It has been a year of transition year for AIPAD, America's premiere photography organization. This year, 2016, has so far boasted a new name for its fair, a new outlook and soon a new location. After 10 years of exhibiting at the Park Avenue Armory, AIPAD is moving The Photography Show to New York City's Pier 94 for its 2017 edition, but the organization hosted an elegant and successful farewell edition beginning with its private view on April 13th.
This year, 86 dealers crowded a wide range of photographic material into a very smart and well-designed display. Where AIPAD's strength has always been in the exhibition of solid, 20th-century vintage material, the ever-expanding diversity and size of the photographs on offer this year certainly seemed to align with the organization's continued growth and future plans.
On Saturday, April 16, AIPAD presented four well-attended panel discussions featuring well-known curators, artists and collectors on topics ranging from photography book publishing to photography and the Internet. The public programs were sponsored by Ryerson Image Centre.
AIPAD drew a wide range of curators from such institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; International Center for Photography, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Morgan Library and Museum, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Boston Museum of Fine Arts; St. Louis Art Museum; Houston Museum of Fine Arts; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Art Institute of Chicago; George Eastman House, Rochester, NY; National Gallery of Canada; Art Gallery of Ontario; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Fondation Antoine de Galbert, Paris; and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Catherine Edelman, President of AIPAD and the director of Catherine Edelman Gallery, was very pleased with the look and feel of this year's fair. "We have heard amazing and positive things from both exhibitors and people walking around the fair this year," Edelman told us during the bustling Saturday afternoon. "The public has been overwhelmingly positive. We've got some new lighting, and it gives everything a much more elegant look."
Leading the way in the large and contemporary department were many of the dealers at the fair's entrance. Weinstein Gallery boasted large works by Alec Soth, Vera Lutter and Paolo Ventura, whose work Martin Weinstein, gallery owner, hinted was very popular this year. Weinstein concluded deals at the fair on major pieces by all three artists. And across the way, greeting visitors head-on as they walked through the entrance, were large, unique works by John Chiara at Yossi Milo, which were negative chromogenic prints that practically glowed on the back wall of the booth, priced at $14,000 for the 50 x 30 inch larger size, $9,500 smaller size.
"People are very interested in the quirkier things on our booth this year, the esoteric oddball things" Lucas Zenk of Stephen Daiter Gallery said. The gallery, renowned for the quality of their vintage material, was happy with the way things were turning over at the fair, with interest in their Diane Arbus and W. Eugene Smith pieces. Daiter also did well with Kenneth Josephson, a gallery favorite--an original copy of his 'Bread Book' sold early on in the fair. The Arbus images reportedly were purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Down the aisle, the attention to unique and quirky works continued with Jefferson Hayman's work at Michael Shapiro Gallery. The gallery's outside wall was devoted to the photographer's work, a salon style hang full of small antique frames, and was proving very popular with the weekend crowds.
"I'm on track for the best year yet for me," Hayman said between enquiring patrons on Saturday afternoon. Red dots filled the wall. Shapiro had sold 27 uniquely framed works, priced between $500 and $1,400.
"I used the frame to help make the images a unique object, walking the line between working in an edition and a unique object," Hayman said.
Shapiro also had a further diverse selection of work, including two side-by-side portraits of Livia by Frederick Sommer--one of them vintage (1948) and the other printed in 1995, prints by Aaron Siskind and Lewis Baltz, and a rich Irving Penn of Dinner Games priced at $150,000.
"The moon has been of great interest," Jennie Hirschfeld of Charles Schwartz Ltd. said of their stand, which had a wall devoted to lunar photography, with prices ranging from $5,000-$8,000. There was also a large display of hard images—both daguerreotypes and ambrotypes.
Barry Singer Gallery did well with vintage material, selling a wide range of material, from Weegee to John Hagemeyer (Pedestrians, a 1921 vintage gelatin silver print priced at $40,000) to Eugene Atget. "We've been doing quite well with the classics, we have some semi-classics, and haven't really sold much contemporary thus far," Gretchen Singer said on Saturday. "Everything that's sold is from $70,000 down to $2,500."
Lee Gallery mixed up their display this year, hanging some of the classic vintage works they are known for (a Walker Evans abstraction of the Brooklyn Bridge held the back wall at $48,000, and a Heinrich Kuhn Sailing Boats had sold) alongside a wall of 1970s conceptual photography, featuring Bill Viola, Vito Acconci and Lew Thomas.
Peter Fetterman Gallery, too, mixed genres. Amidst the large Sebastiao Salgado and Stephen Wilkes prints, a spot of late 19th-century material garnered attention, which included a P.H. Emerson Gathering Water Lilies at $30,000 and a Gertrude Kasebier Mother and Infant at $20,000. Fetterman reported selling over 20 photographs at the fair.
Gallery Fifty One, Antwerp, reported a strong show and sold work by Malick Sidibé and Bruno V. Roels.
Hans P. Kraus Jr. Inc. said AIPAD was very well attended by experienced and new collectors. The gallery sold a Duchenne de Boulogne print from 1862 for $110,000.
Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles, was very pleased and sold more than 18 photographs by most of the artists they brought to the show. Images of Coney Island by Jeffrey Milstein were especially popular.
Monroe Gallery of Photography, Santa Fe, sold more than 40 photographs ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 and was impressed by the crowd of "serious and novice collectors as well as museums."
Flowers Gallery, New York and London, first timers at AIPAD, said they were very pleased and saw a lot of their clients at the fair.
Danziger Gallery, New York, sold a series of recent photographs by Matthew Brandt for $60,000.
Alex Novak of Contemporary Works/Vintage Works felt that the overall show was a little short on excitement this year compared to a few years ago. "But we still did ok and into six figures, with prospects for more than doubling our on-site sales down the line."
"We sold a lot of early 1854 salt prints by Ludwig Belitski from his important and rare series on decorative arts in the Minutoli collection. Often overlapping patterns of glass and other items, Belitski plays with spatial relationships. Silber and Salz, the landmark book on early German photography, devotes an entire chapter to Belitski's work, but it is never seen on the market. We had four important museums that put on hold multiple prints from this scarce series. We also have a private client or two interested in the Belitski's as well."
Novak sold other early 19th-century photographs by Gustave Le Gray, Henri Le Secq, Mathew Brady, Bisson Freres and James Graham at the show, plus a wonderful hand-colored ½-plate daguerreotype of "Two French Children Posing with a Hoop", which was bought as a spectacular birthday present. The latter was part of a group of important daguerreotypes on the wall that included three important Southworth & Hawes pieces.
Novak noted though that 20th-century images were also selling well, including a unique oversized exhibit print by Andre Kertesz that was on his booth's front wall, a vintage 1930s Berenice Abbott of the Snuff Shop, a 1920s Doris Ulmann of Nets and Boats, an Arthur Rothstein of a Firefighter, a rare Jean-Francois Limet photograph of a Rodin work, and a pair of Robert Doisneau images.
"We also bought well here at the fair," Novak recapped, "so, all in all, we did pretty well, and I'm pleased with the overall impact. I made substantial purchases from James Hyman, Chuck Isaacs and Stephen Daiter, as well as from Paris dealer David Guiraud outside of the fair. AIPAD is a great place to buy, as well as sell. I think next year's expansion to Pier 94 will help the overall feel of the show. We can add in some large contemporary pieces then."
Kraige Block, director of Throckmorton Fine Art, will take over as President of AIPAD in March of next year, but was very happy with the turnout this year, citing a number of new buyers.
"We are happy to report that we sold over 30 photographs at this years AIPAD," he said. "Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Flor Garduno, Lucien Clergue and Tom Bianchi were our best sellers. We had a mix of both our established clients as well as seven first-time buyers at the show!"
Dealer Alan Klotz was also happy with the committed buyers coming through, especially where his selection of 19th century was concerned. The gallery displayed a range of 19th- and 20th-century work, many of which came from the Allan Rubenstein collection.
"This is the first time we have sold a lot of 19th-century work and we're amazed," Klotz said. The gallery had sold a Linnaeus Tripe of the Central Tower, a 1904 Atget of the Terrace Staircase for $30,000, along with two Julia Margaret Cameron portraits to another AIPAD dealer, with a third on hold for a museum.
James Hyman Gallery also found success with 19th-century material, as well as interest in the gallery's diverse selection from a variety of buyers.
"This year's fair was one of our most successful," Hyman said. "We made several sales to museums and institutions and sold works to collectors across the board. Sales included 19th-century works by Charles Negre, Jean-Jacques Heilmann, Gustave le Gray, Henri le Secq and Calvert Jones; modernist works by Walker Evans, Drtikol and Andre Kertesz; and works by British photographers John Blakemore and Paul Hill. The rare, probably unique Charles Negre and Jean-Jacques Heilmann salt prints attracted particular interest, as did the over-sized exhibition prints by Andre Kertesz and by David Goldblatt."
Steven Kasher Gallery saw a mix of buyers, with a special interest in their Mark Seliger portrait of the back of President Obama, of which they had sold two.
"Our big seller this year is Louis Draper. We sold a bunch of his work to a museum," Kasher said. "We have also done well with Mark Seliger, and sold two Marianna Rothen to private collectors."
The mood around the Armory was positive going into the always-busy weekend hours, and between sales, chatter among dealers and many of their clients naturally turned to next year's move to the Pier. AIPAD, which has used the Armory to host their annual fair since 2006, has come up against space issues at the Park Avenue location for a number of years.
"It is not easy to have to leave the Park Avenue Armory," Blocke said. "It has been such a great venue for AIPAD over the past 10 years. But it is time. Moving our show to Pier 94 will enable AIPAD to grow. We have not been able to accept new members over the past few years, but now that we will have such a large space we will be able to accept quite a number of new galleries that will include contemporary work that will really round out our show so that our collector base will also grow."
"Pier 94 offers us more space, and lots of exciting new things in terms of programming," Edelman said. During the move, she will maintain her position as President until a foothold is established at the Pier, and then hand the reigns over to Blocke, who currently spearheads the show efforts. "I think AIPAD has been prepping for this for a few years. The Armory is an elegant setting, and we are sad to leave, but we have run out of space."
"I will be very sad to leave the Armory but it's been forced on us by the venue's new priorities," Hyman, who also serves as chair of the Membership Committee agreed. "I like the venue and the Upper East side location. However, I recognize that Pier 94 will allow for a much bigger fair, will accommodate new members and more exhibitors, and will allow those that want it to take bigger booths. We had really outgrown the Armory. As the membership increases and becomes more international, the move to Pier 94 provides an exciting new opportunity."
For the most part, dealers were very positive about the opportunities afforded by the Pier, especially in terms of space and ability to really try new things. Florence Penault of Gallery 19/21 hoped that the move to the Pier would pump some life into different aspects of the program that have been marred by lack of space in the Armory.
"I hope it will be fancy," she said. "There's more space to do crazy things, and we need to be more innovative, more vibrant, more fun, and really take advantage of this new space."
"AIPAD was always seen as an American club, but is becoming increasingly international," Hyman said, citing the importance of diversifying the organization's membership. "As new member galleries are accepted from all around the world, so AIPAD is becoming more widely recognized internationally as the premier professional body. The chance to increase the fair's profile, size and status must be good for photography as well as for the organization. We are all doing what we can to bring in new collectors, and this is an exciting opportunity to build from the success of recent years."
Opposition and questions about the move seem to stem primarily from concern about Upper East Side clientele.
"We're not very happy with the move," Klotz said. "This building is an art landmark, and we are part of that tradition and history in the Armory. The demographic we depend on is here."
But for the most part, dealers are in agreement with Blocke's sentiments that the larger space affords the organization exciting new opportunities in membership, sponsorship, sales and larger audiences.
"Many of our existing members that exhibit in the show will also be able to secure larger spaces on the show floor that will not only enhance the presentation of the show, but also increase the number of works that will be able to be on view, which in turn should enable them to make more sales," Blocke said. "Also, the number of sponsors partnering with us will be able to increase with presence on the show floor. There are many very positive aspects to focus on that will only enhance our show."
Next year's dates for The Photography Show are already in place: March 30-April 2, 2017 at Pier 94--just remember to head west for a wholly new chapter in AIPAD's 38-year history.