Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage @Met

JTF (just the facts): A total of 34 photocollages, 13 albums, and 1 photograph, framed in black and matted, and hung against light brown walls or displayed in glass cases in a series of small interconnected rooms. There are a total of 8 glass cases housing bound volumes, and 3 computers have been made available so visitors can page through many of the albums virtually. All of the works on display were made in the 1860s and 1870s, and combine carte de viste albumen silver photographs, ink, and watercolor. A catalogue has been published by Yale University Press in conjunction with the exhibition (here). (Since photography was not permitted in this exhibit, unfortunately there are no installation shots of this show. Maria Harriet Elizabeth Cator, Untitled page from the Cator Album, late 1860s/70s, at right, via Met website.)

Comments/Context: Appropriation, reuse, and digital photocollage have become so pervasive in photography that it's hard to imagine a time when these techniques weren't commonplace. Although we can go back to Oscar Rejlander and Henry Peach Robinson in the mid 19th century to find the use of multiple negatives and early photomontage, the "invention" and extension of photocollage (the cutting and pasting kind) is usually placed at the feet of the Dada and Surrealist artists of the early 20th century (Hannah Höch in particular). This exhibit unearths a different genre of photocollage (an upper-class Victorian kind, created decades before the arrival of the avante-garde) and makes a case for its relevance in the art historical narrative.

The artists who made these photocollages (and they were nearly all women) combined elaborate watercolor scenes with photo cut outs of heads and posed bodies, equal parts trompe l'oeil and Alice in Wonderland whimsy: children and family members sit on toad stools and ride frogs, are arrayed in a shoe or a bird's nest, fly inside bubbles or in a hot air balloon, or decorate a fan, turkey feathers, playing cards, or butterfly wings. Many of the collages are elaborate set pieces, with various people carefully posed in drawing rooms or lush gardens, mixing the relationships of the aristocracy with a bit of subversive humor. Faces become a necklace, seals on letters, or the heads of ducks.

Most visitors will come away from this exhibit with memories of light entertainments and favorite/amusing surprises (the people in the pickle bottle!). For those immersed in the subculture of photography, I think the show is a welcome reminder that the roots of our Photoshop world go back more than a century, and include not just "serious" artists but those who saw the fun in using everyday photography as part of their fanciful creations and family albums.

Collector's POV: I have very little idea about how to track down images like these for interested collectors. My guess is that they are generally bound into albums, rather than available as single works, and they certainly aren't generally available in the normal secondary markets for photography. If I was going to follow up, I'd start with Hans Kraus (here) or perhaps a rare book dealer.

Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)

Transit Hub:
  • Reviews: NY Times (here), Daily Beast (here), Gallery Crawl (here)

Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage
Through May 9th

Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10028

Monday, March 29, 2010

Auction Results: Fine Photographs, March 23, 2010 @Swann

The results of Swann's various owner photographs sale were altogether uneventful, with a buy-in rate over 35% and total sale proceeds that missed the estimate range by a pretty wide margin. Over 40% of the lots that did sell came in below the low estimate.

The summary statistics are below (all results include the buyer’s premium):

Total Lots: 137
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate: $723900
Pre Sale High Total Estimate: $1052200
Total Lots Sold: 87
Total Lots Bought In: 50
Buy In %: 36.50%
Total Sale Proceeds: $556602

Here is the breakdown (using the Low, Mid, and High definitions from the preview post, here):

Low Total Lots: 115
Low Sold: 76
Low Bought In: 39
Buy In %: 33.91%
Total Low Estimate: $559200
Total Low Sold: $318117

Mid Total Lots: 22
Mid Sold: 11
Mid Bought In: 11
Buy In %: 50.00%
Total Mid Estimate: $493000
Total Mid Sold: $238485

High Total Lots: 0
High Sold: NA
High Bought In: NA
Buy In %: NA
Total High Estimate: $0
Total High Sold: NA

The top lot by High estimate was shared between two lots: lot 180, Ansel Adams, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941/1960s, and lot 223, Helmut Newton, Woman Observing Man, Saint-Tropez, 1975/1980s, both at $30000-40000; the Adams sold for $28800, and the Newton sold for $40800 and was the top outcome of the sale.

Only 59.77% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range, and there was only one surprise in this sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate):

Lot 141, Lewis Hine, Waiting for the Red Cross Lady, Drought Area, Arkansas, 1933, at $16800 (image at right, via Swann)

Complete lot by lot results can be found here.

104 East 25th Street
New York, NY 10010

Auction Results: The Stephen L. White Photograph Collection, March 23, 2010 @Swann

Swann's sale of the Stephen L. White collection generated tepid results, with a buy-in rate over 40% and total sale proceeds that missed the estimate range by a decent margin. The outcomes for the middle and top end lots were particularly soft.

The summary statistics are below (all results include the buyer’s premium):

Total Lots: 102
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate: $538400
Pre Sale High Total Estimate: $786050
Total Lots Sold: 58
Total Lots Bought In: 44
Buy In %: 43.14%
Total Sale Proceeds: $425715

Here is the breakdown (using the Low, Mid, and High definitions from the preview post, here):

Low Total Lots: 81
Low Sold: 48
Low Bought In: 33
Buy In %: 40.74%
Total Low Estimate: $277050
Total Low Sold: $159915

Mid Total Lots: 20
Mid Sold: 10
Mid Bought In: 10
Buy In %: 50.00%
Total Mid Estimate: $434000
Total Mid Sold: $265800

High Total Lots: 1
High Sold: 0
High Bought In: 1
Buy In %: 100.00%
Total High Estimate: $75000
Total High Sold: $0

The top lot by High estimate was lot 73 Alfred Stieglitz, Going Home by Ferry, New York City, 1902/1920s, at $50000-75000; it did not sell. The top outcome of the sale was lot 60, Eadweard Muybridge, Animal Locomotion, 1887, at $57600. (Image at right, via Swann.)

79.31% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range. There were a total of four surprises in this sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate):

Lot 56 (Alexander Graham Bell), Opening of New York and Chicago Telelphone Line, 1892, at $3840
Lot 57, CP Goodrich, Samuel Morse, 1855, at $4320
Lot 60 Eadweard Muybridge, Animal Locomotion, 1887, at $57600
Lot 83, Fairchild Aerials, Woolworth Building in the clouds, New York City, 1928, at $7200

Complete lot by lot results can be found here.

Swann Galleries
104 East 25th Street
New York, NY 10010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Miroslav Tichý @ICP

JTF (just the facts): A total of 105 black and white images, framed in brown wood and variously matted, and hung in the first floor galleries of the museum. The images were made primarily in the 1960s and 1970s, although many are dated more generally 1950-1980. The show also includes two large class cases filled with a variety of handmade cameras, boxes and rolls of old film, cardboard lenses, a makeshift enlarger and other junk. A documentary film on the photographer, entitled Tarzan Retired, from 2004, runs in a side room (and is well worth spending the time to watch). This exhibit was curated by Brian Wallis. (Since photography is not allowed in the ICP galleries, there are unfortunately no installation shots for this show. Miroslav Tichý, Untitled, n.d., at right, via the ICP website.)

Comments/Context: With the possible exception of the rediscovery of the studio portraits of Mike Disfarmer, the work of Czech photographer Miroslav Tichý is perhaps the best example in the past decade of "outsider" art finding its way into the top echelons of the fine art photography world. Read any article on Tichý and you will be bombarded by his romantic and eccentric backstory: a gifted painter rejects the academy (and the controls of the government) and becomes a wild haired vagabond, obsessively haunting the streets of Kyjov with his camera made of toilet paper tubes and rubber bands, surreptitiously taking pictures of women on park benches and lounging by the town swimming pool, leaving his stained and damaged prints to pile up on the dusty shelves of his ramshackle apartment. The photographer is alternately characterized as obsessive, subversive, reclusive, alcoholic, and voyeuristic, or more simply as a resolutely stubborn (and surprisingly sharp and lucid) dissenter.

Regardless of the whether we find this personal story entertaining or just plain sad, the work itself stands up to the flush of new scrutiny with unexpected strength. At first glance, the images have the well worn look of vernacular snapshots that have been packed up in a box in your grandmother's attic for decades. But after your eye has a chance to adjust, and your brain lets go of the cult of perfection that pervades our view of contemporary photography, these prints resonate with a simple elegance that is enhanced by their blurs and imperfections. The spots, stains, and discolorations are paired with scratches, folds, and tears, and wrapped in hand crafted cardboard mats with swirling decorations; the effect is that each picture becomes a one-of-a-kind object or an artifact, a poetic and ultimately unknowable look into the past.

The exhibit itself is grouped by different cropped views of the female form. There are women in the streets, with patterned coats and dresses, shop girls and waitresses, and pairs of women seen in sidelong portraits, head shots or from the back. There are crossed legs and isolated ankles, feet running, and elaborate shoes. There are people on park benches kissing, dark unrecognizable nudes and dancers, and plenty of bathers and swimsuits, lying down on towels in the grass. The works have the authentic feel of the everyday (with a dose of the surveillance camera), and yet these small public moments have somehow been elevated into something more profound; the common and crude have become graceful and timeless.

While these pictures reminded me a bit of Lartigue or of Winogrand's women, the body of work is really so different from anything else that it is hard to place it in any kind of relative historical context. It is the work of an artist who chose to recede away from the establishment, to reject the accepted truths and search for something more real and personal amidst the routines of day to day living. What I like best about these pictures is that they seem altogether genuine - all the imperfections come together to make something which is the refreshing antidote to overworked, overreferenced photography. In the end, I think Tichý's personal story falls away and the pictures come forward as tangible, fragmented expressions of the beauty in the familiar.

Collector's POV: Several different galleries in New York have either had small shows of Tichý's work or carry some prints in inventory, but it is difficult to discern which of these might be his official representative, if one exists. Perhaps it is Howard Greenberg Gallery, but I am not certain (maybe someone can clarify in the comments.) Tichý's work has only recently found its way to the secondary markets; prices for the few prints that have surfaced have ranged between $3000 and $10000.

Rating: ** (two stars) VERY GOOD (rating system described here)

Transit Hub:
  • Tichý Ocean foundation site (here)
  • Reviews: NY Times (here), Financial Times (here), Guardian, 2008 (here)
Miroslav Tichý
Through May 9th

International Center of Photography
1133 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Atget, Archivist of Paris @ICP

JTF (just the facts): A total of 26 photographs, framed in brown wood and matted, and hung against light blue walls in a single room gallery on the lower level of the museum. All of the prints in the exhibit are albumen silver prints drawn from ICP's permanent collection and were made between 1898 and 1927. Christopher Phillips was the curator of this small exhibit. (Since photography is not allowed in the ICP galleries, there are unfortunately no installation shots for this show. Eugène Atget, Le parc du Saint-Cloud, 1905-1915, at right, via the ICP website.)

Comments/Context: This selection of Atget prints can best be thought of as an adjunct to the larger Twilight Visions show now on view at the ICP; it provides further background and precedent to the work from the 1920s and 1930s in the nearby rooms.
Many of the images on view are close-ups of architectural details: ornate and decorative staircase railings, lion-headed doorknockers, and elaborately carved stone figures attached to Parisian bridges and fountains. Another grid of works documents the towering iron gates of public parks, shop fronts, interior courtyards, doors, and houses with thatched roofs - the vanishing details of an older way of life.
What's important here is that this small group of pictures provides a clear representation of the "before": the straightforward (and masterful) documentation of the history of the city prior to the changes brought on by modernization. The works in the Twilight Visions show then deliver the "after": a look at how the vision of Paris was then transformed. While this show doesn't merit a special trip on its own, it does a good job of providing additional context for the main attraction.

Collector's POV: Atget's works are routinely available in the secondary markets at this point, with unknown images or later prints by Berenice Abbott selling for as little as $2000, and iconic works finding buyers well into six figures; a rare Atget nude was one of the top 10 photography lots of 2009, coming in at over $630000. High quality vintage images of Paris street scenes are consistently priced in the low to mid five figure range.

Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)

Transit Hub:

  • Atget in public collections: George Eastman House (here), Getty (here), Met (here)
Through May 9th

1133 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036

Twilight Visions: Surrealism, Photography, and Paris @ICP

JTF (just the facts): A broad survey show, including photographs, films, books, magazines, and other ephemera, variously framed and matted, and hung against richly colored walls (dark blue, light purple, dark purple) in a series of five connected rooms and the entry on the lower level of the museum. In addition to the 104 photographs and 6 short films (displayed alternately on small monitors or large screens), there are 7 large glass cases located in the galleries that house groups of important or influential books, copies of magazines like Minotaur, Vu, Scandale, Allo Paris, Detective, and Voilà, postcards, and programs from the Folies Bergère. The exhibit was guest curated by Therese Lichtenstein. A catalog has been published in conjunction with the exhibition by the University of California Press (here). (Since photography is annoyingly not allowed in the ICP galleries, there are unfortunately no installation shots for this show. Ilse Bing, Eiffel Tower, 1934, at right, via the ICP website.)

The following photographers and filmmakers have been included in the exhibit, with the number of images/films on view in parentheses:

James Abbe (2)
Eugène Atget (10)
Hans Bellmer (4)
Ilse Bing (10)
Brassaï (23)
Josef Breitenbach (4)
Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali (1 film)
Claude Cahun (5)
Nusch Eluard (1)
Georges Hugnet (6)
André Kertész (8)
Germaine Krull (3)
Dora Maar (2)
Charles Marville (1)
Lee Miller (1)
Gaston Paris (5)
Roger Parry (1)
Jean Painlevé (3 films)
Man Ray (14)
Jean Renoir and Jean Tedesco (1 film)
Jindřich Štyrský (2)
Raoul Ubac (1)
Jean Vigo (1 film)
Wols (1)

Comments/Context: Some of the most iconic and memorable pictures in the history of photography were made in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, and this exhibit can best be described as a loving valentine to that vibrant place and time. The period between the wars was filled with transition and change, as traditional French culture was confronted by modernity and popular entertainment, with old and new mixing together in all facets of art and life. And while this is not a Surrealism show by strict definition, the curatorial choices clearly show that an acceptance of avant-garde experimentation was in the air, with the revolutionary ideas of André Breton and others influencing the output of the photographic community in both profound and subtle ways.

The images in this show are roughly grouped by subject matter. The exhibit begins with atmospheric architectural views: streets, gutters, stairs, fountains, and night views of the city's bridges, and continues with a small room filled of various vantage points of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. Popular culture comes to the forefront in later rooms filled with pictures of the circus (particularly horses), patterned shop windows, advertising posters, life on the quais, and lively after hours images of prostitutes, dancers, and bar culture; a wall of pictures of the old, vanishing Paris (primarily by Atget) provides a juxtaposition of old and new. The final room dives deeper into pure Surrealism, with abstracted nudes, dolls, mannequins, unusual portraits, and examples of outlandish collage, distortion, solarization, and colored toning.

While I don't think this exhibit moves the scholarship on the period forward in any meaningful way, the fact remains that these are consistently great images. The show ties them together into a cohesive movement, where the commonality of vision, the interrelationships between the artists, and the overall context of the time period are all satisfyingly brought forth. As such, this tightly crafted show should be a crowd pleaser.

Collector's POV: For many collectors, the material on display here will be entirely familiar, but that doesn't reduce the impact of seeing so many high quality works from the same period hung together. The show does a good job of mixing well known masterworks with lesser known variants and rarities, so the narrative doesn't become too nostalgic or predictable. As always, we particularly enjoyed the foggy Brassaï night scenes, the Bing and Kertész city views, and the Brassaï nudes; the magazine spreads and Surrealist videos added some unexpected background threads to the already familiar story.

Rating: ** (two stars) VERY GOOD (rating system described here)

Transit Hub:
  • Reviews: NY Times (here), Daily Beast (here), GalleryCrawl (here), New York Photo Review (here)
Twilight Visions: Surrealism, Photography, and Paris
Through May 9th

International Center of Photography
1133 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Auction Results: SEX, March 19, 2010 @Phillips London

Phillips' second themed sale of 2010 took place last week, and the results were remarkably similar to the first, albeit slightly improved due to a larger than usual group of surprises. Several of the top photo lots once again failed to find buyers, leading the total sale proceeds for photography to come in a bit below the estimate range.

The summary statistics are below (all results include the buyer’s premium):

Total Lots: 137
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate: £455100
Pre Sale High Total Estimate: £672500
Total Lots Sold: 96
Total Lots Bought In: 41
Buy In %: 29.93%
Total Sale Proceeds: £443066

Here is the breakdown (using the Low, Mid, and High definitions from the preview post, here):

Low Total Lots: 110
Low Sold: 78
Low Bought In: 32
Buy In %: 29.09%
Total Low Estimate: £264500
Total Low Sold: £214066

Mid Total Lots: 21
Mid Sold: 17
Mid Bought In: 4
Buy In %: 19.05%
Total Mid Estimate: £183000
Total Mid Sold: £199000

High Total Lots: 6
High Sold: 1
High Bought In: 5
Buy In %: 83.33%
Total High Estimate: £225000
Total High Sold: £30000

The top lot by High estimate was lot 124, Pierre et Gilles, Tiger, 2007, at £40000-60000; it did not sell. The top outcome of the sale was lot 118, Jenny Saville and Glen Luchford, Closed Contract #10, 1995-96, at £67250. (Image at right, via Phillips.)

92.71% of the lots that sold had proceeds above or in the estimate range. There were a total of fifteen surprises in this sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate):

Lot 32, Michael Dweck, Sonya, Poles, Montauk, New York, 2002, at £5250
Lot 44, Daido Moriyama, How to Create a Beautiful Picture 6: Tights in Shimotakaido, 1987, at £16250
Lot 57, Nobuyoshi Araki, Untitled, n.d., at £1625
Lot 62, Nobuyoshi Araki, Yakusa, 1994, at £20000
Lot 81, Gilbert & George, Self Portrait, 1998, at £688
Lot 98, Pierre Moliner, Autopotrait au loup et a la rose, c1967, at £2500
Lot 99, Pierre Moliner, Autoportrait au fetiche, c1967, at £2750
Lot 100, Pierre Moliner, Autoportrait au masque et au bas, c1967, at £2625
Lot 101, Pierre Moliner, Autoportrait au Tabouret, c1967, at £2500
Lot 118, Jenny Saville and Glen Luchford, Closed Contract #10, 1995-96, at £67250
Lot 136, Willy Camden, SEX, 2006, at £5625
Lot 174, Spencer Tunick, Aletsch Glacier, Switzerland, 2007, at £4750
Lot 178, Stephane Graf, Chair Construction, 1991, at £9375
Lot 191, David Seymour, Prostitute near the Krupp works, West Germany, Essen, 1947, at £5250
Lot 200, Yasmina Alaoui and Marco Guerra, Dream #8, 2005, at £15000

Complete lot by lot results can be found here.

Phillips De Pury & Company
Howick Place
London SW1P 1BB

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

2010 AIPAD Review, Part 4 of 4

Parts 1, 2, and 3, of this multi-part AIPAD post can be found here, here, and here.

While the first three parts of this review chronicle the details of the booths and the images contained there, I had a few other higher level observations and conclusions that I wanted to add in the hopes of creating a more complicated picture of this show. We've given you the laundry list of photo information; now here are a few ideas to chew on. In no particular order, they are as follows:

1.) In talking with lots of different gallery owners over the course of the show, I'm more convinced than ever that the photo market slowdown we've seen in the past few years was a result of reductions of both supply and demand. Not only did many collectors/museums pull back on their purchases from a demand perspective, the supply of top tier pictures also dried up, as owners were far less willing to sell into the teeth of a headwind. The consensus opinion of the gallery owners I talked to was that both supply and demand are starting to loosen up a bit again, with mid tier and lower end collectors regaining some financial confidence, and top tier collectors (who never really went away) beginning to see pieces of the finest quality and rarity start to reappear.

2.) After coming to AIPAD for quite a few years now, I've come to the conclusion that the best thing about this show is what I would call "the discovery of the old". I think there is really no better place to find the amazing, the forgotten, the unseen, the variant, or the unusual in vintage photography. Every year I am introduced to several vintage photographers who I have never heard of and who have made superlative work, but are outside the mainstream a bit. And there are also always prints by photographers I think I know well that surprise and delight me.

While there was more contemporary photography at this year's fair than ever before (at least that I can remember), and with sincere apologies to those galleries who showed predominantly contemporary work this year, I don't think AIPAD is a particularly good place for "the discovery of the new". Since it is now the time of the NCAA college basketball tournaments (men's and women's) in the United States, allow me to use a basketball analogy for a moment. Imagine we were to set up a contemporary photography "tournament" (I know, I know, art isn't exactly a winners and losers exercise but bear with me), but instead of having the normal 64 team field, we did the following. First, let's strip out the top 15-20 powerhouse teams (galleries or artists in this case) from the tournament field. Second, let's strip out the bottom 15-20 newcomers, underdogs, and fresh faces as well. This leaves the solid middle of the field to play in the tournament; once all the games were finished, what would we have learned or what conclusions could we draw from this pared down event? Not much I fear.

Unfortunately, to my eye, this is exactly what is happening with contemporary photography at AIPAD. While there are plenty of strong specialist galleries that show contemporary photography from all over the planet, the fact remains that virtually all of the top photographer/artists in the world are represented not by photography specialists, but by contemporary art galleries. Really, how can we have a show of the best of contemporary photography without Gursky, Sherman, Sugimoto, Close, Prince, Eliasson, Ruff, Muniz, Struth, Graham, Avedon, Hofer, Neshat, Kruger, Soth, Wall, Opie, Tillmans, or Sternfeld (or pick any other of your favorites that I may have missed); none of these were represented at this year's AIPAD as far as I could tell.

I think AIPAD is the right "brand" to deliver on "the discovery of the new", but it will require some out of the box thinking. My suggestion is to split the current fair into two fairs. AIPAD Vintage would gather work from the beginning of the medium to approximately 1980. All the booths would show only this kind of work. No exceptions. Schedule it in October, in line with the Fall auction season. It will draw the vintage collectors just like it always has, only there will be a more focused atmosphere. AIPAD Contemporary would gather work from 1980 onward. Schedule it in late March as usual, but not opposite the Armory, ADAA or Maastrict. AIPAD will need to create an ancillary membership category for those contemporary galleries that represent photography as part of their stable, but not as a primary focus. Perhaps a combination of lower dues or booth discounts will be needed, but the goal must be to attract the best galleries to participate and bring only their photography (I would suggest the following from New York as a short list: Gagosian, Sonnabend, David Zwirner, Matthew Marks, Metro Pictures, Sikkema Jenkins, Luhring Augustine, Gladstone, Marian Goodman, Jack Shainman, Sean Kelly, Von Lintel; add your favorites from around the world as well). There also needs to be a way to bring in a group of younger, international galleries with less established work; set up the vetting however you like, but bring in some emerging work to add to the mix. If these things were done, and added to the existing core of great contemporary galleries/dealers who are already AIPAD members, and now we'd actually have a show that would cover the complex world of contemporary photography with some distinction (and attract a broad audience). No one has done this yet, at least in America, and AIPAD has the best chance to do it well, given its historical relationships with collectors.

While I'm sure there are some collectors who collect both Gustave Le Gray and Thomas Ruff, I think this is a relatively small (but likely elite) group. Many collectors focus on one or the other (vintage or contemporary), and breeze by the other booths as though they were invisible. I have often said that I enjoy the juxtaposition of old and new, but I don't think AIPAD can scale to be everything to everybody without doubling or tripling in size, and more photo specialists doesn't fix the problem; contemporary photography is just moving too fast. A more focused approach would create more interesting connections and interplays and less dissonance. If we have to go to two fairs, so be it. And an added benefit of this approach (at least from my perspective) is that the focused fairs will eliminate those booths that try to cover the history of photography on three walls with 20 pictures, and encourage both tighter editing and more single artist displays.

Feel free to dismantle this strawman idea in the comments, as I'm certainly open to other good ideas, but I think this is the most straightforward way to leverage the strengths of AIPAD to deliver on an important unmet need in the world of contemporary photography. AIPAD is about excellence in all facets of photography and the membership should take a leadership position in defining the best of contemporary photography, rather than ceding that task to others.

3.) I had the wonderful opportunity to meet individually with a handful of the top photography collectors in the United States during AIPAD this year. While collector bashing has become a common activity on the Internet (particularly as related to the current New Museum show), I was entirely blown away by the level of intellectual rigor and seriousness with which these collectors are applying themselves. These people are experts; there is no other appropriate word for their scholarly approach to the medium. In many cases, given their deep knowledge, these collectors are out ahead of the museum curators and gallery owners, digging into areas they find of interest, unearthing forgotten photographers or unexpected rare prints, filling in the gaps in the historical record. Universally, they seem to be passionate, driven, and quietly competitive people, searching for the absolute best and accepting nothing less. I suppose it is like most things, in that as one rises to the top echelon in any activity, the level of talent, effort and resources applied to the task gets higher and higher, and the competition gets far stiffer. As a very small fish in the collecting pond, it was clear that these folks are playing an entirely different game than we are, but I could also see a future where we slowly evolve toward this group, learning from them as we go, gathering more and more education and refining our eye as the years pass.
As a less than important aside, the VIP card system at the show is in need of some significant tuning. Virtually none of the major collectors I talked with had the cards, which made the fact that I had one both embarrassing and somewhat ridiculous. Regardless of whether a specific gallery put a name on a list, AIPAD should generate a list of the top photography collectors/curators worldwide and give these people cards irrespective of who is the named sponsor. These people should feel entirely welcomed; in actual fact, many were muttering and scratching their heads. In the end, I gave my card to someone far more deserving than I, which was probably against the rules, but seemed to be altogether appropriate given the circumstances.

All in, as always and regardless of my nitpicks and suggestions above, I had a tremendous time at this year's AIPAD. The look of the show itself was better than ever (I liked the use of more colored walls), and there was plenty of exciting work and a high density of fascinating people; overall, it was more to take in than is humanly possible. I was happy to meet all of you who reached out to say hello, and for those I missed in my whirlwind tour, we'll see you next year.

2010 AIPAD Review, Part 3 of 4

Parts 1 and 2 of this multi-part AIPAD post can be found here and here.
Laurence Miller Gallery (here): Helen Levitt (22), Stephane Couturier (2), Barbara Blondeau (3), Ray Metzker (11), Jan Dziackowski (3), Bruce Wrighton (3), Denis Darzacq (1), Burk Uzzle (3), Fred Herzog (2), plus 2 bins. I never tire of Metzker composites, and this one of nude silhouettes was spectacular; his recent abstracted reflections in car windows and hoods aptly named "Autowackies" were also worth a closer look. (Ray Metzker, Nude Composite, 1966/1982, at $125000.)

Robert Klein Gallery (here): Paulette Tavormina (3), Henri Cartier-Bresson (5 plus a glass case of books), Helen Levitt (2), Mario Giacomelli (3), Mark Cohen (8), Diane Arbus (1), Harry Callahan (2), Francesca Woodman (2), Ilse Bing (1), Edward Weston (3), Robert Steinberg (3), Victor Schrager (1), Arno Minkkinen (1), Jeff Brouws (9), Sebastiao Salgado (2), Lewis Hine (4). This booth was a broad mix of vintage and contemporary material. The Levitt phone booth below, with the child wearing striped sport socks squished against the expanse of patterned dress, is likely my favorite of her color images. (Helen Levitt, Untitled, New York, 1988, at $15000.)

Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery (here): Susanna Majuri (2), Bruce Davidson (3), Pertti Kekarainen (3), Hannu Karjalainen (6), Kalle Kataila (2), Ola Kolehmainen (1), Jim Campbell (1 lightbox), Shirley Shor (1 lightbox), Niko Luoma (2). This booth had echoes of the gallery's Armory show booth and its current Helsinki school exhibit, but I was most intrigued by the works by Jim Campbell and Shirley Shor - two more examples of the bleeding edge of contemporary photography. Campbell's crosswalk image looks static, but soon shadows of cars and pedestrians stream across and disappear, adding an elements of time and movement to a single frame. Shor's work shows the continuous assembly and disassembly of a portrait, with millions of pixels changing frenetically.

Monroe Gallery (here): Eddie Adams (1 triptych, 5 others), Bill Eppridge (3), Steve Schapiro (4), Irving Haberman (3), Mark Shaw (2), John Filo (1), Charles Moore (1), Jurgen Schadeberg (1), Stanley Forman (1), Carl Iwasaki (1), Bob Gomel (1), Vivian Cherry (1), Ida Wyman (1), Stephen Wilkes (5), plus 2 bins. This booth was filled with top quality photojournalism, and the image below from the aftermath of the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy shows how a photograph can be tranformed into an amazing artifact - the only remaining original master print of this poignant moment has been ravaged by fire. (Bill Eppridge, Burned Master Shot of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Ambassador Hotel Kitchen, Los Angeles, CA, June 5, 1968, for museum consideration.)

Rick Wester Fine Art (here): Sharon Harper (1), Irving Penn (4), Josef Sudek (1), Emmet Gowin (2), Jehsong Baak (3), Pinar Yolaçan (3), Harry Callahan (1), Frank Gohlke (1), Jeff Mermelstein (8), Meghan Boody (2), Louis Faurer (portfolio), Garry Winogrand (portfolio), Aaron Siskind (portfolio). I first saw Pinar Yolaçan's powerful portraits at the ICP Dress Codes show, and I continue to think they are among the most startling and memorable contemporary images I have seen recently. (Pinar Yolaçan, Untitled, 2007, at $5000.)

Deborah Bell Photographs (here): William Eggleston (1), Marcia Resnick (8), Geroge Gardiner (4), Vito Acconci (2), Robert Frank (1), Esther Bubley (1), August Sander (3), Susan Paulsen (4), Sid Kaplan (2), Louis Faurer (3), Harry Callahan (1), Tod Papageorge (1), Garry Winogrand (1), Gerard Petrus Fieret (4), Man Ray (1), André Kertész (1), Brassaï (1).

Stephen Daiter Gallery (here): Paul D'Amato (5), Helen Levitt (1), Joe Schwartz (1), Barbara Morgan (1), Marvin Newman (3), Lewis Hine (1), Sid Grossman (2), Andre Kertesz (5), Aaron Siskind (2), Art Sinsabaugh (1), Gyorgy Kepes (1), Harry Callahan (1), Frederick Sommer (1), Kenneth Jospehson (3), Walter Peterhans (1), Wayne Miller (1), Irving Penn (1), Ralph Eugene Meatyard (1), Heinrich Kuhn (1), Brassai (1), Barbara Crane (4), Lynne Cohen (1), Barbara Kasten (1). I think Art Sinsabaugh's thin panoramic landscapes and cityscapes have aged very well and are generally underappreciated; I liked the radiating lines of the tilled furrows in this particular work. (Art Sinsabaugh, Midwestern Landscape #34, 1962, at $25000.)

Stephen Bulger Gallery (here): Richard Harrington (1), Jean Louis Blondeau (1), Dave Heath (2), André Kertész (3, 1 group of 5, and 9 Polaroids), Helen Levitt (1), Lutz Dille (1), Sarah Anne Johnson (1 triptych and 1), Gilbert Garcin (2), Les Krims (1), George Zimbel (1), Henri Cartier-Bresson (1), Bertrand Carriere (1), Eliane Excoffier (3), Alison Rossiter (3), Fausta Facciponte (1), Harry Waddle (1), Erin O'Neill Haydn (1), Robert Bourdeau (2), Volker Seding (1), Scott Conarroe (1), Sanaz Mazinani (1), Jeff Thomas (1), John Vanderpant (1), Mark Ruwudel (1). This was a packed, "one of each" booth; I liked the concentric circles and shadows of the Vanderpant pipes best. (John Vanderpant, Untitled (Drainpipes), c1930, at $10000.)

Bruce Silverstein Gallery (here): Randy West (2), John Wood (3), Frederick Sommer (12), Nathan Lyons (5), Leonard Freed (6), Rosalind Solomon (6), Dorothea Lange (3), Barbara Morgan (3), Michael Wolf (1), Todd Hido (2), Edward Weston (3), Aaron Siskind (3), Brett Weston (1). The three variants of Sommer's portrait of Livia were the standouts in this booth.

Danziger Projects (here): Robert Mapplethorpe (1), Annie Liebovitz (2), George Tice (1), Viviane Sassen (3), Paul Fusco (1), Mario Sorrenti (1), Jim Krantz (1), Christopher Bucklow (1), Julia Margaret Cameron (1), Cosmo Innes (1), Edward Weston (2), Seydou Keita (2), Ezra Stoller, (2), Adam Fuss (1), plus 2 bins. With its elegant simplicity, this has always been one of my favorite Mapplethorpe nudes. (Robert Mapplethorpe, Lydia Cheng, 1987/1990, at $55000.)

Galerie Baudoin Lebon (here): Nadar (1), Adolphe Braun (1), Edouard Baldus (1), Louis-Alphonse Dauanne (1), Francois Merille (1), Eugène Atget (2), Autochromes (2), Paolo Gasparini (6), Leo Matiz (1), Alberto Korda (1), Sameer Makarius (1), Barbara Brandli (6), JB Greene (2), Jacques-Henri Lartigue (1), Constantin Brancusi (2). There was a terrific wall of black and white images from 1970s Caracas in this booth. There was also a nice Atget shopfront with ghostly figures bustling past on the sidewalk. (Paolo Gasparini, Car + Soto, Caracas, 1968, at $5000.)

Picture Photo Space (here): Kunihiko Katsumata (8), Issei Suda (4), Hiroshi Osaka (5), Nobuyoshi Araki (4), Diane Arbus (1), Eikoh Hosoe (1), Helmut Newton (1), Garry Winogrand (1), Sally Mann (2), and a few others that weren't marked.

Barry Singer Gallery (here): Brigitte Carnochan (1), Irene Fay (1), Berenice Abbott (1), Jack Welpott (2), Dave Heath (2), Eugene Smith (3), Lou Stoumen (2), Edward Weston (1), Weegee (1), Carlotta Corpon (1), Laura Gilpin (1), Marc Riboud (1), Minor White (1), Brett Weston (2), Clarence John Laughlin (1), Lloyd Ullberg (1), André Kertész (1), Wynn Bullock (1), Ansel Adams (1), Irving Penn (1), Anne Brigman (1), Jan Saudek (1), Don Jim (4), Michael Garlington (2), Gyorgy Kepes (1), Edmund Teske (1), Kenneth Josephson (1). This was another excellent Minor White that I hadn't seen before or had forgotten; the range of tonalities was masterful. (Minor White, Parking Lot, San Francisco, from Sequence 9, 1952, at $15000.)

Continue to Part 4 here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

2010 AIPAD Review, Part 2 of 4

Part 1 of this multi-part AIPAD post can be found here.

Robert Mann Gallery (here): Holly Andres (3), Michael Kenna (4), Robbert Flick (2), Joe Deal (5), Gail Albert Halaban (2), Mary Mattingly (1), Jeff Brouws (1), Wijnanda Deroo (1), Susan Rankatis (2), Aaron Siskind (2), Henry Wessel (1), Robert Frank (4), Ansel Adams (1), Alfred Stieglitz (2), Paul Strand (1), Paul Haviland (1), Elijah Gowin (1 set of 8). USC professor Robbert Flick was another discovery for me at the show. All of the individual images in the grid below were taken in the same concrete parking structure, with a mix of natural and fluorescent light slashing across the dark floors and walls. (Robbert Flick, SV# 034/81 - Inglewood Parking Structure #2, 1981, at $10000.)

Scheinbaum & Russek (here): Luis Gonzalez Palma (5), Manuel Alvarez Bravo (5), Beaumont Newhall (1), Henri Cartier-Bresson (2), Andre Kertesz (2), Flor Ganduno (1), Manuel Carillo (1), Brett Weston (1), Paul Caponigro (2), Walter Chappell (1), Edward Weston (1), Harry Callahan (3), Minor White (3), Aaron Siskind (2), Lynn Geesaman (2), Eliot Porter (6), plus 2 bins. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Walter Chappell nude below, not only because it is a spectaular image that would fit well into our collection, but also because we took it out of the frame to see the notes on the back, which explain that the print was reversed for the cover of Aperture #79, at the request of Minor White. (Walter Chappell, Nude Armpit, Wingdale, NY, 1962/1969, ay $8500.)

Yossi Milo Gallery (here): Myoung Ho Lee (1), Loretta Lux (5), Youssef Nabil (4), Kohei Yoshiyuki (9), Sze Tsung Leong (11), Robert Bergman (2).

Robert Koch Gallery (here): Larry Schwarm (2), Ilse Bing (2), Eadward Muybridge (1), Francis Frith (1), Michael Wolf (3), Brian Ulrich (1), Amy Stein (1), Jeff Brouws (4), Josef Koudelka (2), Bill Owens (1), plus 1 bin. The Koudelka image below was not at all what I envision when I think of his work, but I very much liked the simplicity of the forms in this wide print. (Josef Koudelka, Dunkerque-Port, 1986/1991, at $18000.)

Joseph Bellows Gallery (here): Bevan Davies (4), Terry Wild (2), Steven Salmieri (2), Randall Levenson (3), Wayne Lazorik (2), Enrico Natali (4), Nacio Jan Brown (2), Joanne Leonard (2), Jack Teemer (2), Joni Sternbach (6), Bill Arnold (1), Jay Boersma (4), Michael Light (4 large format books), plus 4 bins. This booth had plenty of unexpected and tempting work in it. I enjoyed both Joni Sternbach's atmospheric tintype surfers, as well as Michael Light's massive aerial scenes of Los Angeles highways and refineries. My favorite image in the booth was this small Terry Wild image below; I liked the stark contrast of adjacent black and white walls. (Terry Wild, Los Angeles, CA, 1969, at $5000.)

Project 5 (here): Jill Greenberg (6), Thomas Allen (8), Guido Castagnoli (7), Stuart O'Sullivan (1), Olaf Otto Becker (1). Project 5 brings together the work from five different New York galleries: ClampArt, Foley Gallery, Sasha Wolf Gallery, Daniel Cooney Fine Art, and Amador Gallery. The first portfolio from the group contains five prints: one each from a single artist from each gallery stable. I liked the contagious energy in this small booth, driven by three of the gallery directors collaborating to answer questions.

Catherine Edelman Gallery (here): Julie Blackmon (5), Gregory Scott (3), Lauren Simonutti (21), Joel-Peter Witkin (2), Keith Carter (1), Holly Roberts (2). I have recently been exploring some of the undefined edges of contemporary photography, where cameras are no longer used and traditional definitions of photography are hopelessly quaint. Gregory Scott's lightbox works in this booth have HD video embedded inside; stand and watch one for a while and a small portion of it will change and then stop again, turning the idea of a still frame on its head. It's not video art, nor is it exactly photography; it's something else, a 21st century mashup, with a hint of where we may see the medium go in the future. (Gregory Scott, Color Grid, 2009, at $22000.)

Gitterman Gallery (here): Alfred Stieglitz (2), Louis Faurer (1), Josef Breitenbach (1), Eugene Smith (1), Minor White (1), Edward Weston (1), Ferenc Berko (5), Kenneth Josephson (7), Roger Mayne (1), Allen Frame (4), Lewis Baltz (2), plus 2 bins. As always, there were good things to see in Tom Gitterman's booth. I enjoyed the two Baltz images, as well as the selection of Josephson prints (we'll visit the larger show on view at the gallery soon). Below is a Ferenc Berko from the late 1940s, a spare composition of thin lines and simple abstracted black shapes, almost like a Calder. (Ferenc Berko, Store Display, Chicago, 1947-48, at $5500.)

Bonni Benrubi Gallery (here): Massimo Vitali (1), Georges Dambier (2), Matthew Pillsbury (4), Andreas Feininger (3), Gillian Laub (3), Abelardo Morell (4), Josef Hoflehner (1), Laura McPhee (1 diptych), Jehad Nga (2).

Halsted Gallery (here): Irving Penn (1), Emmet Gowin (1), Harry Callahan (2), Walker Evans (4), Andre Kertesz (5), Ruth Orkin (3), George Tice (1), Larry Glazer (1), Berenice Abbott (2), Frederick Evans (2), Michael Kenna (2), Ansel Adams (2), Arnold Newman (1), O. Winston Link (1), Edward Weston (4), Imogen Cunningham (1), Bill Brandt (1), Morris Engel (1), William Christenberry (1), plus 3 bins. The Halsteds have been running their photo gallery for 40 years now, and there was a fun book on the table in the booth showing old pictures of various family members paired with famous photographers, interspersed with letters and other correspondence. In the booth, I liked the vintage Max Yavo from San Francisco best, with its overlapping layers of houses. (Max Yavno, Army Street, 1940s, at $4500.)

Higher Pictures (here): Barbara Crane (9), Issei Suda (3), LaToya Ruby Frazier (4), Alfred Gescheidt (10), Scott Peterman (3), Sam Falls (4), Jill Freedman (7). While I have written about Barbara Crane's repeats previously, I continue to find them original and exciting. (Barbara Crane, Dan Ryan Expressway, Chicago, 1975, at $7000.)

Beijing Jade Jar Fine Art (no website that I could find): Zhou Ning (3), Hu Wugong (3), Wang Shilong (3), Wang Yishu (2), Fu Yu (2), Yiming Jiang (9), Lu Houmin (6), Yu Deshui (6), Liu Tiesheng (1), Jin Hongwei (13). It was great to see a mix of vintage and contemporary Chinese photography in this booth; we need to see much more of this kind of work here in the United States to begin to make sense of the evolution of Chinese photography.
Continue to Part 3 here.

2010 AIPAD Review, Part 1 of 4

The 2010 AIPAD Photography Show in New York last week was once again the dominant event on the annual American photography calendar, at least for collectors like us. With 76 exhibitors (mostly galleries and private dealers, but with a few booksellers thrown in for good measure), AIPAD remains the single best place to see the entire breadth of photography, from 19th century to contemporary, on display in one place at one time in the United States; collectors, curators, and photographers from all over the world come to New York specifically for this show just to see what is on view and available.

I made three separate trips to the show this year: a visit to the Wenesday night opening, as well as more focused sessions on Thursday and Friday afternoons. In between an active review of the booths, I met with all kinds of people: collectors large and small, working photographers, musuem curators, and particularly gallery owners/dealers. For the first time ever, I think I spent more time talking (and listening and learning) than I did looking. This is not to say that I didn't end each day with a glassy eyed stare, earned through an overload of visual stimulation; I just interleaved meetings into spurts of booth scouring for a completely full calendar.

This 2010 AIPAD Review will be divided into 4 parts. The first three posts will be the customary booth reports, with lists of the photographers on view (the number of pictures by each in parentheses) and some additional commentary or a specific image (and its details) as further illustration. Given the scope of this fair, I have not attempted to create a complete count of everything on display - there was just too much; there will only be reports on about half of the booths, mainly chosen by pictures that really grabbed my attention or that I subjectively thought deserved some additional discussion; those that have been ommitted were not any less good necessarily, they just didn't stop me in my tracks enough to keep me from relentlessly moving on. As an aside, I seem to have developed a kind of strange x-ray vision (perhaps a byproduct of too much fair-going) - I scan the contents of a booth and often a single image stands out as though lit by an invisible spotlight, while the rest of the images fall back into the blurry and less interesting periphery. It's a kind of "aha" moment, when something unexpected, unusual, or exciting is discovered amidst the normal smorgasbord of work we've generally seen before. The final post in the series will try to step up a level or two and consider some of the ideas, patterns, and conclusions I've drawn from this year's fair; seeing such a plethora of photography isn't just about checklists and prices - there are larger themes present that cut across easy divisions/summaries and are worth a little bit deeper discussion.

For those of you who can never get enough and like to compare alternate viewpoints, a few additional AIPAD reviews worth checking out are those by collector/blogger Evan Mirapaul (here), gallery owner/blogger James Danziger (here and here), and Ken Johnson of the NY Times (here).

So let's get started. The galleries presented are in no particular order, although I've tried to spread some favorites out across the three posts. Apologies for the marginal images, as they are often marred by reflections or glare:

Paul Hertzmann (here): Lisette Model (1), Harry Callahan (1), Ilse Bing (1), Lucia Moholy (1), Eugène Atget (1), Brassaï (1), Imogen Cunningham (2), Francis Bruguière (2), Leo Dohmen (1), Consuelo Kanaga (1), Edward Weston (2), Margaret Bourke-White (1), Ansel Adams (1), Osamu Shiihara (3), Gertrude Käsebier (1), Dorothea Lange (1), Gerard Petrus Fieret (1), plus 4 bins. We have quite a few Cunninghams in our collection and I can say unequivocally that the Cunningham nude of Portia Hume (1930) below was the best picture I saw at AIPAD this year. We have seen this image illustrated in several books over the years, but we have never seen an actual print of this work (vintage or otherwise) anywhere; it was already sold by the time I got to the booth at the opening night party.

Michael Shapiro Photographs (here): Ansel Adams (2), Frederick Sommer (1), Minor White (2), Edward Weston (2), Dorothea Lange (1), Brett Weston (1), Florence Henri (1), Margaret Bourke-White (2), Eugene Smith (1), Kurt Baasch (1), Martin Munkacsi (1), Robert Frank (2), Manuel Alvarez Bravo (2), Edward Steichen (1), Helen Levitt (1), Berenice Abbott (2), Irving Penn (1), Danny Lyon (1), Henri Cartier-Bresson (1), Hannes Beckmann (1), and a group of vernacular images on the outside wall (UPDATE: I misidentified these images, see the comments). While many of the visitors were crowded around a vintage Frank in this booth, I most enjoyed the simplicity of the Minor White image below, with its contrasts of pattern and texture. (Minor White, Abstraction: The Bird with the Misplaced Heart, 1948, at $12500)

Howard Greenberg Gallery (here): Frank Gohlke (3), Robert Frank (2), Saul Leiter (4), William Klein (1), Louis Faurer (4), Ted Croner (4), Miroslav Tichý (5), Bruce Davidson (1), and a wall of Photo League work (13).

Lee Gallery (here): Paul Outerbridge (1), Pierre Dubreuil (1), Alfred Stieglitz (1), Heinrich Kühn (1), Robert Frank (1), László Moholy-Nagy (1), Walker Evans (1), Ilse Bing (2), Dorothea Lange (1), Carleton Watkins (3), Henry Bosse (2), plus 2 bins. The thing I like most about visiting the Lees is that I always feel like I depart smarter than when I arrived; they are friendly and welcoming, while also being deeply knowledgeable about the works they have available. Over several conversations during the fair, we had a debate about the 1929 Kühn rubber plant bromoil and its place in the context of 1920s German floral photography, considered the supply of top material in the market, covered some of the intricacies of Outerbridge's carbo process, and admired the intersecting lines and geometries (as well as what is presumably the photographer's shadow) in the Moholy image below (Untitled (Woman on Ship Deck, Finland), 1930, at $30000).

Edwynn Houk Gallery (here): Robert Polidori (3), Joel Meyerowitz (1), Stephen Shore (4), Sebastiaan Bremer (1), Vera Lutter (1), Man Ray (1), Brassaï (3), André Kertész (1), Bill Brandt (1), Manuel Alvarez Bravo (1), Imogen Cunningham (1). The Houk booth was an even mix of contemporary and vintage material. I had not seen the terrific Vera Lutter below before; it was large and eye catching in the center of the booth - a new look at a very overworked subject (Times Square VII, 2007, at $75000).

Amador Gallery (here): Robert Voit (7), Olaf Otto Becker (2), Taiji Matsue (2). In contrast to most of the overstuffed booths in this fair, the Amador booth was clean and fresh, with just a handful of large color images filling the walls. Anecdotally, I heard that there was significant interest (from museums and collectors alike) in the Voit cell tower trees.

Richard Moore Photographs (here): Ralph Steiner (3), Russell Lee (1), Jack Delano (1), Arthur Rothstein (1), Morris Engel (1), Weegee (2), Irving Penn (1), Ansel Adams (1), Helen Levitt (1), Bill Owens (1), Garry Winogrand (1), Lewis Hine (1), Margrethe Mather (1), Frederick Evans (1), Clarence White (1), Karl Struss (1), Frank Eugene (1), Arnold Genthe (1), Frances Johnston (1), plus 3 bins. The 1950s Ralph Steiner below was an image that I hadn't seen before; I liked the mixture of tonalities and layers of geometries, and it reminded me of a similar composition by Jeff Wall. (Ralph Steiner, Bissell Factory, Employee Washroom, 1959, at $5500)

Weston Gallery (here): Eugene Cuvelier (1), Edouard Baldus (1), Linnaeus Tripe (1), J.B. Greene (1), Frederick Evans (1), Anonymous (1 cyanotype pair), Roger Fenton (2), Antoine Claudet (1), Eugène Atget (1), Rod Dresser (1), Roman Loranc (2), André Kertész (8), Edward Weston (3), Henri Cartier-Bresson (1), Paul Strand (3), Johan Hagemeyer (2), Brett Weston (2), Edward Steichen (2), Wynn Bullock (2), Ansel Adams (2), Harry Callahan (1), and a few more in the back room. The best flower image at AIPAD this year was this delicate Hagemeyer. (Johan Hagemeyer, Talisman Rose, 1938, at $20000.)

Hemphill Fine Arts (here): Godfrey Frankel (3), William Christenberry (8), Don Donaghy (5), Franz Jantzen (1), Kendall Messick (1).

Yancey Richardson Gallery (here): Esko Männikkö (3), Alex Prager (3), Sharon Core (2), Andrew Moore (2), Mitch Epstein (2), Hellen Van Meene (4), Hiroh Kikai (3), August Sander (3), Rudy Burckhardt (2), Laura Letinsky (1), Lisa Kereszi (1). This booth was quite similar in concept to the gallery's Armory booth. The bold Epstein on the outside wall was the perfect antidote for those overwhelmed by the sea of black and white vintage photography at the fair. (Mitch Epstein, Liquidation Sale V, 2000, at $11000)

Eric Franck Fine Art (here): Norman Parkinson (5), Enzo Sellerio (3), Henri Cartier-Bresson (5), Paul Hart (2), Chris Killip (4), Graham Smith (4), Al Vandenberg (6), Antanas Sutkus (4), Rimaldas Viksraitis (4), Marketa Luskacova (2), Jindrich Streit (4), Josef Koudelka (3), Lottie Davies (3). Graham Smith was a new discovery for me. The image below has echoes of Brassaï's bar scenes, but with an English sensibility and a wonderful undertone of humor. (Graham Smith, I Thought I Saw Liz Taylor and Bob Mitchum in the Back Room of the Commercial, UK, 1984 at $5000.)

Photology (here): Helmut Newton (5), Carlo Mollino (8), Maura Banfo (4), Yasumasa Morimura (8), Andy Warhol (1), Robert Mapplethorpe (8), Gian Paolo Barbieri (5), Mario Schifano (4), Nobuyoshi Araki (4), Luigi Ghirri (4), Christopher Makos (11). A booth full of Polaroids by various artists.
Continue to Part 2 here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bill Hunt on Collecting

While today will bring another full throttle afternoon of looking and talking at AIPAD (the review posts will start on Monday), here's a terrific conversation with gallery owner Bill Hunt on collecting to keep you busy. Find it at Conscientious Extended here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Auction: Fine Photographs, March 23, 2010 @Swann

Swann has scheduled a various owner photography auction to follow the single owner White collection sale planned for earlier the same day. For the most part, this sale is representative of Swann's usual mix of material. There are 137 lots on offer, with a total High estimate of $1052200. (Catalog cover at right, via Swann.)

Here's the statistical breakdown:

Total Low Lots (high estimate up to and including $10000): 115
Total Low Estimate (sum of high estimates of Low lots): $559200

Total Mid Lots (high estimate between $10000 and $50000): 22
Total Mid Estimate: $493000

Total High Lots (high estimate above $50000): 0
Total High Estimate: NA
The top lot by High estimate is shared between two lots: lot 180, Ansel Adams, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941/1960s, and lot 223, Helmut Newton, Woman Observing Man, Saint-Tropez, 1975/1980s, (image at right, via Swann) both at $30000-40000.

Below is the list of photographers with 3 or more lots in the sale (with the number of lots in parentheses):

Ansel Adams (9)
Edward Curtis (9)
Lewis Hine (6)
Josef Sudek (6)
Berenice Abbott (5)
Brett Weston (5)
Horst P. Horst (4)
Robert Doisneau (3)
Andre Kertesz (3)
William Mortensen (3)
Helmut Newton (3)
Aaron Siskind (3)
The complete lot by lot catalog can be found here. The 3D version is located here.

March 23rd

104 East 25th Street
New York, NY 10010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Auction: The Stephen L. White Photograph Collection, March 23, 2010 @Swann

Swann's first photography sale of 2010 is a single owner collection of American photography owned by Stephen L. White. The collection mixes historical and fine art images from the 19th and 20th centuries, and was featured at an exhibit at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2001 (here). This catalogue divides the lots according to three categories that characterize the American Dream: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. There are 102 lots on offer in this sale, with a total High estimate of $786050. (Catalog cover at right, via Swann.)

Here's the statistical breakdown:

Total Low Lots (high estimate up to and including $10000): 81
Total Low Estimate (sum of high estimates of Low lots): $277050

Total Mid Lots (high estimate between $10000 and $50000): 20
Total Mid Estimate: $434000

Total High Lots (high estimate above $50000): 1
Total High Estimate: $75000

The top lot by High estimate is lot 73 Alfred Stieglitz, Going Home by Ferry, New York City, 1902/1920s, at $50000-75000. (Cover lot, at right.)

This collection is quite widely dispersed in terms of the artists represented. As a result, below is the rather short list of photographers (not including unidentified or anonymous photographers) with more than 1 lot in the sale (with the number of lots in parentheses):

Lewis Hine (5)
Eadward Muybridge (4)
Edward Steichen (2)
Alfred Stieglitz (2)
Benjamin Strauss (2)
Dr. Dain Tasker (2)

For our particular collection, we were most drawn to lot 62, Dr. Dain L. Tasker, Daffodils (in box), 1933, at $15000-25000. (Image at right, via Swann.)

The complete lot by lot catalog can be found here. The 3D version is located here.

The Stephen L. White Photograph Collection
March 23rd

Swann Galleries
104 East 25th Street
New York, NY 10010

Say Hello at AIPAD

As most of you certainly know, the rest of this week/weekend is the once a year AIPAD Photography Show here in New York. We're planning the same in-depth booth by booth coverage you've come to expect.

Whether you are a collector (large or small), curator, auction house specialist, photographer, book publisher, critic, fellow blogger, or whoever, if you are a regular reader here, I'd enjoy meeting you at the fair, if only for a few moments to look you in the eye, shake your hand, and get your feedback on how we can improve this site. I plan to be at the fair a good portion of Thursday afternoon, likely part of Friday afternoon as well, and at the opening tonight. Shoot me an email at info@dlkcollection.com and hopefully we can find a time to say hello.

Baron Adolph de Meyer @Robert Miller

JTF (just the facts): A total of 91 works, variously framed and matted (some in elaborate period frames with linen mats), and hung throughout the entire gallery (a series of 5 rooms and hallways). Virtually all of the images are portraits. The prints are mostly vintage, taken throughout De Meyer's career, beginning in 1897 and ending in 1940. The print sizes are all intimate, ranging between 4x3 and 14x11. While most of the prints are gelatin silver prints, there are other processes represented in the exhibit as well: albumen, pigment, platinum, and platinum palladium. There is also one glass case containing portraits of the artist. (Installation shots at right.)

Comments/Context: Given the ubiquitous nature of fashion and celebrity culture today, the main reason to see this show is to step back in time and understand where it all got started. Baron Adolph De Meyer was the first staff photographer for both Vogue and Vanity Fair and his luxurious images of society ladies and film stars of the early 1900s paved the way for the explosion that has come since.
De Meyer's images were made in the soft-focus Pictorialist style of the times, with a heavy dose of Edwardian aristocratic glamour. His subjects outfitted themselves in a wide spectrum of old world finery, oriental exotica, and risque new Art Deco frocks; there are mountains of feathers, flowers, and lace, billowing formal ball gowns, furs, jewels, and over-the-top fabulous hats. Virtually all of the women are lit from behind (with the light in their hair), artfully posing in windows and doorways or in seen in profile in staged interior scenes, hands extended or folded just so. Vanderbilts, Havemeyers, and Isabella Stewart Gardner are mixed in with Josephine Baker, Nijinsky and a parade of now-forgotten actresses, the wealthy and the famous placed on equal footing, for the adoration of the masses.
An exhibit like this cannot avoid having a bit of a dated, period piece feel to it, but there are plenty of echoes and connections to the pages of our current fashion magazines that make this show more than just an interesting time capsule. When De Meyer gets it just right, his portraits have a timeless grace and elegance (with a touch of surprising modernism) that rivals the best of what has been produced since.

Collector's POV: The prints in this show are priced quite differently based on the process in use. The gelatin silver prints range between $5000 and $63500. The platinum and platinum palladium prints start at $16000 and continue up to $160000. The albumen prints are either $19000 or $19500, and the one pigment print is $260000. There are 11 prints that are marked "not for sale".
De Meyer's work has been only intermittently available at auction in the past few years, with a wide range in prices based on the rarity of the lots on offer. Lesser known works have recently gone for as little as $2000, while just last Fall, a platinum print of Water Lilies went for $170000 at Christie's.

Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)
Transit Hub:

  • NY Times T magazine (here), Style.com (here)
  • Book: A Singular Elegance, 1994 (here)
Baron Adolph de Meyer
Through April 3rd

Robert Miller Gallery
524 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10001