 92) and the other, across the way, at Stellan Holm (booth 97). Each priced differently, with one explaination being, “that one is more expensive because it has more blue in it.” Both executed at the height of Warhol’s career (1964, to be exact), they’re even-toned- a special, primary blue that really is passionate and convincing (for being a Warhol). According to the respective gallerists, the works are “extremely exciting”, “very interesting”, “important” and, like literally every work on view, “generating a lot of interest.” We’re here for it, though! There were some other Warhol works that did not sufficiently satisfy our need for humanity and self-awareness, so we ignored them. There’s only so much disgusting consumerism that one can take.
Donald Judd made a steady appearance in his steady way, and one of his geometric wall-appendages caught our mortal selves in the act of appreciation and briefly robbed us of our very essence. It was a black and clear example, a stack of boxes evenly spaced apart from 1990, shown at Gana Art (Booth 46). We were suspended in the space until our metaphysical selves scaled the wall and returned us fully intact when it saw fit. 7.5 million dollars makes this experience yours and yours alone. Donald Judd also appeared at Anthony Meier, booth 32 (a gallerist with Judd history) with a 1970 work in purple among others. This one spawned discourse like, “Yeah…” and seconds later, “Yeah but what?” Profound!
Joan Miró’s late work is a gosh-darned essential at this point and the galleries pulled some gems; that’s a fact. Osborn Samuel (booth 96) “strategically positioned” (hid) a mid-career work behind a Picasso masterpiece, but we’re not bitter! The Picasso, by the way, depicts an emotional scene that is almost too apparent in its tragedy- we like to search for our own meaning, thanks. Nahmad (booth 21) features a late-period Miró on ultra-rare Guarro paper- which, in Spanish, means “filthy” and thus, human as hell.
Sometimes we must be reminded that the world is full of despair and tragedy and that after life, there is nothing. Pieter Laurens Mol’s “Six Sad Stones” is a great example of how one can spend money in this dramatic fashion. Imagine being so rich and depressed! What kind of fantasy. From a distance, it’s sturdy console-table in black. You might think it is an early version of Hirst’s “Three Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Two Dr J Silver Series, Spalding NBA Tip-Off)” (1985). You approach gingerly discover six truly sad stones. They do not react. This is about buying dread. This is about buying inanimate energy. Buying gloom. Buying stillness. What are stones? Buying the earth. Buy your destiny at Hidde van Seggelen (booth 30).
What are the people loving? People are loving to toy with the power of the canvas. The idea of canvas as a translation of pain. From Fontana’s excruciating slashes to Castelani’s disorienting and, frankly, troubling, raised canvases (Tornabuoni Arte, booth 23) to Imai’s explosive and tight centerpieces (Axel Vervoordt, booth 9), these works explore the idea of constriction, heft, force, and veiled realities- trickery. This willful ceding of power is exactly what the people are loving.
Now is not the hour for cozy art and play-time with the young ones with Warhol “Mickey Mouse” or even a pleasant Toulouse-Lautrec. All the Toulouse-Lautrec’s on view are stressful works of nervousness- a woman with arms resting on her spread knees was hardly sexual let alone energetic- she appeared weary and concerned.
The showing at TEFAF has taken a notable turn for the worst- doom and disappointment- there is no joy and art collections must reflect this. Let it be known in all of the provenances that 2017 was a year of buying- but buying as a collective remark on the status of things. Does one suitably trade on dread? Not a second of it- now is a moment for humanity- a Dan Go Ge Mask (Tambaran, booth 22) offers a spooked expression rather correctly. There’s nothing to be scared of, but there isn’t anything to be very happy about either.
The quivering brow in Picasso’s “Tête D’Homme” from Van de Weghe Fine Art (booth 8) offers “deer-in-headlights’ appeal: what is going on? Egon Schiele’s “Two Seated Women” at Wienerroither & Kohlbacher (booth 39) is pensive and uncertain. Dubuffet’s “La vie à la campagne” (booth 8) is scrawled and looks nearly blood-stained and compelled by little more than rage, perhaps one of the most effective remarks on humanism, indeed. And finally, if there was any doubt left, the inclusion of Laurent Grasso’s “Studies Into The Past” (Sean Kelly, booth 50) depicting the Mussolini-designed Roman suburb EUR, seemed almost too on-the-nose, even for this crowd.
TEFAF NEW YORK SPRING 2017
MAY 4-8, 2017
OPEN DAILY 11 AM – 8 PM
643 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10065
$25 (student) – $75 (multi-day).
Buy tickets here.