The changes to this edition, which runs from June 25-30, are “unavoidable” but temporary, according to the organisers.
The makeshift June slot represents the first staging of the European fair at Maastricht’s MECC since its ill-fated edition of March 2020.
Amid reports of positive cases of coronavirus among visitors and exhibitors, and an increasing concern about the virus, the fair closed five days early. There followed two years of online-only events.
The organisers hoped to return to the traditional March dates this year, but ongoing concerns around the pandemic forced them to postpone, planning for a six-day rather than an 11-day event this summer.
‘TEFAF kept cost increases to an absolute minimum’
Hidde van Seggelen, chairman of TEFAF told ATG: “It was a huge challenge for the team, who worked closely with the MECC, to find a window to reschedule the fair.
“The space usually occupied by TEFAF was simply not available and, for this year only, the fair will be approximately 15% smaller. While booth sizes have been reduced, the impact of the fair design and its spectacular entrance will be retained.”
Among the other changes is a repurposing of the mezzanine area, usually used by TEFAF Works on Paper exhibitors. Its new purpose is yet to be revealed.
Van Seggelen added: “As a fair run by exhibitors, for exhibitors TEFAF is committed to its dealer community and has kept cost increases to an absolute minimum. The reality, however, of building a complex fair in a shorter timescale and within a smaller space, along with a sharp increase in the cost of global infrastructure meant that a price increase was unavoidable.”
In some cases the news has been met with chagrin.
One dealer told ATG that it was another frustrating development on top of the fair’s one day overlap with Masterpiece London (June 30-July 6).
But many exhibitors have rallied round, showing their support.
Speaking about the price rise, James Butterwick, a specialist in Ukrainian art, said: “It’s a shame but I understand. It is Europe’s – the world’s – premier art fair. We all have the option of not doing it, but it is always such a good fair.”
Oscar Graf, who deals in decorative arts, will exhibit at both Maastricht and Masterpiece, bringing on an extra member of staff to accommodate the overlap. He says he is looking forward to debuting a show which he has been working on and holding back for the past two years.
“Maastricht is like a family although it’s a pretty big family. We’ve all been through tough times in the past few years and sticking together is quite important,” he says.
“That’s a reason to come back. Also this was the last fair before the pandemic and now it’s one of the first ones happening again.
“I didn’t know the price had gone up but I can’t say that I’m surprised. If charging exhibitors extra is what it takes, that’s what they have to do.”
London Old Master specialist Charles Beddington was similarly sanguine. “Considering it’s just over half the length it used to be, the price per day has gone up quite a lot and it’s unfortunate that it’s taking such a hike as the market isn’t easy. But one has to look at it in the context that until now the fair has been very reasonably priced in terms of its rivals. It is the only one to go to for Old Masters. I would do everything to keep it so.”