Highlights from the 2023 AIPAD Photography Show, Part 1 of 2

As I walked in yesterday to attend this year’s AIPAD Photography Show, I was reminded of a small personal anniversary. I first visited this fair 15 years ago now, and aside from the interruptions of the pandemic years, I have consistently reported on what I have found at the fair over that entire period.

At roughly 45 booths this year, hosted in a Midtown space on 5th Avenue (for the second year in a row), the AIPAD fair seems to be in an ebbing, transitional moment, where the tumults of the pandemic years and ongoing changes in tastes and interests (particularly in the contemporary photography market, but in other corners of vintage work as well) have rippled out to cause perturbations through gallery owners and dealers large and small. This undercurrent of evolution, and of gallery businesses hoping for a rebound from slower, more uncertain times, was a common thread that seemed to percolate through the aisles this year.

But just a few years ago, we were riding the flow of expansion, with an AIPAD fair that extended to some 100 galleries, a book mart, and a place on the piers. And before that, we were for many years at the Park Avenue Armory, with a more reserved, connoisseur driven mood. So back and forth we go, with just 18 of the dealers that exhibited in my first 2009 AIPAD fair still showing this year. Some have moved on or left the association, some have changed focus, some have become private dealers, some have passed away (sadly), and some are now closed, making room for the fresh faces and new approaches. Perhaps relentless wrenching change is the only constant here (in both the medium itself and the art market that surrounds it), and those that embrace adaptation will be the ones we see again 15 years hence.

While in past years I have systematically featured at least one work from every booth at the fair, this year’s slideshow is more free form and open-ended, following my eye wherever it settled, with some booths featuring several notable photographs. So the slideshow below gathers what might be called highlights, starting with a meandering path through the booths on the first floor, and continuing up the back stairs to those on the second floor. As usual, each image is supported by linked gallery names, artist names, prices (as available), and a short discussion or commentary, and the report this year is divided into two parts, with the first half found below and the second half forthcoming.

Bruce Silverstein Gallery (here): This cut paper abstraction by Francis Bruguière (from c1927) was larger and more intricately shadowed than other works I’ve seen by the artist, its toning giving the print a richly warm patina. The composition seems to swirl inward, ultimately twisting and breaking down into overlapped shards of flared light and dark. Priced at $60000.

Bruce Silverstein Gallery (here): While Karl Blossfeldt’s florals from the 1920s are deservedly known for being precise, this one has a tender sense of delicacy. The tiny buds emerging from the top feel timid and tentative, reaching out into the world with fragile optimism. Priced at $60000.

Bruce Silverstein Gallery (here): For those who visited the Bernd and Hilla Becher retrospective at the Met earlier this year (reviewed here) and wished they could find just the right set of vintage water towers, this work fits the bill – images from the 50s and 60s, printed in the 70s and mounted together with clear corner holders in a tight grid. It’s an understated powerhouse of a piece, and a more intimately-sized encounter than a wall filling array. Priced at $225000.

Throckmorton Fine Art (here): From the recent series “Daughters of Water”, this portrait of an indigenous woman from Colombia pairs a photographic portrait by Ruven Afanador with elaborate overpainting by Ana González, highlighting an enveloping spiritual connection to nature. The subject’s dark eyes seem to emerge directly from the ancestral forest, her skin disappearing into tactile traceries of undergrowth. Priced at $7500.

Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs (here): This 1853 image of the Tour Magne in Nîmes, France, by Édouard Baldus is filled with crisp textural detail, even though the print came from a paper negative. The crumbling brickwork is intricately lined, and the hulking form of the watchtower seems to stand out against the flattened sky. Priced at $15000.

Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs (here): This platinum print of a pump and barn by Doris Ulmann (from 1925-1934) recedes into a delicately atmospheric softness. Textural planes and geometries of light and dark frame the central landscape view, creating a timeless picture window effect. Priced at $8000.

Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs (here): A crown of shiny grapes surrounds the nymph-like face of Julia Margaret Cameron’s allegorical Circe from 1865. Her mesmerizing blank stare fits the legend of enchantment, drawing us into a heady contest of wills. Priced at $120000.

Monroe Gallery of Photography (here): This small vintage print was made by Tony Vaccaro in 1945, after he had been drafted into the infantry. The precise arrangement of the figures caught my eye, each silhouetted in a different pose along the railroad tracks, like frozen statues on the battlefield. Priced at $3400.

Obscura Gallery (here): This booth was a solo presentation of the work of Kurt Markus, who died in 2022. Markus made plenty of pictures of cowboys and ranch hands in the American West, and this understated image of a solitary meal on the range in Arizona is given unexpected vitality by its layering of formal triangles and tent wire interruptions. Priced at $5000.

Robert Mann Gallery (here): Cakes form the centerpiece of several recent images by Cig Harvey, including this surreal slice of blue iced cake on a silver server – set against the surrounding darkness, it looks eerily iridescent. I was also shown another dark image of a blackberry cake with dripping brown icing (that wasn’t on view), which evoked a similar kind of extravagantly gothic decadence. Priced at $3000.

Toluca Fine Art (here): The Cuban artist Raúl Martínez is better known as a painter, muralist, and graphic designer, but this small photogram from 1952-53 shows that photography was also part of his artistic tool box. The balance of overlapping lights and darks is nuanced and sophisticated, creating ghosts of movement and approximation. Priced at $12000.

Toluca Fine Art (here): Most of the cut-away works I have seen by the Colombian artist Johanna Calle have used black-and-white photographs as their starting point (as in this 2020 monograph, reviewed here), so I was surprised to see this composition take advantage of color with so much abstract cleverness. Calle has reduced the image to hovering blocks that repeat in syncopated marches across the page, creating an ordered system out of a vernacular snapshot. Priced at $7000.

Yancey Richardson (here): This new work by David Alekhuogie comes from a series called “Soul Food” and features a layered stack of his mother’s cookbooks. The draped backdrop includes strips of images of his mother, bringing the history and legacy of shared recipes into a particularly personal domain. Priced at $8000.

Howard Greenberg Gallery (here): This 1962 image by Bruce Davidson captures a Black girl from West Virginia playing with her white doll, its powerful racial realities delivered with understated grace. The print comes from Davidson’s 1966 exhibit at MoMA, in its original taped edge frame. Priced at $15000.

Howard Greenberg Gallery (here): Saul Leiter made countless storefront reflection images, turning the bustle of New York City streets into nuanced color stories. This image turns the spiky leaves of a potted plant and an interior light into a kind of improvised fireworks display that blossoms across the backs of two pedestrians. Priced at $8000.

Jackson Fine Art (here): Mixed in among a grouping of André Kertész’s more familiar nude distortions, this lesser known 1943 image of a rippled cocktail glass was a welcome surprise. There’s something altogether glamorous about its sinuous distorted shape, perhaps reflecting a boozy wobble and shimmer. Priced at $7500.

Charles Isaacs Photographs (here): This vintage photogram by María García (from 1968-1973) matches fabric and shadow, creating an elegant blown echo. Simple but ethereal, the composition seems to catch the soft undulation of an invisible breeze. Priced at $6000.

L. Parker Stephenson Photographs (here): This circular image by Jens Knigge (from 2020) documents facets of fractured ice sampled from Lake Baikal in Russia. The jagged cracks in the astonishingly clear ice become almost gestural, like obscure decorative markings or linear rhythms. Priced at $2400.

PGI (here): This image by Tokuko Ushioda comes from an early 1974-1975 series called “Heading Into Town”, which was made when she was a student of Yasuhiro Ishimoto. The images from the project are filled with the energy of street encounters with strangers, but still infused with an unexpected dose of quiet intimacy and comfort. Priced at $7500.

Miyako Yoshinaga (here): This knockout collage by Ken Ohara from 1970 brings together 24 of his tightly cropped closeup faces gathered into a dense typology. The harmonizing effect of the repetition is mesmerizing, recalibrating faces of all kinds into a flattened pattern. Priced at $20000.

Benjamin Ogilvy Projects (here): This booth was a solo presentation of the 24 prints from Hal Fischer’s iconic “Gay Semiotics” portfolio from 1977. While some of the individual images featuring keys, handkerchiefs, earrings, and other signifiers are well known, the entire body of work extends to fashions, leather, and other identities/personas, each image annotated with details and specifics. Priced at $30000 for the entire set of modern prints.

Assembly (here): This large silkscreened work by Rodrigo Valenzuela is a continuation of his “Weapons” series first seen last fall (reviewed here). This particular work features anthropomorphized machine parts reimagined as a kind of menacing knife-wielding being, the entire sculptural form then printed on an array of union time cards. The effect is both menacingly primal and somehow playful, the mundane parts magically coming together to take back control of its factory. Priced at $12000.

Galerie Johannes Faber (here): There’s something vaguely disturbing about this 1964 torn poster image by Dennis Hopper. The blacked out eye, the scribbled mustache, and other contrasty scraps and textural patterns all come together to create an unsettled visual moment. Priced at $24000.

Galerie Johannes Faber (here): Man Ray made plenty of surreal (or Dada) images of mannequins in his career, and this 1938 snapshot of one covered in draped netting certainly feels eerily strange. Flash lit and trapped, the mannequin turns the net into a kind of veil. Given the way it is mounted and signed on black paper, the print must have been part of an improvised album of some kind (there are two other works from the same series also on view). Priced at $23000.

Galerie Johannes Faber (here): This 1924 image by Laure Albin-Guillot is a micrograph, getting up close to the overlapped patterns of diatoms and algae. Albin-Guillot made a number of impressive micrographs in her early career, and she would go on to publish a selection of these works in her 1931 photobook “Micrographie Décorative”. Priced at $11000.

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Read more about: André Kertész, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Bruce Davidson, Cig Harvey, David Alekhuogie, Dennis Hopper, Doris Ulmann, Édouard Baldus, Francis Bruguière, Hal Fischer, Jens Knigge, Johanna Calle, Julia Margaret Cameron, Karl Blossfeldt, Ken Ohara, Kurt Markus, Laure Albin-Guillot, Man Ray, María García, Raúl Martínez, Rodrigo Valenzuela, Ruven Afanador, Saul Leiter, Tokuko Ushioda, Tony Vaccaro, Assembly, Benjamin Ogilvy Projects, Bruce Silverstein Gallery, Charles Isaacs Photographs Inc., Galerie Johannes Faber, Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs, Howard Greenberg Gallery, Jackson Fine Art, L. Parker Stephenson Photographs, Miyako Yoshinaga, Monroe Gallery of Photography, Obscura Gallery, PGI, Robert Mann Gallery, Throckmorton Fine Art, Toluca Fine Art, Yancey Richardson Gallery, AIPAD Photography Show

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