Highlights from the 2018 AIPAD Photography Show, Part 1 of 2

It’s been a year of consolidation for the annual AIPAD Photography Show in New York. This 2018 edition marks the fair’s second year at the Pier 94 site (after many years at the Park Avenue Armory), and to a large extent, the organizers have built on the successes that came with the dramatic venue switch last year and have improved many of the short term weaknesses that were exposed during the initial transition.

The main body of the fair once again houses roughly 100 gallery booths, in spacious confines that give the dealers more freedom to show both bigger work and more volume; Edwynn Houk and Bruce Silverstein have stretched to fill massive booths, with Throckmorton, Steven Kasher, Robert Koch, and Bryce Wolkowitz settling into the major spaces in the center of the fair.

The ins and outs of the exhibitors this year have occurred mostly in the realm of the non-AIPAD members, with the sprinkle of new faces from afar keeping things fresh (but also adding some unevenness in terms of quality, if we are honest). The usual suspect holdouts (both contemporary art and photography galleries alike) continue to take a pass, and their absence is certainly noticeable, at least in terms of gauging whether the fair is capturing a representative sample of anyone’s best of what the medium has to offer.

The photobook section has been redesigned and expanded, much to its benefit. The tables have much more space to breathe, and more quality publishers have been included in the mix; with the tally now coming in above 30, this effort is starting to gather real critical mass. I must admit that the narrow lane of hard walled closet-sized booths at the back is definitely tight, especially when a book signing draws foot traffic into the aisle. But while last year’s book area left me frustrated, this year’s arrangement has largely got things working, and I was happy to come home with a handful of new titles for our photobook review queue.

If there is one single thing not to miss at this year’s fair, it is the installation of Joe Baio’s collection down at the end of one of the booth runs (image below). Baio’s expansive collection is subject-matter driven and his theme is children (and adolescents). What at first thought might seem like a cloying subject is, in his hands, a thick, and rich, and wonderfully empathetic area for seemingly endless discovery. Hung salon-style like he has it arranged in his own apartment, the exhibit of roughly 300 images (drawn from some 6000 in his archive) climbs to the rafters and covers every inch of available wall space with imagery of kids.

What makes Baio’s collection so energizing is its deliberate egalitarianism. Baio is the exact opposite of the trophy-hunter, name brand conscious, collector caricature; he is wholly democratic in his tastes, mixing famous artists with vernaular imagery and unknown finds, his eye simply driven by the inherent power of the imagery. The photographs on view are big and small, old and new, known and unknown, “cheap” and “expensive”, and from all over the globe. And with so many images at his fingertips, he can now create smart groupings that add further nuance to his subject – babies, up-close faces, parent/child pairings, children in cars, kids thrown in the air, orphans, feet, even a creepy group of images of young girls made by priests. The installation is warm and inviting with plenty of places to sit and talk, and for beginning collectors trying to figure out what collecting really is or “how to be a collector”, Baio’s example is one worth following. Both the contagious joy and intelligence in his collection are obvious. And while my usual approach is to select a few highlights worth noting, that critic’s impulse flies in the face of Baio’s inclusive mindset, so instead of picking favorites, enjoy his collection in all its sprawlingly wonderful eclecticism.

The other two special exhibits at this year’s fair are much less successful. While there is strong work to be found in the All Power: Visual Legacies of the Black Panther Party show organized by the Photographic Center Northwest, particularly by LaToya Ruby Frazier, Hank Willis Thomas, and Ayana V. Jackson, among others, it has been installed in such a huge space that the works have trouble engaging with each other – you could toss a frisbee across its gaping central void. Given the wandering that is required to see all the works on the exterior side walls, the collective message is meaningfully diluted. Sir Elton John’s selections entitled A Time for Reflection suffer from an alternate problem. While they are tightly hung in a normal sized booth, the logic behind the grouping is diffuse at best, aside from being chosen by the famed photo collector and drawn from the inventory of AIPAD member galleries. The overall effect is unfortunately grab bag dull.

But of course, one person’s dull is another person’s wow, and so we offer our own parade of highlights in the slideshow below, and its forthcoming partner. While in past years, we have chosen a single work from each and every booth at the fair, this year we loosened the constraints a bit and allowed for both no works from some booths and more than one selection from others. The results tally up at just over 60 works, seen in two slideshows of roughly 30 images each, starting toward the left from the fair entrance. As always, each image includes a linked gallery name, an artist name, a short discussion of the work itself, and the price, for easy follow-up.

Robert Koch Gallery (here): These folded geometric forms by Katalin Nádor from 1970 interlace and build on each other, like beams from overhead spotlights or origami crowns. Priced at $3400.

Robert Koch Gallery (here): The control of light necessary to generate the crisp white, grey, and dark ovals in this György Kepes photogram abstraction was enough to get my attention. But it is the radiating hand-drawn lines in ink that push the boundaries further, adding a rigorous mathemetical sense of measurement and proportion. From 1940, priced at $30000.

Polka Galerie (here): This diptych by Alexander Gronsky places front and back side by side like a reflection, the smooth weathered surfaces of the factory facing outward, and the pipes, staircases, and other industrial architecture cluttering up the inside. It’s like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde two-faced portrait, only of a building. Priced at $2600.

Jean-Kenta Gauthier (here): Looking at this envelopingly black grid of solarized prints by Daisuke Yokota feels like the process of letting your eyes get accustomed to the dark. After a dose of patient observation, recognizable forms start to emerge – a chair, a house, a roofline, some legs, some plants – and soon many of the amorphous abstract shapes coalesce toward almost representation. Priced at $28200.

Toluca Fine Art (here): This image by Pablo Ortiz Monasterio smartly balances contrasting social forces, matching bullfight training with the encroaching rumble of the nearby roadway. From the late 1980s, and already sold.

IBASHO Gallery (here): The streaming lines of white light make this cherry blossom vision by Yoshinori Mizutani more than just a simple nature study. The light seems to move upward from the cracks in the leafy green backdrop, creating vertical motion in an otherwise static scene. Priced at $3200.

IBASHO Gallery (here): Surreal images from Eikoh Hosoe’s classic series Ordeal By Roses are nothing new, but the arrangement of bodies in this picture caught my eye anew. The embracing pair and the mannequin bottom provide the hoizontal balance in the composition, but it is the perpendicular (and flipped) position of the underneath body that kept me puzzled. A 1970s print (of the 1961 negative), priced at $27500.

Jörg Maaß Kunsthandel (here): The dark arrow in the real estate sign in this Robert Adams Colorado landscape seems to hit right at the mountain horizon, as if pointing to the place where we should be going. From 1969, priced at $34000.

Jörg Maaß Kunsthandel (here): The details in this 1980s portrait by Gabriele and Helmut Nothhelfer make all the difference: the candy necklace, the shiny belt, the hair clip, and the jutting hip boredom. Priced at $10000.

Robert Klein Gallery (here): Some of Charles Aubry’s best floral still lifes from the 19th century step back from mannered perfection and allow the blossoms to have more life and movement. This is certainly a good one, the light cast across the surface of the petals creating richness and interest. From c1860, priced at $15000.

Robert Klein Gallery (here): This small parked buggy image by Charles Sheeler was actually his 1917 Christmas card. Its telescoping rectangular view is pure photographic Precisionism. Priced at $80000.

Sous Les Etoiles Gallery (here): Gianfranco Chiavacci was a discovery for me at this fair. This 1971 image was made using a rotating filament, and other compositions and studies draw equally complex geometries out of spinning light. Ask to see the color images hiding in a storage box, as they go even further. Priced at $3500.

Sous Les Etoiles Gallery (here): Gottfried Jäger is an underappreciated innovator from the early days of digital/computerized photographic thinking. This 1965 work is all wavy lines, the interlocking blobs creating dissonant optical effects. Priced at $6500.

Michael Hoppen Gallery (here): In the late 1970s, Miyako Ishiuchi made a project of documenting the buildings and area around the Tokyo Dental College. This image, with its steep angle and stacked dental molds, turns the crosswalks below, the nearby building, and the crosshatched windows into a dense interplay of patterns. Priced at $15000.

Stephen Daiter Gallery (here): This 1948 print by Aaron Siskind is mounted on masonite, giving it a thicker, more object quality. The high contrast black and white paint splatter is a solid example of photographic Abstract Expressionism. Priced at $15000.

Stephen Daiter Gallery (here): It’s pretty hard to figure out what is being measured in this conceptual tangle from Kenneth Josephson. Between the painted lines on the grass, the archeological instrument, the yard stick, and the short ruler, there are plenty of quantifiers, but little of note to actually measure. From 1975, and priced at $5000.

L. Parker Stephenson Photographs (here): This eye-popping tree study is one from a series of images made by Witho Worms using the color carbon process. In each state, he switches up the red, blue, and yellow layers and uses masking to accent the verticality of the trees, creating images that stripe and seethe. Priced at $3750.

JHB Gallery (here): This folded work by Amanda Means is both inticate and delicate. The dense grid of folds and lines is executed in subtle shades of soft pink, the light diffusing across the surface and following the edges and hollows. Priced at $7500.

Tasveer Gallery (here): The foot coming in from the left of this 1992 Raghu Rai image seems to have imparted just enough force to topple the stone monuments, the columns breaking all the way down the steep hill. Compositionally, between the boy in the upper left and the towers in the distant background, this picture was put together with obvious care. Priced at $12000.

Todd Webb Archive (here): This paint store facade from 1950s Paris by Todd Webb is all about playful geometries, with the colored dots and radiating lines giving way to a tighter series of rectangles. Priced at $5000.

Laurence Miller Gallery (here): This Ray Metzker multiple exposure image left me pleasantly baffled. Is its subject interlocked overhead slats or fire escapes? Was it a multiple negative or a multiple print? And what about the three tonalities? Who knows. Whatever it is, it’s undeniably smart. From 1957, and priced at $18000.

Laurence Miller Gallery (here): While Callahan, Metzker, and others from Chicago experimented wildly with multiple exposures, Aaron Siskind generally didn’t, which is why this double expsoure diver from The Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation series is so unusual. The approach introduces the essence of movement into a series predicated on momentary stasis. From 1958, and priced at $18000.

Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire (here): Katrien de Blauwer’s newest round of collages introduce painted swaths of color, but even without the paint as a foil in this particualr work, the opposing arm pairing generates an engaging sense of grace in rotation. Priced at $1500.

Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs (here): Louis-Rémy Robert’s shadowy collonade from 1852 feels resolutely modern. The image transforms the cloister into an endless repetition, a pattern more than a place. Priced at $18000.

Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs (here): This pairing of works wins the prize for best curatorial interplay at the fair. It matches a John Beasley Greene image of the pyramid of Menkaure (in Giza) from 1853 with one by Vera Lutter made in the same place in 2010, one a wax paper negative, the other a camera obscura print. Separated by a century and a half of time, the two works speak to each other like time travelling friends. Priced at $80000 (Greene) and $17000 (Lutter) respectively.

Throckmorton Fine Art (here): Many of E.J. Bellocq’s early 20th century portraits of the prostitutes of Storyville in New Orleans are filled with directness, the women looking back at the camera with clear awareness. This vintage image from the series is much more subtle, the woman looking down with weariness, or boredom, or quiet resignation, and as a result, it feels altogether more tender. Priced at $35000.

De Soto Gallery (here): This series of images by Osamu Yokonami captures young Japanese school girls in their uniforms, each asked to awkwardly hold a fruit between her shoulder and ear. What might have offered a Halsman-esque opportunity to become themselves instead turns into an amazing exercise in cultural conformity, from the long dark hair pulled to the side to the deadpan open eyed expressions. Priced at $240 each, and clearly best in a grid or grouping.

Arnika Dawkins Gallery (here): This booth offered a solo presentation of Jeanine Michna-Bales’ series on the underground railroad. This particular image is steeped in the same enveloping darkness that pervades all of the works in the project, but offers a small glimmer of hope, in the form of the lighted window in an abolitionist’s house. Priced at $2800.

55Bellechasse (here): This work by the Iranian photographer Niloufar Banisadr is part of a series that merges modern self-portraits (with a bare midriff and jeans) with symbols of cultural heritage from around the world, from Egyptian carvings and reliefs to Christian churches and the Statue of Liberty. Priced at $12000.

Steven Kasher Gallery (here): This 1975 Girl Scout self portrait by Meryl Meisler is full of perfectly tuned details – the troop number sash, the handbook, the braids, and three finger salute. The kicker is the barbell at her feet, a reminder of both the dank rec room in which she sits and the power within her. Priced at $3000.

Steven Kasher Gallery (here): This rephotographed collage by Shawn Theodore combines a man’s face, various other cut paper image fragements, and a rocky slab of bleached coral. The combination is both hard and soft, rounded and severe. Priced at $1350.

Steven Kasher Gallery (here): This mutli-image work by Adama Delphine Fawundu takes a black woman’s long braid and turns it into an extended study in texture and form. Running from scalp to tip, the enlarged braid fills the wall, its thickness becoming weighty. Priced at $5500.

Part 2 of this report can be found here.

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Read more about: Aaron Siskind, Adama Delphine Fawundu, Alexander Gronsky, Amanda Means, Charles Aubry, Charles Sheeler, Daisuke Yokota, E. J. Bellocq, Eikoh Hosoe, Gabriele and Helmut Nothhelfer, Gianfranco Chiavacci, Gottfried Jäger, György Kepes, Jeanine Michna-Bales, John Beasley Greene, Katalin Nádor, Katrien De Blauwer, Kenneth Josephson, Louis-Rémy Robert, Meryl Meisler, Miyako Ishiuchi, Niloufar Banisadr, Osamu Yokonami, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, Raghu Rai, Ray K. Metzker, Robert Adams, Shawn Theodore, Todd Webb, Vera Lutter, Witho Worms, Yoshinori Mizutani, 55Bellechasse, Arnika Dawkins Gallery, De Soto Gallery, Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire, Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs, IBASHO, Jean-Kenta Gauthier, JHB Gallery, Jörg Maass Kunsthandel, L. Parker Stephenson Photographs, Laurence Miller Gallery, Michael Hoppen Gallery, Polka Galerie, Robert Klein Gallery, Robert Koch Gallery, Sous Les Etoiles Galllery, Stephen Daiter Gallery, Steven Kasher Gallery, Tasveer Gallery, Throckmorton Fine Art, Todd Webb Archive, Toluca Fine Art, AIPAD Photography Show

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