AIPAD 2012 (part 2)

The AIPAD Photography Show
Park Avenue Armory
New York, NY
March 29- April 1st, 2012

The 32nd edition of The Association of International Photography Dealers (AIPAD) show opened yesterday at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. The show features seventy five leading photography dealers assembled under one roof, giving collectors and photography lovers the opportunity to see more work than they could possibly desire or mentally process in one visit. Be prepared for visual overload, and I mean that in the best way. All of the dealer displays are beautifully presented and artfully arranged, but there is simply too much to absorb, even for an insatiable visual consumer like myself. Spending two hours seeing three shows at the Metropolitan Museum of Art prior to the AIPAD press preview didn't help my legs or mental stamina... I was exhausted by day's end! 

I walked this year's show with Susan May Tell and Ruben Natal-San Miguel, which is becoming a bit of an annual tradition. Last year I met Susan face to face for the first time at the AIPAD press preview and had so much fun we decided to do it again this year. It seems like every photo event I attend in NYC, Ruben is there also, and sure enough as soon as we entered AIPAD there was Ruben. So the three of us more or less walked the immense space together for the next several hours. I say more or less because I quickly discovered that we have three distinct personal preferences towards photography, and our internal magnets kept pulling us in different directions. But this is the beauty of AIPAD. There is something (much more than something) for everyone.

Susan May Tell & Ruben Natal-San Miguel
browsing prints at Barry Singer Gallery

Susan May Tell is a career fine art photographer and photojournalist, with a very impressive background. She is currently the Fine Arts Chair for ASMP/NY.  As one might expect, her magnet draws her towards classic black & white photography, photojournalism and documentary work.  Her eye zooms right in on images such as Dorothea Lange's The Defendant and The Witness, a stunning pair of photographs at Richard Moore Photographs (409).  Or a pair of Lee Friedlander photos at Etherton Gallery (415). Those Friedlanders were priced at $15,000 and $24,000, remarkable for non-editioned work by a living photographer, mused Susan, who also mentioned that Friedlander is her favorite living photographer. Also on her list of favorites were Saul Leiter's black and white work at Howard Greenberg Gallery (204), the Vivian Maier photographs at Steven Kasher (300), Vintage holiday cards from the collection of Beaumont Newhall on display at Scheinbaum & Russek Ltd (207) , the Weegee images at Richard Moore Photographs (409), and seeing work by her all time favorite photographer, André Kertész, well represented throughout the show by several galleries. One of the highlights of the afternoon for Susan was meeting, photographing, and being photographed by Bill Eppridge, surely among the greats of modern photojournalism. Eppridge is most well known for his iconic image of the busboy supporting the head of Robert Kennedy as he lay dying from a gunshot wound in 1968. His work was being shown by Monroe Gallery (419). Another image Susan noticed and loved at Monroe Gallery was Steve Schapiro's Freedom Rider Jerome Smith, Mississippi (1965).

Dressing Room Behind the Circus Ring (1944)
Weegee @ Richard Moore Photography

Ruben Natal- San Miguel is a photographer, collector and curator with a great eye who loves a wide range of genres, but tends to be pulled towards contemporary photography with vibrant color. Ruben has written a great piece on his blog Art Most Fierce, detailing his highlights from AIPAD 2012. During the walk through Ruben returned again and again to look at the work of Phillip Lorca diCorcia at David Zwirner (121),  a David LaChapelle image at Staley Wise Gallery (210), and a wonderful image by Julie Blackmon at Robert Mann Gallery (413).

Phillip Lorca diCorcia @ David Zwirner

I am in general agreement with the favorite picks of both Susan and Ruben, and also noticed a few additional works that pulled me right into several gallery spaces for closer looks.  Jessica Eaton's Cubes for Albers & LeWitt at Higher Pictures (114) are marvelous conceptual works paying homage to the art of Josef Albers and Sol LeWitt. Seemingly digitally created, these photographs are produced solely within Eaton's 4 X 5 camera using multiple exposures and lighting effects. No post processing whatsoever. The prints are 40" X 32" and priced at $4500 each.

Cubes for Albers & LeWitt
Jessica Eaton @ Higher Pictures

Julie Saul Gallery (435) has a nice little grouping of Miroslav Tichy prints mostly from the 1970's. These are small prints averaging around 5" X 7" . These are not the highly abstract work of Tichy that I really love, but it was still nice to see some of his work on the walls. I did not see any prices listed for these images.

Miroslav Tichy @ Julie Saul

Bruce Silverstein Gallery (313) commanded the largest physical space in the Armory, affording them the ability to display work in larger scale and visual impact than most other dealers. The 28 framed pages of work by book artist Keith Smith gave me a slight sense of deja vu, as it looks quite similar to the work of Nicole Eisenman currently on display around the corner from AIPAD at the Whitney Biennial. Vastly different work upon closer inspection, but the initial visual impact is remarkably similar. I am always attracted to work presented in a grid format.

Book #46 (1974)
Keith Smith @ Silverstein

I had never seen actual prints of Eliot Porter's work. Scheinbaum & Russek Ltd (207) has a wonderful collection on hand and a group of four prints on the wall. I had a conversation with Andra Russek about Porter's work and his masterful use of color. She shared her recollection of seeing some of Porter's prints for the first time and thinking that they had faded, not being accustomed to such natural subtlety and nuance that was the hallmark of Eliot Porter. I recently bought a copy of Porter's classic Sierra Club photobook "In Wildness is the Preservation of the World", and it has fast become one of my favorites.

Eliot Porter @ Scheinbaum & Russek Ltd.

Still barely scratching the surface. Just too many images to catch the eye and not enough time to furiously write notes and try to keep track of what was what and where I saw it.  Not to mention trying to remember conversations with various dealers. The collected knowledge and experience about the world of photography that is assembled in one space for AIPAD is beyond comprehension. There were a few trends I may have noticed and picked up from discussions as I walked the room. One was pricing. I got an overall impression of lower prices. I have no data to back this up, just a gut impression and several dealers who emphasized value when discussing prices. Another conversation with a gallery owner worked its way towards the 'now is the time to buy' cliche as if we were discussing real estate or stock portfolios. I have heard conflicting reports; some say the market is booming (and auction prices seem to support that), while others would say the market has bottomed out. Another related trend I noticed was in edition sizes. Small editions to bolster pricing and support buyer interest. Andrea Meislin, owner of Andrea Meislin Gallery (111) explained a unique edition method she is using for the work of Michal Chelbin. Prints are being sold in editions of seven, with the buyer being able to select from a choice of three sizes, more or less in the concept of small, medium , or large as if ordering from a menu. The unique difference is that the price is the same regardless of the print size chosen. The resulting editions will potentially all be unique as well. For a specific photograph that sells out, if four collectors purchase large prints, two collectors purchase medium prints, and one collector purchases a small print, that would mean the collector with the small print owns a unique print, the medium sized owners hold one of two, etc. etc. This is an inventive way to stimulate collector interest and a refreshing change from typical edition sizes of fifty or more. I noticed several other galleries emphasizing edition sizes of ten or less.

Migrant Family (1938)
Dorothea Lange @ Richard Moore Photographs

Can't end a review of AIPAD without a mention of photobooks.  Harper's Books (429) and Jeff Hirsch Books (433) are back again this year, both with stunning collections of rare photography and art books. While browsing the display at Harper's Books I was show a newly acquired and near fine condition example of Robert Adams book The New West, a signed first edition. ($4500). Also on the shelf was a copy of Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills, of which I predicted would sell during the show due to the popularity of Sherman's MoMA exhibit currently on view. Off the shelf, and in the flesh, standing at the counter of Harper's Books was John Gossage. Such a pleasure to meet a master of the artist's book format. Always uplifting to meet an artistic kindred spirit. 

I'll end with a nod to the most unusual work on the walls, the unique prints of experimental photographer Matthew Brandt at M + B Gallery (421). Brandt is known for creating photographic prints with food condiments as a replacement for ink. The group of four images on the walls here were created with chewing gum; Jucyfruit, Winterfresh, etc. The results are a soft textured pastel-like print that had me wondering about things like archival integrity. The works are mounted behind glass, so no clue as to aroma qualities. I'm undecided on like or dislike, but they did peak my interest.

Matthew Brandt @ M + B Gallery


Susan May Tell's Website