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Current News             Issue Archive             Article Archive E-Photo Newsletter   Issue 85   2/3/2005

Photo LA Posts Strong Show
After a Slow Start

"I thought the show had a much better energy this time around and people seemed to be enjoying themselves. It was like Woodstock except thankfully everyone kept their clothes on." That is how Santa Monica photography gallery owner Peter Fetterman described this year's Photo LA, which seems to be developing more and more each year into the one photography fair to beat in the U.S. Eighty-four exhibitors filled every last corner in the show, which is held at the Santa Monica Convention Center.

All that may sound impressive except this year's Photo LA got off to an excruciatingly slow start for most exhibitors. Only 650 visitors showed up on opening night, because, unlike last year's charity reception, there was no celebrity host such as 2004's Viggo Mortensen, who starred in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, to draw the big crowds. Friday was also weak (a mere thousand visitors), but then the dams burst and Saturday and Sunday saw huge crowds of 2,900 and 2,450 respectively. More importantly, the weekend visitors were enthusiastic and spending strongly. In the end, the number of visitors was down only 500 from last year's record turnout of 7,500. Last year the results were erratic, but this year sales were definitely up and more evenly spread out across the exhibitors. Dealers also buzzed about considerable after-show activity and important new clients met at the show--even by the local galleries. Stephen Cohen, the show's organizer, told me that for the first time at any of his shows the packing materials made available to exhibitors for their clients' purchases was completely used up well before the end of the fair.

I thought the work on the walls of last year's show was excellent, but the quality of this year's show was even better. Many of the visitors and dealers I talked with agreed. As Fetterman noted, you could feel the enthusiasm and excitement for the great diversity of material--from 19th-century to 20th-century to big color contemporary work--that was being shown. It was all up on the new 10-foot high walls, which allowed exhibitors to show larger work more effectively. More and more dealers were showing their best work here rather than holding it for AIPAD the following month.

My own company, Vintage Works, had one of its best fairs ever; plus many other sales are still pending. We sold 11 big color pieces from a new series on the nude park in Munich, Germany by Joel D. Levinson (starting at $4,800 for 28 x 28 in. and $2,700 for 18 x 18 in. prints), plus six of Joel's earlier vintage black and white work, which are going up in price on March 1st; important early prints from such 19th-century masters as Louis De Clercq; an important surreal image by Jean Moral; rare images by Hungarian modernist Geza Vandor, who worked in Paris; work by a number of other French and Paris-based photographers (Auradon, Ronis, Krull, Lartigue, Duval, etc.), who are all very hot right now; work by Czech photographers, such as Josef Sudek; and vintage photographs by Americans, such as Inge Morath and Jack Welpott. We also have lots of work out on approval, on hold or under consideration, including a fine platinum print by Imogen Cunningham; a magical and very early Girault de Prangey daguerreotype of the entrance to the Temples of Phylae; a Lewis Carroll carte-de-visite of Frederica Harriette Peel with Doll (one of many good Carrolls in our inventory); and published images by Edward Steichen (The May Pole), William H. Mortensen (Witches' Sabbath and Salome) and Robert Frank (Rooming House--Bunker Hill, Los Angeles). We also had lots of interest in the contemporary daguerreotypes of Jerry Spagnoli and Mike Robinson, the big color night color work by Marcus Doyle (starting at $2,800 for 30 x 40 in. and $2,000 for 20 x 24 in. prints) and the many vintage master prints up on our walls and in our bins. The vintage Bill Brandt "Soho Bedroom" 1938 and a selection of Julia M. Cameron photographs ($2,500-$17,000) were particularly admired by many.

Barbara Bales Emberlin of Martin Gordon Gallery reported: "We did rather well at Photo L.A. We sold Frank Hurley's The Low Sun Glows on the 'Endurance', Richard Peter Sr.ís Husband and Wife, and a Dorothy Lange's Hoe Culture, Alabama (a later printing). Some of the prints that I especially like that are still available include: Lola Bravo's Frida Kahlo, c.1950 but printed later (edition of 100), silver gelatin print, offered at $6,500; Tina Modotti's Woman with Flag, 1928 (platinum print offered at $14,500); and a group of Halsmans, including Daliís Skull, 1951 and Marilyn Jumping, 1952, both printed 1981. In general, we felt that the attendance was good and that it was an overall beautiful show with interesting pieces."

San Francisco dealer Paul Hertzmann told me: "We sold very well, not so much quantity as quality, a refreshing reversal of previous years. Many of our colleagues, both in classic and modern pictures did very well and I believe many of the vernacular dealers also did well. Some of our photographs that got a lot of attention, but remain unsold include two vintage, mounted images of Malcolm X by Eve Arnold, a vintage Imogen Cunningham of her Amaryllis, a Robert Frank "City Fathers", and a vintage image of "Priests Playing in the Snow" by Giacomelli."

Burt Finger of Dallas-based Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery had a unique experience before the fair opened. One of his crates that went missing was nearly shipped to Moscow instead! He borrowed a few frames from fellow dealers and the crate did finally appear over the weekend. Despite the mishap, Finger enthused, "We were pleased with the fair; it was better than last year. Our contemporary work, especially by Esteban Pastorino Diaz (Argentina), sold well. His aerial photographs were the most popular, selling several 12 x 18 inch prints and a large 38 x 50 inch print. Unsold were two beautiful prints of Edward Weston's (Cole Weston printed) "Tina Modotti: On the Azotea" and a portrait from 1924 at $5,500 each. We were very happy with the attendance. Most of the booths looked great. Contemporary work was well represented in this show, some of it very good indeed."

Local dealer Robin Venuti said, "Many people spent a good deal of time in my booth looking at both contemporary and vintage material. A lot of attention was paid to contemporary photographers Martha Casanave, Jane Olin, Ryuijie and Foster Witt. I still have a great selection of Edward Weston prints made by Cole Weston--all with terrific provenance and including some of the greatest hits, i.e., Nautilus, Pepper #30 and others. Prices go from $2,000-$5,000 depending on the image. Also, still available is a drop-dead gorgeous vintage image of the Lone Cypress by Morley Baer priced at $2,000 (priced elsewhere for twice as much)."

Show Organizer Stephen Cohen told me, "I sold the Michael Garlington installation wall "Exhumation of the Robot" for $22,000. This was a showstopper and many people were engaged by it. We sold duplicate images to people from the piece." Cohen said, "I thought it was great, but what do I know? The look of the show gets better and better, it ran smoothly, and the crowds were great in number and included more buyers."

Adam Gendell from Artseal Gallery reported: "Overall the fair went well for us, with works by Duane Michals, Dorothea Lange, George Platt Lynes, Manual Alvarez Bravo, Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston, Max Dupain, Jim Steinhardt, Martin Elkort and Will McBride being sold. We began a contemporary program this year that drew much attention, showing Justin-Julius Santos 20 Men diptychs and Stefan Kirkeby's "abstract minimalist nudes", but it was the "off the wall" vintage works that were primarily being acquired. Personal favorites shown that are still available include Horace Bristol's (vintage) c.1943 Aviator Lt. Brinks Bass $9,500; Bill Brandt (vintage) c.1937 Coal Miner Bathing $11,000; Edmund Teske (vintage) c.1965 George Herms Nude $3,000; George Hoyninigen-Huene (later/Horst) c.1930 Divers $8,000; and Harry Callahan's (70s print) c.1948 Dearborn St $9,500."

Tom Gitterman of New York City's Gitterman Gallery told me, "Basically only a couple of things sold during the fair but I have a lot on hold. If all the prints on hold sell then it would have been a fantastic fair, but we shall see. There is strong interest (holds) in vintage works by: Edward Weston, Drtikol, Roger Parry, Robert Frank, Bill Brandt and Dave Heath. I sold works by Joshua Lutz and Roswell Angier."

Tucson's Terry Etherton said, "Obviously, the crowds were good all week. We had a very good, not great show, so I am pleased. I sold to new clients and found the event this year to go very smoothly. I sold images from Danny Lyon to Emmet Gowin to Palma to Curtis. My big surprise and disappointment was that we did not sell any Kate Breakey work (the large hand-colored pieces). I thought they were strong, well displayed and very affordable. We have had lots of orders for her monograph since the show so maybe that will lead to sales. Kate's pieces are priced from $3,500-$6,000 depending on the edition number. Each piece is hand painted so they are basically unique."

Florence Penault of Gallery 19/21 felt that "It was a very good fair. Few buyers for us, but still serious collectors, and a more crowded show than last year. But I feel like a dinosaur," she opined, "like a bit old-fashioned person surrounded by this new age of contemporary ...And what happens to dinosaurs?" She did, however, sell "two very good vintage prints by Giacomelli from the 1960s and a Kollar, Atget and Reichmann."

Saying he was "very pleased," Steven Albahari of 21st Publishers reported that "books sales were strong in recent and existing titles, such as new releases of Sally Mann's platinum series book, which includes her introduction and her poetry, a true livre d'artist, and Vincent Serbin's patina coppered-covered silver series book, as well as our deluxe and museum editions for existing material."

Reinforcing his quote from the opening of this article, Peter Fetterman gushed, "Our Photo LA was great this year--much better than last year. Our total sales were double last year's amount, and we actually met some new clients in our home city just when we thought we knew everyone. We displayed a whole wall of our new artist Laslo Layton's work. The prices ranged from $1,200-$6,000. His series of hand painted cyanotypes, "Cabinet of Curiosities", was a resounding success. Printed in an edition of only ten prints, many of the images sold out and there was serious interest from two museums. The LA County Museum had purchased one prior to the show's opening. It was great to see success happen to a young photographer who is an artisan and whose images are not big color photos of empty factories, created in a lab, and cost $100,000 each, which will no doubt fade. Salgado was our other best seller, a tribute to the power of his images in the difficult times we live in."

Not everyone did as well as last year. David Carmona, Director of New York City's Yancey Richardson Gallery, said, "We did well, but not as good as last year. The crowd was large but not buying as aggressively. Lisa Kereszi, Masao Yamamoto, David Hilliard and Kenneth Josephson received the most interest."

Carmona complained, "The show infrastructure, including lights and walls, should be upgraded. The food is terrible for exhibitors and visitors alike." Unfortunately, as Stephen Cohen reminds me annually, the show is stuck with the food because of the concessionaire's exclusive contract with the City of Santa Monica. The booth lighting is pretty miserable, and it would be great for everyone involved if another larger venue were available in the area.

San Francisco dealer Robert Tat featured a group of vintage photographs from the 1930s by José Alemany, a Spanish born professor and photographer who summered in Provincetown, MA, where he made most of his photographs. Many are surreal in subject and composition. A large retrospective exhibition of his work was mounted last summer at "la Caixa" in Madrid, to which Tat lent a number of pieces. Tat noted that there was strong interest in these vintage photographs, many of which are accompanied by exhibition labels.

Tat did note that "the show was the most crowded I'd ever seen at Photo LA; I'm sure it set an attendance record. Crowds were enthusiastic. Despite that, buyers seemed very cautious this year. Many came back repeatedly to look at works before making a decision. Unlike previous fairs in Los Angeles, this year's seemed to be affected by the poor economy."

Certainly there are always some dealers that do less well at a given show than others, but clearly the overall mood coming out of this show was positive and buoyant. If only half of the after-sales materialize, I think most of the exhibitors will be overjoyed with the results.

AIPAD Show Coming Up Next Week in NYC

The Photography Show 2005, sponsored by the Association of International Photography Art Dealers [AIPAD], will be open to the general public February 10-13, 2005. The Photography Show will be held in Americas Halls I & II at the New York Hilton Hotel, 53rd and Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY.

About 80 AIPAD dealers from the United States, Canada and Europe will participate in the 2005 exposition, the 25th such show.

Regular show hours are Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 12 noon-7 pm; Sunday: 12 noon-6 pm. Admission is $20/one-day pass; $30/four-day pass. Admission includes the AIPAD annual Membership Directory and Illustrated Catalogue (360 pages, over 250 illustrations), which is a great resource for researching photographers and galleries and easily worth the price of admission by itself.

The Opening Night Preview on Wednesday, February 9th from 7 pm-10 pm is by invitation of the exhibitors.

In keeping with AIPAD's commitment to educating the public about a range of issues related to collecting fine photographs, the program includes free panels sessions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the NY Hilton.

On Friday, February 11th, from 7:30 pm-8:30 pm, a panel discussion will celebrate the life of Helen Gee, who owned the legendary Limelight gallery/cafe, one of earliest photography galleries, and who passed away last year. Panelists will include: Stephen Daiter, Gallery Principal of Stephen Daiter Gallery; Gary Schneider, Artist; Margaret Loke, Writer; Susan Kismaric, Curator, Dept of Photography, MOMA; and Ann Thomas, Curator of Photography, National Gallery of Art, Ottawa Canada. The panel will be held in the Gramercy Suite on the Second Floor.

On Saturday, February 12th, from 10:00 am-11:30 am there will be a panel discussion on The Great Photography Collections of the Midwest. Panelists will include: Keith Davis, fine arts program director, Hallmark Photographic Collection, Kansas City, MO; Catherine Evans, curator, Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH; Ted Hartwell, Curator, Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, Minneapolis, MN; Tom Hinson, curator of photography, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; Karen Irvine, associate curator, Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College, Chicago, IL; and Elizabeth Siegel, assistant curator of photography, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL. This panel will meet in the Hilton Ballroom.

On Sunday, February 15th, from 10:00 am-11:30 am, a panel discussion will pay Homage to Henri Cartier-Bresson. Photographers Bruce Davidson, Susan Meiselas, Joel Meyerowitz will be joined by moderator Peter Galassi, chief curator of the Dept. of Photography, New York Museum of Modern Art. This group will also meet in the Hilton Ballroom.

I Photo Central dealer Charles Schwartz, Ltd. will be exhibiting at AIPAD in booth 221.

Charles' exhibit will feature:

-Two very rich Roger Fenton images of Crimean War officers.

-Early and very rare prints of the construction of Central Park by Victor Prevost.

-A pair of vintage W. Eugene Smith prints of "Tomoko Uemura Being Bathed by her Mother, Minamata, Japan, 1971." One is a large, exhibition print of the very famous Tomoko image, and the other is a variant of this image.

- A collection of rare, vintage photographs made by Shinzo Fukuhara and four of his contemporaries during the 1920s and 1930s. The collection includes five Fukuhara prints, which are, of course, extremely rare and important. The other photographers represented in the collection are also quite significant in the history of Japanese art photography, and worked with Shinzo Fukuhara at Shiseido: Akira Ibuka, Kanichiro Shimada, Tadashi Murabayashi, Yasuo Hirai. Due to the Allied bombings of Tokyo in 1945, many of the negatives and prints by these artists have been destroyed, which makes this collection of vintage prints exceptionally rare.

- A collection of 10 portraits by the important NY daguerreotypist Abraham Bogardus. These are portraits of missionaries who were photographed just before they left for India (Arcot Mission) and China (Amoy Mission), ca.1857-58. There is also a portrait of Rev. Benjamin Williams Chidlaw who worked in Ohio and Indiana. The prints are large format salt prints (unusual to find), approximately 7x10 inch ovals with excellent tonality.

-And a very rare, historic photograph the Shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby, Dallas, TX, November 24, 1963, 9 x 13-1/2 inches. This is an exhibition print made circa 1980. It is very unusual to see the full view that is show in this print; most prints of this image that were published and released were tightly cropped. This photograph won the Pulitzer Prize in 1964.

My company Vintage Works, Ltd. has decided to not to exhibit this year at AIPAD, but I will attend the show and I will be available by private appointment outside of show hours. I will be staying at the Hilton from Tuesday night, February 8th through Wedneday morning February 16th. My cell phone during this week is 1-215-518-6962.

I will bring a small selection of 19th and 20th century masterworks, plus the color portfolios of contemporary photographers Marcus Doyle and Joel D. Levinson.

Some of the vintage masterworks that will be available for viewing include:

-Victor Regnault's circa 1852 "Bords de la Seine, Cours et Logment du Charpentier", a magnificient salt print of the riverside of the Seine.

-Bill Brandt's 1938 "Soho Bedroom" or Attic Room (Top Floor, A Night in London).

-Edward Steichen's 1932 "The May Pole (Empire State Building), NY Multiple Exposure" and an oversized 1921 "Isadora Duncan, the Parthenon".

-Peter Henry Emerson's iconic 1885 Gathering "Water Lilies".

-An important group of Charles Negre images.

-A possibly unique vintage Horst Paul Horst print of his surreal "Barefoot".

-Three published and exhibited large Lewis Carroll images of children, including the 1863 image, " Fair Rosamund".

-Two rare images by Man Ray, 1925 prints "Camion" (possibly unique in this size) and "Fin de l'ere Chretienne" (End of the Christian Era), both from the Breton estate.

-A circa 1970 (before 1973) print by Robert Frank of "Rooming House--Bunker Hill, Los Angeles" from his "The Americans" book.

-A large group of superb 19th-century salt prints by Auguste Salzmann.

-A group of fine images by 19th-century master Louis De Clercq.

-A 1946 print by Walker Evans of "The State Street Theater, Chicago".

-An extensive group of Julia M. Camerons.

-A platinum print by Clarence White of "Nude Beside a Cliff".

-A modern pigment print portfolio of Ten Nude Studies by Frantisek Drtikol (this edition has been sold out and this is the last one available).

-Several Captain Linnaeus Tripe images.

-A very important and possibly unique 1964 porfolio of 27 12-1/4" x 10-1/4" gelatin silver prints, mounted, in a loose-leaf binder, within a black cloth-covered portfolio, with title "HOPE in the BELLEPLAIN PROJECT. Photographs by Sol Libsohn."

Both of the contemporary photographers that I will also be showing are currently working with large scale, very limited color photographs with stunning effect. Marcus Doyle's work consists of striking, highly saturated color images of twilight and evening. All are environmental landscapes that in some way always show the hand of man. Joel Levinson has had two books to date, including "Fleamarkets" and "Joel D. Levinson, Photographs". A third book, "After Eden", which focuses on the nude English garden in Munich, Germany, is currently in the works. This work was very well received at Photo LA, which was the first time it was shown. Levinson has had more than 31 one-man gallery and museum shows and is in the collection of over 30 major museums and institutions.

If you would like to bring a specific photograph or group of photographs and/or set up an appointment to see any of this work, please let me know by phone (1-215-822-5662) or email ( anovak@vintageworks.net ) by this Monday night, February 7th.

Photography Books and Catalogues

By Matt Damsker

JAROSLAV ROSSLER: CZECH AVANT-GARDE PHOTOGRAPHER.

Edited by Vladimir Birgus and Jan Mlcoch. 2004; The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., and London, England. 164 pages; 134 plates. $35.00. Library of Congress Control No. 2003113824; ISBN No. 0-262-02557-4. Web site: http://mitpress.mit.edu .

As Vladimir Birgus notes in this rigorous study of Czech photographer Jaroslav Rossler, "the most important part of his work, the part for which he is ranked among the leading figures of avant-garde photography between the two world wars, comes from a period of roughly fifteen years." Indeed, Rossler was devoted to the medium for nearly 70 years, but his most compelling and influential work--absorbing Futurism, Constructivism, and abstraction in bold yet harmonious images--was made between 1919 and 1935.

In fact, 1919's "Opus 1," which begins this generously annotated portfolio of his work, is Rossler's first great photograph, an austere, shadowy study of a jar of film chemical placed in a kind of film-noir relation to two triangular shards of paper against a dark corner. The image has depth and quiet drama, evoking mystery and formal elegance. It's a muted trumpet blast of modernism that sets the tone for Rossler's evolution.

In the 1920s, his experimental energies took wing, of course, ranging from nude self-portraiture to images combining photos and his own charcoal drawings, with their echoes of Cezanne and the expressionism of Munch and even Fritz Lang. As the 20s roared on, Rossler delivered haunting black-and-white prints, exploring the geometry of everything from vacuum tubes to splintered views of towers in Prague. All along, Rossler loved collage, and under the influence of Schwitters and others, he brought his balanced, nuanced eye to drawing various industrial and commercial images.

His photo-collages are very much his own, though, as in a 1926 collaged assembly of Parisian street signs and awnings that has the look of a true Futurist machine ("Paris, NORD Ė SUD"). Simpler yet no less effective, his 1932 close up of locomotive wheels has all the gravitas of iron and night, its perspective of spoke and sphere receding gracefully toward the left of the frame. At his most avant-garde, in stark photograms of matches and smoke, paper clips and shadows, he suggests Man Ray yet maintains his signature irony-free touch.

In the 1930s, Rossler produced numerous advertising photographs for products as mundane as tooth powder, soap, aspirin, as well as perfume. He delivered unique photomontages in which the various products were presented in negative image, or in relation to ghostly double exposures, or in surreal juxtapositions. They impart a strange, totemic life to these commercial objects, though it's hard to say how well Rossler's artistry helped to sell them. Now, they have the look of Duchampian relics, presaging Warhol in their cool depiction of brands and logos.

The book closes with a selection of Rossler's color work, such as a fine 1936-37 image of a beaded necklace, a ceramic ashtray, and some numbered wooden game tokens on a field of knit fabric and cotton. The formal, unfussy beauty of the piece seems utterly contemporary. Long past his avant-garde heyday, in the 1960s and 70s, Rossler pushed further, with violently abstracted colored transparencies that connect him to Lucas Samaras, perhaps, but have little to do with the taut, groundbreaking accomplishments of his early modernism.

(Editor's note: we had reviewed this book earlier, but before it had been translated into English.)

EXPOSING ASIA: TRAVEL AND PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY. Catalogue published by Shapero Gallery, 24 Bruton St., London W1J 6QQ, United Kingdom. Phone: +44 (0)207-491-0330; Email: gallery@shapero.com .

From single albumen prints to collections of hand-colored Japanese images, rare Chinese and Himalayan vistas, botanical prints from Ceylon, world tour and single-country albums, this catalogue offers photographic riches that connect us with the medium's earliest triumphs as a means of documenting travel. Thus, the albums of Egyptian views by Pascal Sebah, or the albumen prints of Arab men and women by Felix Bonfils, contain worlds of detail and archetypes that define the mystery of the East.

Here also is Francis Frith's 20-image "Mammoth Series" of Near East photography, probably the largest photo-illustrated book ever printed (according to Gernsheim's 1988 "History of Photography"), with 15-by-19 inch prints of such ruins as the Temple of El-Karnak and the Statues of the Theban plains. Images from The Holy Land, Turkey, and the Crimea are in abundance as well, along with a selection of Samuel Bourne's classic views of India and the Himalayas, and those of Felice Beato (no fewer than 11 Taj Mahal views, golden-toned and finely defined).

Many of the hand-colored Japanese photographs are by, or attributed to, Kimbei Kusakabe, circa 1880. Though the catalogue depicts most of these in near postage-stamp size, they are magnificent examples of the subtle tonalities and elegant formal composition of Japanese portraiture. Similarly, the images and albums from China, Singapore, and various world tours capture the exoticism of Asia with vivid views and a sense of scale that puts the viewer very much in the landscapes, as close to a Time Machine as we will ever come.

OLD JAPAN. OLD & RARE PHOTOGRAPHS. CATALOGUE NO. 32.

Available from Old Japan, P.O. Box 1044, Purley, Surrey, CR8 3ZY, United Kingdom. Phone: +44 (0) 797 0891003; Email: terry.bennett@ukonline.co.uk ; Web site: www.old-japan.co.uk .

This catalogue provides a broad selection of Japanese photography available from the United Kingdom's Terry Bennett, including daguerreotypes, stereographs, lantern slides, album prints, and collotypes. The images capture Japan's feudal society in myriad ways--from historic groupings of samurai by Nadar, part of the 1862 and 1864 Japan embassies to Europe, to a comprehensive portfolio of 178 photos documenting the Sino-Japanese War in 1894-95.

In between are wonderful curiosities, including hand-colored original albumen prints of geishas from the 1890s. In formal and casual poses, these young women are demurely alive to us with all the grace notes of pastel accents sensitively painted on the images of their traditional costume. Likewise, the samplings from a collection of some 1,000 original stereo photographs, including those from Yokohma photographer T. Enami in the early 1900s, are rich with color and visual interest, depicting temples, scenes from the Kyoto World Exposition, and street life.

From a purely documentarian standpoint, the images of damaged buildings, bridges, and fissures resulting from the Great Earthquake of 1891 are interesting. Several Japanese photographers in the Akai district took exceptional shots of ravaged landscapes, and they provide strong historical evidence, in sepiatone. Other images, including a panoramic vista of Kobe, with its agrarian fields in the foreground and the harbor in the misty beyond, are striking and evocative. And a hand-colored street scene from the late 1800s in Yokohama, of a carriage and its puller waiting outside a building on a nearly deserted street, is a sensationally composed image, with its long receding sight line and textural details.

Formal portraits of courtesans and group shots taken at Japanese brothels are also here, including one large hand-colored image of the Shimpuro brothel, at "Nectarine No. 9" in Yokohama, depicting the working girls arrayed cheerfully on the second floor veranda, while the male staff glares at the camera at the first-floor entrance. There are also famous and familiar photos of Emperor Hirohito seated on a horse, and a rare photo of Emperor Yoshihito, who reigned from 1912-1926. All in all, this is a catalogue that is as compelling to browse through, as its wares would be compelling to own.


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.)