Design makes a splash at TEFAF

Brook S. Mason Art

A new addition to TEFAF, which is, of course, best known for old master paintings and fine decorative arts, is an entire section devoted solely to design-from the 20th century to the present. Although sequestered from the main shopping thoroughfare and up a flight of stairs, the Design Pavilion attracted collectors.

Overall installation view of Galerie Downtown booth. Courtesy of Galerie Downtown, Paris.

Among the exhibitors: Sebastian + Barquet of New York and London; Galerie Eric Philippe and L’Arc en Seine, both of Paris; Galerie Ulrich Fiedler of Berlin; and Bel Etage Kunsthandel/Wolfgang Bauer of Vienna. Joining them are three long time TEFAF dealers Galerie Downtown/Francois Laffanour of Paris; Philippe Denys of Brussels; and Kunsthandel Frans Leidelmeijer of Amsterdam. Early on Galerie Downtown sold a monumental 1983 Pol Bury fountain in polished stainless steel that stretched across an entire wall with twelve roundels continuously pouring out water. “It went to a European collector,” Francois Laffanour says. His stand is banked by sheep sculptures by the husband and wife team, Xavier and Francois Lalanne, along with lighting by the Greek designer Takis.

Set of twelve chairs by Jean-Michel Frank, 1938. Painted oak; height 33 1/2 inches. Courtesy of L’Arc en Seine, Paris.

The booth of L’Arc en Seine features a rarity: a set of twelve Jean-Michel Frank dining chairs with Aubusson backs and seats covered with an original tapestry by Aubusson from a design by Christian Bérard.  Dating from 1938, the chairs have a distinguished provenance.  “They had been commissioned by the late Governor Nelson Rockefeller for his Fifth Avenue apartment,” says Christian Boutonnet, of L’Arc en Seine. The gallery sold a pair of Diego Giacometti bronze chairs to an American collector, and a 1935 oak desk designed by Paul Dupré-Lafon.

Prototype Prismatic table by Isamu Noguchi, 1957. Anodized aluminum; height 16, width 19 1/4, depth 16 5/8 inches. Courtesy of Sebastian + Barquet London.

Sebastian + Barquet is showing a polychromed bronze and copper bar by Paul Evans from 1972, and a rare prototype Prismatic aluminum table by Isamu Noguchi from 1957. “Two similar ones are in the Carnegie Institute of Art,” says Oscar Humphries with the London branch of the gallery.

Table by Edward Wormley for Dunbar, 1954. Walnut, mahogany and brass; height 41 3/4, width 72 7/8 (108 1/4 extended), and depth 28 3/4 inches. Courtesy of Philippe Denys, Brussels.

Scandinavian and American design was selling briskly at Philippe Denys, where they sold a George Nakashima 1954 console, an Edward Wormley 1954 walnut and mahogany table, and silver by Tapio Wirkkala.  Confirming the appeal of TEFAF’s new design section, Denys says, “So far we’ve seen curators from the Art Institute of Chicago, the Nelson-Atkins Museum, the Musée des Beaux Arts in Montreal, and others.”