I Used To ……….

A few weeks ago, I was walking around the Soho section of Manhattan, inspecting some buildings as part of my job. I started to think to myself the same things I’d thought a year earlier when I was also out there to look at buildings.

“I used to come here to Soho so often,” was what I told myself. “What happened? Why haven’t I been here for so long?” Indeed, there were some totally new buildings that I don’t remember having seen being built.

As it is, visiting Soho is just one of a long litany of things that I used to do regularly but I just haven’t done that much, if at all, during recent years.

I used to go to see movies after work and on weekends.
I used to go to concerts at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center after work and on weekends.
I used to go to the Metropolitan Opera after work and on weekends (and even had a subscription for a few years).
I used to go to opening night receptions at photo galleries after work.
I used to go to photo galleries during the week and on weekends.
I used to go for long walks in the city, just for the sake of walking and looking around.

And the list goes on.

So, what happened? Well, I guess it’s a combination of things. Maybe I’m just getting old and tired. After a putting in a day at work, I just feel like heading straight home so I can take my shoes off and relax. (Of course, much of that ‘relaxation’ time is devoted to things like developing film, scanning and filing negatives, writing this blog, etc – so I need to have a lot of it.)

On weekends, I just feel like staying home, too. After having to deal with the subway five days a week, I guess I just want to avoid it during my days off.

Still, I think it’s more than that, but something physical, too. I suppose it began in earnest with my foot surgery two years ago. (Tomorrow, in fact, will be the second anniversary of the surgery, so it’s appropriate that I’m writing about it now.) After the surgery, I really had to stay off of my feet (or at least one foot) as much as I could. That made it rather different to get around and do the things I used to do. Two years later, it still isn’t easy as my foot still hurts!

Then last year, a week after I stopped walking with a cane, I got hit by a car. Again, I was forced to have to take it easy. Now, this year, a number of things have been bothering me that have kept me going to doctors on a regular basis.

I think these things explain much of it, but not all of it. There’s one more thing that has kept me at home and prevented me from getting out and about. I wrote about it earlier here regarding my trip to Montreal a few years. In a word: inertia. The force that resists a change in motion (or in my case, a lack of motion). A case of too-lazy-to-get-off-my-ass-itis.

Last year, late in the summer, I was walking down Third Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and saw a fellow walking toward me who I thought I recognized. He wore shorts and a t-shirt, and was carrying a grocery bag or two in each hand. As we got closer, he looked at me with a bright face and exclaimed “Hey, I know you! You used to come into the gallery, didn’t you?!”

That’s right, I did. He was the manager of a small gallery that was owned by a larger, adjoining gallery in Soho, and I used to visit both galleries regularly. The odd thing is that I always felt that he scowled at me whenever I came in, and now he’s treating me like a long lost friend! Well, that was okay with me. He told me that he now owns his own gallery on the East Side, and said I should drop by some time. I told him that I did want to start getting back into the swing of things, and being close to the start of the Fall arts season, he said the time was right to start.

Well, you can tell from this blog entry so far that I never did start. Still, I haven’t given up. Last month, I went to the opening night reception at a cooperative gallery in Tribeca that I’m thinking of joining (but that’s another story.) Yesterday, I got off my ass and took the subway into Manhattan to do some photo viewing. New York is a great place for doing such things, with lots of galleries and museums showing the best of the best (as well as material not quite that lofty, too.)

What a lot of people don’t realize is that New York City also hosts branches of the world’s best auction houses. Twice a year (normally in April and October), they hold their big photography auctions. I don’t attend the auctions – they’re during the work week, and I can’t afford anything, anyway – but the previews have weekend hours and they are free and open the public. Anybody who’s interested in art photography and is in town during the auction previews should try to see them. It’s like going to visit a photography museum – and it’s free!

So, yesterday, I went to a couple of auction houses for the first time in several years. I started with Phillips de Pury, way over on the west side of Manhattan in West Chelsea. It had photos on display for its own auction, including photos from Lisa Lyons’ collection of photos made of her by Robert Mapplethorpe, but I was also interested in seeing the New York preview for the Photo Review benefit auction, which will be held in Philadelphia on November 8. (See http://www.photoreview.org/auction.htm The online catalog should be up in a week or two.)

I generally attend the event each year and also donate a print or two. This year’s contribution is one from my Nevada nude series. You can see it at the top of today’s posting – and can place a bid on it if you want to buy it cheap. Benefit auctions often yield sale prices much lower than normal, so I generally do my own collecting – with my limited budget – at these events. The Photo Review is the primary one I go to, so I was interested in seeing what will be up for grabs. There were some nice nudes that I saw (including one of historical interest and one of a model who I photographed myself last month!), but I also have a collection of 19th Century images of Japan and ancient Egyptian monuments, and there were some of those, too.

From there, I wanted to see the previews at both Christie’s and Sotheby’s, but as I only had time for one, I choose Christie’s for its proximity to the Rockefeller Center subway stop. Again, there were a lot of beautiful photos on display, and it reminded me of how important it is to go out and see actual photographic prints, as opposed to seeing images on a computer screen.

Between the two auction houses, I saw a number of my favorite classic photographic images: Chez Mondrian by Andre Kertesz (posted here); Alfred Eisendstadt’s wonderful photo of kids watching a puppet show (posted here); Edward Weston’s classic nude of Charis Wilson (posted here), which I consider to be the classic nude image; and another of my favorite nudes, that by Herb Ritts showing a model covered by some windblown transparent fabric (posted here).

I’m also posting some other interesting images here. I think my favorite of the Mapplethorpe-Lisa Lyon collection was the one of her with a large snake. One of those that I saw at Christie’s was the Richard Avedon photo of Nastassja Kinski, also with a large snake. This particular print was big – over four feet across – and I stood there imagining how such a photo would look on my living room wall above the sofa. Of course, since the estimated sale price for this print is in the $50,000 to $70,000 range, I would need to sell my apartment to be able to buy it, which means I would no longer have a wall upon which to hang it, which would kind of defeat the purpose of buying it in the first place!

Another stunning image with a very high estimate ($150,000 – $250,000) was a gorgeous Irving Penn photo from 1950, shot for the cover of Vogue. The black & white print was just stunning. Ah, to have money to burn……

Overall, I saw a lot of photos by a lot of great photographers – Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Andre Kertesz, Helmut Newton, Robert Mapplethorpe, Richard Avedon, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Irving Penn, Alfred Eisenstadt , etc. It’s one reason why living in New York has its advantages.

As for Soho, there are two reasons why I haven’t been visiting much lately. The first is that I used to be able to walk to Soho from my office in time to hit a gallery and then get back before my lunch hour was over. When my office moved several blocks further away from Soho, I could no longer do that. The other thing is that most of the photo galleries moved away from Soho, mostly to West Chelsea or the Upper East Side. If I can get over my case of inertia, I’ll just have to go someplace else to view the art that’s on offer.

I was going to write some things about the presidential campaign, but I’ve written enough already, so that will have to wait until next time, when I’ll post some new images of my own, too.

About Dave Rudin

Dave Rudin is a fine art photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He specializes in art nude and travel photography, using black & white film and making silver gelatin prints in a darkroom.
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2 Responses to I Used To ……….

  1. Lin says:

    Fantastic images! I really enjoyed them. But you’re right of course, to see them in their full glory I would need to see the original prints. Nothing else comes close. I’ve seen some of the Lisa Lyons prints myself. They don’t look particularly special online, but the originals…wow! Unfortunately we only get to go to London maybe twice a year (where the exhibitions are) but worth the trip every time.

  2. Thank you for sharing those fabulous images. For some reason, Irving Penn’s really stood out for me. I saw work by many of the same artists at Art Chicago last spring, and it inspired some of the most intense work Joe Crachiola and I have done to date. We really need to refresh ourselves with such a challenge from time to time.

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