April is a month that I normally look forward to. The weather begins to get warmer, the baseball season begins, it’s my birthday and – most importantly for this blog post – the annual Photography Show mounted by the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) takes place here in New York.
I first attended this show many years ago when it occupied two floors of the New York Hilton, but for a number of years now it has taken place at the Park Avenue Armory. This year’s show was last week, April 16 to 19. I was fortunate to attend the press preview and opening reception on April 15 and then went back a few days later on Saturday with my good friend Dave Levingston from Ohio, who I’ve been telling for years to come to see the show.
This year’s show featured 89 dealers from North America, Europe, Asia and South America and, as before, was a visual feast. It can be an overwhelming experience to just walk around and take everything in, so taking the time to look more closely at the works on the walls and in the bins is the most rewarding way to look at things.
What did I see this year that I liked? I’ll be honest. As I’ve probably written before, I like classic black & white photography, so it’s not surprising that this is what I most preferred in the show. To be truthful, though, most of the work on display was black & white, though there was some interesting work in color, too.
One of the things that first caught my eye was a series of tintypes by Josephine Sacabo on the wall at Santa Fe’s Verve Gallery. Though these prints, in editions of five, are contemporary, they have a wonderfully sensuous vintage feel to them and seeing them was a highlight of the show.
One of the more unusual things I saw was at the Scott Nichols Gallery from San Francisco, who had a series of twelve cancelled prints of Ansel Adams’ famous “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.” Other highlights included Ruth Bernhard’s “Eighth Street Movie Theater” (yes, she photographed more than just nudes), Horace Bristol’s “PBY Blister Gunnner, Rescue at Rabaul” (which I consider one of the greatest male nude photos ever made, not only for the image but for the story behind it), a stunningly printed Cala Lily by Brett Weston and a signed print of Edward Weston’s “Nude Floating (Charis).”
Peter Fetterman from Santa Monica had a large booth as usual, and I was especially taken by the 1960’s fashion photos he had by William Helburn, Jean-Philippe Charbonier and Georges Dambier.
One of the most unusual and interesting prints was brought by the James Hyman Gallery from London. Titled “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman,” it features a self-portrait printed by Berenice Abbott on a distortion easel. Not many examples of this print are known, with two others in the Met and MoMA in New York, and as each print was uniquely made, each one is different.
Michael Shapiro Photographs from Westport, CT, had a range of interesting photos, including work by Aaron Siskind, Roman Vishniac, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Josef Koudelka, Edward Steichen, Sonya Noskowiak and William Klein.
Alex Novak’s Vintage Works/Contemporary Works had it usual large collection of interesting work, including a platinum print by Edward Weston from around 1915, the wonderful “A Memory of Undine” by Clarence John Laughlin, Alfred Eisenstaedt’s touching 1945 “Mother and Child, Hiroshima” and Robert Doisneau’s delightful “Women With the Same Hat.”
In a show like AIPAD, you see a lot of photos by the well known names like Weston and Adams, so it’s always good to find interesting work by unfamiliar artists. One such photographer was Christer Stromholm from Sweden, whose interesting portraits of transsexuals and transvestites were featured at Berlin’s Grundemark Nilsson Gallery.
Other discovereies to be made were at Galeria Vasari from Buenos Aires, which featured some very beautiful vintage 1930’s nude studies by Annemarie Heinrich, who was born in Germany in 1912 and moved with her family to Argentina in 1926.
The gallery also featured a series of prints titled “Suenos (Dreams)” by Grete Stern, photomontages published between 1948 and 1951 in the Argentine avant-garde magazine Idilio and made to illustrate dreams submitted to the magazine by its readers but also to comment on the oppression of women in Argentine society at the time.
Another series of beautiful prints was presented at the Howard Greenberg Gallery, featuring experimental European 1950’s photos by artists like Peter Keetman, Ludwig Windstosser and Otto Steinert. (Kudos also go to Greenberg for using non-reflective glass in its frames, which made seeing and photographing the prints much easier.)
When it came to color, I liked the series of small color Polaroids by Scott Hammond at L. Parker Stephenson.
The AIPAD show is also a good place to meet well known photographers if you’re fortunate enough to come across them. I met Arnold Newman here once, Steve McCurry another time and Jerry Uelsmann last year. This year I had the chance to see Marilyn Bridges again, which is always nice, but there was a great absence this year in the form of Lucien Clergue, who was a mainstay at this event but sadly passed away late last year. He will be missed, and it was nice to see a tribute to him on the wall at Throckmorton.
Finally, of course, there were many more fine photographs on display that I could write about here, so here’s a selection of some others that I liked (plus a few other event photos). Of course, this is a limited amount, too.