The AIPAD Show
A.M. Rousseau with Stephen Perloff
Imagine if you will, two
huge floors in a posh New York hotel, each containing a complex warren of
numerous small booths, every one filled with a mini exhibition of photographs,
all unique, all interesting. The room is teeming with collectors, dealers,
photographers and the curious from around the world, buzzing with the murmurs
of deal making, the whispers of special finds, the quiet haggling over prices,
discreet conversations about quality, and frank discussions about careers on
the rise and on the decline. New buyers walk around with neatly wrapped
packages tucked safely under their arms, smugly gleeful with their purchase,
"a steal" they muse to themselves, or vaguely anxious, traumatized
by the amount of money they have just spent on some beautiful image on a piece
of paper. Whether they have put down a check for $50 or $50,000, all must
present their packages for inspection to the security guard at the door.
This is AIPAD, the
Association of International Photography Art Dealerís Photography Ď97 show
at New Yorkís Hilton Hotel. The event brings together dealers and collectors
from around the world to show and sell photography. Itís a chance to see a
wide array of new and old photographs including recent discoveries of
Daguerreotypes, the latest in digital technology and everything in between, as
well as an opportunity to check out current price ranges, whatís hot,
whatís not, and who is selling what to whom.
This year AIPAD Director
Kathleen Ewing estimated that attendance at the show was up by 25%, and many
dealers reported record sales. Harry Lunn of Lunn Ltd. said that he may have
reached $100,000 in sales, including the sale of a LeGray print for $22,000.
Henry Feldstein sold pictures from $75 to $10,000, and Jane Jackson of Jackson
Fine Art said she had more than doubled her sales totals of last year. Dealer,
Lewis Lehr had his best opening night ever.
Of course not every single
dealer did so well. A few reported sales below even that needed to recoup the
expense of traveling to New York City, or as only "fair," but
generally dealers went home happy. Certainly there were more important
pictures on display than ever before, and some unique offerings. James
Danziger asked $175,000 for a spectacular 14" x 11" platinum print
of Gertrude Kasebierís Blessed Art Thou Among Women . (Unique in this size,
the print had been exhbited in 1910 at the Stieglitz curated show at the
Albright Gallery, Buffalo, NY.) Janet Lehr offered The Boxers, (attributed to
Thomas Eakins), a print she had acquired in the December, Freeman/Fine Arts
sale in Philadelphia for $150,000. Charles Isaacs and James Danziger also
brought Eakins pictures purchased from the same sale.
The best part of the show is
the nearly 100 galleries and exhibitions, conveniently located all under one
roof. We were determined to see everything. The following is an entirely
idiosyncratic, and admittedly biased account of some of the photographs we
came across in our wanderings.
We stumbled upon a bizarre
set of minature painted photographs by the equally unusually named Rick Hards
at the Lisa Sette Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ. The work appeared to be composed of
found tintypes which were then meticulously painted around the outlines of odd
animal figures or humanlike forms that revealed parts of the original picture.
Intimate and appealing, they had the feeling of ancient egg temperas painted
with a two hair brush, every brushstroke minutely rendered in vivid colors.
The historical faces and figures of the underlying tintypes showed through,
somehow both merging with, and commenting on the surface of the painted
contemporary images. The tiny images were bordered by beautifully crafted wide
wooden frames. They ranged in price from $1500. to $2500.
Related, but stylistically
different work by Lino Mannocci was exhibited at the Julie Saul Gallery, NY.
Mr. Mannocci, a Brit living in Italy we were told, hand paints common
postcards, transforming pictures of ordinary tourist sites into exquisite
watercolor-like gems - which are actually painted in oils. One can see patches
and bits of the original postcard photograph, but the lovely quality of the
painting transports the viewer (or at least this one) to some new imaginary
tourist landscape. We fine ourselves on the shores of non-existent beaches in
Central Park or swim in the unlikely waters of New Yorkís Washington Square
Monument, perplexed and mesmerized by the paradox of these painted pictures
whose images hold what is purportedly "real" and recorded next to an
obvious fiction. Unique images all, we thought they were a bargain at $800
Following our interest in
painted images we came across the work of "Anonymous" at the Stephen
Cohen Gallery, CA. Donít get the idea that there were very many painted
images in the whole AIPAD show. In fact these three were probably about it,
but then we told you we were biased. Overall there was also a distinct lack of
color work compared to previous years, and contemporary work was certainly
less dominant than vintage photographs; however, given the recent market for
vintage work now moving toward prices in the five figures and above, perhaps
this is understandable.
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