Next 21st September, the BIAF, the Biennial International Antiques Fair of Florence, will open its doors in Palazzo Corsini. It will be sixty years after the first edition, noticeably in a very different context, compared with when one in whitch the Bellini brothers commenced the adventure.
For two weeks the city will attract, also relying on its charm, as the past, art dealers and collectors from all over the world. Although the antiquarian sector, and Florence, are no longer those in which, for example, Bernard Berenson lived (and died, unfortunately, the same year of the BIAF first edition).
The seventy-seven galleries participating this year are for example specialized in various sectors, including contemporary art. Unthinkable in the days when “Italian Renaissance painters” of the Lithuanian connoisseur became an international bestseller.
The peculiarity of BIAF remains, however, the promotion of Italian art in the market. Paintings, sculptures, drawings, and all other artworks on display, are made by Italian Masters or by foreign artists who worked in Italy.
Sixty years ago connoisseurs like Berenson, who contributed to raise interest in the Italian old master, were unchallenged authorities in attributions. This too has changed today. In the most prestigious international fairs, artworks are admitted to the sale only after having passed a careful scrutiny, done also by scientific means. It is the so-called “vetting”. The BIAF also has a Vetting committee. Divided into 3 commissions: Painting and Drawings, Sculpture and Furniture and Decorative Arts. They are formed by art historians, and restorers, of international renown, with an undoubted knowledge and an authoritative preparation.
However, scientific diagnostics seems to be still absent from this procedure, which is essential to guarantee buyers.
Notwithstanding, diagnostics offers more than this. As Maurizio Salomon, an art historian and gallery owner, explains in one of the commercials (#amolarteperche) created to promote the fair. The desire to make a discovery is often the drive for the collector. Finding a “pentimento”, a preparatory drawing, or details that are not visible to the naked eye, makes you fall in love. Few occasions allow you to have this kind of feeling, hopes, dreams. And this is still the same as sixty years ago.