The last visit I made to AIPAD - in 2008 - was the first and last time I attended. I left that first time and didn't make a photograph for four years.
Upon hitting the Armory floor that year I quickly took note of the many Minor Whites, Aaron Siskinds, and Harry Callahans there were on the floors leaning up against the walls of booths. I risked picking up a framed Minor White in a booth in which I felt particularly invisible. No one seemed to notice the 22-year-old cretin picking up and waving around the framed image. "That's how it's gonna be huh?" I thought to myself.
I came around a corner to a well-established contemporary photography booth; a gallery, which will remain nameless, with a featured image of an artist, who will also remain nameless. The print was bigger than me; I'm six foot four. Shot, framed, and lit with the utmost perfection. The subject of this photo is something one would find at a local zoo. What you can't find at your local zoo is the best photography equipment and the most expensive flashes money can buy, which the photographer clearly used to achieve the photograph. Needless to say the creature's photographic impression was something to behold, every inch an idealized image of absolute perfection. "How could anyone, who doesn't want to make images like this but does want to work in this field, compete with something like this object?" was my bone-crushing thought.
And that's how I left my feelings for photography. For four years.
I didn't know then what I realize now. The Armory's AIPAD is as much an antiques road show as it is the Fine Art Photography world's Comic Con. It's a chance for photo galleries and institutions, and people, from all over the world to gather in New York City. There's some good quick sales to be made and, if you take the time, a few new friends to make as well. With the right intentions and a good pair of eyes, it's not totally impossible to yield some meaningful experiences with the people and large display of very concisely and purposefully curated photos. After all there are some exquisite images.
So this time I decided I wanted to turn the experience around on itself. I spent over seven hours every day this year at AIPAD. I'd like to point out that doing this doesn't make me special - just stupid, crazy, and driven enough. The heroes of AIPAD are the gallerists, assistants, and Armory staff who dedicate their time, energy, and maybe even souls to this convention. I tip my hat to them.
Their passion inspired me to play some part, so I kept a stream of conscious diary during and after everyday.
Opening night is like chasing around after some semblance of cordiality and imagery. It's more social than photographic but the evening is hugely photogenic. Name tags and introductions, stumbling over hors d'oeuvres. It's great to sift through the confusion and endless stream of booze.
"Where on earth do they put all those empty glasses?" I wondered on my way out.
Standardized words flush the halls of the Armory - words like fresh and contemporary. There are things in those silly haphazard bins with far too many zeros. Like the Robert Frank I found for $80,000 with only a simple matting and plastic sleeve for protection.
"You're not going to forget me," someone brightly beams at a gallery owner, "my last name's Art." There are joyous little words of amusement muttered by many different patrons. When you catch one it's like finding a diamond. "You're a craftsman! And I mean that in the best way I can mean that!" Such passion. It's hard not to laugh out loud.
Rest becomes a commodity on the well-placed benches. The tax is worth the spectacle of the company of strangers and friends alike.
By now things seem much more solid. You're even starting to memorize where things are. Close your eyes and you can remember exact locations of your favorite images even though your head does nothing but spin from the sheer volume. There's no more casual strolling and looking; you can actually see the photos on the walls. This is no longer a convention, it's an endurance trial.
[I've written one word here. It's the same word I've written for day four.]
The whole thing becomes too much and I certainly have to admit it may be because of the degree of my visits, but not totally the fault of my obsession. AIPAD is a lot of work! As a casual goer it's great to stroll through and give the time it deserves. Talk to people - there's no reason not to - they're surprisingly friendly, intelligent, and engaging. (Many attendees are actual working professionals; make friends, but don't ask for favors!) Maybe all that is actually not so surprising. After all, we're all at AIPAD for the same reason; we really feel passionately towards photography. Given my first interaction with AIPAD and this recent experience, I've come to realize in many ways that this crazy experience is what you make of it. If you let it put you on your ass it will. It's much more rewarding to make it yours. For me, I gave myself over to it. I'm eager to get back behind my camera.
Gonchigsuren has launched a fundraiser not just to have his worthy book published AND have an exhibition, but ALSO included is a competition for young photographers - he is a noble man with a fantastic archive who deserves your backing. This is the first campaign I have seen in a while where the book is under $50 - it's $39 and will be well worth it (+ shipping!)
Please spread the word and help show the world this little-seen history "One feature of this book is showing the difference between daily lives in socialism and democracy." I challenge you to watch the video and not fall in love.
Last month, I was talking to a photographer I admire enormously and he told me had just seen one the best photographs of his life, at Yossi Milo here in NYC. It turned out to be the above 'Two Girls' by Chris Killip, whose photos I have much admired after embarrassingly only discovering him rather late in life. The exhibition was ending the following day so I bunked off work for the afternoon and headed to Chelsea.
Yossi Milo Gallery's presentation of fifty gelatin silver prints from the photographs that constituted his book 'In Flagrante' (Secker & Warburg, 1988) hand-printed by Killip, is the first time since 1988 that the series has been exhibited in its entirety and the first time ever in the United States. The images are culturally familiar and endearing to me and it was interesting to talk to some of the American viewers about the miners' strike and the Queen's silver jubilee street parties I remember so well.
The unassuming photographer has been working at Harvard as professor of visual and environmental studies for many years and apparently will soon retire and cease printing his negatives. So if you're thinking about purchasing a print, now is the time to do it.
Yossi Milo is pleased to announce that the J. Paul Getty Museum now owns a set of all 50 of Killip's prints and will mount an exhibition in the coming months. The book, In Flagrante Two, is out now from Steidl.
The Bank of Canada honored the historic reign of Queen Elizabeth on September 9th, 2015, with the launch of a commemorative bank note. The note is a variation of the existing $20, and features this portrait from 1951 of then-Princess Elizabeth, by Yousuf Karsh. The same photo, with her tiara removed, was previously used for the 1954 Canadian Landscape series as well as for a commemorative note in 1967 marking Canada's centennial.
If you like that sort of thing you can read more about the new note, and Canada's bank note history, in this interesting article.
This portrait is the culmination, in photographs at least, of Marissa Roth's now 31-year-long journey.
"This portrait of Monica Smith, who is Anne Frank's second cousin, is the final portrait of my 31-year odyssey that is the global photo essay,"One Person Crying: Women and War."
"I had the opportunity to photograph and interview Mrs Smith one day before her 92nd birthday this past May, at home in Manhattan. It was a great honor and profound pleasure to meet her and to feel her indomitable spirit which continues to prevail in spite of the many emotional heartbreaks that she endured in her life.
"Monica Smith was born Dorothee Wurzburger in Stuttgart, Germany, on May 10, 1923. Her mother and Anne Frank's mother were first cousins, and Anne was six years younger than her. In 1938, when it became increasingly evident that the situation for Jews in Germany was dangerous, Mrs. Smith's parents put her on a Kindertransport to Holland where she was housed in an orphanage near Amsterdam.
"Anne and Otto Frank would come and visit her regularly and bring peanuts. "I didn't realize that she would become a saint. Maybe that's what was needed. Her fingers were always covered with ink".
"In 1940, Mrs. Smith was reunited with her parents and they went to England where they boarded the RMS Samaria for the transatlantic crossing that took them to New York and would save their lives."
Prints from "One Person Crying" make up a traveling exhibition. See news and updates over on the One Person Crying blogsite.
"Free Summer Block Party Series Connecting East Harlem and Museum Mile Featuring Live Music, Art, Food and More."
Summer is most definitely upon us and I for one am looking forward to New York City's stinking hot August. But 'Uptown Bounce' kicks off this Wednesday, July 22, 2015! From 6-9 pm, El Museo del Barrio and Museum of the City of New York Present Uptown Bounce: Summer Nights @ 104th and Fifth.
The Hip Hop Revolution exhibition is still on at MCNY and should not be missed. Featuring the photographs of three photographers, Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo, and Martha Cooper, the exhibition is an immersive experience that includes personal ephemera such as polaroids signed by the musicians on set.
At the opening for Hip Hop Revolution I was shocked at the number of New Yorkers who confessed they had never been to the Museum of the City of New York before. Get it sorted, people!
Talking to the BJP: "The online shop will allow us to not only showcase new and emerging talent, that otherwise might not have made its way into the main gallery space, but will also aim to expose some fascinating projects and one off pieces from within the collection," says Hoppen. "I think our programme of online shows will have something for everyone."
I have been curious about online print sales for years now, who is buying online, at what price points. "Affordable" might be the key here, but I still say "who knows?". Good luck to Hoppen on taking this step.
Newly available first edition gravures from Karl Blossfeldt's gorgeous plant series for £250!
Also now online are images from Matt Henry, who says of his series 'My personal practice focuses on America during the 1960s and 1970s. The works take the form of staged scenes constructed as set-builds in the UK using props sourced from here and the United States."
And just launched are Joseph Szabo's Rolling Stones Fans. In 1978 Szabo was gifted a ticket by two of his students in return for a ride to see the gig in Philadelphia. He found himself immersed in a crowd of 90,000... A book is out now.
Hoppen are also promoting their artist Eamonn Doyle and his just-released book "ON" which includes kind words from Martin Parr: "With this new series of work he has come back down to street level and made a series of scenarios showing the intricacies, and indeed mysteries of life on the Dublin streets. The images are often details of a wider take and are the kind of observations we all make when we walk along, but would never dream of capturing." They will be offering signed copies soon.
The photography world lost a Great last month, with the departure of the lovely Harold Feinstein. Feinstein's wife, Judith Thompson, had wisely spent several years recording him speaking about his life and work - just a short clip of which is seen here. "This clip, edited from a 15 minute reverie on life and photography came from a taped conversation on June 17th, just three days before he passed. Here he speaks about the gift of life and the continuous adventure of unwrapping this gift...even after departing from the body. Harold's appreciation for life and beauty will live on through his images and teachings for generations to come."
"When your mouth drops open, click the shutter." - Harold Feinstein
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In 1992 I moved from London to New York to run an international photo agency representing 400+ photographers. I left in 2006 and took the archive of Yousuf Karsh with me to continue clearing rights for his iconic photographs. I edit and publish aCurator magazine, and aCurator blog, which was cited both by the British Journal of Photography and LIFE in their reviews of influencers and taste-makers. For two years I was associate director at ClampArt fine art gallery. I now consult and review work for photographers of all levels and styles.
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In 1971, Yousuf Karsh published a book of his portraits titled "Faces of Our Time" (University of Toronto Press). It included his iconic, intimate photographs of John F. Kennedy, Helen Keller, Albert Schweitzer, Ravi Shankar, Tennessee Williams, and many more. Anyone who is familiar with Karsh will know that the success of his portraits resulted from his respect for, and knowledge of, his subjects. When photographers have a good amount of time with their subject, so much more is revealed in the resulting portrait as a connection is made. When a photographer has to grab 2 minutes in a bland hotel room, they get nothing but a flat record of some face.
Steve Pyke is a brilliant man, wonderful photographer, still-young and -prolific veteran artist. His new book, "Faces of Our Time," will be filled with his own intimate and iconic portraits made over the last 35 years. From Quentin Crisp, to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to Hugo Chavez, Pyke has made his own mark with the luminaries of the 20th century.
Help get this book of photos and stories published through Unbound. You get the e-book for only £10!