Photography Highlights from the 2019 ADAA Art Show

Photography is never the main event at the stately ADAA Art Show, but there is always enough material on view to make a photo-centric trip to the Park Avenue Armory worthwhile. Its carpeted aisles, wide spaces, and tightly edited group of established dealers give the fair its competitive advantage – an unrushed, roomy atmosphere that encourages question asking and further engagement, unlike the packed hustle of most fairs.

This year, as in years past, there are a range of photo offerings to be uncovered, from solo booth presentations and group shows of photography to photographs paired with or mixed in among works in other mediums. Certainly less than a quarter of the roughly 70 booths hold photography of any kind, but when photographs are to be found, the quality of the work is consistently solid. What follows below are some of the highlights, organized in slideshow form. A short discussion of each featured work is provided, along with linked gallery names, artist names, and prices as appropriate.

Fraenkel Gallery (here)/David Zwirner (here): This double booth combines the space of the two galleries for a paired show of the work of Diane Arbus and Alice Neel. While back and forth arrangements of photography and painting can sometimes feel forced, the pairings here are inspired, tying not only subject matter but gestures, expressions, and psychological moods. Arbus’ twins and Neel’s twins feel like resonantly eerie echoes – not only are they both images of paired girls in matching dresses (with collars), the two sets of blank faces both offer slight differences that set the twins apart, and the hands at the sides feel similarly awkward. A second pairing between a Neel painting of man in a chair and an Arbus photograph of Norman Mailer is equally synchronous, the gestures of the spread legs, the arms placed on the side of the chair, and overall angles make the two pictures near doppelgangers, at least compositionally. The rest of the booth is equally well edited, with visual dialogues, similarities, and repetitions that are tightly mapped.

Marian Goodman Gallery (here): While Thomas Struth’s horizontally-oriented 1978 views of empty New York and Chicago streets are generally well known, these vertically-oriented ones (taken in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood) are less so. Taken from a slightly elevated vantage point (different than the street level views in the horizontals), the High Line railroad overpass provides a centering point for the crisp lines of perspective. Additionally, the steeper sides and broader skies change the urban proportions, pulling our view upward. The neighborhood was much grittier than it is now, but Struth’s strict rigor makes it feel quietly elegant. Priced at €30000 each.

Jessica Silverman Gallery (here): This new work by Margo Wolowiec extends the artistic trajectory of her recent New York show (reviewed here). The digital imagery drawn from storm alerts and the heat transfer to strings that are rewoven together are the same, but the shiny silver fragments of emergency blankets and the encroaching wave of indigo dye at the bottom are new. The rising tide adds a layer of ominous doom to the artist’s already insistent collage of dissolving climate imagery. Priced at $40000.

Howard Greenberg Gallery (here): This booth is a solo show of the work of Gordon Parks. While this dapper husband and wife on Sunday morning image is a Parks classic, seeing it in this extra large size (roughly 30×40 inches) was wholly unexpected. An early 1970s print (perhaps made for an exhibition), it fills the wall with determined heft and presence. Priced at $40000.

Petzel Gallery (here): These works by Seth Price explore imagery similar to that found in his recent show at MoMA PS1 (reviewed here), but in a different form factor. Close up images of human skin have been printed on fabric and wrapped around brightly lit tubes, creating sculptural objects decorated by intricate patterns and topologies of wrinkles. Priced at $50000 or $70000, based on size.

Galerie Lelong (here): This booth is a solo show of the work of Carolee Schneemann, primarily in sculptural form. This photograph (tucked on a side wall) shows how Schneemann brought her own body into dialogue with her assemblages, her angled legs interacting with the umbrella struts (almost like pedaling a bicycle) and her painted face mixing with the rest of the painted surfaces. In a sense, she becomes part of the installation, further activating it with her presence. Priced at $40000.

Bortolami Gallery (here): This early work (1978) by Barbara Kasten finds her mixing photograms with thick layers of paint and oil stick. The crumpled textile patterns of woven mesh hover and swirl in the background like ghosts, while geometric squares tumble through the darkness, punctuated by spikes of streamlined red. The photogram elements predate her cyanotype experiments with similar subject matter, and this four-panel work is far more thick and painterly. On hold.

Pace/MacGill Gallery (here): It takes a decent amount of photographic confidence to decide to place your camera where Carleton Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge, and Ansel Adams (among many others) did and hope to make something new. But this is the task Richard Learoyd has set for himself in this sweeping view of Yosemite Valley. While the curves of the rocky cliffs are still largely the same, Learoyd’s image brings astonishing crispness and clarity to every detail (at almost every distance). Using the same bulky camera obscura process he has typically applied to portraits, nudes, and still lifes in the studio, he has given us a broad landscape that is defined by its tiniest nuances, from evergreen needles to craggy rock falls. We’ve absolutely seen this scene before, but he’s made us look again. Priced at $65000.

Anthony Meier Fine Arts (here): Marsha Cottrell’s laser toner works aren’t technically photography, but their digital imagery built up through layer upon layer of printing has undeniable relatives in photocopying and rephotography. This booth is a solo presentation of her recent work, and many of the abstract images seem to rustle with movement. The squares and rectangles in this composition take on the effect of shimmering depth, like a scale model of a dense urban neighborhood. Priced at $6500.

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Read more about: Barbara Kasten, Carolee Schneemann, Diane Arbus, Gordon Parks, Margo Wolowiec, Marsha Cottrell, Richard Learoyd, Seth Price, Thomas Struth, Anthony Meier Fine Arts, Bortolami Gallery, David Zwirner, Fraenkel Gallery, Galerie Lelong, Howard Greenberg Gallery, Jessica Silverman Gallery, Marian Goodman Gallery, Pace/MacGill Gallery, Petzel Gallery, ADAA Art Show

2 comments

  1. Pete /

    A real treat. Thanks.

  2. Ross /

    Ditto comment 1 from Pete

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