Photography in the 2015 ADAA Art Show

In a crowded market of art fairs all trying to outdo each other with their cutting edge hipness and experimental risk taking, the ADAA Art Show is a confident, self aware contrarian. It’s unabashedly fancy, with wide aisles, fabric covered walls, and dimmed lighting, so much so that its refinements can often feel subdued and sleepy in comparison with the other more casual and improvised fairs. And while there might be some aggressive art on view here (in a few places), the fair itself is the conscious opposite of brash and confrontational. It’s the kind of place that encourages hushed, thoughtful conversations, lingering looking, and quiet wandering. Depending on your personality and tastes, this is either the dullest fair around, or the most pampering and comfortable art viewing experience to be had this week.

This year’s show is slightly lighter on photography than in previous years, with fewer all photography booths and less hidden treasures to be unearthed in unlikely locations. That said, what is here is of consistently high quality. For photography-only hounds, this fair can easily be circumnavigated in under two hours, with plenty of time for questions and socializing, and take no prisoners scanners can likely breeze through in less than an hour.

The slideshow below contains photographic highlights from various booths, some from tight solo shows of a single artist/photographer’s work, others from broader group shows and gallery grab bags. In a few cases, I’ve selected more than one worthy image from a single booth. Each image includes additional description and commentary, with linked gallery names, photographer names, and prices where appropriate.

Van de Weghe Fine Art (here): This array of Andy Warhol Polaroids was sold as a single collection (of 21 prints), rather than as individual images. The set included many fright wig portraits, as well as images in drag, in suits, and in sunglasses. Priced at $775000 and already sold.

Carl Solway Gallery (here): This booth was a solo show of the work of Nam June Paik, with several TV cabinet sculptures on display. One side wall had a selection of photographic maquettes/collages Paik made for his studio assistants, each a vaguely human form made from cutout TV set images. This one was Voltaire (with additional inscribed commentary), but there were several others, from Robespierre to Merce Cunningham. Each collage was priced at $30000 and all of them were already sold.

Richard L. Feigen & Co. (here): This negative print portrait of a woman with a birdcage was punctuated by flat black bird cutouts, mixing ghostly uncertainty with crisp edges. Joseph Cornell from 1946, priced at $185000.

Howard Greenberg Gallery (here): This booth was a solo show of the work of Arnold Newman. There were many superlative portraits of artists on view, from Calder, Arp, and Mondrian to David Smith, Eero Saarinen, and Milton Avery. This portrait of Marcel Duchamp (shown on an exterior wall)was perhaps the most arresting of the group, in that it was constructed from five separate torn layers, the image fragmented into a tumbling sweep, just like Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2. Very smart indeed. Priced at $30000.

Howard Greenberg Gallery (here): As discussed in the previous image, this booth was a solo show of the work of Arnold Newman. This disorienting collage of barbershop planks and striped linear textures was tucked away on a side wall. Its layered geometries were neat, precise, and daringly confounding. Priced at $40000.

Peter Freeman, Inc. (here): The show in this booth (entitled Mirror Mirror) was a joint production with Fraenkel Gallery (across the aisle) and was comprised entirely of artist’s self-portraits. This late 19th century stop motion image of the artist hammering turns the swing of the implement into a circular halo. Étienne-Jules Marey, priced at $16000.

 Fraenkel Gallery (here): The show in this booth (entitled Mirror Mirror) was a joint production with Peter Freeman, Inc. (across the aisle) and was comprised entirely of artist’s self-portraits. This image of Hiroshi Sugimoto finds him on the roof of his studio, making scientific studies of the effects of the outdoors on his framed seascapes. Between the humidity gauge, the white lab coat, the framework viewing stand, and the blurred expression, it’s a portrait of the artist as experimenter. Priced at $20000.

Salon 94 (here): This booth was a solo show of the work of Lorna Simpson, mixing photography with felt pieces and glittery gestural paintings. On an exterior wall, this portrait of the artist from the back was bracketed by phrases playing on the word “figure”, from “figured the worst” and “figured she was suspect” to “he was disfigured” and “figured there would be no reaction”. Its graceful turned away form also connects to the long history of photographs taken of backs. Priced at $350000 for the installation.

McKee Gallery (here): This image was a new work by Richard Learoyd. The focal plane in this particular portrait highlights the pores of the model’s skin and the almost invisible woven texture of her yellow shirt. It’s the first time I’ve seen the artist use a close in wall/backdrop; most of his previous sitters have been more alone in space (on a stool or chair) or lying on a table. Priced at $65000.

Kohn Gallery (here): This work (the only photographic object in the booth) was an engrossing grid of 25 negative images of hands holding radios, alternately decorated with bodies, mushrooms, crosses, explosions, and other symbolic items. Wallace Berman, priced at $130000.

Pavel Zoubok Gallery (here): This image was drawn from a suite of 11 prints made by Man Ray in 1944-1947 called Objects of My Affection. Each one documents a classic surreal sculpture; the actual iron with protruding nails was also on view nearby. The prints were being sold as a set for $275000.

Pavel Zoubok Gallery (here): This image was also drawn from Man Ray’s Objects of My Affection portfolioThe interplay between the machined precision of the wheel and the wispy softness of the feather provides a clever contrast, especially in three dimensional space. Again, the prints were being sold as a set for $275000.

Pace/MacGill Gallery (here): This booth had a “night” theme, with these two prints from Viviane Sassen’s Etan & Me series featured on a side wall. It’s the subtlety of the inversion that makes these portraits work – the dark shirt/hair, the yellow backdrop, and the surprising green tinted skin coalesce into something satisfyingly out of kilter. Each print is priced at $5500.

Janet Borden, Inc. (here): This booth was a solo show of the work of Jan Groover. This particular late 1980s piece was the first I have seen where Groover was consciously playing with the paper cutouts and spray painted backdrop elements in her studio along with the more central still life objects. There are fabulous swaths of blue, green, and orange here, along with curves, crumples, and deceiving shadows that add to the controlled visual complexity. Priced at $25000.

Janet Borden, Inc. (here): As in the last image, this booth was a solo show of the work of Jan Groover. This early black and white Groover is a conceptual gem. In each of the three pictures, one end of the passing car and the edge of the building in the background are perfectly aligned with the interrupting pole. Priced at $30000.

Andy Warhol, Arnold Newman, Étienne-Jules Marey, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Jan Groover, Joseph Cornell, Lorna Simpson, Man Ray, Nam June Paik, Richard Learoyd, Viviane Sassen, Wallace Berman, Carl Solway Gallery, Fraenkel Gallery, Howard Greenberg Gallery, Janet Borden Inc., Kohn Gallery, McKee Gallery, Pace/MacGill Gallery, Pavel Zoubok Gallery, Peter Freeman, Inc., Richard L. Feigen & Co., Salon 94, Van de Weghe Fine Art, ADAA Art Show

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