What are elevation drawings

The art fair Brafa : Treasures of heaven

The suit has a story to tell: “Sokol kv2” was in space for 130 days, 20 hours and 35 minutes. Of course not alone. In 1987, the Soviet cosmonaut Gennady Mikhailovich Strekalov was wearing a white space suit with its tubes, badges and the impenetrable darkness of the helmet.

The appearance of the case, which costs 130,000 euros, is worth mentioning simply because it hangs at the Brafa in Brussels - a fair that stands for art from all eras as well as exquisite antiques and has been one of the best European addresses for collectors from all over the world for years. This time there are 134 exhibitors, who have come from London, Paris or Salzburg. The Theatrum Mundi gallery is at home in Arezzo, Italy, and its young founders see themselves as pioneers of a modern cabinet of curiosities for the 21st century. This explains why the Russian spacesuit is supplemented with prehistoric skulls as well as various objects from film productions: Friends of the Ninja Turtles can purchase a toad-green full-body costume that an actor from the first "Turtels" film from 1990 once wore himself into.

The day before yesterday an everyday object - today a collector's item

Such exhibits mix up the classic bunks with their ancient coins, Egyptian statues and icons, as shown by Galerie Brenske from Munich a few aisles down, rather nonchalantly. But they also show how the market is gradually changing. What was a prop with utility value the day before yesterday can become a collector's item tomorrow.

There seem to be hardly any limits to ingenuity. Clara Scremini, pioneer for artfully made glass and ceramics, presents vases made of Murano at her stand. Other dealers offer coffee tables or armchairs, the design of which a decade ago was definitely not the most cri. And at N. Vrouyr from Antwerp, a brown carpet from 1930 hangs on the wall over a length of almost ten meters, the only decoration of which is a border pattern in the late Art Deco style. You stand in front of it, look at an unadorned brown area and wonder whether this is really a case for the Brafa. What a contrast to the Anatolian Tülü from 1900 in the same bunk! A real masterpiece with an anarchic long pile in bright colors, which could also have originated from the seventies. One corner of the rug is turned over and the reverse side shows a traditional floral pattern.

Such contrasts shape the current appearance of the fair. Top pieces next to experimental objects that have not yet established themselves on the market. There are also expensive, sexist dust collectors like the well-known pin-up girls of Mel Ramos. The fact that one of them leaps out of a banana peel at the stand of the Patrice Trigano gallery in Paris is kitsch enough. The fact that the artist and gallery owner opted for a monumental version of the sculpture in bronze makes the art of the aging pop artist just as difficult to bear as the cabinet of mirrors by David LaChapelle at Maruani Mercier.

Less would be more, also out of respect for those dealers whose exhibits are sensational in a different way. Serge Schoffel, for example, shows historical headgear from Papua New Guinea. They were part of a large American collection, now the Brussels dealer is offering the ornamental treasures made of shells, feathers or human hair at moderate prices between 1,500 and 8,500 euros. A weathered wooden head from the same region from the early 16th century, which is said to cost 200,000 euros, shows that it can do other things. Which still looks like a bargain compared to the four million euros that the Boon Gallery in Knokke is asking for René Magritte's painting "L’Oracle" from around 1930. In the case of Klaas Muller, who has a baroque hunting scene from the painters' hands of Peter Paul Rubens (people), Paul de Vos (dogs) and Jan Wildens (landscape), money is not even discussed; the big screen is likely to be one of the most expensive pieces at the fair.

Drawings are comparatively inexpensive

There is still a gap in prices. Where painting and big names like Hans Hartung, Picabia or Alex Katz come together, expectations quickly skyrocket. Drawings, on the other hand, are still affordable. The Geneva gallery Schifferli provides proof of this. With an abstract Worpswede landscape by Bram van Velde (1923) for 30,000 euros as well as with - quickly sold - sheets by Carlos Saura or Otto Freundlich, whose small, abstract composition was available for 17,000 euros.

The announcements of the galleries that are responsible for Chinese porcelain, tribal art, sacred statues, Egyptian or Indonesian sculptures are similarly different. Your dealers are based on criteria such as age, condition, provenance and rarity. Anyone who is not an expert has to rely on their judgment. But he also learns with every new Brafa, this universal temporary museum. All it takes is a comparison of the bunks by Poenix Ancient Art (Geneva), which carefully arrange each of their antique exhibits on pedestals under glass, with the total work of art by Steinitz. The specialist in European art from the 17th to 19th centuries invites you to a hall with historic parquet flooring, baroque mirrors and furniture that simulates an eclectic salon. Not everything here is top, but together it breathes the spirit of bygone eras, which delighted in the decorative exuberance. You don't have to spend a fortune right away, you can first look and understand on the Brafa.

Brafa, Tour & Taxis, avenue du port 86C, Brussels; until 4.2. www.brafa.art

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