Photography in the 2016 ADAA Art Show

With each passing year, I think I am learning to appreciate the subdued reserve of the ADAA Art Show more and more. Yes, it’s hushed, respectable, and generally conservative in its tastes, but on the spectrum of fair-going experiences, it’s consistently the most comfortable. Of course, this kind of pampering isn’t always consistent with the risk taking and brash aggressiveness we often associate with cutting-edge contemporary photography, but if you’ve got your mindset calibrated right before visiting the fair and you’re in need of a well-edited experience, then a few hours can be well spent here.

This year’s show has roughly the same amount of photography as in previous years, with less than a dozen photo-only booths/installations and a handful of single photographs sprinkled in broader group shows. For photography collectors, these spots can easily be circumnavigated in under two hours, with plenty of time for questions and socializing; ruthless photo processors can likely breeze through in less than an hour.

The slideshow below contains various photographic highlights, and 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.

Fraenkel Gallery (here): This booth paired watercolor works by Edward Hopper with photographs by Robert Adams, Lee Friedlander, Diane Arbus, and Stephen Shore, looking for commonalities of mood and sensibility. This early (1968) Adams scene juxtaposes the busy I-25 highway in Colorado Springs with the bright white form of a house and the dark verticals of telephone poles. The pure clean-lined geometries of the architecture certainly have a Hopper-esque feel. Priced at $40000 and already sold.

Mary-Anne Martin Fine Art (here): This vintage print of Manuel Álvarez Bravo’s classic Retrato de lo Etrno from 1935 delivers the sharp contrast that makes the image so powerful. The cast light touches her face, her hand, and her dotted dress, highlighting the texture of her hair, and leaving the rest of the image in shadow. Priced at $200000, signed on the mount, and in seemingly solid condition.

Pace/MacGill Gallery (here): Pace/MacGill has recently taken on representation of Richard Learoyd, with a show coming later this spring. This life-sized nude dominated a booth dedicated to photographs of backs. Its black and white tonalities, delicate light, and sinuous form are classically minded and quietly enthralling. Priced at $40000, and in an edition of 4 (not unique like his color works).

Rhona Hoffman Gallery (here): This Gordon Matta-Clark rephotographed photocollage from 1978 uses the sliced sprocket hole edge of the film and colored strips/interventions to complement the layers of circular cuts in the architecture. The forms twist and turn, creating puzzling depths and illusionistic look throughs. Priced at $125000.

PPOW Gallery (here): This booth was dedicated to the work of Carolee Schneemann, with both vintage works and more recent reimaginings (often with the addition of paint and drawing) by the artist. This 1964 photocollage was likely an advertisement for her now iconic performance Meat Joy. It’s a swirling dance of chaotic overlapped bodies. Priced at $30000.

Bortolami Gallery (here): Building on the success of her recent ICA Philadelphia retrospective and her rediscovery by contemporary photographers engaged in studio-based construction, this booth featured a number of 1980s works by Barbara Kasten. Built of wires, fasteners, iron framing, and a triangular mirror, this image is an exercise in linear clarity, with reflections, echoes, and shadows reverberating across the frame. Priced at $20000.

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (here): This booth was a solo show of diaristic Polaroids by Gillian Wearing. One portion of the booth was covered in self-portraits made between 1988 and 2005, selfies before selfies were cool, most with a searchingly serious face. This image from 2000 (part of another group of images hung on a facing wall) signals the beginning of her experimentations with masks, the performative aspects of a hidden persona being tested and explored. Priced at £8500.

Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs (here): Kraus and Greenberg have teamed up for a powerhouse double study of the Photo Secession, and the collaboration has produced one of the deepest and most informative booths of the fair, with gems to be found on both sides. This 1898 Venice scene from Heinrich Kühn is a fine example of the richness of the gum brichromate process. Printed on textured paper, it’s a symphony of tonal brown, with the softness of a watercolor or a charcoal drawing. Priced at $145000.

Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs (here): This 1908 Frederick Evans landscape was another star of the Photo Secession survey. Executed in precise silver that edges toward blue, the spindly branches and reflections are like a drypoint etching. Up close, it’s a picture to get lost in. Priced at $300000.

Howard Greenberg Gallery (here): On the Greenberg side of the Photo Secession show, this delicate 1910 George Seeley bromide print was a standout. Printed on paper with a noticeable crackled texture (almost spackled), the image is purposely blurred, the white tree trunks and ephemeral figures blown by soft romantic winds. It’s a terrific example of the aesthetic choices being made at the time. Priced at $75000.

Howard Greenberg Gallery (here): The asymmetrical mounting of this Edward Steichen gum print is what caught my eye. While the darkly shadowy nude form is similar to many of his nudes and portraits from the early 1900s (and lovely in its mystery), the title text and the small drawing set far away from the image create an unexpectedly stylized sense of balance. Priced at $190000.

Skarstedt Gallery (here): While Richard Prince’s “gangs” of bikers and girlfriends are well known, this was the first time I have seen his jokes in gang form. Printed over appropriated clouds, arranged into a grid, and rephotographed, this 1986 work captures his enduring interest in word play, but in photographic (rather than painted) form. Priced at $850000.

Julie Saul Gallery (here): This Bill Jacobson studio image from 2013 finds just the right interplay between photographic representation and pure abstraction. Overlapping blocks of color lean against the wall, their minute misalignments reminding us of their physicality while their elemental forms resolve into simple geometries. It’s the kind of quiet photographic intelligence that is easily overlooked in the bustle of the typically overstimulated fair environment. Priced at $7000.

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Read more about: Barbara Kasten, Bill Jacobson, Carolee Schneemann, Edward Steichen, Frederick Evans, George Seeley, Gillian Wearing, Gordon Matta-Clark, Heinrich Kühn, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Richard Learoyd, Richard Prince, Robert Adams, Bortolami Gallery, Fraenkel Gallery, Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs, Howard Greenberg Gallery, Julie Saul Gallery, Mary-Anne Martin Fine Art, Pace/MacGill Gallery, PPOW Gallery, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Skarstedt Gallery, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, ADAA Art Show

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