What to See at The European Fine Art Fair This Weekend

What to See at The European Fine Art Fair This Weekend

Barely recovered from the marathon of Frieze, I hied to the handsome Park Avenue Armory for the opening of the TEFAF New York Spring show—more vicarious shopping for the dream gallery in my head.

Let’s start with some major beauties depicted by the heavy hitters of the 20th and 21st century art worlds. How about Henri Matisse’s Bolero violet (1937; Acquavella)? The sitter, with her movie star makeup—all pronounced eyebrows and scarlet lips—and her titular gold-embroidered violet North African jacket worn over the jade green waistcoat, is a dream of world-weary elegance: more me than me. Also remarkable as a study in indifference is the superb Lucien Freud drawing of Pauline Tennant, c. 1945 (Thomas Gibson Fine Art)—and still on the subject of feminine pulchritude, what about John Currin’s 2018 Still Wife at Gagosian, which depicts Rachel Feinstein seemingly refracted in a drinking vessel (although it is the negative space formed by the glass jug’s handle, and not the glass itself, that appears to be doing the refracting). No less captivating was Eugene Delacroix’s 1935 portrait of a Jewish bride in Tangier (Juive de Tanger en costume d’apparat) depicted in her splendid wedding clothes and jewelry with the indifferent expression that tradition insisted she adopt throughout the preparations for the ceremony (Hammer Galleries). It is easy to see what captivated the artist on his travels through Morocco.

Two exquisite small photographs caught my eye. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, author of the immortal Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass and a gifted amateur photographer, had an eye for little girls that, in 2018, takes on a disquieting aspect. His 1873 portrait of the self-assured Xie (Alexandra) Kitchin as a a ‘Dane” (Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs), however, is touching and respectful. Lee Miller, meanwhile, photographed by Man Ray c. 1930 with her head upside down, blonde hair tumbling, (Galerie 1900-2000) is a strikingly surreal depiction of this legendary beauty and creative force.I was staggered by the Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi’s innovations in displaying art at the MASP, the Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art. The always ineffably stylish and inspirational Nina Yashar of Milan’s influential Nilufar, meanwhile, unearthed a great-looking boxy wooden chair by Bardi. As feminine as that chair was butch, the dainty gilded birch settee by Georges de Feure c. 1900 (Oscar Graf) had special resonance for it once belonged to Lady Jane Abdy, a fey, ethereally dressed art dealer who I can imagine perching against its dainty Art Nouveau volutes. Quite astonishing was the bronze Pompeiian table with wolves (Graeco-Roman, 1st century BC, at Phoenix Ancient Art) and the whimsical bronze ape bearing lily pads to form a table—a rare collaboration between the artist couple Claude and Francois-Xavier Lalanne, titled Singe aux Nenuphars (2008; Paul Kasmin).

Not everything can be illustrated here, but I did want to call out Peter Freeman’s stand, where he has assembled a wonderful collection of trompe l’oeil images from the 17th century to Roy Lichtenstein. Francois-Xavier Vispre’s late 18th-century illusion painting of a print depicting Hercules, seemingly mounted under a broken glass frame, caught my eye. I also loved the exotic color mixes of the jewelry by James de Givenchy at Taffin, and by Sabba at FD Gallery; the ravishing antiquities at Galerie David Ghezelbash, Charles Ede, and Cahn; and the thrilling 21st-century ceramics—notably the floral Romanesco Vases (2017) in porcelain by Hitomi Hosono at Adrian Sassoon, and the Contemporary Tulipiere (2014) by Matthew Solomon at Gerard. So many treasures under one roof.

Read the article online: https://www.vogue.com/article/tefaf-2018-hamish-bowles