A Jewel Box: TEFAF

Welcome to TEFAF…

Welcome to TEFAF…

On Friday, October 26, 2018 The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering hosted the Opening Night of TEFAF NEW YORK at the Park Avenue Armory. Proceeds from the evening benefited MSK’s patient care, research and education programs. And what a dazzling night it was!

What is TEFAF?

TEFAF, ‘The European Fine Art Fair,’ based in the Netherlands, has a reputation for close vetting and careful curating. Purchasers can be assured that the items represented are of the highest level of quality and connoisseurship.

The art, antiques, and jewelry fair has become quite popular thanks, in part, to its installation in the gorgeous historic wood-paneled Park Avenue Armory and, in part, to the splendid objects ranging from antiquity to the 1920s. The fair attracts notable collectors and designers, as well as those (myself included!) who simply want to see what beautiful objects have come to market this year.

From the moment I entered, the overall effect took my breath away. It was as if each dealer was ensconced in a blue-velvet jewel box with seductive lighting and spotlights highlighting the fabulous works of art. All around were stunning floral arrangements and the objects on display were nothing short of spectacular. Through it all flowed the complimentary Ruinart champagne —the guests sauntering with glasses in hand and the oyster and salmon bar on the upper level doing a brisk business.

Bubble, bubble everywhere

Founded in 1729, Ruinart is the oldest Champagne house, but not well-known due to its small production. Now owned by the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, it’s working its way from under the shadows cast by Dom Perignon, Moet & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot. Forbes called it: ‘The best champagne you’ve never heard of!’

At art fairs I’ve attended at the Armory, the bar is usually situated far in the back, but this time around the champagne was highly accessible, mere steps from the front door. Within moments, glass in hand, I found myself in Paris, specifically at Galerie J. Kugel (below, center and right). Should you wish to visit the Galerie in Paris, you’ll find it on Quai Anatole France in the 7th, near both the sumptuous Orsay museum and the elegant Voltaire, one of my favorite restaurants in Paris.

Le Dernier Cri from Paris

What I learned from the quintessentially Parisian Madame (above) is that French women favor knee-length skirts, high heels, shorter bobs and a light touch of makeup. A style much in evidence throughout the galleries that evening. Absolutely lovely. As were the rooms filled with treasures, of which I regret I can only show you a handful. But to discover a painting for sale that evening that had been done by a 13 year-old Picasso (lower left) —a true-to-life color palette, a church-inspired theme— was astonishing. Over the years, I’ve seen many paintings from Picasso’s early Blue Period, but none this early. Obviously, Pablo was a born talent! Equally enchanting was seeing works by Cezanne and Pissarro hanging side-by-side; it felt fitting as the two friends had worked and experimented together for more than twenty years, each recognizing the other’s genius.

If I Could have but one…

When it came time to open my wallet, I was torn as to which I should purchase. I’m still undecided, the gallery owners still waiting to hear from me. So, help me out…which would you choose as Best in Show? Others also under considerations are (below, left) a 1793 painting by Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, who last year became the first women given a solo show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Click on her name, be amazed. This beauty was brought to New York by Galerie Eric Coatalem in Paris. Then, too, there was the exuberant joyful painting (center), dated and signed in 1624 by Pieter Brueghel, the Younger. Why isn’t that in a museum? And my heart went pitter-patter at the sight of George Grosz’s risque ‘Seated Girl, Lotte Schnalhausen,’ 1928, (right) highly evocative of Berlin in the decadent ‘20s, now offered by Richard Nagy Ltd of London.


Each work is unique, each with a story to tell. But perhaps you fancy jewelry, a universal art form much in vogue all over town. A brief stop that evening at the A La Vieille Russie booth was all it took to fall in love with any number of Art Deco pieces.

Opening this week at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is: Jewelry: The Body Transformed, which traces the history of jewelry from antiquity to the present and answers the question: Why do we wear it? And there’s more good news for jewelry lovers in New York City: New York City Jewelry Week launches this week, November 12-18, putting jewelry of all kinds front and center via a slew of educational events.

As for your trusty ‘Girl Reporter’ (does anyone remember Brenda Starr, Girl Reporter?) I can’t wait for TEFAF 2019. That’s all for this week guys and gals. I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you with the pictures, but there was so much to appreciate, so much I wanted to share with you. Next week? We’re off to see the New York City Center tribute to the maestro, George Balanchine.

Hope to see you back then when I’ll have the coffee ready. Au revoir mes amis... jusqu'à ce que nous nous revoyions.

Caring is sharing!