Editor’s Note: Each year we ask one perceptive visitor to Paris Photo to collect his/her impressions for an additional perspective on the fair itself and the overall experience – we certainly don’t claim that our summaries are the only intriguing slice of the material on view. Last year, we asked collector W.M. Hunt for his reactions (here); this year we’ve enlisted photography dealer Michael Lee from Massachusetts-based Lee Gallery (here) to give us his thoughts. The comments and opinions expressed here (in the text and in the slideshow captions) are his own.
I’m getting better at Paris. I no longer sleep on the benches in Musée d’Orsay while I wait for my hotel room to open. I’ve graduated to a 17th century apartment building in Île Saint-Louis and can now get in a bed within an hour of arriving at CDG. I have a data plan and can call an Uber. I can even speak enough French to order coffee and a pain au chocolat.
Paris Photo is an important trip for me. It’s as much about buying pictures for the gallery as it is feeling the “now” in photography. I’m looking at secondary market works, but even in that world tastes change, curating evolves, and some pictures pass by and can never be found again. I catch up with many young curators I know in Paris, hopefully over absinthe out in the 11th. If I’m lucky, I get a beer with a collector and discuss the art and sportsmanship of buying early French photography.
My trip this year began at a dealer’s apartment on Rue St. Denis, named after the saint who is immortalized in a statue, holding his head in his hands, above the exit door of Notre Dame. I was bested before I made it in the door. As I arrived, an American dealer emerged with a thin folder holding the pictures I’d hoped to buy. Two days later at the start of the fair I beat the same American dealer to a beautiful Charles Negre. The Negre would be the only picture I’d buy privately this trip. Of course this would happen in the first 10 minutes of the fair.
Paris Photo at Le Grand Palais is a triumph for photography. It’s the best art fair venue in the world and it promotes collecting photography at the highest level. Whether the fair was good or bad this year is irrelevant to me.
I tend to most enjoy booths at the fair that have little to do with my business. A few years ago it was photographs by the Vienna Actionists. Or Viennese? This year it was the booth of Henrique Faria Fine Art. Henrique graciously toured me through his presentation of Latin American artists working in the 70s and 80s. My favorite pieces were tape projects by Jaime Davidovich.
I do my best to look broadly throughout the fair. I try to understand new contemporary work as best I can. I dig for history. I look for what was the avant garde.
The rest of my trip has been filled with museums and endless dinners. It seems that the Americans always find the same new hot spot. This year it’s Verjus. I’m going tonight. Last year it was Spring. I made it to Fondation Louis Vuiton and to the new photography gallery at Centre Pompidou. The Jacques-Andre Boiffard show at the latter was spectacular and the curator, Clément Chéroux, is one to watch. Paul McCarthy’s Chocolate Factory was…different. I’m glad my wife and friends could see that one. I’ve seen more of Paris than I ever have–from Gustave LeGray to Christopher Williams–but I mostly can’t wait to see my daughter tomorrow night.
Charles Negre. Albumen print. #ohyeah #nowmine
Richard Saltoun Gallery (here): Gina Pane. 1970. An amazingly large document of a Pane performance in a quarry. I tried to buy this but it just wasn’t to be.
Gitterman Gallery (here): Sonya Noskowiak. 1933. So avant garde with the perfect touch of silvering. I think a must for a great Edward Weston collection.
Galerie Daniel Templon (here): James Casebere. 2014. For those parents that have had to endure 300 viewings of Disney’s Frozen.
Gallery Thomas Zander (here): Anthony Hernandez. Rodeo Drive. 80s hair is so great.
Gallery Thomas Zander (here): Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan. Newsroom series 1983. The biggest press print I’ve ever seen. The best collaborative duo I know.
Michael Hoppen Gallery (here): Akira Sato. Japanese photography has been a major trend at Paris Photo for the last few years. This picture will always be one of my favorites.
Suzanne Tarasieve (here): Boris Mikhailov. Kiev protests. Gripping and current. Maybe the most powerful work he’s done and that says a lot.
Galerie Nathalie Obadia (here): Lorna Simpson has a massive show at the Addison Gallery at Phillips Andover. Best show at a FREE museum I’ve seen in a while.
La Galerie Particulière (here): Todd Hido. I’m so glad to be seeing the portraits again. They make the landscapes look so much better. His book Between the Two will always be a favorite.
Carlos Carvalho Contemporary Art (here): Carla Cabanas. My friends Paul and Susan added one of these to their collection. They liked the texture of the piece. I liked that the positive was altered rather than the negative.
Henrique Faria Fine Art (here): Jaime Davidovich. Two different works, both tape projects.
Parrotta Contemporary Art (here): Oskar Schmidt. A la Walker Evans Burroughs family house.
Parrotta Contemporary Art (here): Timm Rautert. Joseph Beuys.
My apartment. Getting ready for a dance party.
Lunch a Fondation Louis Vuitton @ Le Frank. I did like the Taryn Simon photography there but most of the galleries were a love fest to Frank Gehry.
Grimaldi Gavin (here): Goldschmied and Chiari. Spotted by my wife. She has an eye for good value. They were beautiful and Now.
Centre Pompidou. Jacques-André Boiffard. Clément Chéroux’s classy new show.
Harper’s Books (here). An archive of the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My body is still recovering from viewing these pictures. So important to bring to light.
MoMA Acquisitions @ Paris Photo. Vito Acconci. I love performance pieces that address photography or in this case the camera.
MoMA Acquisitions @ Paris Photo. Liliana Porter. A great vintage example. I love the frame and the color of the print.
Instagram #parisphoto. #iamaddictedtomyiphone
David Zwirner (here): Oh yeah. Christopher Williams. I love it all!
Galerie Bob van Orsouw (here): Bernard Voïta. I agree with Loring! One of the most exciting new pictures at the fair. Would be perfect for Bajac’s in the studio show at MoMA. An amazing composition that looks like so much of the new photoshop work.
A very important picture I found on my phone.
Read more about: Akira Sato, Anthony Hernandez, Bernard Voïta, Boris Mikhailov, Carla Cabanas, Charles Nègre, Christopher Williams, Gina Pane, Jacques-André Boiffard, Jaime Davidovich, James Casebere, Larry Sultan, Liliana Porter, Lorna Simpson, Mike Mandel, Oskar Schmidt, Sara Goldschmied and Eleonora Chiari, Sonya Noskowiak, Timm Rautert, Todd Hido, Vito Acconci, Carlos Carvalho Contemporary Art, David Zwirner, Galerie Bob van Orsouw, Galerie Daniel Templon, Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Galerie Suzanne Tarasieve, Galerie Thomas Zander, Gitterman Gallery, Grimaldi Gavin, Harper's Books, Henrique Faria Fine Art, La Galerie Particulière, Michael Hoppen Gallery, Parrotta Contemporary Art, Richard Saltoun Gallery, Paris Photo
Shallow, I’m afraid…