FINE ARTS, ANTIQUES, FAIRS & FESTIVALS

 

Portrait of a woman c.1560  Exhibitor: Galerie Claude Vittet

BELGIUMS ANTIQUE DEALER'S FAIR

A Major International Event

From 19th to 28th January 2007, the Antique Dealers’ Fair of Belgium will be hosted in a sumptuous venue that has been completely redesigned. More than 30,000 antique lovers, collectors and professionals are expected to participate. Under the presidency of Mrs. Grethe Zeberg, this 52nd Fair will once again also embrace 20th century art whilst resolutely reinforcing the quality of the exhibits in other areas, in line with the ever increasing demands of a knowledgeable public. With 45% of the stands coming from abroad, the fair’s international dimension is strengthened again this year.   A new arrangement in building A of the Tour & Taxis complex has allowed a slight increase on last year, and there will therefore be 130 exhibitors from the four corners of Europe. The Fair is continuing with its policy of high quality and following the trends of a market that has become increasingly severe towards lower quality pieces. The 2007 Fair will continue to consolidate its traditional advantages whilst also pursuing the objective rigour that has sealed its reputation: it will marry high quality, luxury, refinement and professionalism for an ever larger number of well-informed visitors.

From its foundation in 1955, the Antique Dealers’ Fair of Belgium has become one of the longest-standing and most prestigious antiques fairs in the world. It is a key date in the international antiques calendar, offering both professionals and enthusiasts the opportunity to meet, learn and make new contacts, whilst also evaluating a market that has become extremely selective. From the very beginning, the Fair has always stressed quality, and has been able to guarantee the authenticity of its exhibits thanks to a rigorous selection process that is overseen by an independent Committee of Experts. The Fair is confident in its provision of high standards, and is also looking to the future and constantly setting itself new challenges.

Mrs. Grethe Zeberg will chair the Fair for a further three years, following the unanimous renewal of her mandate. Established over a century ago in Antwerp, Maison Zeberg can pride itself on its international renown in the fields of furniture, tapestry, sculpture, silverwork and other rare or exceptional objects from the XVth to the XVIIIth centuries.  On the Board, Mrs. Zeberg can also count on the loyal and proficient support of the Vice-Chairman, Mr. Bernard De Leye. On 14th September 2006, shortly before the last Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris, Mr. De Leye was honoured for his outstanding achievement in the arts by the French Culture Minister, Mr. Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres. This honour bestowed on the great ancient silver specialist by the French Culture Ministry is, without a doubt, a mark of gratitude. Furthermore, through this award, France has also honoured the excellence of Belgian culture as a whole.

The last three Fairs were given a new lease of life by being hosted in the huge halls of the former marshalling yard known as ‘Tour & Taxis’. Situated right in the heart of the capital of Europe, this remarkable architectural complex represents one of the jewels of the industrial heritage of Brussels. It has a unique atmosphere and is unquestionably one of the Fair’s major assets. Since 2006, in order to maintain a stable number of exhibitors and to continue to offer them quality exhibition areas, the Antique Dealers’ Fair of Belgium has filled halls 1, 2, 3 and 4 of building A, representing a total area of 12,315 m2 at street level. The entire area has been designed for the third year running by the prestigious team from Volume Architecture, Nicolas de Liedekerke and Daniel Culot. Their mastery has already been widely praised at previous fairs, but they will surpass themselves this year, as in agreement with the organisers and with the aim of increasing the quality of the facilities offered to exhibitors, they have been asked to redesign the arrangement completely. This year, the entrance will be at the end of building A and the stands will be spread out in three vast alleyways. The site will still be very easy to access, however, as there will be monitored car parking provided for a large number of vehicles.

In addition, Edouard Vermeulen, the famous designer from the Natan couture house will be taking over from Gérald Watelet and Kaat Tilley, and will be enlivening the main alleyway by presenting his new 2007 Spring/Summer couture collection. There will be twenty models bringing a touch of glamour and luxury that should enhance the impression that participants are taking part in an event of exceptional prestige.

The new arrangement used this year at the Tour & Taxis site will enable the Board slightly to increase the number of exhibitors to 130. This increase in numbers, which aims to strengthen the event’s pre-eminence even further, has been achieved in two ways: on the one hand, as is tradition, the organisers have called on the most renowned Belgian antique dealers; and on the other hand, a contingent of 28 fresh exhibitors will breathe new life into the event. The Fair’s international dimension will also be strengthened by the presence of antique dealers from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco and Switzerland. They are primarily prestigious dealers who will contribute to reinforcing the Fair’s artistic calibre and to making it even more competitive.  Among the French exhibitors, we can cite great dealers such as Deydier, Perrin, Lebel, Mermoz, Ratton & Ladrière, Univers du Bronze and Vittet.

There are also big names from Belgium and abroad from among the ranks of the newcomers: Sycomore Ancient Art, Zen Gallery, William Thuillier, Fabery de Jonge, Le Minotaure, Kunsthandel Peter Pappot, Galerie Darga & Lansberg, Jean-Jacques Dutko, Patrice Trigano, Vallois Sculptures XXth century, Alain de Monbrison, Toninelli and Blue Elephant.

Objets d’art, old paintings and antiquities are still the mainstay, and indeed the major attraction, of the Antique Dealers’ Fair of Belgium. However, art and antiquity connoisseurs have been changing over recent years as their tastes have become more eclectic, and increasing numbers of collectors are diversifying their collections by mixing classical, modern and contemporary art. The Fair will therefore abide by the direction that it took in 2006 and will also welcome some modern and contemporary art exhibitors. This section will be reinforced by some top level dealers such as Darga & Lansberg  (Paris), Patrice Trigano (Paris), Le Minotaure (Paris), Antoine Helwaser (Paris) and Jos Jamar (Antwerp). This kind of high quality is also found in other sections, such as African art with the arrival of the greatest dealer in the sector, Alain de Monbrison (Paris), Oriental art with the return of the Zen Gallery (Brussels) and archaeology which is strengthened by the presence of Phoenix Ancient Art (Geneva/New York) and Sycomore (Zurich).

It is clear that the market is becoming increasingly ruthless towards middle of the range goods. Yet, it is hardly a secret that exceptional artefacts are becoming increasingly rare, and the Board of Directors is therefore more then ever in search of outstanding pieces. Consequently, giving priority to this quest for quality and guaranteeing the authenticity of the objects offered for sale, remains the organiser’s priority. The range of pieces on offer, varying from antiquity to modern classicism and even to contemporary art, means that striving for extraordinary quality is a constant task. This is why where other fairs are experiencing a decline in visitor numbers due to insufficient quality, vetting days are taken extremely seriously at the Antique Dealers’ Fair of Belgium. The organisers have set up Expert Commissions for each section: they are made up of curators, non-exhibiting experts, art historians and restorers, and work for two full days before the private viewing when none of the exhibitors are present. All the objects that they examine must receive the unanimous support of the commission members, otherwise they cannot be included in the Fair. This is not because they are fakes, but because they  do not meet the stringent quality requirements.

Consequently, the Antique Dealers’ Fair of Belgium still presents an opportunity for rare and even exceptional discoveries, in a venue that prioritises the relationship between the work of art and the viewer. In order to attract the kind of wealthy clientele that these rare and precious pieces are destined for, the Fair has arranged a partnership with Bank Delen (specialising in private asset management) for several years from 2007 onwards. Furthermore, as the Board is keen to attract the most active collectors from around the world, it is developing a programme this year that particularly targets New York’s great decorators and their antique-collecting clients. With support from the Consulate General of Belgium in New York and the Belgian tourist office in New York, a large awareness campaign that specifically targets these enthusiasts and New York journalists has been launched. Furthermore, in addition to the habitual partnerships that have been developed throughout Northern Europe, a large media campaign has been launched for the first time this year in Southern Europe (Spain, Portugal and Italy) and in the United States and Russia.

Now allow us to present some of the most exquisite pieces that will surely whet the appetite of these new visitors.

"The farmer" Mixed technique on paper, 40 x 50 cm Signed and dated 1919 lower left. Exhibitor: Galerie Francis Carrette

In the painting section, Oscar De Vos (Laethem-Saint-Martin) will be presenting a remarkable portrait by Gustave Van de Woestyne. Ronny Van de Velde (Antwerp), who was so lauded last year, will be presenting among other things an exceptional Picasso, a metaphysical painting by Giorgio De Chirico and a beautiful work by Léon Spilliaert.

In the objets d’art category, we will have the opportunity of viewing a beautiful Puma by Rembrandt Bugatti, presented by Univers du Bronze (Paris) and this rare example of falconer bearing the coats of arms of the Medici and Este families presented by the Parisian dealer Ratton & Ladrière.  Maternity (1893) in bronze by Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, will also be presented by Galerie Vallois de Paris.

In the silverware category, a 1937 ‘Trouville’ cutlery box by Puiforcat will be on display at the Müllendorff Antiques (Antwerp) stand.

 Finally, in the jewellery section, Georgia Chrischilles (Brussels) will be presenting some exquisite Chinese ear pendants depicting ‘fish dragons’ from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Tour & Taxi and its History

The Tour & Taxis site is located in the North of Brussels, beside the Willebroe canal, where Avenue du Port and Rue Picard meet. The site totals 45 hectares and takes its name from its original owners, the princely von Thurn und Tassis family, founders of the European postal service. The site was marshland until 1897.

The current building was built between 1904 and 1910 on a plot of land that belonged to the princely family at the time. The Torriani e Tassi family, originally from Bergamo, made its fortune and gained glory and nobility by organising the first postal network across the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the Empire. The founder of the dynasty, Francisco Tasso, organised a postal service between Milan and Innsbruck in 1516. The success of this postal service, provided by hundreds of messengers on horseback, unfortunately resulted in a lot of noise on the streets of Brussels, which bothered the townspeople. During a town council meeting on 15th June 1578, the authorities suggested that Francisco limited his night runs to 1200 split as follows: 600 from Porte de Halle, 200 from Porte de Schaerbeek, 150 from Porte de Namur and finally 250 from Porte de Ninove. This compromise seemed impossible to Francisco given the continuing increase in letter and parcel deliveries across Europe. Francisco decided to transfer some of his activities to Frankfurt and so took the name Franz von Tassis. The name La Tour et Tassis  was used from then on in Latin countries, while Von Thurn und Taxis was used in Germanic countries. 

At the end of the 19th century, the City of Brussels bought the land and decided to use it to develop its new modal distribution centre, which became a crossroads of commerce and development in the 20th century.  At the beginning of the last century, several office buildings were built for the new port and the SNCB built a harbour station.

Towards the end of the eighties, the activities ceased, the buildings fell into disuse and the land was largely abandoned. There were several projects to restore the site, but none were really successful. When Project T&T bought the site in December 2001, Tour & Taxis finally saw its new future take shape. It was to be an ambitious, multifunctional and dynamic future.

The site’s success and future lie in its multifunctional nature, combining housing, offices, shops, communal facilities and leisure areas all on the same site. In other words, it was the birth of a new Quarter in Brussels.

The Tour & Taxis site master plan is an initiative from Project T&T, a joint venture between the property company Extensa and the property developer Robelco, who each hold 50% of the shares. Project T&T has owned 30 hectares of the Tour & Taxis site since December 2001.

The Port of Brussels owns the remaining 15 hectares. Since its purchase by Project T&T, the Tour & Taxis site has seen some of the most innovative urban projects in the history of Brussels.

While renovation of the Tour & Taxis royal warehouse is being completed, “Shops” are breathing life into the site by hosting prestigious exhibitions, including ours. The appearance

of the Palais des Beaux-Arts at Tour & Taxis in 2004 was the key to the success of the exhibition, which enjoys easy access thanks to a car park under surveillance on the site itself.

The whole area covered by the next Foire des Antiquaires that will take place from 19th to 28th January 2007, will be 12.315 m2.

The Foire des Antiquaires de Belgique ASBL is very happy to be participating in the development of the Tour & Taxis site once again and is thrilled with the benefits that a whole new Quarter will bring to life in urban Brussels.

Antique Dealers’ Fair of Belgium:

Rue Ernest Allard 32 - 1000 Brussels, Tel.: +32 (0)2 513 48 31,

Use this link for more information online