In an exclusive interview with Cabana, Manon van den Beuken, director of TEFAF Maastricht, gives Emma Becque a rare glimpse into the heart of the art world as she prepares for her 23rd edition of the influential fair. 



Galerie Steinitz's stand, TEFAF Maastricht 2023 © Alixe Lay 


Set against Maastricht's historic, culturally rich backdrop, TEFAF promises an unparalleled spectacle spanning 7,000 years of art history. Manon van den Beuken, with her vast experience spanning 22 editions of the fair, shares her anticipation for the notable pieces and emerging trends that define the current art scene.

From the riveting history behind Wassily Kandinsky's Murnau mit Kirche II to Bouke de Vries's transformative Limburgh, discover TEFAF's most exciting offerings and gain expert insights ahead of the event often hailed as, "the world's most beautiful fair."

How did you start your career at TEFAF, and what fundamental changes and challenges have you navigated, especially concerning new government regulations?

Organising TEFAF is like working all year on a thousand pieces of a puzzle that will all come together in March. It is a real privilege to work with such a fantastic team and our loyal suppliers and partners to create this beautiful event, which gives our exhibitors the best platform to present their treasures. It is so special to see it all come together and to see all these familiar faces in March in Maastricht.

I began as a project assistant back in 2000. As we all know, the world and the fair industry are constantly changing. It took me many years to fully understand the logistics of the fair, including its various components and the relationships between them. Our primary challenge is to improve the fair every year. However, the most significant change in recent years has been the introduction of new government regulations, which we must comply with.


Galerie Kugel's stand at TEFAF Maastricht 2023 © Alixe Lay


Can you tell us about the geographical diversity of the exhibitors and attendees at TEFAF, and how this global participation contributes to the fair's unique atmosphere?

Our exhibitors come from around the globe, from 22 countries, and gather to showcase their remarkable expertise and specialist training in diverse and fascinating collecting areas, ranging from Old Master paintings to ceramics to historical arms and armour. Their clients, also from the far reaches of the world, journey to Maastricht every year to attend. This eclectic mix of people and cultures creates a truly international atmosphere that makes TEFAF an event like no other. Walking around TEFAF, you will hear so many different languages spoken!

What can you tell us about the unique pieces showcased at this year’s TEFAF, particularly any works with fascinating provenance or historical significance?

The upcoming TEFAF will feature an essential work by Wassily Kandinsky from the exhibitor, Landau. This painting has a unique history of having been looted by the Nazis and later recovered. In 2022, a 12-year legal dispute regarding the rightful ownership of the painting was resolved when the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, returned the painting to the heirs of its former Jewish owner.

Kandinsky's Murnau mit Kirche II is a significant masterpiece in the development of abstract art. This canvas marks a turning point in art history, as it represents the beginning of the abstract language that would define the rest of Kandinsky's career and influence the Abstract Expressionist movement.


Wassily Kandinsky, Murnau mit Kirche II (Murnau with Church II) signed  Kandinsky , 1910, inscribed by Gabriele Münter on the stretcher; oil on canvas


Could you highlight some standout pieces from founding exhibitors at this year’s TEFAF that showcase the fair’s diversity and history?

Several founding exhibitors are still exhibiting at TEFAF, and it is incredibly gratifying to see them every year. From Axel Vervoordt: Head of a Deity, New Kingdom, Dynasty XVIII-XIX in red Aswan granite, Egypt. From Dutch dealer Vanderven: a charming Preening Goose from the Qianlong Period (1736-1795) that passed through the famed Mottahedeh collection in NY. From Beck and Eggeling, among the works by women artists is the Pacific Ocean by Yayoi Kusama, from 1980.

Adrian Sassoon always has the most visually arresting stand, showing contemporary ceramics. This year, he is showing a fabulous work called Limburgh by the Dutch artist Bouke de Vries, who, throughout his career, has explored the themes of fragility and deconstructed beauty. Having trained as a restorer, he is known for working with broken historical pieces, expanding them to carefully ‘exploded’ assemblages.

Among the many stands at TEFAF, do you have any must-see recommendations?

It isn’t easy to single out individual stands from a choice of 280, but I always love the stand of Beck and Eggeling. Furthermore, I love the Arts of Africa and Oceania, and of course, I love jewellery. Some of the booths' incredible design and attention are amazing – please look at Georg Laue, Steinitz, and Axel Vervoordt, whose stands are always a must-see.

Is there a particular trend you are noticing across collectors - if so, which items and where can visitors find these?

We have seen the trend of celebrating women’s Old Masters in the last few years, which is very exciting. In fact, last year, the TEFAF Museum Restoration Fund grant went to the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp to restore re-discovered Flemish artist Michaelina Wautier’s (1604–1689),  Two Girls as Saints Agnes and Dorothea (c.1650), a piece the gallery has had in its possession since 1910.  This year, there is a Penitent Magdalene by Artemisia Gentileschi, c.1625/30, from the dealer Robilant + Voena. Gentileschi is perhaps the best-known of the women Old Masters. In addition, there is a lovely Golden Age landscape painting by Catharina Knibbergen from 1654 from the exhibitor Bijl-Van Urk Masterpaintings, Alkmaar (NL).

Could you share the names of some leading specialists and exhibitors at TEFAF who are renowned for niche collections?

[Rome-based antique dealer], Alessandra di Castro, is one of the very prominent specialists in this area. Other exhibitors with micro-mosaics or mosaics (in general) are Burzio, Kollenburg, Kugel, Flore, and some ancient art dealers.

What will be the most popular item at TEFAF this year?

Visitors like iconic names and will likely gravitate to the pieces with names they recognise. Kandinsky, van Gogh, Rodin, Audubon, Dubuffet, Gerhard Richter, Miro, and Georges Braque would be among those.

Looking back on the 22 editions of the fair, what has been the most memorable piece you have encountered while working at TEFAF?

Of course, there have been many. Every year has its show-stopper pieces over the 22 editions I have worked on. We had a fantastic Bernini statue in the early 2000s, which I have always remembered, a Cartier necklace from a maharaja, and yes, van Goghs and Rembrandts, which are always a thrill. It is incredible to see very old things survive and in such tact. This is always astonishing. Our exhibitors who handle these pieces are custodians of these beautiful objects for future generations.

Some notable pieces end up in museums, and it is lovely when this happens at TEFAF. That way, the public can enjoy them for years to come.


Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild, 1980; Oil on canvas


TEFAF Maastricht

The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) will run from 9-14 March in Maastricht, the Netherlands | | Plan your trip to Maastricht here.


Vincent van Gogh, Tête De Paysanne À La Coiffe Blanche, c.1884; Oil on canvas

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