During the VIP preview for The European Fine Art Fair (Tefaf) in New York, collectors dodged oyster shuckers and glasses of champagne throughout the Gilded Age spaces of the Park Avenue Armory, eager to ask dealers which works were available and for how much, seemingly more eager to chat about purchases than buyers at other recent fairs.
This year’s fair features 91 galleries under the venue’s wrought-iron arches and its historic rooms, and despite a busy spring art season in New York, the number of people attending the invitee-only preview on Thursday (11 May) suggested that Tefaf is a must-see for many in the art world—stars seen perusing stands during the preview included Anderson Cooper, the broadcaster and collector. Unlike Tefaf Maastricht, the fair’s original Dutch edition that centres Old Masters and antiquities, dealers at Tefaf New York tend to put more of an emphasis on Modern and contemporary art and design.
Emmanuel Di Donna from Di Donna, a New York gallery specialising in Surrealism, says he’s seen renewed interest in works by women who were part of the movement, including Leonora Carrington and Dorothea Tanning. Di Donna’s Tefaf stand is a presentation of work by Oppenheim, the German-Swiss Surrealist who worked alongside artists like Man Ray, Max Ernst and Marcel Duchamp. The works are priced from $33,000 to just over $1m. While Di Donna refers to Oppenheim as “the great female Surrealist”, he adds that it was a title she would have disliked. She championed the idea of creative androgyny, influenced by psychoanalyst Carl Jung, as was explored in the travelling retrospective that was on view at the Museum of Modern Art until early March.
“For Oppenheim, there was no difference between a male or a female artist. She had very strong views about feminism,” Di Donna says. “She refused to be in shows where only female artists were shown.”