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By Brook Mason, May 2, 2017

With the inaugural TEFAF New York Spring (4–8 May) set to debut in the Park Avenue Armory, dealers, collectors, and museum curators are anxious to see just how the newest Dutch venture will stack up against the frenzy of Frieze on Randall’s Island. And in an extremely jam-packed calendar, an additional eight contemporary art fairs – along with the Collective Design Fair, not to mention the high-octane Impressionist and contemporary auctions – will take place in New York in the same month.

The new fair is a joint enterprise between TEFAF and Artvest Partners, the Manhattan art advisory service founded by Jeff Rabin and Michael Plummer. It builds on Artvest’s 2011 Spring Show NYC, which later took on a new guise as Spring Masters. That fair was widely applauded, though a small number of collectors thought it was let down by the architect Rafael Viñoly’s somewhat confusing layout. For TEFAF New York Spring, the fair organisers have recruited the talented Tom Postma, who has turned his hand to all of the TEFAF fairs.

What makes the fair so distinctive is the degree to which dealers forsake the routine stand format of felt-lined walls. Madison Avenue’s Di Donna Galleries is staging ‘A Surrealist Banquet’. On offer are sculpture and paintings on the themes of food, flowers, and wine by Dada, Surrealist, and modern artists. The installation takes place in an upstairs room preserved in its original state with animal-head trophies and dark wood panelling. The centrepiece is L’Explication (1962), a gouache on paper by René Magritte. Emmanuel Di Donna says, ‘It is an exploration on paper of one of his famous images painted on canvas in 1952 […] and is characteristic of Magritte’s relentless search for the uncanny and his creation of visual puns.’

TEFAF New York Fall drew more than 15,000 visitors and even more are certain to attend this event. As Michael Plummer explains, ‘It made sense for New York to have a fair of this kind as New York has historically been the centre of the modern and contemporary art scene, just in the way that Maastricht is the centre of the Old Master world.’

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