At the upcoming TEFAF New York Fall depictions of two individuals separated by more than 2000 years are thrown together in the fair’s latest initiative.
A Hellenistic marble head, brought by London antiquities specialist Charles Ede, appears with a self-portrait photograph by Marina Abramović, from New York Contemporary dealership Sean Kelly.
The two galleries are among the clutch of exhibitors taking part in booth collaborations during the fourth edition of the event, from November 1-5 at the Park Avenue Armory.
Organised in part to showcase the influence of various eras on later works, the scheme also encourages visitors to try cross-collecting.
It also a signals a widening of the fair’s timeline. Though the cut-off date for objects remains 1900 officially, a spokesperson for the fair said there will be “leniency” around later objects, since several dealers involved in the collaborations bring Modern and Contemporary works.
The Abramović, for example, is from 2009.
Intrigued by ancient art
The push forward is an inversion of TEFAF New York Spring, a Modern and Contemporary event that also hosts tribal and ancient art dealerships, including Charles Ede.
Martin Clist, managing director at Charles Ede, says: “If you look at TEFAF New York Spring and the Frieze fairs, it’s likely that Contemporary collectors will be intrigued by the ancient art and the fact that the prices are not in the millions but in the thousands to hundreds of thousands.”
This was the case for Old Master specialist Colnaghi and Contemporary art dealership Ben Brown, which recently shared a stand at Frieze Masters. It resulted in the sale of a Roman porphyry vase by Colnaghi to a Modern art collector. The two businesses are now among the pairings at TEFAF New York.
Jorge Coll of Colnaghi said: “The works that make up great collections will almost always span the ages. We’re looking forward to further exploring the juxtaposition of ancient art and Modern paintings at TEFAF.”
But the presence of more recent works could hold an appeal for buyers of traditional items too. Collectors in other fields, Clist adds, “are fascinated by what’s happening in the Contemporary world”. The fair is “a chance to get a taste of that scene”.
Sofie Scheerlinck, the fair’s managing director, says: “TEFAF is about discovery and about coming across something you didn’t think you would find. The Fall mixed booth concept is very much in that spirit, with exhibitors joining forces to illustrate thought-provoking connections among their varying fields of expertise.”
These paired stands comprise a small part of the event, which hosts 90 exhibitors, many offering the sort of historic paintings that have long been at the heart of TEFAF.
For example, French & Company brings a trio of Old Master still-life paintings produced from 1644-49 during the Dutch Golden age.
They include Still Life with a Chafing Dish and Pilgrims Canteens by Willem Kalf (1619-93). It was completed while the artist studied in Paris shortly before his return to the Netherlands and has the appeal of being a classic Kalf scene full of shining vessels and reflective surfaces. (After seeing a Kalf still life in 1797, Goethe wrote: “For me, at least, there is no question but that should I have the choice of the golden vessels or the picture, I would choose the picture.”)
It comes to the market after more than 50 years in the same private collection and is offered for a price in excess of £6m.
The presence of such Dutch scenes offers a connection back to the original March fair in Maastricht as well as a boon for US buyers, who may find such works harder to come by in their home country.
Other highlights include a pair of 17th century six-fold screens from the Japanese Edo period offered by Gregg Baker, Rodin figures from Bowman Sculpture and a portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart from Hirschl & Adler Galleries.
A show of works by Contemporary Amsterdam photographer Carla van de Puttelaar has been organised by the fair’s sponsorship partner Bank of America.