One of the most important international photography events, the AIPAD Photography Show New York, will be presented by the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) from March 26 through 29, 2009. More than 75 of the world's leading fine art photography galleries will present a wide range of museum-quality work, including contemporary, modern and 19th-century photographs, as well as photo-based art, video and new media, at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. The 29th edition of the AIPAD Photography Show New York will open with a 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. The AIPAD Photography Show New York is the longest running and foremost exhibition of fine art photography.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of AIPAD, this year's Show will feature a number of special events, including two special exhibitions, panel discussions and a lecture. The 30th anniversary exhibition, Innovation, will showcase milestones in the history of photography from daguerreotypes to new media. In addition, the Center for the Legacy of Photography (CLP) will show Cause & Effect, an exhibition of vintage photographic prints drawing upon George Eastman House's extensive collection. A full day of panel discussions on Saturday, March 28, will feature leaders in the art world, including Malcolm Daniel from the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Anne E. Havinga from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Charlotte Cotton from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Vince Aletti, critic and curator; and artists and filmmakers, including Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Albert Maysles and Bruce Davidson.
"This year's 30th anniversary celebration underscores the extraordinary knowledge and connoisseurship of AIPAD dealers," noted Stephen Bulger, the new president of AIPAD and president, Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto. "Now, more than ever, collectors are looking for the exceptional eye and experience that AIPAD dealers possess."
A wide range of the world's leading fine art photography galleries will show at The AIPAD Photography Show New York. In addition to galleries from New York City and across the country, a number of international galleries will be included from London, Paris, Toronto, Munich, Vienna, Milan and Buenos Aires.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of AIPAD, the AIPAD Photography Show New York will present "Innovation", a thematic "exhibition within an exhibition." From daguerreotype to new media, each gallery will show a work that reflects an innovation, such as a technical or artistic development or a seminal work. In each booth, the work will be identified as an innovation in the history of photography. A complete catalogue of the Innovation special exhibition, including images and wall text, will be available at http://www.aipad.com .
"From its conception, photography was innovative and influenced the way many other art forms evolved," noted Robert Klein, past president of AIPAD and president, Robert Klein Gallery, Boston. "For example, Eadweard Muybridge's work was the precursor to the moving picture. And the world seen upside-down in a view camera inspired a reassessment of how the world is ordered. AIPAD has been in the forefront of presenting innovation for 30 years."
The Center for the Legacy of Photography, a new initiative of George Eastman House and the Image Permanence Institute at Rochester Institute of Technology, will present a special exhibition, "Cause & Effect" that includes vintage photographic prints drawn from George Eastman House's extensive collection. Work such as an early salt print by Hill & Adamson will be shown side-by-side with later prints in platinum and carbon. Sequences of prints by Alvin Langdon Coburn will reconstruct aesthetic choices made by the artist. Variant prints of Lewis W. Hine's famous and infamous Powerhouse Mechanic image will be on view. The exhibition will provide insight into historic cause-and-effect relationships of materials and processes. The Center, made possible by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, focuses on collecting and sharing knowledge about photographic materials of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The AIPAD Photography Show New York has planned a full day of special event programming, including three panel discussions and a lecture on Saturday, March 28. At 10 am, a panel discussion entitled "What Makes a Photographic Print a Masterpiece? (Why Process and Print Quality Matter)" with Grant B. Romer, co-director, Center for the Legacy of Photography, and research curator, George Eastman House; Malcolm Daniel, curator in charge, department of photographs, the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Anne E. Havinga, senior curator of photographs, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Hans P. Kraus, Jr., Hans P. Kraus, Jr. Fine Photographs; and James M. Reilly, co-director, Center for the Legacy of Photography and director of the Image Permanence Institute.
The photographer Bruce Davidson will talk at noon, about his work from 1956 to the present, including his new publication, "Bruce Davidson: Central Park in Platinum", published by Verso Limited Edition Books. At 2 pm, a panel discussion entitled "The Art of Fashion Photography" will feature Charlotte Cotton, curator, department head, photography, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Vince Aletti, critic and curator; Etheleen Staley, Staley-Wise Gallery; and Takouhy Wise, Staley-Wise Gallery. "Photographers as Filmmakers" will be presented at 4 pm with Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, artist and filmmaker; and Albert Maysles, artist and filmmaker; and Steven Kasher, Steven Kasher Gallery.
These special AIPAD programs are free with Saturday, March 28 admission to The AIPAD Photography Show New York. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The AIPAD Photography Show New York will present a Gala Benefit Preview on Wednesday, March 25, from 5 pm to 9 pm. The evening will benefit the John Szarkowski Fund, an endowment for photography acquisitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The fund was established to honor John Szarkowski, one of the most influential curators in photography and a photographer in his own right. Ticket information is as follows:
Benefactor - 5 pm to 9 pm. ($7,500, 5 tickets)
Patron - 5 pm to 9 pm. ($1,500, 1 ticket)
Sponsor - 6:30 pm to 9 pm. ($500, 1 ticket)
Friend - 7:30 pm to 9 pm. ($100, 1 ticket)
For more information, or to purchase tickets, please contact the Museum of Modern Art, at +1-212-708-9680 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org . Or sign up and pay for tickets to the Museum of Modern Art's Gala Benefit Preview online at: http://www.moma.org/AIPAD2009 . The price includes one ticket, an AIPAD catalogue, hors d'oeuvres and desserts, and one run-of-show pass.
The AIPAD Photography Show New York will run from Thursday, March 26 though Sunday, March 29, 2009 at the Park Avenue Armory at 67th Street in New York City. Show hours will be:
Thursday, March 26 from 11 am to 7 pm.
Friday, March 27 from 11 am to 7 pm.
Saturday, March 28 from 11 am to 7 pm.
Sunday, March 29 from 11 am to 6 pm.
The admission is $25 daily. The AIPAD 2009 Membership Directory & Illustrated Catalogue is available for an additional $10 at the Show. The $40 run-of-show ticket includes a catalogue. No advance purchase is required. Tickets will be available at the door. For more information, contact AIPAD at +1-202-367-1158 or go to: http://www.aipad.com .
By Alex Novak
Four of I Photo Central's members--Contemporary Works/Vintage Works, Andrew Smith Gallery, Charles Schwartz, Ltd., and Serge Plantureux--are also members of the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) and will be exhibiting at the AIPAD Photography Show New York, March 25-29 at the Park Avenue Armory at Park Avenue and 67th Street in New York City.
CONTEMPORARY WORKS/VINTAGE WORKS
Contemporary Works/Vintage Works will be exhibiting in booth 221 at the center back portion of the hall near the Café. Contemporary work by artists Lisa Holden and Jerry Spagnoli will be featured, including four large-scale color images from Holden's newest series, "Lilith" and Spagnoli's latest images of the Obama Inauguration. Both Holden and Spagnoli will attend the AIPAD show and will be available to the public. Holden's newest piece, "Lamia, Desert (Lilith Series)", is a part of AIPAD new Innovations Program. Spagnoli became the first daguerreotypist to photograph a presidential inauguration with the help of the Smithsonian, which will receive one of the full-plate daguerreotypes of President Obama's swearing-in ceremony. His work on display at our booth will range from some of the actual daguerreotypes to a pigment print, limited edition version of one of the key daguerreotypes to a large scale color work that was done at the same time showing President Obama waving to the crowds. In conjunction with Spagnoli's work, we will also display a salt print from the very first inauguration to have been photographed: President James Buchanan's 1857 swearing in. Only four such images are known to exist, including this one. Buchanan was considered to be a pro-slavery President, and so the work on the wall will complete an interesting cycle from U.S. history. Lisa Holden and Jerry Spagnoli will be available to sign their books/catalogues on Friday afternoon from 2 pm to 4 pm.
In addition, Contemporary Works/Vintage Works will display a group of Robert Mapplethorpe's black and white photographs, as well as a group of Arthur Tress's newest series, the Pointers. We will also have Tress's classic black and white work from the late 1960s and 70s on hand. The artist himself will be attending the show on Thursday, March 26th and Sunday, March 29th. Arthur Tress and Jerry Spagnoli will all be available to sign their books/catalogues on Sunday afternoon from 2 pm to 4 pm.
Contemporary Works/Vintage Works also represents Mitch Dobrowner, Claudia Kunin, Michael Philip Manheim, Stanko Abadzic, Vladimir Birgus, Charlie Schreiner, Joel D. Levinson and Krzysztof Pruszkowski, and will have samples of their work at the show.
From the 20th-century vintage material, the firm will show key work by André Kertész, Édouard Boubat, Horst, Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Aaron Siskind, Harry Callahan, Edward Steichen, Irving Penn, Francois Kollar, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Dorothea Lange, Lee Friedlander, Barbara Morgan, Clarence John Laughlin, Ilse Bing, Brassai, Edward Weston, Frantisek Drtikol, Josef Sudek, Helen Levitt, Raoul Ubac, Ruth Bernhard, Arnold Newman, Carl Mydans, Brett Weston, Robert Doisneau, Willy Ronis, Eugene Atget and Ralph Meatyard.
And, finally, Contemporary Works/Vintage Works will also have on hand some wonderful 19th-century material (Le Gray, Fenton, Bisson Freres, Baldus, Marville, Southworth & Hawes--a trio of very important portraits, De Launay, Negre, Teynard, De Clercq, Fortier, Richebourg, Frith, Disderi, Clifford, Salzmann, etc.), so please be sure to ask us about it.
To see the top picks from the inventory of Contemporary Works/Vintage Works just go to: http://www.iphotocentral.com/search/result_list.php/128/1/0 .
ANDREW SMITH GALLERY
For AIPAD 2009, Andrew Smith Gallery of Santa Fe, NM, will present a retrospective of work by Paul Caponigro in booth 408. Long recognized for his classical landscapes and still life photographs the special one-man show will also include a new series of silver gelatin print "Aluminum Studies." With a career spanning nearly 60 years, Paul Caponigro is internationally regarded as one of the greatest photographers of our time, Andrew Smith Gallery will exhibit Caponigro's classic and recent photographs, as well as never before printed photographs, dating back to the 1950s. This is one of the few times that Caponigro has been willing to exhibit his vintage photographs. Caponigro will also be present to meet the public at the Andrew Smith Gallery booth during the show.
Paul Caponigro was born in Boston in 1932. He was already working as a photographer when he first traveled to the western United States in 1953 as a soldier during the Korean War. In the early 1950s, during his army tour of duty in San Francisco, he met and studied with teachers and students of the West Coast School of Photography, including Minor White. During these years his photographs appeared in Aperture magazine and were exhibited at the George Eastman House. In 1966 Caponigro was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, which enabled him to travel to Ireland where began his lifelong interest photographing megalithic sites. In 1976 he made his classic photograph of running white deer titled, "County Wicklow, Ireland [Running White Deer]".
Paul Caponigro has devoted his life to exploring the natural world and architectural forms from antiquity. His vision has roots in Paul Strand's response to the purity of forms, and in the metaphysical/metaphorical tradition of Minor White. But Caponigro primarily seeks inspiration in nature and natural forms. His printing reflects a heightened sensitivity toward gray and black tonalities. Beyond the simple directness of his compositions and his attention to details, Caponigro's photographs convey deeper meanings. Whether the subject is a landscape, a solitary apple, a ring of standing stones, or a simple piece of aluminum foil, his photographs invoke the promise of growth and regeneration mingled with timelessness.
To view Andrew Smith's photographs on I Photo Central, click on the following: http://www.iphotocentral.com/search/result_list.php/64/14/0 .
CHARLES SCHWARTZ, LTD.
Charles Schwartz Ltd. will be exhibiting at AIPAD in booth #317. Among the booth highlights is an exceedingly rare vintage print of W. Eugene Smith's most iconic photograph, "The Walk to Paradise Garden", made from the original negative (most prints of this were actually made from a later copy negative). This is a vintage exhibition print that bears Smith's Croton-On-Hudson stamp on verso. Charles Schwartz Ltd. will also be featuring rare African American photographs, including a stunning daguerreotype of a Slave Nurse and Child.
The company will also show a strong collection of 20th-century Japanese photography, 19-century Japanese ambrotypes, plus a few rare Japanese woodblock prints relating to early photography there. Schwartz will also show an unusual albumen print of Muybridge's "Horse in Motion".
To see all of Charles Schwartz's photographs, click on the following: http://www.cs-photo.com/search/result_list.php/0/0 .
Serge Plantureux, who has just joined I Photo Central and whose company is based in Paris, will be exhibiting in booth 312. Plantureux will bring to the fair a group of 720 photographs, from daguerreotypes to vintage prints by Henri Cartier-Bresson.
One of the featured 19th-century pieces in Plantureux's booth will be a half-plate daguerreotype self-portrait of Daguerre's assistant, Pierre Ambroise Richebourg. This is one of the very first photographic self portraits, along with Hippolyte Bayard's and Samuel Morse's well-known self-portraits. This self-portrait, which required seven minutes to take, was made in Paris on Thursday, July 1, 1841. The provenance is fellow photographer Fortuné-Joseph Petiot-Groffier (1788-1855), who had asked Richebourg to teach him the technique before making a summer trip to India (August 1841). Other important daguerreotypes will include "Sainte Famille" by Fortuné Petiot-Groffier, and several by Pancrace Bessa.
Plantureux will also exhibit salt prints and early albumen prints from such important artists as Gustave Le Gray, the Bisson Freres, Henri Le Secq, Emile Peccarrère, Charles Nègre, Louis Robert, F. A. Renard, Charles Marville, Adam Salomon, Edmond Bacot, Charles Clifford, Gustave De Beaucorps and Horatio Ross. Also on exhibit will be 19th-century image of the Middle East by Wilheim Hammerschmidt, Paul de Noailles, Robert Murray, Anton Schranz and Maxime du Camp. In addition, Plantureux will have early work by Paul Cardon, Eugène Atget and Loewy & Puiseux.
Twentieth-century artists will also be available, including work by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Edouard Boubat, Brassaï, André Kertész, Pasquale de Antonis, Mario Giacomelli, Karl Struss, Dr. Mehemed Fehmy Agha and Wright Morris. Some Czech and Russian artists on exhibit include: Alexandre Rodtchenko, Evguéni Yavno, Vladimir Vassiliévitch Lébédev, Boris Smelov, Boris Koudryakov, Anatoly Serguéievitch Shishkov, Léonid Bogdanov and Jan Svoboda.
To see a smaller selection of Serge Plantureux's photographs on the I Photo Central website, click on the following: http://www.iphotocentral.com/search/result_list.php/64/15/0 .
Of course you can preview many of these images on the I Photo Central website at http://www.iphotocentral.com .
By Alex Novak
The U.S. Congress passed the Stimulus Bill after the House-Senate conference added some funding for the arts through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) back into the stimulus bill at its original levels ($50 million) "to fund arts projects and activities which preserve jobs in the non-profit arts sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn". President Obama signed it into law the following Tuesday in Denver, CO. This brings the total budget for the NEA to $145 million.
Despite the "victory", one noted art blogger, Tyler Green, put it in perspective: "How small is the NEA's $145 million annual appropriation? The National Gallery of Art and the Kennedy Center receive more federal dollars through the normal federal budgeting process than the NEA does. The NEA is supposed the be the primary arts protagonist for the American people, yet a single arts philanthropy, the J. Paul Getty Trust, spent 50% more than the NEA did in the Getty's most recently reported year. (Imagine if one charitable foundation spent more than the federal government does on environmental research. It would rightly be a national embarrassment.)
"The self-perpetuating NEA debate is a continuing admission of defeat by both progressives and cultural organizations. The right won: The NEA is timid and ancillary. Progressives have been cowed into failing to substantially supporting one of their most reliable constituent groups: Culture lovers and workers."
Green is quite correct, especially considering the magnitude of the effect that the economic crisis has had on art museums and art non-profits. Keep in mind that most museums are limited by their charters to a set percentage of their endowments that they can use for general operating funds. These instead of going up as they normally do, dropped precipitously. Here are just a few of the museums feeling the pinch, according to various recent news reports:
-- Faced with a decline in their operating budget and a shrinking endowment, the trustees of Brandeis University voted to close the Rose Art Museum and sell its collection to help shore up the university's finances. Although Brandeis's president has subsequently said the announcement was "misinterpreted", many in the community expect the program to be gutted by the university.
--The Getty, cited above, won't have that much to throw around this year, considering that its endowment dropped by roughly 25% in a mere six months. The institution had almost $6 billion at the end of its 2008 fiscal year on June 30, 2008, but the endowment has dropped to about $4.5 billion since then.
--The Indianapolis Museum of Art will cut its personnel by 10%, including the elimination of 15 full-time and six part-time positions; additionally, it said that 10 senior staff members including its director and chief executive would donate 3% of their salaries back to the museum. Other operating funds will also be sliced. The museum, which offers free general admission, has seen its endowment decline to $281 million from $382 million since the fall; it receives less than 1% of its budget from local and state government.
-- The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore laid off seven staff members and eliminated nine unfilled positions, and would also freeze salaries and most new hiring, as well as furlough staff. It also canceled a coming exhibition it had planned with the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Additionally, the museum said it would close its Hackerman House annex on Mount Vernon Place on weekdays. During 2008, the museum said, its endowment declined by 27%, and it is facing reductions in city and state funding.
-- The Philadelphia Museum of Art will eliminate 30 positions through layoffs and attrition and cut the pay of its senior staff in an effort to reduce its operating budget by $1.7 million to $52 million. The museum is also contemplating raising its admission fees, though that would ultimately require the approval of the city.
--The High Museum of Art in Atlanta announced a 7% reduction of its staff, the elimination of five full-time and three part-time positions, and pay cuts for its remaining employees. The museum said the reductions and other cost-cutting efforts would save $1.4 million and reduce its operating budget to $23.7 million.
--The Detroit Institute of Arts said it would lay off about 20% of its staff, or 63 of its 301 employees, in an effort to cut $6 million from its $34 million annual budget. The layoffs would affect 56 full-time and seven part-time employees from across the museum's staff; the museum has already canceled planned exhibitions on the Baroque period and the artwork of Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Jim Dine.
-- New York's Metropolitan decided to close 15 of its satellite shops around the country. The museum also imposed a hiring freeze and is curtailing staff travel and entertainment, as well as the use of temporary employees. It is also in the process of a museum-wide assessment of its expenses to see how it can further reduce costs. It more recently announced that it would lay off more than 25% of its merchandising staff, cutting 74 jobs in addition to 53 already made since last year. The Met also warned that it would probably have to cut its overall work force by this summer by 10%, which is about 250 full- or part-time jobs, including some in curatorial and other key departments. The museum's endowment, which provides about 30% of its annual operating revenue, has decreased nearly 28% since last summer to $2.1 billion from $2.9 billion. Membership and attendance is down too, in large part because of falling tourism.
-- New York's Guggenheim Museum has slashed 10% of its operating budget.
--The Denver Art Museum plans a 15% budget cut across the board.
-- MassMoCA in North Adams, MA is cutting operating funds by 8%, with some staff firings also planned.
-- The Austin Museum of Art shelved plans to build a new $23-million branch in downtown Austin after Houston-based developer Hines Interests withdrew its plans to purchase land from the museum. The land sale would have funded a new museum on the eastern half of a site on Guadalupe and Fourth streets, and Hines planned to build a 30-story office tower on the western half.
-- Following news that it is shelving renovation and expansion plans, the Cincinnati Art Museum has also had to lay off seven members of its staff, mainly positions involved in the multi-million-dollar capital fundraising campaign for the building project. Director Aaron Betsky says no department curators have been laid off and that the staff cuts will allow the museum to continue with its current operating and exhibitions schedule unchanged.
-- The Las Vegas Art Museum has joined the growing roster of cultural institutions that have suspended their operations in the face of a weakening economy. The museum, which since 1997 has operated from the city's Sahara West Library, lost its executive director, Libby Lumpkin, in December; she resigned when the museum's board said that its budget cuts would result in reduced salaries and possible layoffs.
What makes the art museums' and non-profits' situations even worse is that many top foundations which normally grant funds to the museums were nearly wiped out in the various stock swindles, such as the Madoff, Nicholson and Stanford funds. Even those that escaped relatively unscathed from the frauds, were still clobbered by the diving stock markets. The nonprofit group Americans for the Arts estimates 10,000 arts organizations could actually disappear in 2009.
The federal stimulus funds will go to the states and municipalities where the next battle will be fought. Unfortunately, the U.S. Congress inserted this exception to the states when they added the funds: "That matching requirements under section 5(e) of such Act shall be waived." That means the arts could still be cut at the state level in nearly half of what would normally be expected. Considering the economic condition of many states, this change was not unsurprising.
I appreciate all your help in letting your representatives know that the Arts have economic consequences and are important to us as citizens (of the world for those international members of this group). Please thank the ones that voted to add this back and remember to hold the others accountable at the next elections.
Please encourage your state and local legislators to properly fund the arts at that level.
If you want to continue this battle for recognition of museums and the arts, you should go here: http://www.speakupformuseums.org/index.htm , or join our revised group page on Facebook (Grassroots Action Group for Funding and Support of the Arts) at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=62275347852 . I will try to update this page and add state and local initiatives that will need your support. Non-profit arts groups that have action-oriented needs for support, please post these projects up on our wall, but also feel free to email me details at: email@example.com . I could also use some very connected volunteers to join the group as officers and even administrators, so please let me know if you are interested.
By Matt Damsker
ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE: PORTRAITS.
Catalogue published in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name at the Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, California, Jan. 17 through April 19, 2009; The Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona, June 27-Sept. 27, 2009; San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, California, Fall 2010. 104 black-and-white plates; 260 pages; ISBN No. 978-0-9816743-1-5. Information: http://www.psmuseum.org .
By the time he died--as not just another celebrity victim of AIDS in the 1980s, but as an icon of rebel artistry and New York gay culture--Robert Mapplethorpe had managed to shock mainstream sensibilities on one hand and flatter them on another. His fetishistic photographs of black male sexuality coexisted with remarkably sensitive floral portraits that, for all their implicit suggestion, were welcomed at any level of society. In between these polarities, of course, lay the great trove of his formal portraiture--celebrity images of Manhattan trend-setters, taste-makers and performers that are the subject of this exhibition and catalogue, a stellar achievement by curator Gordon Baldwin.
Given Mapplethorpe's persona, his era and the charged nature of his relationships, it's important to note--as Daniel Cornell does in his catalogue essay--that these portraits are deceptively complex studies in fame and the compact between photographer and sitter. Cornell writes that Mapplethorpe "deploys…formality to disclose the sexuality that is usually hidden in portraits, drawing attention to details loaded with sexual codes as, for example, in Smutty [Smith's] provocatively positioned rabbit's foots charm, Udo Kier's framed belt buckle…and the erupting fronds atop the palm tree beside Truman Capote."
Cornell further asserts that these are "erotic portraits, even when the sitters are fully clothed…the power relations in these portrait sessions, whether explicit or not, [is] a matter of trust, which asserts the basic compact between sexual partners."
Indeed, it's clear enough that when, for example, Marianne Faithfull is photographed perched precariously on a balcony ledge, against a black background, with one leg rising provocatively from her dress, a look of vague desperation on her face, that we are witnessing a collaborative psychodrama of a high order. Yet most of the photographs here are less overtly dramatic, and ultimately flatter the sitter in ways that echo classical portraiture, updated for a high-gloss, fast-living, rule-breaking era.
A youthful Iggy Pop, then, his arm raised, cigarette in hand, cropped off-center and so tightly within the frame that we can't tell if he's naked or not, is a study in coiled punk posture, but, as with most of Mapplethorpe's celebrity shots, the neutral backdrop and the flat, cool lighting soften the edge and emphasize Iggy's handsomeness. Even Andy Warhol's freakish mien is idealized, in its way, by Mapplethorpe's flattery (though the two artists were not exactly friends, and Warhol stands against a studio wall in a defensive, distrustful pose). So it is with countless art-star subjects: Robert Rauschenberg portrayed as a kindly, open-handed image of friendship; Keith Haring, in a whimsical/ironic Playboy bunny t-shirt, staring out quizzically, half-seriously; and Patti Smith, who lived with Mapplethorpe in his early days, is a dark angel with expressive hands, fragile limbs and an oracular aura.
These and many others are powerful two-way streets of portraiture, but inevitable there are many ordinary images that don't exactly prove Daniel Cornell's erotic thesis. A 1982 shot of a pensive Glenn Close in profile is pleasant 19th-century stuff, nothing more, while a full-frontal, impassive Norman Mailer is a Roman bust, thick and sculptural and unyielding. But then there's Louise Nevelson, magnificently ravaged in ruffled black, her face uptilted and looming out of the dark like Gloria Swanson ready for her close-up. And Deborah Harry, hair upswept, with tasteful yet impressive décolletage, offers an imperious sidelong glance that dares us to call her Blondie. And the great image of Kathy Acker, covering her face in her hands and covering her breasts at the same time, proves that a well-matched photographer and subject can create a portrait that nonetheless reveals more than it hides.
Ultimately, Mapplethorpe's self-portraits tell their tales most poignantly. He is an intense, craggy-featured persona whose depths we can only guess at, whether expressing his youthful vitality with an out-flung arm that takes up most of the frame, or, in 1988, dying from AIDS yet bravely facing the camera with a death's-head walking stick, his head soft-focused in the enveloping blackness. This catalogue and exhibition is, above all, a celebration of an important artist who defined his era as few others were able to, with uncompromised vision, daring and humanity.
The annotations at the back of the catalogue additionally provide helpful commentary on each photograph, and Gordon Baldwin's essay, "In the Studio," details Mapplethorpe's artistic development and technique with eloquence and erudition. Baldwin goes beyond any boilerplate notions of Mapplethorpe's art, as when he concludes: "The portraits are usually thought to be cool and formal, although their maker believed them simply to be formal. They are certainly no cooler than those of Steichen, another great American twentieth-century portraitist, and they are certainly kinder than those of Avedon. As for warmth, is it not somewhat naive to believe that a photographer can establish and display manifestly cordial relations with such a great variety of types and personalities?"
Matt Damsker is an author and critic, who has written about photography and the arts for the Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, Philadelphia Bulletin, Rolling Stone magazine and other publications. His book, "Rock Voices", was published in 1981 by St. Martin's Press. His essay in the book, "Marcus Doyle: Night Vision" was published in the fall of 2005.
He currently reviews books for U.S.A. Today.
(Book publishers, authors and photography galleries/dealers may send review copies to us at: I Photo Central, 258 Inverness Circle, Chalfont, PA 18914. We do not guarantee that we will review all books or catalogues that we receive. Books must be aimed at photography collecting, not how-to books for photographers.)
By Alex Novak
Many of our clients often ask us when is the best time to go to the show. I always recommend that you go on the weekdays (Thursday and Friday), if possible, from about 11 am-4 pm. Dealers generally have more time to spend with you and there are less crowds. Be patient at other times. Dealers are often pulled from one client to another. Trust me when I say that it is as frustrating for the dealer as the clients.
Also, Sunday is not a bad day to buy. There are plenty of great deals left on Sunday. As a collector I made some of my best "steals" that last day--pieces that everyone still overlooked. There are just too many images for all the good ones to go early--especially in this environment when most clients take their time in deciding on purchases--sometimes too much time (more about this later in the article).
Don't be afraid to ask what else the dealer has brought with them. Often some of the best deals and very top pieces are sitting in a box under a table or in the dealer's closet. I know several dealers that have "discount" boxes underneath that they usually show to their best clients.
Are prices negotiable? Well, that depends on a number of factors, including the dealer, the piece, the margin, etc. And there are ways to deal with this issue--both good and bad. Yes, the weaker economy certainly has made dealers a bit more flexible, especially in terms of payment. Each dealer handles these issues differently though. I have actually often paid exactly the offered price, because it was fair. With some dealers you could get a 50% discount and it would still be higher than another dealer on the same or similar item. Don't focus on the discount: focus on the value of the piece. And make sure that you are comparing apples to apples, and not to oranges.
Remember the adage of the butcher. A woman came into a butcher’s shop and asked him why the price on his chopped meat was so high when his competitor-down-the-street’s price was 25 cents a pound less. The butcher asked the woman why she had not bought the meat at the other butcher. "Oh," she replied, "he is out of the meat at the moment." "Well, " said the butcher in reply, "if I were out of meat, my prices would be 25 cents less per pound too." Just remember that prices shift rapidly in this field, and even the best dealers may not be on top of all these changes. Do not make comparisons on the basis of what someone would charge IF they had the item in stock. Only make comparisons based on actual comparable prints. When making comparisons to auction prices, realize that prices may have gone up since that auction, no matter how recent. You should also understand there may be a difference in print quality from source to source.
Over the years I and other dealers have seen a few potential buyers (a very small number, thank goodness; and more "potential" buyer than actual) who think that they can continually "renegotiate" (re: beat up on a dealer). They think that this is the way that they will wind up paying very little on a piece--often offering in the end less than what the dealer paid for it. That's a process that frankly turns off a dealer and is both inappropriate and counterproductive. On the other hand, I understand why some clients feel they need to do this. They don't really know how to price a rare or unique image and they want to get the best price that they can. That's perfectly understandable. But the way to do that is to pick your dealers carefully. If you pick trustworthy ones, you will get good, reasonable offers on top material. Beating up people will only get you frustration and offers on inferior material, and your reputation as a "bad" buyer will proceed you. It is a very small world.
Also, if you reserve or negotiate on a piece, be serious about it. A dealer gets only one or two real opportunities to sell their big pieces at these fairs. Too many clients are often cavalier about the process. On the other hand, if you are interested in a piece, always ask if the dealer can "hold it" for you for a set period of time. I can't tell you how many disappointed buyers I have had, who wander back and find that their "prize" has just been sold to someone else.
Certainly you can mention the obvious and ask a dealer if they have "any room" on a piece of art, and if they could offer any payment terms, if you wanted to pay over time. But both are interrelated. If you want six months to pay for a piece AND want a big discount, that is more problematic. Focus on what is important to your own finances: price or terms.
On pieces that a dealer owns outright, their flexibility largely depends on what they have in the piece. Occasionally, a dealer can pass on some of their good fortune; sometimes a dealer has paid top dollar though for a top piece (the normal scenario). I once told a collector who said they would offer me 10% over what I had paid for a piece at auction (one that I was willing to pay double what I wound up paying). Although I politely passed on their offer, I told them that I would be very happy to sell them my mistakes for that mark-up. Be reasonable in your expectations.
You also have to understand how the photography/art business works. If the dealer owns a piece outright, they get 100% of the deal in real cash flow, even if the profit margin is reduced (unless the piece is on consignment to them). That's not true on photography where the gallery or dealer actually represents the artist (or the consignor). On those photographs they are bound to give the artist approximately 50% (sometimes occasionally even a slightly higher percentage for the hottest artists) of the take. In the case of a private consignor, the dealer is often paid only 20-25% of the sale. On top of that they are often paying for shipping the piece to and from the show. If a gallery reduces the price, it is often taking the reduction entirely out of its piece of the pie, so that a 10% reduction is actually a 20% (or even 25% with shipping) reduction of the dealer's portion.
Also you have to consider that it costs a gallery or dealer roughly between $25,000-60,000 to do a show like AIPAD when you factor in shipping, hotel, booth space, promotional costs, travel, framing/crating for the show, and booth accessories (walls, lights, electric, cleaning, decorating, hanging, etc.). At many of these art and photography fairs dealers will often walk away with very little to show for their efforts and expense. Dealers need to get a reasonable profit in order to survive. Frankly if a dealer offers you 30-40% off a contemporary piece of an artist that they represent, I would suggest that there are several potential pitfalls: the gallery is probably not paying its artists and you don't really own the piece; and, this is a gallery that will soon be out of business. Good luck if you have any problems down the road, and good luck on the artist's future reputation.
A few other points: rare vintage pieces have virtually disappeared from the market. Just look at the poor quality of material represented in the upcoming auctions compared to a year ago and you will see what I mean. The auctions have late-printed and low level pieces for auction at relatively high price ranges (especially factoring in the auctions' 25% buyer's premiums added to the hammer price, insane shipping costs, sales tax wherever you are, and lack of financing). The only good pieces being offered for sale are now from dealers. That's a big change from just 8-12 months ago. Prices on this type of material have not gone down at all. As I have said in the past, inflation is a likely scenario in the future due to the heavy government spending. Quality photography has always been a very good hedge against inflation, and there is no reason not to expect this to continue.
Photographers should refer to my article from April 2007, which you can read here: http://www.iphotocentral.com/news/article_view.php/132/123/706 . AIPAD is not a time to approach dealers about your work. They have high show expenses and need to generate sales at these shows. Just for the record, Contemporary Works/Vintage Works is not reviewing work, nor taking on any other artists--no matter what. Many other exhibitors are, like us, private dealers, with limited resources to represent artists. Identifying which companies are actually representing new contemporary work is certainly one step you can do. Read the article reference here on how to get the most out of AIPAD without hurting yourself in the process.