TEFAF Maastricht faced criticism after attendees tested positive for COVID-19.
Fairgoers at this year's TEFAF Maastricht. Photo courtesy TEFAF.
The organizers of TEFAF Maastricht have come under fire for refusing to postpone the fair’s 33rd edition as multiple attendees have since tested positive for COVID-19. The fair opened on March 7th, when the COVID-19 outbreak had not yet been classified as a pandemic, and closed four days early due to growing fears over the virus after one exhibitor tested positive. During that time, the event saw over 28,500 visitors. According to The Art Newspaper, at least 25 attendees have contracted the disease.
One artist believes he may have contracted COVID-19 while attending a dinner held in New York during The Armory Show, which ran from March 5th through the 8th. La Presse reported that artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer announced on Facebook he had tested positive for COVID-19. The artist told La Presse he believes he contracted it from a curator with whom he spoke at a dinner the week of The Armory Show; the curator also subsequently tested positive for the virus.
TEFAF Maastricht and the Armory Show were among the last art fairs to take place before the global shutdown in response to COVID-19. Art Basel in Basel, Art Brussels, Art Cologne, and TEFAF’s New York Spring show have all been postponed; others, such as Frieze New York, have been cancelled outright. Meanwhile others, such as Art Basel Hong Kong and Art Central, have pivoted to online sales.
Clarification: This article has been revised to clarify that Rafael Lozano-Hemmer believes he contracted COVID-19 at a New York event concurrent with The Armory Show, not at the fair itself.