CULTURAL AFFAIRS: Covering the crossroads of culture and culture
The European Fine Arts Fair (TEFAF) opened its doors to the public today in Maastricht, where for the next ten days, over 280 art, antiques and antiquities dealers will present the very best of their offerings to an anticipated 75,000 visitors. With treasures that range from a pearl and diamond locket that once belonged to Alice Liddell — the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland — at the stand of S.J. Phillips to contemporary jewels by German designer and sculptor Otto Jakob; from a 3rd century AD Yemeni text at Cybele to a newly-rediscovered Van Gogh watercolor (at Dickinson) and a blue Warhol “Jackie” at Galerie Boulakia, there is — as always — far more than anyone can possibly see and digest in less than five full days. Nonetheless, after an opening night that saw more than 10,000 VIPs down an annual average of more than 30,000 glasses of wine and Champagne, here are a few glimpses of the highlights.
In case you were still under the impression that the Netherlands is a place of tolerance and freedom, here is the latest dart to pierce your bubble: the town hall in Binnenmaas has censored photographs by artist Dirk Hardy, ordering them removed from an exhibition there on the subject of “propaganda and visual culture.” The two works, part of a series of eight, involved highly dramatized stagings of two of history’s most compelling and charismatic figures: Jesus Christ and Adolf Hitler. (Other images included Tom Cruise as a Scientology leader, Napoleon, and Stalin, among others.) The series is titled “Clay,” a reference the malleability of the masses in the face of a compelling leader — or compelling propaganda. Or both.
“I love this fair,” said dealer Mark Hachem on opening night of Contemporary Istanbul, this year in its ninth edition. It was a sentiment echoed by dealers and guests throughout the long weekend of the fair (which ran from November 12-16th). Even gallerists who fared less well had great things to say about this, the main Istanbul art fair, praising the diversity of material on view, the enthusiasm of visitors, and the “hidden treasures” to be found here.