If BRAFA (Brussels, 29/1/22, 5/2/23), being the first art and antiques fair of the year, could help test the waters for the state of the art of the sector, the result would be only moderately positive.
The theme chosen for this year edition was Art Nouveau, since in 2023 we celebrate the 130th anniversary of the inauguration of the Tassel hotel by Victor Horta, in Brussels, the first significant building of this style.
But the most conspicuous presence among the 130 exhibitors and more than 10,000 objects was that of contemporary design, with huge and captivating stands, while the presence of antiques appears to be in conspicuous decline, with very few galleries presenting exclusively “Old masters” . The fair seems to want to let go of this sector which was the reason for its birth almost 70 years ago.
Reading between the lines of the press releases and taking the pulse with some exhibitors, this year the sector seems to be suffering, and no sensational sales of important pieces have been announced, even though they were present there.
Many Flemings, as expected, also a Cranach, and some important pieces of Italian art, from “gold backgrounds “fondi oro” to the Florentine seventeenth century production.
For modern art, Picasso is certainly one of the most represented artists, on the fiftieth anniversary of his death. Many exhibitors proposed his art declined in a thousand ways and manners. Chagall was also present in more than one stand, albeit with a painting that aroused some suspicion of non-authenticity. A large Andy Warhol, “Portrait of Paul Delvaux”, was immediately sold, with the promise that it will enter the painter’s catalog raisonné.
Among the exponents of Italian art, perhaps the most represented was Marino Marini, but valuable works by Balla, Severini, Manzù, Pistoletto were also to be seen.
Not many women artists presented, both among contemporaries and for previous periods, despite the strong demand from museums. There is also little archeology compared to past editions.
Do we have a problem with the past?