What makes you want to buy art or artistically designed objects?

How do you arouse enthusiasm for mid-century furniture, Roman portrait busts, comics or Flemish old masters alike?

The art and antiques fair BRAFA in Brussels responds with emphatic eclecticism.

Here comes together what would remain strictly separate in museums, but can happily come together in apartments: contemporary Japanese painting, French sculpture from the 19th century, Baroque tapestry - the series could be continued with dozens of special areas, from which 130 international exhibitors at the fair scoop.

They have brought together more than 10,000 objects in the shadow of the Atomium at the Brussels Expo, whose trade fair design this time, starting with the carpet, alludes to the art theme of the year in Belgium's capital: Art Nouveau.

Ursula Scheer

Editor in the Feuilleton.

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"Barcelona has Gaudí, we have Horta" is a motto, and so the architect Victor Horta, to whom Brussels owes its most important Art Nouveau buildings, not only has a key role in this year's shows and events, but also frames the exhibition with his sketches on the carpeting in the Expo halls also the BRAFA offer.

The fair, which was founded in 1956 and returned to its regular place in January post-pandemic, feels eternally young anyway;

Exhibitors also pay homage to Art Nouveau, which spread a spirit of optimism.

The stand of Florian Kohlhammer from Vienna looks like a salon from the turn of the last century and boasts an arrangement of iridescent glass vases.

They come from the Bohemian manufacturer Johann Loetz Witwe.

A specimen from 1902 with teardrop-shaped reinforcements designed by the artist Koloman Moser (76,000 euros) is of museum quality.

The Amsterdam gallery Dr.

Lennart Booij Fine Art & Rare Items, specialists in Lalique, has brought a ceramic vase decorated with flowering branches in enamel and gold by Émile Gallé, the most famous French Art Nouveau craftsman.

It may have been presented at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1889, the year it was made (price on request).

Epoque Fine Jewels from Kortrijk also comes up with an Art Nouveau gem: a museum and a private individual were already interested in a peacock brooch made around 1902 using opal and enamel by Philippe Wolfers, which can be worn as the centerpiece of a faithfully reconstructed tiara, he says Dealer Bart Peers - and admits that it always breaks his heart a little when he has to part with such a piece.

A passion for collecting paired with a spirit of research also drives Parisian Pascal Cuisinier, a studied architect and art philosopher who, as a dealer, has specialized in a completely different field: furniture design by French pioneers of the 1950s.

His trade fair box resembles a time capsule in which Robert Mathieu's graceful lamps with counterweights above a Pierre Paulin bureau radiate absolute presence (prices on request).

The biggest challenge traders like him face?

Cuisinier says that today the display of something recognizable counts more than the joy of connoisseurship.

For trade fair veteran and general secretary Christian Vrouyr, whose Antwerp gallery is the fourth generation to run the difficult carpet business, unexpected encounters are what make BRAFA so appealing.

A hammock is swinging at the stand of his colleagues at De Wit Fine Tapestries from Mechelen – by Alexander Calder (45,000).

In addition to jewellery, The Collectors' Gallery (Brussels) offers flower models made of wood and papier-mâché, which were produced by the Robert Brendel company for botany lessons up to 1927 (from 2500).

Those who wish can also perceive this as a contribution to the Art Nouveau motif or even Germaine Richier's exciting woman bat sculpture "La Chauve-souris" from 1946 for 1.8 million euros at the Galerie de la Béraudière in Brussels.

BRAFA only invited 13 new exhibitors;

one relies on continuity.

A recurring guest is Röbbig Munich – alongside Die Galerie from Frankfurt, Samuelis Baumgarte from Bielefeld and Dr.

Nöth from Ansbach one of four dealers from Germany at the fair.

A pair of lions made of Meissen porcelain for 350,000 euros, modeled by Johann Joachim Kaendler in 1748, shaped a little later and decorated with bronze mounts, are magnificent pieces of furniture, paintings and objets d'art from the period of Louis XIV to XVI.

and the Empire-style pavilion by Röbbig.

There are also furnishing tips from the gallery owner: decorate porcelain or other beautiful things on consoles on the wall instead of hiding them in a showcase - why not?

BRAFA Art Fair


Brussels Expo, Halls 3 and 4, until February 5, admission 25 euros, catalog 20 euros