April 13, 2007

The Photography Show '07

Photography fans rejoice! Despite a new venue and a new time, the Association of International Photography Art Dealers presents the 27th annual Photography Show, now on at the Seventh Regiment Armory, Park Avenue in New York City.

The stately Armory, home to so many art and antiques shows, is now a sea of black and white with a little color thrown in! Featuring 93 dealers from Europe, Asia and across the United States, this show offers a selection of Vintage and Contemporary photography to suit every taste. From the earliest daguerreotypes through modern Cibachrome color technology, there is a lot to look at and enjoy. Here are a few of my favorites, from older to newer:

An extraordinary group of American hand colored salt prints is on display at Gary Edwards Gallery, Washington DC. Salted paper prints are among the earliest examples of contact photography printing and date from the 1840's. This group of 20 portraits is remarkable for both its historical significance and fine condition. Not surprisingly, the set was sold on opening night.

The iconic American photographers, Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen, were among the first to use photography as an art form rather than as a purely documentary medium, and they paved the way for other "art" photographers like Edward Weston and his son Brett. All are well represented here. Stieglitz's "Winter - Fifth Avenue" taken during a snowfall in 1892, at the Tom Gitterman Gallery is exceptionally beautiful. One has the unique opportunity to compare 2 vintages of Steichen's hauntingly mystical "In Memoriam", 1906. Robert Klein Gallery, Boston, has a later version printed in 1930 for $150,000, while David Fleiss of Galerie 1900/2000, Paris, has the full house vintage original at a significantly higher price. Paul M. Herzmann, San Francisco, is offering the stunning vintage silver print "Market Place - La Merced Market, Mexico City", 1925, by Brett Weston. This print is one of the 18 chosen by his father, Edward, to be included in the important modernist "Film und Foto" exhibition in Stuttgart in 1939.

The art of photography has been gaining popularity among both collectors and artists for the past few years. A wave of contemporary work is now sweeping the market and is a force to be reckoned with. Although the "staying power" and "investment potential" of these new names have not yet been determined, there were works by a few that I found exciting and appealing which are, of course, the main reasons to buy art. I really enjoyed the work of Robert Polidori, a Canadian born in 1969, whose large and brilliant "Cabinet Interieur de Madame Adelaide #2, Versailles, 1986" was clever and visually stunning. And I had the pleasure to meet and talk with the young artist Jefferson Hayman whose vintage-looking photos of ordinary things in lovely frames are on display at Michael Shapiro, San Francisco.

The Photography Show runs through April 15th, but if you can't make the show, and really have the photography bug, this season's round of photo auctions begins at Sothebys next week and continues through the end of the month at various auction houses. Say cheese!

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