It’s been three years since the Coronavirus pandemic caused the cancellation of TEFAF New York. The art, antiques and design fair is still working to return to form, but all signs point to a full recovery in the coming years. What was once two art fairs per year in New York has been reduced to one. However, a full slate of approximately 91 dealers and creators are exhibiting at the historic Park Avenue Armory through May 10.
Jewelry designer and sculptor, Ana Khouri, is among 13 first-time exhibitors. Her sculptural, organic pieces fit comfortably in the worlds of contemporary art and high fashion, whether it’s in a standalone exhibition at Sotheby’s or on fashion’s most prolific red carpets. For the show she created her new collection of approximately 25 pieces based on a large, textured aluminum gold sculpture she created. The pieces are all either one-of-a-kind or available in limited numbers. They range from white and yellow gold bracelets and necklaces with slight graceful curves to large sculptural cuffs made of gold or rosewood and a large chunky collar made of quartz and crystal. There are also several new examples of her signature cuff earrings.
There was an air of excitement throughout the fair on Thursday during the private preview as the talk changed from a deadly pandemic to discussions about fine art and design. However, I was hard-pressed to find anyone more excited than Christian Hemmerle, who runs the family-owned German fine jewelry firm, Hemmerle, with his wife Yasmin. “I’m ecstatic,” he said quickly between appointments with clients. “I’m so happy to be seeing friends again.”
Hemmerle is celebrated in the high jewelry space for its unique pieces with cutting-edge craftsmanship and the use of materials not normally found in high jewelry. The company brought a full selection of their jewels while teasing a new collection of “infused jewels” that will be unveiled in June.
The New York fair is an extension of the celebrated and venerable, The European Fine Arts Fair, commonly known as TEFAF Maastricht, considered by many to be the grand dame of international art fairs, held annually in the southern Dutch city of Maastricht.
One of the longtime exhibitors of TEFAF Maastricht who is making a rare appearance at TEFAF New York, is Otto Jakob, a German goldsmith who specializes in highly detailed bejeweled high-karat gold and vitreous enamel artworks depicting flora, fauna and mediaeval objects. His nature-themed pieces are often casts of actual flowers while others may include parts of animals, such as shark’s teeth. One pendant necklace is made from an eagle’s skull, adorned with diamonds and an enamel hand with actual gold paint through a technique that Jakob developed. All of his pieces display multiple techniques that he develops and he and a staff of 10 artisans make come to life.
Among the dealers of vintage jewelry at TEFAF New York, is Didier Ltd., who specializes in collectible jewels by modern artists. Didier and Martine Haspeslagh brought a collection of jewels by surrealist artists Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Leonor Fini, Wifredo Lam, Claude Lalanne, Roberto Matta, and Man Ray. Other unique jewels include pieces by modern masters such as Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder and Louise Nevelson.
Meanwhile, FD Gallery, has its collection of exceptional 20th century jewels by historic French jewelry houses including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Boucheron; along with modern creations by independent high jewelry artists such as Taffin, JAR and Wallace Chan. One item that caught my eye was a large platinum and diamond bracelet by 2oth century jewelry designer Paul Flato. It is centered by a 200-carat elaborately carved Colombian emerald.
TEFAF, whether in New York or Maastricht, is a fine arts fair that presents the works of art, antiques and design from every part of the world spanning several centuries, although it is best known for old masters paintings. There are few places in the world that presents such a variety of artworks and design pieces under one roof. Approximately 91 dealers (78 returning dealers, and 13 who are exhibiting for the first time) represent 14 countries. Among the works being offered are:
A colorful acrylic piece titled, “Piglet Goes Shopping” (1989) by Keith Haring, presented by Robilant + Voena;
A burgundy stone sculpture by François-Xavier Lalanne titled, Gorilles de Pierre (circa 1983), presented by Gallerie Lefebvre;
A stained cherry furniture piece titled “Flow Desk” (2009) by Wendell Castle, presented by Friedman Benda;
An African “Royal Mask,” (late 19th/early 20th century) made of wood plates with copper and kaolin, presented by Galerie Bernanrd Dulon;
A rare watercolor and pen work on paper (circa 1931 – 1935) by artist Emil Nolde presented by Thomas Gibson Fine Art; and
An untitled Cy Twombly painting (1962) presented by Galerie Karsten Greve AG.