Bill Owens at PDNB
One of the great things about living in New York as a photographer and a lover of photography is the presence of so many galleries, auction houses and museums that devote themselves either totally or in part to photography. Another advantage is that it’s the location of the annual Photography Show held by the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD). In short, for several days, New York becomes THE center of the photography world as dealers from around the world come to the city to display and sell their works. The event is being held at the Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Avenue by 67th Street, from April 4 to 7.
I attended the press preview for the event on Wednesday evening, and I’ll tell you this now: having only a few hours to look through the photographs on display by over 80 dealers is not enough time. No easier is writing about it, which can be something of a daunting task.
The display at Throckmorton
Rather than try to look at things from an objective point of view, I think I’ll do as I did last year and write about the things that I saw are of particular interest to me. First off, I’ll say that I am drawn to classic black & white imagery – and there was certainly plenty of that to like. (Of course, the word “classic” can apply to work made last year as well as to that done fifty or a hundred years ago.)
Besides seeing photographs, the AIPAD show is also a good place to see and meet people, as many of the people in the fine art photography world congregate here (it was here, for example, that I once met Arnold Newman), so it was nice to once again see and speak with photographers such as Marilyn Bridges, Elaine Ling, Linda Troeller and Tom Shillea, as well as Photo Review editor Stephen Perloff. Of course, there are the dealers, too, who one gets to know over the years.
Still, people come to this event for the photos. In a certain way, one can divide the prints that one sees into three basic categories: known works by known (to the viewer) photographers, lesser known works by known photographers and the works of new (to the viewer) photographers. I found interesting works in all three categories.
Lartigue at Fifty One Fine Art
Naturally, a show like this will include many of the classic images by people like Ansel Adams, Ruth Bernhard and Edward and Brett Weston. Many of you are familiar with these images, so I think I’ll concentrate more on the lesser know works (or lesser known to me, at any rate).
One of the first photos to catch my eye was a beautiful portrait of dark haired woman made in 1929 (though printed later) by Jacques Henri-Lartigue, on display at Fifty One Fine Art. Another beautiful portrait of a woman was found on the wall at Keith de Lellis, in the form of Irving Penn’s “Untitled (Dress by Dior)” from 1950. While I was admiring this image, two women were admiring the photo above this one. They said that they preferred that one over this one, so I guess it shows that everybody sees things differently.
Irving Penn at Keith de Lellis
One photographer whose work I never tire of seeing is Sebastiao Salgado, and there was a nice display of his work at Peter Fetterman, including the mammoth edition of his soon to be released book, “Genesis.” I told Mr. Fetterman of my belief that Salgado is the greatest photographer working today – and I really mean that. (Anybody reading this who is not familiar with his work should seek out his books.
Another dealer worth noting is Spencer Throckmorton, who likes to champion the work of Latin American photographers, among other. It’s always nice to see the nudes by Flor Garduno, but perhaps the work that most caught my attention this year was the Peruvian “El Hombre Arana” (Spiderman?) by photographer Javier Silva Meinel. Yes, it is kind of creepy, but it’s strangely compelling, too. I also liked the way his Zebra Nudes by Lucien Clergue were juxtaposed on the wall with a photo of an actual zebra by Christian Cravo.
“Spiderman” by Meinel at Throckmorton
Among the better known images I saw were two examples of Judy Dater’s “Imogen and Twinka.” Besides seeing photos at events like this, one can also hear stories, and here’s what someone told me regarding this image: Ansel Adams was conducting a nude in the landscape workshop and Imogen Cunningham decided that she wanted to be there. Judy Dater happened to be there when Imogen had her moment with the model, Twinka, and made the famous photo. However, according to my source, there was also a workshop participant right there next to Dater who got a photo, too, which, according to Dater, is even better than hers. The reason why we all know Dater’s image and not that of the other person is that Dater was a well known photographer and the other person wasn’t. Of course, I don’t know if the story is true, but if it is, I guess it shows that what’s on the back of the print can count as much as what’s on the front.
Judy Dater and Willy Ronis prints at Catherine Couturier
A lot of very large prints were on display, but some of my favorites were small ones, just a few inches across, including a Harry Callahan photo of Eleanor at Etherton Gallery, a portrait of Charis Wilson by Edward Weston at the Weston Gallery and a vintage Francesca Woodman print at James Hyman. The latter dealer also had a photo by Dora Maar, who is best know, I suppose, for the portraits painted of her by Picasso. Another lesser known photographer shown was none other than the great French writer Emile Zola, represented by a photo of his son Jacques at L. Parker Stephenson.
I very much liked Michael Kenna’s photograph of the top of the Chrysler Building at the Halsted Gallery. I don’t recall having seen that one before. As it did last year, the Weinstein Gallery had some beautiful prints by Robert Mapplethorpe on display. Staley-Wise had some fine images by Patrick Demarchelier and Irving Penn, plus a large, playful Ellen von Unwerth print. Speaking of fun, Bettie Page was on display at Photographs Do Not Bend (PDNB) and Henry Feldstein.
Michael Kenna’s “Chrysler Building” at Halsted
Vintage prints were also plentiful, with one of my favorites being Gustave Le Gray’s beautiful maritime “La Reine Hortense, Yacht de l’Empereur” at Hans Kraus. I also liked the series of prints of the Hindenburg disaster at Daniel Blau.
I need to point out Paul Cava Fine Art and its display silver prints by Jock Sturges and the tintypes by Kristen and Mark Sink. Among the Sturges prints was perhaps my favorite photo by the artist, “Cecile, Montalivet, France, 1993.” The tintypes by the Sinks were all beautiful, but I was pleased to see that one of them featured Nettie as the model – someone I know and have photographed myself.
Jock Sturges at Paul Cava Fine Art
There are, of course, many great photos that I haven’t mentioned, but I never meant to cover everything. Finally, though, I have to mention a couple of photos. One is Susan McCartney’s photo of sidewalk Santas in New York City at Alex Novak’s Vintage Works/Contemporary Works. This photo is not new to me, but I still smile when I see it. The other is Bill Owens’ “Top Hatters, 1977” at PDNB. I can’t really say that I’m a fan of Mr. Owens’ suburbia series, but I have to admit that I really get a kick out of this one!
Here are some more photos from the show.
Robert Mapplethorpe at Weinstein
Gustave Le Gray at Hans Kraus
Al Vandenberg at Eric Franck
Stephen Perloff and Elaine Ling
Sebastiao Salgado at Peter Fetterman
Emile Zola at L. Parker Stephenson
Lucien Clergue and Christian Cravo at Throckmorton
Luo Dan at M97
Thomas Shillea and his wife, Santa Bannon
The Hindenburg disaster at Daniel Blau
Susan McCartney’s Sidewalk Santas at Vintage Works
Burt Finger of PDNB Gallery with Bettie Page
“Nettie” by Kristen and Mark Sink at Paul Cava
Ellen von Unwerth at Staley-Wise
Salgado’s BIG new book at Fetterman
Jim Naughten’s “Herero Woman” at Klomp Ching
David Scheinbaum at his space, with prints by Walter Chappell
Harry Callahan at Etherton Gallery
Dora Maar at James Hyman
Edward Weston’s portrait of Charis at the Weston Gallery
Pennti Sammallahti at Nailya Alexander
Bill Brandt at Howard Greenberg