Georgina Adam tries to explain in the Financial Times why Maastricht stands tall in the midst of an art recession and the natural limitations of being held in a remote Dutch town with no amenities:
The answer is quite simply quality. The array of art and antiques at the fair cannot be bettered. Dealers really do try to bring the best things. John Mitchell, for example, is showing a newly discovered “Winter Landscape with Skaters” (1611) by Adam van Breen – one of the earliest winter landscapes by any Dutch painter. Chinese art specialist Gisèle Croës has an extraordinary figure of a foreigner dating from the late Sui or early Tang period, while Rupert Wace is showing a stunningly simple Cycladic marble head from 2500-2400BC.
The organisers have a number of ways of keeping the quality up. For a start, it’s tough to get into TEFAF. Only five exhibitors dropped out this year, so there is every reason for a dealer to hang on to a stand once he or she has it. Vetting is stringent, with a posse of experts who pore over the offerings before the opening. “Nowhere else has that level of vetting,” says William Mitchell of the London dealer John Mitchell, an exhibitor at TEFAF for 20 years. “There is a lot of peer pressure to maintain quality, you don’t want to be the one with a sub-standard booth,” says fair chairman Ben Janssens. And for those who don’t keep up, well, they don’t get invited back.
What Makes TEFAF So Special? (Financial Times)