Nestled in the southern tip of The Netherlands lies the city of Maastricht. The name “Maastricht” is derived from the Latin term ”Trajectum ad Mosam” which means crossing at the Meuse, as the city itself is geographically located on the banks of the Meuse River. While the city is located just shy of 125 kilometers east of Brussels, it has a significant history dating back to the 1st century BC when it served as the epicenter for trade connecting several major trade routes. In its most recent history, the Maastricht Treaty was signed here in 1992, giving rise to the modern European Union. Since 1975, it has also been home to one of the most prestigious art fairs in the world, TEFAF, or The European Fine Art Foundation. This fair, which is adorned with over 270 exhibitors from over 20 different countries, attracts collectors, curators, and art enthusiasts from all around the globe. Now, after a two-year hiatus and the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world, it has returned to Maastricht with elegance and equanimity. Below is a snapshot of the fair and the city it inhabits:
Words and Images by Veesh Swamy – Maastricht Images: 35mm Film
TEFAF is not only a showcase of extraordinary art but also a hub of social and cultural activity. The fair attracts many influential figures from the art world, providing an opportunity for networking and collaboration. In the past, Kanye West and Brad Pitt were in attendance. The fair itself has an impeccable selection process, and it is typically carried out by a team of over 175 historians, curators, conservators, and general art experts. Structurally, the fair is divided into distinct sections by category of artwork and includes “Antiques”, “Old Masters”, “Classical Antiquities”, “Design”, “Modern”, and “Contemporary”.
One of the highlights of TEFAF is the opportunity to see and acquire works of art that are rarely available on the market (take for example the Rodin sculpture, pictured below, as part of a private collection). Many of the exhibitors bring works that are not only of exceptional quality but are also unique or of great historical significance. For instance, the fair featured a rare portrait of Rembrandt by his contemporary, Jan Lievens, in 2019.
Another key feature of TEFAF is its commitment to education and research. The fair hosts a series of lectures and talks by leading experts in the art world, providing visitors with the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the works on display. The fair also hosts a range of events, including cocktail parties, gala dinners, and private viewings, creating a vibrant and convivial atmosphere that celebrates the beauty and diversity of the world’s art and culture.
The fair also has a division based in New York City which returns May 12-16.