DATE: April 12, 2008
Come April, photography blossoms in New York City
like buds on the trees. For those who like a little competitive action,
Christie's, Phillips de Pury and Sotheby's all hold their big
photography auctions. For a more relaxed experience, it's off to the
annual AIPAD Photography Show, Apr. 10-13, 2008, at the New York Armory
on Park Avenue. Sponsored by the Association of International
Photography Art Dealers, the show, now in its 28th edition, presents
more than 75 dealers from the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan.
©Patrick McMullan Photo - JOE SCHILDHORN/
year, the fair seemed to feature a lot of glamour photography by
everyone from Norman Parkinson to Steven Klein. This time around, the
show seems split between newly unearthed vintage material and new work
by contemporary photographers.
One highlight that falls into neither of these categories is the display
of photos by the legendary Museum of Modern Art curator John Szarkowski
at the booth of Pace/MacGill, opposite to the entrance to the fair.
When Szarkowski was made director of MoMA's photo department in 1962,
not a single art gallery in New York was devoted to photography (Witkin
Gallery opened in 1969, and Light Gallery in 1971). Among his own
artfully composed black-and-white prints are several that predate his
MoMA job, including a complex and alluring Chicago street-scene from
1954 showing terra-cotta detailing on the Garrick Theater cheek-by-jowl
with the "Ham 'n' Egger" diner (a new print is $5,500).
at Pace/MacGill is a vintage gelatin print of Man Ray's 1923 Return to
Reason, a sensuous portrait of the nude torso of Kiki de Montparnasse
caressed by shadows. The image is taken from the three-minute-long
Dadaist film of the same name, which begins with a montage of
rayographic images of tacks and nails, and ends with Kiki twirling and
showing off her shapely body. The price: $900,000. The film is viewable
on YouTube -- click here).
Around the corner is the booth of Joshua Mann Pailet, the irrepressible
proprietor of A Gallery for Fine Photography in New Orleans. On view in
his stand is a mural-sized new color photograph by Sandy Skoglund.
Two-and-a-half years in the making, the photo -- titled Fresh Hybrid
(2008) -- shows a typical American family exploring a tableaux including
pipe-cleaner grass and felt-covered green trees sprouting bright yellow
chicks from their branches. A large print -- it comes in three sizes --
is $75,000. The work is the first of a series of the four seasons, and
A second wall at A Gallery for Fine Photography is covered with orotone
prints (silver gelatin printed on glass and backed with gold, the same
technique used by Edward S. Curtis) by the New Orleans team of Jeff
Louviere and Vanessa Brown, who work as Louviere + Vanessa. Their
Boschian images of distorted creatures have proved popular, said gallery
director Edward Hébert. "We're going to have to raise their prices." At
present their photos sell for $1,000-$10,000.
Other contemporary photographers with stuff at the fair include the
Dutch artist Erwin Olaf, whose 4 x 4 ft. portrait of a sleekly winsome
brunette, called Hope 5 (2005), displayed on the outside of the Hasted
Hunt booth, was marked sold at $25,000 as soon as the fair opened.
Another contemporary artist, Julie Blackmon, who is based in
Springfield, Mo., was displaying her color digital prints at the booth
of Catherine Edelman Gallery from Chicago.
Before the Storm, 2007
22 x 22 inches, edition of 25
32 x 32 inches, edition
Courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery
Clearly inspired by Dutch
genre scenes, Blackmon's contemporary interiors are enlivened by
playing children and realistic suburban disarray, as well as by
references to Renaissance art via reproductions of Old Master paintings
on the walls. The photos are produced in different sizes and editions,
and priced between $3,200 and $4,450.
Among the 19th-century works on offer at the fair is a transfixing
ambrotype from 1959-60 of John Brown, the revolutionary abolitionist who
tried to launch an insurrection to end slavery and was hung for his
trouble in 1959. A photo of a photo of a photo, this ambrotype is $7,000
at the booth of Charles Schwartz Ltd.
Nearby, at Richard Moore Photographs from Oakland are several works from
a trove of 16 photographs by the early-20th-century California bohemian
Margrethe Mather (1886-1952), who is credited with introducing the
Illinois family man Edward Weston to the artistic milieu. A frequent
model for Weston herself, Mather made sophisticated portraits of artists
and writers in Los Angeles in the first part of the century before
giving up photography entirely (and sinking into alcoholism). The group
of 16 photographs here -- priced between $25,000 and $50,000 -- were
recently discovered in the estate of Gertrude Barrett, a musician and
member of Mather's circle.
Fans of 19th-century photography won't want to miss the booth of Hans P.
Kraus Jr., which features several prints from L'Album Simart, assembled
in 1856-60 and now on view at the gallery at 962 Park Avenue till May
9, 2008. A longstanding mystery in the photo world, the author of these
striking pictures is unknown, but thought to be a member of the circle
of French sculptor Pierre Charles Simart. The relatively large -- ca. 12
x 17 in. -- salt print of an apple tree is thought to complete a suite
of nudes on the theme of Adam and Eve.
Another 19th-century trove is on view at Gary Edwards Gallery from
Washington, D.C. The striking 1852 calotype by Maxime DuCamp showing a
sculpture at Abu Simbel gradually emerging from the desert sand is one
of a group of 100 salt prints, which also includes works by Roger
Fenton, William Henry Fox Talbot and James Anderson. The entire lot can
be yours for $1 million.
By Walter Robinson
For Artnet Magazine