Photography in the 2015 Frieze New York Art Fair, Part 1 of 3

As I worked my way through the tangle of airy booths in the massive tent at the Frieze New York Art Fair once again yesterday, I had the strong sense of being here before, of following these very same paths (and standing over the very same air conditioning grates) in a kind of time warp, almost like a modified refrain of Talking Heads lyrics (And you may ask yourself … how did I get here?)

As the years pile up, there is a sameness to this process of fair going that drives my eye more and more to works that stick out from the backdrop of uniformity – my search now seems to be for outliers, for the brand new and the rediscovered old. The photography at Frieze is always a blend – it’s mixed in with the larger body of contemporary art on an equal footing, with no specialist photography galleries in attendance, making the search for intriguing pictures a bit more of treasure hunt. While spotting trends is always a fool’s game at these kinds of events, I felt a resurgent pulse of smart 1970s feminism/performance coming out this year, with Carolee Schneemann, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Linder, Anna Bella Geiger, and others combining to broaden their historical importance and influence. I also find myself increasingly drawn to the Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin American galleries that we don’t see as often, as they fill in important gaps in the overall photographic record.

This report is divided into three sections of image highlights, shown in annotated slideshows. I have tried to avoid works that have recently been on view in New York gallery shows or that we have already reviewed in another context, but there are always a few duplicates, as galleries tend to show off their recent material. Gallery names/links are followed by the artist/photographer name, the price of the work, and some notes and comments as appropriate. The booths are loosely organized by my path through the fair, beginning at the South entrance.

Marc Foxx Gallery (here): As photographic ephemera, this mirror image record sleeve diptych by Anne Collier gives the cliche orange sunset yet another contextual twist. The circular echo of the setting sun and the hole in the middle (doubled by the two print pair) creates a quietly weird celestial effect. Priced at $30000.

Skarstedt Gallery (here): This image was part of a entire wall of photographic nudes by David Salle. Apparently, they were taken in the 1980s and used as raw material for Salle’s paintings, exhibited once, and then largely forgotten. They combine surreal object/body combinations in lovely warm toned prints. Priced at $12000 each and ripe for rediscovery.

Mor Charpentier (here): This new work by Julieta Aranda pushes the edge of the photographic envelope. Combining a 3D rendered antiquity/polygon image with a physical sculpture on the floor, it’s as if the green orb has tumbled out of the picture, breaking the laws of 2D flatness. Priced at $8000.

Blum & Poe (here): Matt Saunders’ process remains a bit of a mystery. It seems he begins with paintings on loose linen, which are then used as like negatives, with light cast through them onto photographic paper. This work has both the crispness of intense detail (especially on the edges where the woven grid of the linen is most visible) and the muted softness of Pictorialsm. Priced at $35000.

Stuart Shave/Modern Art (here): This booth was bursting with the provocatively smart works of Linder, including this grid of 1977 images pairing nudes with various household appliances. Female heads are alternately covered by a TV, a vacuum, a stereo, an iron, a stovetop, a sewing machine, and a clock; their visual connection to Laurie Simmons’ walking objects is striking. Modern prints (from 2007) priced at €25000 for the set.

Algus Greenspon (here): Torbjørn Rødland’s seemingly straightforward images always seem to find a dissonant edge, often with a twist of eroticism. His work continues to keep me guessing, in a good way. Priced at $15000.

Galeria Fortes Vilaça (here): Turning an Oscar Niemeyer staircase into a spiraling formal abstraction. Mauro Restiffe, priced at $26000.

White Cube (here): There was very little big glossy Dusseldorf School photography at this year’s fair, perhaps a signal of evolving tastes. This Gursky from 1999 was an exception, an up close image of a Constable painting, testing the photography/painting divide. Priced at €200000.

François Ghebaly Gallery (here): This series from Charlie White combines a transgender subject (male to female) with a doppelganger teen (female), creating a provocative pairing of hormonal transitions. Priced at $12000.

Ratio 3 (here): The new works from Miriam Böhm look like abstract black and white cut throughs, but are actually thin painted boards on a grey burlap backdrop – the edges float upward not down. Her brand of careful optical control is always intelligent, full of disorienting elegance. The booth also included a pair of photo-on-glass sculptures that played with the texture of the wood frame. This print was priced at $12000.

303 Gallery (here): This Doug Aitken mirrored sculpture might be mistaken for an art fair selfie magnet, but the reflections of the highway overpass photograph on the interior faces of the hexagon create kaleidoscopic roadway tangles if you peer inside. Priced at $225000.

Lisson Gallery (here): This work translates Broomberg & Chanarin’s Holy Bible photobook into a gallery saleable form, pinning chapter pages into sequences and adding original prints where the image reproductions were placed. Priced at £16500.

Alfonso Artiaco (here): New Vera Lutter of the Empire State building. The composition is well proportioned, an imposingly big print but well balanced by the urban detail of the foreground. Priced at $70000.

Gagosian Gallery (here): More Richard Prince Instagram portraits filled this entire wood floored booth. His interventionist comments are evolving into even more obtuse and perplexing textual riffs. Priced at $90000.

Andrew Kreps Gallery (here): This new Roe Ethridge still life has plenty of compositional complexity, from the dimensional echoes of green across the frame, to the flattening of the table edge into a horizontal strip. Priced at $20000.

Altman Siegel Gallery (here): A romantically swirling pink sunset is interrupted by a tiny jet fighter in the bottom right corner, an indirect portrait of an NSA surveillance base in Cornwall, UK. Very smart indeed. Trevor Paglen, priced at $20000.

Galería Elba Benítez (here): Using an original found propaganda stamp of Hitler with a happy child as a model, Carlos Garaicoa has made an entire series of stamps of world leaders posed with children, with a particular emphasis on dictators (Stalin as an example, in the detail above). The results are a spotlight on the commonalities of staged political imagery. The entire set is priced at €75000.

Maureen Paley (here): While the work of Wolfgang Tillmans is now an art fair staple, many of his images are still remarkably seductive despite this ubiquity. The glossy angled lines of this printing press lead to a fine industrial abstraction. Priced at $90000.

Part 2 of this report can be found here. Part 3 is here.

Read more about: Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Andreas Gursky, Anne Collier, Carlos Garaicoa, Charlie White, David Salle, Doug Aitken, Julieta Aranda, Linder (Sterling), Matt Saunders, Mauro Restiffe, Miriam Böhm, Richard Prince, Roe Ethridge, Torbjorn Rødland, Trevor Paglen, Vera Lutter, Wolfgang Tillmans, 303 Gallery, Algus Greenspon, Altman Siegel Gallery, Andrew Kreps Gallery, Blum & Poe, François Ghebaly Gallery, Gagosian Gallery, Galería Elba Benítez, Galeria Fortes Vilaça, Galleria Alfonso Artiaco, Lisson Gallery, Marc Foxx, Maureen Paley, Mor Charpentier Galerie, Ratio 3, Skarstedt Gallery, Stuart Shave/Modern Art, White Cube, Frieze New York Art Fair

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