New York Photo Review
Volume 4 Issue 4 January 23 to 29, 2013

The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
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AIPAD Photography Show
© Norman Bordan, Saul Leiter at AIPAD NY 2010

The 30th annual AIPAD Photography show is now history after what looked to be a decent four day run at the Park Avenue Armory at 67th Street. Some of the typical vintage-era guests attended, including what seemed like a relative newcomer– an original Diane Arbus print of “Identical Twins” for an astounding $275,000 (Gallery of Fine Art, New Orleans). I wasn’t sure if they hung this image for its marquee value or the gallery actually thought there could be a buyer in that category. Interesting to see in any case. But apart from other images such as the vintage Helen Levitt “Foreign Legion” for $80,000 and Helmut Newton’s “Study on Voyeurism II” for $125,000, there was some more affordable work elsewhere without the big names, of course. but interesting nonetheless. There were also some amusing “sidebars,” for want of a better name. At the Michael Shapiro Gallery, there was a Robert Frank print, “City of London,” 1951, with a letter to Robert Frank from the gallery owner to the photographer, asking him to certify the authenticity of the print he had acquired from someone named Lunn, since, as the letter explained, it was printed on Agfa paper with a cream sepia tone, signed and dated, 1973. Below this letter was Frank’s response:

“ I will not comment on the print you acquired from Lunn, but I will tell you that Lunn is a cheap, cunning, lying bastard. He has no right to put any stamp on my photographs to make it look as this stamp has been put on by me.”

More amusing and revealing was the 2 pm panel discussion on Saturday, “Street Seen: The Psychological Gesture in American Photography, 1940-1959,” an exhibition now at the Milwaukee Art Museum; its curator

Lisa Hostetler moderated this discussion which included gallery owner, Tom Gitterman, William Myers, Wall Street Journal critic, Ann Thomas, Curator of Photographs at the National Gallery of Canada, and Saul Leiter, artist. The discussion was supposed to center on the emergence of street photography during this period, particularly post WW II. In fact, Hostetler

said in doing research, she found that the “war cured photographers of their desire for crystal clear, perfect prints.” Gitterman went a step further and mentioned a Leiter image that “affected me, moved me...the psychological

gesture, all these photographers (Leiter, Faurer, Lisette Model, W. Klein, T. Croner and Frank ) used it in their work..it had a sense of motion. Leiter would disagree with me but that’s normal.”

Saul Leiter, the irrepressible Saul Leiter, had a lot to say, although he didn’t seem convinced there was a psychological gesture involved in his work. Referring to the period of time of the 40s and 50s, he said, “I don’t know what happened when I was there.” He did say, “I acknowledge that I am a pioneer..the history of art is not a history of black and white, I don’t understand why color (photography) is disowned.“....“...“If I were rich, I would collect drawings and they would all be black and white, some would be sepia.” (Audience laughs.)

The AIPAD photography show always makes me wish I were more of a collector and less a photographer. The booths abound in ‘classic’ images or close to it and although it has changed over the years, the median age of the photos is still somewhere around 50 or 60. Most galleries make a gesture to contemporary practices, but compared to the ‘real’ art fairs of a few weeks back, the percentage of living producing photographers shown at AIPAD is lame.

Still, that being said there was, as always, an overwhelming amount of material to see and digest, and of course, conservative as it may be, styles and preferences do change. The large surge of interest in the Secessionist, pictorialist style and the fuzzy images that resulted continues and influences the 21st century choices of galleries. Among the more interesting were the pieces by the Artist team Louviere & Venessa (Jeff Louviere and Venessa Brown) at A Gallery for Fine Photography, from New Orleans. Who combine an interest in alternative photographic explorations, various printmaking techniques and process based image-making. Especially interesting to me were the prints made with long strips of super-8 film, which seemed to be almost mimicking digitally manipulated images.

Yancey Richardson, is of course a stalwart of contemporary photography, and did not disappoint in her booth. Especially noteworthy were the large format photos by Andrew Moore especially a truly Daliesque melted clock-face from his recently completed “Detroit” series

But the strongest champion of new photography seemed to be New York dealer Bryce Wolkowitz. Strong still photographs were upstaged by a Nam June Paik-like video tube construction, and a combination still photo and low resolution LED projector piece by Jim Campbell. Also near by was a constantly changing LED autobiographical/portrait series by Shirley Shor. Both artists offered a glimpse outside the traditional silver-gelatin world to the digital-visual universe we inhabit today.

by Norman Borden

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Photographs by Norman Borden
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