TEFAF, & Mirrors

I actually wanted to re-start my mirror stories with a simple, unpretentious posting, with something that wouldn’t require too much time to produce. And why not start with where I stopped? To mark my pause, I posted the mirror that I found this year at the  TEFAF (it’s an annual exhibition/art fair held in Maastricht). So, why not to show other few other mirrors that I encountered there? In simple, wysiwyg a manner, without any theoretical refinements?

OMG. That was a catch 😦

It’s not only the fact that there happened to be quite a lot of those mirrors – I vaguely thought that there were just a couple of them, but I began to go through the images, I found dozen or more.  The key issue that I completely skipped to process all other images from this art-far, all those hundreds of photos that I took during the show.

I did write a few short postings soon after – you can see them here, here and here. But those were more like the FB snippets, really the first impressions, no more. It’s not that you wouldn’t understand these TEFAF mirrors without some background information (although it does help, of course, to feel the atmosphere there). But still, I felt ashamed that I took so many of these images, and didn’t share them (beside, I had a press pass, so I could actually take photos, which is usually not allowed at this exhibition).

In short, before writing this ‘small posting’ I undertook a pretty epic undertaking, of going through all my images, editing them and uploading most of them online; you now have an opportunity to see them (almost) all – either in this posting, or in this Flickr set (beware, though, the latter one turned out to have quite THE number:

Aside of this pre-warnings, this posting is indeed pretty simple and straightforward – I basically show all the “mirror of art” that I came across on my way through the TEFAF’13. The art fair is known for its high quality of the art works presented there, but also for its HUGE quantity, and sheer diversity, so the resulting selection may look like pretty po-mo. But it is what it is.

Mirror  № 1

This is really “just a mirror”, albeit with an unusual frame; I would say it’s a peacock on top, but I am not 100% sure. I am interested in mirrors, and their frames, too, even   if only as the technological context for my investigations, but they are still a secondary issue for me (plus, I don’t know much about the topic, like the key design developments over time etc (yet?). But since it caught my attention, let it be here.

Mirror № 2

These are also “just mirrors” – I did not even go to the booth to take a proper photo (which I regret a bit now, since I noticed that they had nice decorative plafonds on top, which I’d love to explore).

I think there was a lot of other ‘just mirrors’ there, including those embedded in all sorts of cupboards and drawers, but I had neither time nor energy to go after them, really. For example, later in a catalog I found a pair of nice mirrors (quote large, in fact, 85 x 85 cm each), allegedly made in Florence in mid 17th century:

Mirror  № 3

Now, that was a real ‘mirror in art’!  This is the work by Charles-Antoine Coypel, a French painter of the first half of the 17th century (a contemporary of Boucher, whose ‘domesticated mirrors‘ I wrote about – I almost said “recently”, but no, it was almost half a year ago already 😦

It’s called, rather luxuriantly,The Folly Embellishing Old Age with the Adornments of Youth (1743).

I knew this picture, in a very different color palette: 

And it is not necessarily “the wrong version”; in addition to the main art work (executed in oil, or in pastel as in this case), there were also many secondary prints, often executed in relatively arbitrary colors. By the way, the first picture, above, is definitely of a wrong hue: I applied an HDR filter to almost all my pictures from TEFAF (to somehow convey a hyper-glamour feeling of the event).

The “real” colors of the painting look closer to that:

The plot should be well known to many of my Russian-speaking readers (or those familiar with major memes of that cultural territory) – this famous painting by Bernardo Strozzi

has been hanging in the Moscow’s Pushkin Museum from the times immemorial. It’s important to keep in mind that the subject was very innovative and ‘fresh’ at the time of Strozzi (early 17th century), but became a well-worn (sic) cliche a hundred years later.

Yet the painting still attracted a lot of attention:

Mirror  № 4

Ok, the fourth mirror was my blooper – I noticed that it was there (above the harpsichord) only at home, when looking through the pictures. I do not even what is the work, and who is the author. Even with a maximum zoom, I can’t read the caption:

Mirror  № 5

The same story, regretfully – I noticed this mirror above the fireplace only too late:

Mirror  № 6

But the sixth mirror is a real gem!  I did not expect to see this work there alive, at all!

This painting is by Domenicus van Wijnen (1661-1695), a Dutch painter of mystical and allegoric scenes. He’s not so well-know, but many of his work would compete with contemporary surrealist art-works, easily.

This one is called The Scene of Sorcery (1685), and it would require a separate investigations, to even list all the allegorical lines depicted here (including with the mirror); a prospect for a future posting, then!

Mirror  № 7

This is the mirror I use to announce a pause in this blog; I still believe that its alleged time of creation (mid 16th century) and to some extent the place (Florence) are problematic. In my opinion, they are simply were able to produce flat mirrors of such size, technically.

Of the point of interest I’d mentioned the two naked boys on the sides of its frame; the lady who commissioned it did know a thing or two on design (and life, too):

Mirror  № 8

This is one Abraham van Strij (1753-1826), a Dutch painter whom I knew nothing before. An Interior with a Collector and his Wife, undated.

Зеркало  № 8

I agree that this artwork can be labeled as a ‘mirror’ only with a stretch. It’s a relatively old work (1969), by Carel Balth, one of icons of the Dutch contemporary art.

Here is a more conventional projection:

Although Carel Balth always avoids ‘conventional projections’, and seek to deceit our perception, including with the use of mirrors.

I took so many pictures of this work that some of the visitors got attracted – first to me

And then eventually to the art-work itself:

Mirror  № 9

The ninth mirror is even more complicated, or simply complex.  This sculpture can be called a surreal symbol of surrealism – it was commissioned by André Breton himself, for the famous exhibition of the movement held in 1947 in La Galerie Maeght. It was cast by Jaques Herold, a famous surrealist too, and called Le Grand Transparent. Totally a museum piece; but that’s the case with many of the work at the TEFAF.

And where is the mirror, you ask?

The mirror is right there, in the very “right place”; moreover, it’s convex mirror!

A point of attention of many/male visitors:

Mirror  № 10

What is an art show without prolific Fernando Botero? And what are Botero’s Rubenesque dames without the mirrors? Of course, there was one of those at TEFAF too. I am planning to write a separate posting on Botero anyway, so this could be seen as an announcement.


Of course, there has been a lot of other interesting things, mirrors-wise: the ‘almost mirrors’, the ‘looks like mirrors’, and so one; but those I’d park for later.

What I can add now is to post a couple of ‘real’ mirrors-in-art, the ones I found in the catalogue (but not seen at the exhibition itself); they have either been sold already, or I simply missed in the maze of the TEFAF:

Helene Schjerfbeck –  Framför spegeln (Before the mirror) (1937)

Goyō Hashiguchi – Woman in a summer kimono before a mirror (1920)


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