The art world elite rejoiced at the Park Avenue Armory during yesterday’s preview of TEFAF New York, signaling a rebirth of the global fine art, antiques, jewelry, and design markets.
The eighth edition of the world-leading art fair opens to the public today through Tuesday, welcoming aesthetes, collectors, designers, and curators to a wide array of booths presented by 91 dealers representing a vast range of genres, cultures, and techniques. From austere to extravagant, booths evoking moods that interact with the imposing brick and stone Gothic Revival armory designed by architect Charles W. Clinton for the first volunteer militia to respond to President Lincoln’s call for troops in 1861.
Immerse yourself in contemporary elegance and empowerment, gazing at Kehinde Wiley’s Portrait of Jorge Gitoo Wright (2022) Sean Kelly of New York. Wiley depicts the iconoclast Brooklyn stylist who strives to show young Black men that they don’t need to conform to social norms in a suit of armor, conveying a resistance to stereotypes. The urban knight gazes to the viewer’s right, hands folded at his waist, ensconced in an intricate floral background. His denim jeans peek through, connecting centuries of style. Wiley borrows elements from Old Masters to paint distinctive narratives of his Black men to challenge our interpretation of art history.
Journey back more than a century to encounter the intrigue of Marc Chagall’s Self-Portrait with Palette, painted in the year of the Russian Revolution, the pale young artist holds a bold red palette and gazes at an uprooted, miniature recreation of his home region of Vitebsk, which is modern-day Belarus but was then part of the Russian Empire. The city buildings are punctuated with pink, drawing our eye back to his shirt collar of the same color which contrasts with his emerald suit jacket. Chagall’s sister hid the painting for half a century, after he fled to France in 1922, to protect it from the Communists. Scholars learned of the painting after the Soviet Union fell but it remained unknown to the public until it went up for auction at Sotheby’s New York in 1995. It’s a rare display by David Tunick Inc. of New York.
David Tunick also presents Edvard Munch’s erotic nude Madonna, enveloped in multiple-colored waves of spermatozoa. Her eyes closed and head tilted back and to the viewer’s right, her red lips mirror a red, writhing sperm halo. Fertility, mortality, and blasphemy mingle, with an eerie fetus peeking from the lower left, a cacophony of imagery and themes that drew shock and outrage in the late nineteenth century.
Return to the present century to indulge in formal simplicity and celebration of geometric abstraction with Carmen Herrera’s Kyoto (Green). The captivating wall piece is presented by Lisson Gallery and featured in one of TEFAF’s Creative Spaces. The work is not for sale.
Step back into downtown New York’s exuberant heydey with a joyous declaration of Keith Haring’s inimitable creative and social ethos. Robilant + Voena of London, Paris, Milan, and New York, playfully regale us with the vibrant Piglet Goes Shopping (1989). Lose yourself in the intricacy and explosion of color and precise black lines.
Take this opportunity to travel through centuries of the art world in a historic setting on a picturesque block of Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Make time to smell the flowers, as the meticulous arrangements throughout the space are an essential component of TEFAF.