Today marks the opening of The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in Maastricht, the Netherlands. This is no ordinary art fair. Unlike Art Basel, Frieze Masters, or other art fairs, which focus only on one period of work, TEFAF spans 7,000 years of art history. Turn left and you might find a piece of armor from the 16th century by a Master of the Castle; turn right and you might find a color video created by Bill Viola made in 2002. Look down, and you will see a 17th-century Dutch Old Master painting by Pieter Breughel the Younger; or perhaps instead you will find a rare illuminated manuscript, or maybe just Damien Hirst’s Black Sheep with Golden Horns (2009).
Before the fair, a group of experts walk around judging each object’s condition and provenance—so everything on view is real, and worth it. Dealers famously save their best pieces for the fair, which attracts top collectors. But, beyond all of that, the fair just looks amazing. Absent are the bad lighting of typical art fairs, the half-serious collectors, and those who are “just looking.” Instead, amongst tulip displays and long carpeted corridors with dim but visible lighting, 275 of the world’s most prestigious art and antiques dealers stand in their decorated booths, many of which looked like the rooms in some of the Old Masters paintings.
At last night’s opening, we picked 10 items not to be missed at this year’s fair. Click through the slideshow above to learn about them.