Deborah Bell Photographs (here): Martin Munkácsi, $60000. This 1930 image is not just a fond look back at old time skiing, although it certainly works on that nostalgic level. The insistent lines from the skis and shadows create a composition full of all-over movement, like a flurry of musical notes or the energetic slashes of a Kandinsky painting.
Deborah Bell Photographs (here): Vito Acconci, $50000 for the set fof 4 prints. Acconci’s 1969 Following Piece captured the performance artist tracking random strangers through the streets of New York. The photographs unpack evolving ideas of space and distance, as well as exploring the echoing of human gestures and the notion of privacy in public. It’s as fresh and thoughtful as ever.
Scott Nichols Gallery (here): William Garnett, $8500 and $14000. While Garnett’s black and white aerials are well known, this was the first time I had seen works he made in color. And although the sinuous curves of the sand dunes and plow marks are well balanced, the addition of color nuance doesn’t match the refinement of his monochrome landscapes. That said, the works are fascinating examples of an artist consciously extending his range, even though they may look a bit dated from our current vantage point.
Paul M. Hertzmann Inc. (here): Imogen Cunningham, $60000. While the silhouetted form of this amaryllis flower is classic Modernism, the shining highlight on the bent edge of the front leaf is what caught my eye most in this sumptuous print. The high contrast tones move from the deepest black to shimmering white, without losing sharpness or painterly definition.
Paul M. Hertzmann Inc. (here): Marcia Resnick, $6500. Interchanging the homophone of jeans/genes, Resnick creates playful conceptual misdirection in this 1979 rear end portrait. The clever textual hijinks transform the image from a skin tight fashion study into a brainy visual inversion.
Gallery 19/21 (here): Yasuhiro Ishimoto, $9000. This 1948 image revels in orderly horizontal stripes. The street lines, the curb edge, the shadow, and the sidewalk all coalesce in perfect alignment, the car and pedestrians placed like toys on a slot track.
Jenkins Johnson Gallery (here): Lissette Solórzano, $3000. Passengers on buses, trains, and trams have long been a favorite subject of photographers, but this image by the Cuban photographer Lissette Solórzano is an accomplished addition to the genre. The back and forth between male and female is what makes it work, the mirrored sunglasses and the big head t-shirt giving it a splash of style.
Staley-Wise Gallery (here): Michael Dweck, $21600. This picture taps into the essence of summertime cool (Montauk style). What could be better than heading to the beach in an old school white Cadillac convertible with your surfboard stuck in the back seat?
Sabrina Raffaghello Contemporary Art (here): Franco Grignani, $10000. No, this 1950 photograph isn’t out of focus – it’s a deliberate optical illusion/effect, creating a dissonant shimmer out of its geometric patterns. The work sits at the intersection of experimental scientific photography and Op Art, purposefully breaking down our assumptions about visual clarity.
Michael Shapiro Photographs (here): Albert Renger-Patzsch, already sold. This 1925 image of the power center of a locomotive is a gorgeous example of Modernist industrial abstraction. The wheels and drive train are reduced to formal geometries, their surfaces burnished to a soft shine. The whole composition exudes confidence and machined optimism.
Michael Shapiro Photographs (here): Harry Callahan, $40000. Long before Photoshop mirroring became overly easy, Callahan was experimenting with inverted multiple exposures. This 1942 (early) image flips/combines a leafy tree study, creating a intermingled silhouette at the center of the composition that sweeps across the frame like a textural wave.
Beetles+Huxley (here): Nico Krijno, $5200. Even with the addition of so many new galleries at the fair this year, there still wasn’t much contemporary work exploring the edges of digital manipulation. This work by Krijno was one of the exceptions, the nude form and vista being enveloped by skittering fragments of yellow drapery. The scraped software edges deftly upend our sense of contiguous space, confounding our sense of what’s real.
L. Parker Stephenson Photographs (here): Kikuji Kawada, $20000. This booth often features at least one vintage Kawada print in among its offerings, and this crackled ceiling view of the a-bomb memorial dome from The Map was this year’s treasure. Its gnarled stains and sediments mimic a view of swirling galaxies, the whole universe seemingly captured in the remnants of destruction.
Robert Klein Gallery (here): Stephan Brigidi, $2500. Tucked away in the back closet, this gently refined portrait of Francesca Woodman with a large plate was worth uncovering. Taken in Rome in 1980 (by a fellow student at the time), it offers another artist’s perspective on her elusive character.
Laurence Miller Gallery (here): Amy Ritter, $900. Ritter was another new discovery for me at this year’s fair. This series merges nude self-portraits with overlaid images of a childhood mobile home, mixing gender exploration, contrasts of materials, and working class realities. There is something confident and incisive going on here that feels promising.
Kopeikin Gallery (here): Jason Engelund, $3700. I’m generally a sucker for photographs I don’t immediately understand, and this multiple exposure work had me scratching my head. The flares of light, the ghosted forms, and layered black bars imply misaligned rewinding and reexposure of the film, and the faint numbers at the bottom of the composition might support that hypothesis. But happily its mysteries didn’t entirely reveal themselves, leaving me to ponder the uncertainties of its shifting timescape.
Grundemark Nilsson Gallery (here): Henrik Stromberg, $1900. This series of simple leaf studies explores our assumptions about form. Starting with a negative inversion of the light and dark tonalities, the artist then cuts the leaves, creating shapes that oscillate between natural curvature and hard edged geometry. What emerges are dual forms that are both leaves themselves and abstracted ideas of leaves.
Howard Greenberg Gallery (here): Margaret Bourke-White, $18000-24000 each. These powerful industrial images were drawn from a recently rediscovered 1935 commission for WOR radio in New York. The transmitter coils and shiny pipes have been reduced to elemental forms that exude lustrous warmth. When the romance of industry is done right (as it is here), the works seem to capture the potential energy of man-made wonders.
Henrique Faria Fine Art (here): Yeni & Nan, $25000 for the set. This gallery can be counted on to deliver a tutorial on Latin American photography and performance art in its fair booths, and this year was no different. This work from 1980 captures the interplay between a mud-based meditative performance and the intentional degradation of the Polaroids, the two browns connecting the time-based drying and transformation.
Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs (here): John Beasley Greene, $20000. This waxed paper negative from 1852-1853 turns the Venus de Milo into an expressive study of delicate posture. Isolated on a Paris rooftop, the form seems to bend, the drapery falling into lilting ripples.
JHB Gallery (here): Amanda Means, $7500. This new work by Means is an intricate exercise in repeated folding and exposure. The final image combines a latticework of textural folds and a delicate array of subtle grey striping into an all-over composition that mixes tactile and visual geometries.
Throckmorton Fine Art (here): Edward Weston, $50000. Who knew that a press card could be so valuable? The combination of Tina Modotti’s Union Photo credentials and Edward Weston’s portrait provides the alchemy for this unexpected object of artistic rarity/historical significance.
Gitterman Gallery (here): Kenneth Josephson, $12000. This small work tucked on a back wall reminds us that Josephson was exploring the image/object duality in photography long before it became popular. This 1968 work combines an actual feather and an image of that feather, generating a conceptual conundrum that is crisply brainy.
Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery (here): Niko Luoma, $17000. Like a jumble of playful Colorforms shapes, this brightly colored abstraction layers primary geometries into a dense study in overlapping color combination. In the additive light process, as more pieces pile up, the combinations converge toward white.
Vintage Works (here): Gustave Le Gray, POR. This booth featured a mini-selection of Le Gray prints hung in an alcove. The scale of the sea and sky make this ship look like a toy, the towering darkening clouds and the shining water giving the view a dose of awe inspiring energy.
La Galerie Particulière (here): Lise Sarfati, $24500.This booth was a solo show of Sarfati’s new work, her first with male subjects. The images are consistently strong, a few moving toward the staged tension of Jeff Wall. This one gets the alignment just right, with the shadow of the electrical wire intersecting with the walking man’s head and the shadow of the pole striping the green painted wall.
Catherine and André Hug Gallery (here): Susan Meiselas, $28000 for the 12 image set. This 1970s portfolio follows a group of “Prince Street Girls” and sensitively captures the nuances of their relationships. They laugh, and smoke, and walk the streets in their school kilts, Meiselas tagging along to document the evolution of their friendships.
Ag Galerie (here): Part of the joy of an art fair is seeing photography that we don’t see in our regular routines, so I was particularly disappointed not to enjoy the artists from the Tehran-based Ag Galerie this year. This plain spoken sign explained their absence, and gave the consequences of the discriminatory travel ban a physical presence.
Aura Gallery (here): Issei Suda, $100000 for the set of 31 prints. These images were taken by Suda in Taipei in 1984 and they see the Chinese streets with a subtly Japanese perspective. Balloons and brides are captured in surreal flash lit brightness, fragmenting the street scenes into splashes of color and moments of oddity. This sense of cultural blending gives the pictures an edge of mistranslation.
Little Big Man Gallery (here): Keizo Kitajima, $8500. This vintage print from 1979 is a study in languorous slung gesture and intricate textural contrast. Given that the images from this experimental series were part of a performative book making project, the prints were never the point, making prints like this one all the more rare.