It appears that Photography has a bit more resilience than most of the art world--perhaps because it was not so overpriced to begin with. The recent AIPAD Photography Show New York seemed outright buoyant most of the time with huge crowds and--even more pleasantly surprising--buyers who pulled out their checkbooks, wallets and credit cards. While the audience numbers held steady on its record attendance from last year at 8,000 visitors, the show frankly seemed more packed then ever, especially on the weekend.
As the ever quotable Peter Fetterman, Santa Monica, CA, told me: "Of course all of the dealers entered into this show with an air of trepidation given the "challenging" economic environment. But I must say I was pleasantly surprised and excited. It was almost a Proustian moment: 'Remembrance of Things Past'. The good times had come back! The show had enormous energy and "buzz" so crucial to success. People seemed genuinely happy to be there and were actually buying. This was my fifth art fair in six weeks and the only one to generate extraordinary results."
Collectors from around the world, leading museum directors and curators, art dealers, artists and photographers, leaders from the worlds of business, entertainment and fashion, as well as celebrities and the media, attended the fair. Notable names included Jeremy Irons, Ralph Fiennes, Peter Riegert, Richard Prince, Bob Colacello, Paolo Ventura, Sylvia Plachy, Lillian Bassman, Jerry Uelsmann, Maggie Taylor, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Christina Kruse, Albert Maysles, Bruce Davidson, Paul Solberg and Christopher Makos, Karin Apollonia Muller, Glenn Lowry, Peter Galassi, Alexis Stewart, Albert Watson, Elliot Erwitt, Martin Schoeller, Tina Barney, David A. Dechman, Edgar and Sue Wachenheim, Grant Romer, Stephen Stein, Sandra Phillips, Anne E. Havinga, Charlotte Cotton, Tony Bannon, Dan and Mary Solomon, Weston Naef, Michael Mattis, Arthur Tress, James Hyman, Keith Davis and Nancy L. Lane--and that is by no means an exhaustive list.
For me one of the big surprises was the increased presence and activity of the institutional players, who looked like they showed up in bigger numbers this year than previously. While there have certainly been cutbacks, the museums are still apparently on the lookout for photography additions to their collections, often with the help of key donors.
In addition to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, many other major institutions were represented, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; Peabody Museum; Art Institute of Chicago; George Eastman House, Rochester, NY; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Cleveland Museum of Art; Detroit Institute of Arts; Milwaukee Art Museum; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Harn Museum of Art; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, and many others.
Seventy-three of the world's leading fine art photography galleries and bookstores presented a wide range of museum-quality work including contemporary, modern, and 19th-century photographs, as well as photo-based art, video, books and new media. The 29th edition of the AIPAD Photography Show New York opened with a well-attended Gala Preview on March 25 to benefit the John Szarkowski Fund, an endowment for photography acquisitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Private tours led by major museum directors and curators, brought in major collectors including: Richard and Ronay Menschel, Gary and Sarah Walkowitz, Fred and Stephanie Shuman, Christian Keesee, and Arthur Fleischer.
"I think the show exceeded people's expectations," noted Stephen Bulger, the new president of AIPAD, and president, Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto. "Collectors and museum professionals depend on AIPAD for the most important work on the market today in fine art photography. We were extremely pleased to work with the terrific people at AXA Art Insurance (the show's Premier Corporate Sponsor) for the first time, and look forward to continued success."
THE EXHIBITORS' PERSPECTIVE
By the end of the first day, Serge Plantureux, Paris, and an I Photo Central member, had sold 25 works adding up to $105,000 and the numbers increased to 61 works and over $200,000, as the show closed on Sunday with prices ranging from $200 to $20,000. "We did not do too badly", was the way Plantureux put it so understatedly. While the gallerist had thought that unconventional things might sell best, it was the more conventional pieces that did well in this environment.
Winter Works on Paper, Brooklyn--one of my neighbors at the show--sold 80 works ranging from $100 to $8,000, and six curators were among the buyers. I was also one of David Winter's buyers, purchasing five modernist 1930s prints by an unknown, but highly skilled Leipzig photographer. Winter told me that he did "much better than last year", and felt that he benefited from "being at the lower end of the price range."
Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York, found the show strong and sold a number of photographs by Stephen Shore in the $24,000 range.
Maggie Weston, of Weston Galleries, Carmel, CA, reportedly sold an oversize Ansel Adams' Aspens for six figures the first night.
Robert Morat of Robert Morat Galerie, Hamburg, a guest exhibitor, commented that "the show looked great," and was impressed by "a very good crowd that is interested and knowledgeable." The gallery sold ten works with many more pending and Morat said they were pleased with the considerable number of sales, adding "but even if we hadn't sold a single piece, it would have been still worth it to be here with the great crowds and important encounters."
"The turnout for the show was incredible and good material was presented," noted Missy Finger of PDNB Gallery, Dallas, which sold 13 works including Bill Owen's "Reagan on TV" from 1971. "Overall I feel this was a good fair for many dealers and collectors," she added.
It's a "very good looking show that gets better ever year," was the report from Deborah Bell of Deborah Bell Photography, New York City, which sold work from Marcia Resnick, Louis Faurer and Susan Paulsen.
Barry Singer of Barry Singer Gallery, Petaluma, CA, told me, "Although down from last year, we did very well. I felt the quality of the people was higher, asking intelligent questions and on the whole seeming intrigued by what they saw in our booth. I think for those who were successful it was partly due to the fact that the AIPAD show was before the auctions this year; and because the auctions had such limited offerings, those people with money chose to spend it with us."
"I had some outstanding Edmund Teske¹s that has taken me 15 years to get and most are new to the market. I sold four beautiful duotone solarizations, which included an image of Kenneth Anger, one of the earliest independent film makers. I also sold a $25,000 Margaret Bourke-White industrial picture and a group of W.E. Smith pictures. Other pictures that sold were Siskind, Siegel, Stoumen, Callahan, Evans, Kertesz, Bullock and a small Watkins of Yosemite. The good news that I take away from this show is that people are still buying photographs."
Charles Schwartz, New York City and an I Photo Central member, reported that "this year's AIPAD was a very good fair for me. I sold a number of W. Eugene Smith photographs and had a lot of interest in my Japanese material--both the 19th-century ambrotypes and 20th-century prints. The most interesting piece I had at the show was a vintage print of W. Eugene Smith's iconic "Walk to Paradise Garden" that was made from the original negative. This is a very rare print and the price is $45,000. The print is still available. I also had a lot of strong African-American material at the show, and was particularly surprised that I did not sell two vintage prints by Gordon Parks."
"From an aesthetic perspective, I thought that this was one of the best AIPADs. The booths were of high quality and the attendance at the show was very strong."
"AIPAD's best ever," noted Spencer Throckmorton of Throckmorton Fine Art, Inc., New York, which sold more than ten works including Manuel Alvarez Bravo's "Smoke Stacks", 1929, for over $50,000.
Daniel Blau of Daniel Blau Gallery, Munich, said, "AIPAD was three sales better than expected--one museum sale, one dealer sale and one collector sale. A good mix, but hardly a financial jackpot. We made some new museum contacts, which is why we come to the show in the first place. There are many curators interested in photography in the USA who can't travel to Europe for various reasons (lack of travel funds being the obvious one). I do like to come to AIPAD and especially the uptown armory location. The fair is getting better each time and with all the potential calculated in, the AIPAD show's future looks pretty pink! Next to Paris, it is simply the only other serious photo venue."
Gary Edwards Gallery, Washington, DC, sold 30 works between $1,000 and $5,000 and thought that attendance was excellent. "I am still working on a substantial number of follow-up sales from the show, mostly with clients with whom I interacted during the show, but also a few who have contacted me by email to inquire about material they had seen at the booth but didn't act on until after the show."
Edwards told me, "Sales were good. My sales ranged from 1840s-50s calotypes to 1940s-50s silver prints, such as a group of contact prints of Doisneau photos of Paris with provenance of one of Doisneau's publishers. I was fortunate to have a mention in the New York Times' review of AIPAD, which pointed to a group of anonymous 1910s-20s photographs of Russian avant-garde stage design. I sold most of these before the review came out, then there were other clients for what was left over. And as usual, I sold a good number of interesting mid-range ($1,000-3,000) 19th-century albumen prints of varying subject matter, including a largish group of hand-colored Japanese images."
"Among the unsold pieces are three intriguing photographs of women, which I hung as a group, by Man Ray, Alphonse Mucha and Francesca Woodman. The Man Ray and Woodman are priced in the 20s, the Mucha much less, although not less interesting."
"I thought the show looked great, and was well run. Attendance was excellent. The "Innovation" initiative was a good one. And my entry, a technical radar image of 1948, sold to a prestigious collection."
Marina Pellegrini of Galeria Vasari, Buenos Aires, thought it was a "very good show and very well attended by collectors. We did very well in the fair. People were interested in seeing new works by Latin-American photographers who were unknown for them. We sold two works by Annemarie Heinrich and have three sales pending. Our most interesting pieces at the show were: 'Caprichos', 'Torso' and nudes by Annemarie Heinrich (Caprichos was sold and Torso is on hold); the other works that attracted people's attention was the complete series of Sueños (or Dreams) by Grete Stern. Although everybody requested information about these signed prints, because they must sell as a group, they are still available."
Mack Lee of Lee Gallery, of Winchester, MA, told me that "the show went well. We found that interest and sales were stronger than we expected. We are very happy to be exhibiting at the Armory. The show looked great, was managed well and we were impressed by the quality and diversity of the photographs on display."
"We sold across the board: 19th- and 20th-century photographs, including images by Steichen, Weston, Minor White, Baldus, Negre, Hine and others. We did not notice a change of customer interest from year to year. Sales were considerably stronger than in January at Photo LA."
Payal S. Parekh, Director of Sales for SEPIA International and the Alkazi Collection of Photography of New York City, reported that "this was the first year SEPIA has participated in AIPAD. Overall sales were minimal, but the exposure was excellent. We mostly represent contemporary artists that are from or producing works out of Asia, with a concentration in India, Japan and Korea. Most of the audience at the fair seemed more interested in vintage material. There appeared to be an overall focus on 19th-century and 20th-century material and also on work that could be purchased at bargain-basement prices!"
"Collectors were interested in our booth and commented on the salon style hang, but also did not recognize the material as quickly as they could identify a Weston or Minor White. Again it was good to participate and important for SEPIA to begin a dialogue, so that every year, the gallery gains more exposure. AIPAD is a good start for this kind of initiative."
"We featured previously unseen vintage material by Earl of England Derry Moore, priced around $7,500. He photographed in India in the 1970s. We hung posthumous estate prints by 1970s color photographer Raghubir Singh, starting at around $8,000. We also had on exhibit a masterpiece triptych by up and coming contemporary photographer, Atul Bhalla, who is based in Delhi. This was one of the more expensive works at $20,000. We also had many works ranging from $800- $1,500."
"The attendance at the fair was impressive and seemed to increase every day. We also felt that though usually towards the end of a fair, the serious collectors have picked works, purchased and fled, there was still a lot of energy and collectors mulling about even on Sunday at this fair! We think on the whole, despite a very weak economy and generally deflated contingency/purchasing power, the fair was encouraging and indicated a bumpy road ahead but one still open with possibilities."
Anna Walker Skillman of Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta, said, "I felt that the fair was an overall success. On a scale from 1 to 10, sales were a 5, but I expected a 3, so that is very good. On a scale from 1 to 10 the quality of the collectors, curators and viewers, I have to give it an 8-1/2. The people's energy was amazing. There was never a dull moment where I was just standing around. We met great collectors and had great follow-ups! I also felt that the quality of the booths and dealers was strong. Everyone seemed to come together as a powerful group. I was proud to be a part of it. We sold many of Mona Kuhn's new work from Brazil, a few Vee Speers from her Birthday Party Series and, of course, groupings of Japanese photographer Masao Yamamoto. We still have about four to five sales pending. Prices varied from $800 to $7500."
"The audience has been great. This has been one of the best years," was the response from HackelBury Fine Art Limited, London, which sold 15 works in the $5,000 to $45,000 range including Structure of Thought, 2001-2009, by Doug & Mike Starn.
Gallery 19/21, Gilford, CT, sold 12 prints to private collectors including young couples just starting their collections.
The show "looked good and was crowded," noted Steven Kasher of Steven Kasher Gallery, New York. "The best new collector I met came to see the rare book dealers and then came to my booth." The gallery sold work by Billy Name including, Flower Paintings at the Factory, 1960.
Lee Marks Fine Art, Shelbyville, IN, sold numerous prints of a work by Mariana Cook that stirred quite a bit of attention at the show--a portrait of Barack and Michelle Obama in their Chicago home from 1996.
Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, sold 20 works by Hellen van Meene, Masao Yamamoto and Andrew Moore, among others. Richardson told me: "We were very, very pleased. We sold less than last year, but this is a new world with a new art market, so I was very pleased with the density of attendance, the quality of attendees and the number of sales. We are still doing follow-up and closing pending sales, and some people who bought at AIPAD are buying additional work."
"Some of the most interesting work we sold well was Van Meene's new portraits from Russia, one of which was featured in the New York Times' review of the show, and the new work by Andrew Moore on Detroit and the post-industrial urban landscape of the Midwest, which we will exhibit next fall. We also sold selections from our grouping of Ken Josephson's work. Some of the most interesting work that we did not sell was the new still life by Laura Letinsky, which we ended up having to install in our closet for space considerations. It is now properly displayed in the gallery and looks exquisite. The show looked great, better every year."
Bonni Benrubi, Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York City, told me, "The gallery had a very good AIPAD--almost counter-intuitive to the times. We sold all of the artists that we brought with the exception of one, some in multiples. In particular, we sold a fair amount of work by Abelardo Morell and Matthew Pillsbury. We met a few new people, but this is our neighborhood, so that is a little harder to do. The gallery did benefit from being so close to the fair, as out-of-town clients also went to the gallery. I thought that the fair looked beautiful and that AIPAD did a very fine job."
Michael Shapiro, Michael Shapiro Photographs, San Francisco, remarked that it was a "surprisingly good show. Top pieces of interest both had three (yes, three) back-ups: Minor White's large vintage print of his famous barn image with the shadow of the electrical pole, and an unusually large (16 x 20-inch) "Photogenic" by Lotte Jacobi, which was exhibited in "Abstraction in Photography" at MoMA in 1951. The wall board contained a photograph of the piece's installation in the show." Shapiro reported selling 18 prints ranging from $1,250 to $48,000, including additional work by André Kertész and Jefferson Hayman.
"Except for some reasonably priced 'later' photographs with strong subject matter (rock n' roll, for example), the interest was clearly in rare, vintage work. No doubt about that."
Robert Mann of Robert Mann Gallery, New York City, told me, "Like nearly everyone else, I felt that AIPAD was better than we expected, especially since I went with no expectations!"
"We sold mostly contemporary artists recently exhibited in the gallery, such as Holly Andres, Gail Albert Halaban (great review in New York Times the week prior didn't hurt) and Mary Mattingly (opening tonight). We have a lot of follow-up but my expectations are the same as before AIPAD. I've learned it's better to be pleasantly surprised. All but one sale at AIPAD was to a new client (now that's why we do art fairs!).
"We had a great cross-section of classical and contemporary. Clearly the vintage Callahans and Siskinds were a hit and the early Adams' Moonrise was our show-stopper. Besides the contemporary works that sold, the piece by res, titled Chica Azul, the very provocative piece based on Picasso's 'Women in a Chemise' that faced the front entrance, stopped a lot of people in their tracks."
"I was absolutely flabbergasted and delighted by the attendance, especially on Thursday and Friday which are often quiet days. I was also happy to see a great turnout by curators making the rounds. The show ran like clockwork, and the organizers and facilitators are to be commended."
Alan Klotz Gallery, New York, was pleased to sell close to 20 works including eight by Jonathan Torgovnik from his new book, 'Intended Consequences: Rwandan Children Born of Rape' (Aperture 2009), with 25% of the proceeds going to the Foundation Rwanda.
Peter Fetterman of Peter Fetterman Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, reported that his artist, "Lillian Bassman visited us opening night holding court in our booth and was treated like a 'star' which of course she is and the New York Times published a joyous image on the society pages of Sunday's edition."
Fetterman continued, "Our new addition to our gallery roster, Jeffrey Conley, with his classic American landscapes found many inspired supporters. Jeffrey was with us at the show and was much welcomed by new collectors at an affordable price point of $900-$5000, and, of course, Sebastiao Salgado's images elicited great response. Just before AIPAD we sold 15 of his prints to the Getty Museum. An inspiring week in New York and AIPAD should be congratulated on producing a great show. The new carpets helped many a dealer's bad backs, myself included. Can't wait till next year."
One of the exceptions, our own company, Contemporary Works/Vintage Works, did not have a particularly good show financially at AIPAD, although some pending business could change those results. In fact it was a very frustrating show for me, considering how many pieces we either put aside for different clients who never completed their purchases here, or those clients who told us that they expected to come back and purchase certain pieces and never managed to get back to the booth during the show. But that often happens, so I am happy, at least, to make the acquaintance of so many new collectors and to visit with so many old friends. The attendance was indeed superb and the quality of the crowd and the exhibits was equally excellent.
I did enjoy seeing many of our Facebook friends at the show. (Please feel free to add me-- firstname.lastname@example.org --on your Facebook friend list with a note that you are a reader of the E-Photo Newsletter.) About 50 of you stopped by to introduce yourselves during the show. Thanks to all of you again.
We did sell a great Robert Mapplethorpe (and still have several others available, which we will be bringing to Art Chicago) and one large color photograph, "Lake", from Lisa Holden's wonderful new series, Lilith. Holden's work was featured in the INNOVATIONS program. We also sold a number of vintage prints, including a Clarence John Laughlin, an early Felice Beato Japanese photograph, two Eugene Constant images of Rome, a Czech photo by Antonin Gribovský (to a dealer), three 19th-century Western images, a F. Bedrich Grünzweig vintage image, an Andre Kertesz photo, and a marvelous Wilhelm Hammerschmidt tree, and an Atget of "Porte de Bercy, Gare du P.L.M.".
Several people were close to buying one of the Jerry Spagnoli images of the Obama Inauguration, from the $2,500 smaller ink jet to the larger color print to the $20,000 unique daguerreotype. Our vintage print of Robert Frank's "Butte, MT" (Mother and Children) was nearly sold two or three times (and should have been!). Also Arthur Tress, who attended the show, got a lot of attention. A film crew was filming several interviews in our booth for an upcoming documentary on Arthur and Duane Michals.
Likewise we had lots of interest in our Southworth & Hawes daguerreotypes, including from several exhibitors and curators. Other top 19-century pieces (Teynards, De Launays, Le Grays, Baldus, Disderi, Lebel, etc.) were also temptations for a number of collectors and curators, and we hope that they won't be able to resist them for much longer.
Other 20th-century pieces of note include some of our Cartier-Bresson early prints; the platinum print by Irving Penn of "Girl in Bed"; Édouard Boubat's vintage print of "Self Portrait with Lella"; several Raoul Ubac surrealist images; a number of vintage Sudek photographs including two very rare pigment prints; Dorothea Lange's "Black Mother and Baby"; a large 1948 Egan-labeled Aaron Siskind abstraction; several vintage Andre Kertesz images; a great vintage Ralph Meatyard of a young girl; and many more. Many of these, plus additional images will be on display in our booth at Art Chicago (12-513), which is on the 12th floor of the Chicago Merchandise Mart at the end of this month through May 4th.
THE COLLECTORS' PERSPECTIVE
For the attendees' perspective, I tapped into the Facebook network to get a few reactions from collectors to the AIPAD Show. Here's what I found.
David Rudin, who actually blogged about the event (you can see his blog at: http://figuresofgrace.blogspot.com/2009/03/aipad-photography-show.html ), told me, "I was there for four days, but left my buying to the last day: two Keith Carter prints (from his latest book) from PDNB Gallery (Dallas, TX) and two prints from the Czech Center folks (Prague). I was going to buy one more print of July 4th fireworks over New York by a young Japanese woman living here, but the dealer didn't take credit cards and I didn't have a check! I did get a kick out of Susan McCartney's Santas in Contemporary Works/Vintage Works booth."
Gary Graves told me, "The best work for me in the show was in the booths of Hans Kraus, Deborah Bell, Contemporary Works/Vintage Works and Robert Miller Gallery. The work I particularly like was the Meatyard and the Eakins at Contemporary Works/Vintage Works, the round Cameron and all the Talbots at Hans Kraus, the Erwin Blumenfeld prints in Deborah Bell's booth (I also like her gallery a lot), and the small vertical drag queens of Arbus and the four Sigmar Polke's in the Miller Gallery Booth. I also liked the Sugimoto 'Theater' photographs in another booth. The show was strong in early 20th- and 19th-century works, but weak in contemporary. Moriyama's Work seems oddly ill-fitted in an AIPAD show and his beautiful work was lost in the several booths featuring it (and a bargain for $3,000). Some of the new work in the show was, for lack of a better word, "hybridized" and won't stand the test of time; boring today/boring tomorrow. Hold the gold paint for an Egyptian Revival something or other."
Graves' wife Anne Gridley added, "The show was great on the historic/vintage end. The Meatyard print was one of the highlights. Also I saw Chris Killip's work in person for the first time. Did not buy anything this year but we are thinking on it."
David Chow emailed, "Plenty of things that I've never seen before. Serge Plantureux sold that great photo of Stalin. I particularly liked the navel images by Steichen that Mack Lee had. Galerie Daniel Blau had this image of two Tahitian women that I kept looking at. The only thing I bought and could afford I got from Charles Schwartz. It's a sake cup, with a photographic image of a Japanese woman in the bottom."
Suzanne Revy commented, "I was there Friday, and was pleased to see a lot of b/w work, and smaller prints. Two years ago I remember feeling inundated by a lot of large color work. I like the smaller gems, which suits the medium. I was smitten by the Meatyard at Contemporary Works/Vintage Works."
Paul Paletti noted that he "bought a few books, but no prints--yet. Money is very tight, but there were some beautiful things there and several bargains. It was great to see a swing toward the historical and away from all the big boring color photos of nothing in particular."
PROGRAMS ADD TO AIPAD'S FLAVOR
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of AIPAD, this year's show offered a number of special events including two special exhibitions, panel discussions, and a lecture. The 30th anniversary exhibition, INNOVATION, showcased milestones in the history of photography from daguerreotypes to new media. Each gallery offered a work that reflected an innovation such as a technical or artistic development. A complete catalogue of the INNOVATION special exhibition, produced by AIPAD in collaboration with Aperture Foundation, was provided to all visitors at the show and is now available online at http://www.aipad.com/photoshow . The Center for the Legacy of Photography (CLP) offered "Cause & Effect", an exhibition of vintage photographic prints and negatives, drawing upon George Eastman House's extensive collection.
Overflow crowds packed the Veteran's Room of the Park Avenue Armory for a full day of panel discussions on Saturday, March 28, which featured leaders in the art world including Malcolm Daniel, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Anne E. Havinga, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Grant B. Romer, George Eastman House; Charlotte Cotton, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Vince Aletti, critic and curator; and artists and filmmakers, including Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Albert Maysles and Bruce Davidson.
If you missed this year's AIPAD Photography Show New York, you missed a good one.