Photography News and Archive
Current News             Issue Archive             Article Archive E-Photo Newsletter   Issue 131   7/23/2007

AIPAD's Photography Show--Miami Will Debut Dec. 4-9, 2007 in Wynwood Art District in New 30,000 Sq. Ft. Venue

The Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) will debut a new art fair, The Photography Show--Miami, from Tuesday, Dec. 4 (invitational preview) through Sunday, Dec. 9, 2007. More than 45 of the world's leading fine art photography galleries will present a wide range of museum quality work by 19th-century, modern and contemporary masters. The exhibition will be held at a new 30,000 sq. ft. venue located at NW 31st Street and North Miami Avenue in the Wynwood Art District of Miami, FL. The new art fair will run concurrently with Art Basel Miami, as well as numerous other art fairs during the week. The Photography Show--Miami will open with a preview on Tuesday, Dec. 4th.

"We are delighted to announce this new fair in Miami that will further highlight the tremendous collective knowledge, scholarship and expertise of AIPAD dealers," said Robert Klein, president of AIPAD and Robert Klein Gallery in Boston.

"Photography collectors have been asking us to come to Miami in December so that they could have access there to a focused exhibition of the most important photographic works available on the market."

AIPAD is well known for its prestigious fair, The Photography Show--New York, which is held at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City in April. The new dates for the 28th edition of the fair in New York are April 10 -13, 2008. The Photography Show is the longest running and foremost exhibition of fine art photography.

The show hours will be Wednesday from 10 am to 3 pm; and Thursday, Friday and Saturday from noon to 7 pm; and Sunday from noon to 6 pm. The invitational preview will be on Tuesday evening, Dec. 4th. Further details will be forthcoming. For more information, please contact AIPAD at 1-202-986-0105 or info@aipad.com . More information will also be posted up eventually on the AIPAD website at: http://www.aipad.com/photoshow/ .

Phillips Forces Out Wester and Newlin in Shocking Move to Photo Auction Market

In a shocking move, given the success of the Photographs Department over the last several years--and especially after the April sales (see stories below)--Phillips de Pury & Company has fired Worldwide Director of Photographs Rick Wester and New York Head of Photographs Lisa Newlin-Galeano. Both Wester and Newlin are highly respected and well liked in the photography trade. Reportedly, according to company sources, personality conflicts at the company may have been the reason behind what appears--at least at this time--to be a stunning corporate misjudgment and set-back for Phillips in this arena. You can almost hear the sighs of relief from over at Sotheby's and Christie's.

Charlie Scheips has been named to the position of Worldwide Director of Photographs and will assume his new role effective immediately. Scheips has been a freelance curator, art advisor, writer and cultural historian. Previously, he was the founding director of the Condé Nast Archive in New York for ten years.

Joseph Kraeutler, Phillips de Pury & Company's New York-based specialist with a particular expertise in contemporary photographs, will take on the role of Head of Photographs, New York and Genny Janvrin, who oversaw the company's first Photographs sale in London this June, will remain Head of Photographs, London.

From the selections, it looks like Phillips will focus more on just contemporary photography now.

Phillips' "27 Exceptional Photographs" Sale Averages $190,000 Per Lot--Highest Ever In Photography Auction; Over $3.6 Million Sold

By Stephen Perloff
Editor of The Photograph Collector

On the evening of April 24th Phillips de Pury & Co. offered its sale of "27 Exceptional Photographs." We might nitpick and say there were a few truly exceptional photographs and many other really good ones and then report that there were a few truly exceptional prices and a number of disappointing buy-ins (eight--almost 30%), including a major Gursky. Still, the $3,616,800 total averaged over $190,000 per lot sold, the highest-ever achieved at a photography auction.

Harry Callahan's "Weed against Sky, Detroit", 1948/1950s (estimated at $20,000–$30,000) started the evening off at $48,000. His "Weeds in Snow, Detroit", 1943/1950s ($15,000–$25,000) was fought over by Jeffrey Fraenkel and Peter MacGill, sitting next to each other. Fraenkel took it at $84,000, the third highest price for a single work by the photographer. Dealer Richard Morehouse snuck off with Callahan's "Bush in Snow, Downer's Grove", 1948/1950s ($15,000–$25,000) for only $12,000.

A phone bidder roared off with Eugène Atget's "Fête du Trone", a picture of a mural of two tigers emerging from a jungle painted on a wooden fence, at $42,000, just over low estimate.

Next up was Edward Steichen's glorious portrait of Gloria Swanson, 1924, signed and dated 1926 ($250,000–$350,000). Swiss dealer Kaspar Fleischmann held off several bidders, paying $540,000, the highest price of the sale, a record for the image and the third highest price achieved at auction for Steichen. And he was back on the next lot, André Kértesz's "Meudon", 1928, printed 1928–35 ($300,000–$500,000), making a bridesmaid out of Peter MacGill again, this time at $420,000, the second highest price paid for the photographer at auction.

Nadar's "Hermaphrodite" couldn't get a leg up again and passed at $18,000. But Alexander Rodchenko's "Sokolniki Park, Winter, Hockey", 1929, more than doubled its high estimate at $312,000 ($260,000 hammer), a record price for a photograph by the artist. Bidding had almost stopped at $160,000, emphasizing how often the auction market price can be the result of only two bidders.

A phone bidder made off with Brancusi's "Vue de l'Atelier", 1925, at the low estimate, $84,000, but again, a record price for a photograph by the artist. But then the three Moholy-Nagy Fotogramms, with estimates of $200,000–$300,000 and $150,000–$200,000, all passed, as did Paul Outerbridge Jr.'s "Sleepy Negro" ($40,000–$60,000).

Michael Mattis beat collector Jack Hastings to the checkout counter for Edward Weston's "Chard", paying $192,000. And Kaspar Fleischmann came back for Paul Strand's "Fern & Rain Drops", 1927–28, at the low estimate of $240,000, still the third highest price paid for Strand at auction.

A phone bidder drove just over high estimate to $516,000 for Robert Frank's "US 90, en route to Del Rio, Texas", 1956/c. 1960. That was the second highest price of the sale and a record price for the photographer at auction. Then a 1970 print of Frank's "Parade—Hoboken, NJ", also marched above its high estimate to $138,000. Peter MacGill finally won Frank's motorcyclists, "Newburgh, NY", an oversize 1970 print, at $108,000, then snatched Chuck Close's Self-Portrait for $216,000, the low estimate, but the record price for a photograph by the artist.

John Baldessari's "Transform (Lipstick)" ($100,000–$150,000) reaffirmed that prices for his work are taking off to the next level, as it brought $312,000. Duane Michals' classic early sequence "Things Are Queer" brought a strong bid of $33,600, just under the high estimate, and yet another record. Maybe people are starting to catch on to one of the more undervalued photographers in the marketplace.

Next up was Andreas Gursky's extremely large (overall about 6.5 feet by 11 feet) "Toys 'R' Us", estimated at $1,200,000 to $1,800,000. With its minimalist, almost Lewis Baltzian structure of asphalt road, buildings, and sky, with the only color in the Toyota and Toys "R" Us signs on the buildings and on the various "floats" on the electrical wires above, it doesn't have the intricacy or pizzazz of many of Gursky's other works. And while it was the star of this evening sale, it may well have done better in a contemporary art sale where it would have fit in better with the crowd—and where its potential buyers could be seen buying it (in this age of conspicuous art consumption, why buy something expensive if you can't be seen buying it by the people who really matter). Though our earnest auctioneer pleaded, "at $900,000 only," it went unsold. (Editor's note: I don't happen to agree with Steve on this one. I think the reason it went unsold was simply that it was a rather boring image for Gursky with a very reaching estimate. If it brought $600,000 total with buyer's premium, I think that would be a lot.)

The evening closed with Joel Sternfeld's "McLean, VA", burning up the phones at $98,400, a record for a single photograph by the photographer. And contemporary Chinese artist Zhang Huan's nine-print suite, "Family Tree", was adopted at $192,000, the second highest price achieved for the artist at auction and the highest price achieved for this work in this edition. In February, Phillips de Pury & Co.'s contemporary sale in London sold the larger-than-life scaled version of this work for £114,000.

(Copyright ©2007 by The Photograph Collector.)

My thanks to Steve Perloff and The Photograph Collector Newsletter for giving me permission to use this information. The Photograph Collector, which is a wonderful newsletter that I can heartily recommend, is published monthly and is available by subscription for $149.95 (overseas airmail is $149.95). You can phone 1-215-891-0214 and charge your subscription or send a check or money order to: The Photograph Collector, 140 East Richardson Ave, Langhorne, PA 19047. Or for a subscription order form to The Photograph Collector Newsletter, go to: http://www.photoreview.org/collect.htm.

Phillips' Single And Various Owner Sales Do Very Well, Bringing In Additional $6.8 Million

By Stephen Perloff
Editor of The Photograph Collector

The Phillips sales continued the next day with work from the collection of Alain Dominique Perrin tucked in the middle of the various owner material, even though it had its own catalogue.

Robert Frank's "US 285, NM", 1955/c. 1975 ($20,000–$30,000), one of the great American road photographs, had numerous bidders trying to hitch a ride. Ultimately Ute Hartjen left Howard Greenberg standing by the side of the road, though the fare was $84,000. An order bidder went just over high estimate for Avedon's "Dovima with Elephants", paying $102,000. A phone bidder swept up two William Eggleston's, "Near Minter City and Glendora, MS" for $66,000 and "Whitehaven, MS" for $57,600.

Jeffrey Fraenkel plucked Irving Penn's "Woman with Roses" for $324,000, "only" one-third over the high estimate, and the second highest price of the day sale. It shattered the previous record for the image by over $100,000. Then Penn's "Summer Sleep" went for a premium of $84,000.

A bit later a group of contemporary Chinese photographs from the collection of Lawrence and Kathy Schiller came up. Qiu Zhijie's "Tattoo II" brought the low estimate of $72,000 from the phones, and Zhang Huan's "To Raise the Water Level in a Fish Pond" was scooped up just over high estimate at $62,400, but several others failed to sell.

A phone bidder saw something in Man Ray's "Self-Portrait", 1957, a sheet of metal in the artist's original frame (and not a photograph), from the collection of Soizic Audouard, as it went for $50,400.

The ramshackle clapboard shed of Paul Strand's "Stockburger's Farm, East Jamica, VT" brought $84,000 from the phones, proving that real estate prices really have no ceiling in New York. Another phone bidder took Strand's abandoned house, "Ghost Town, Red River, NM" at only $48,000. Location, location, location!

Robert Frank's "New York City, 7 Bleeker Street, September, 1993" reached $55,200, a 50% premium over the high estimate. Dallas dealer Burt Finger then paid the midpoint of the estimate, $42,000, for the Lee Friedlander-Jim Dine portfolio "Photographs & Etchings". And Ute Hartjen made off with the portfolio "Garry Winogrand, 1960–1974" for only $45,600, below the low estimate.

A phone bidder doubled the high estimate at $72,000 for Irving Penn's sexy and surreal "Chanel Feather Headdress", from an edition of seven. Another phone bidder chugged off with a great, unique set of 58 of O. Winston Link's Special Edition Photographs for $180,000, the low estimate, and a record price for a single lot by Link. Then Jeffrey Fraenkel fell just short of quadrupling the high estimate for Robert Adams's luminous "Berthoud, CO", paying $45,600, also a world record.

Richard Morehouse won Lewis Baltz's portfolio of 15 silver prints, "Nevada", at $45,600 and a phone bidder paid $54,000 for Baltz's portfolio "Candlestick Point", with 72 silver prints and 12 color coupler print. And finally, at 12:45 pm, a phone bidder closed out the long morning session by doubling the high estimate at $48,000 for Francesca Woodman's untitled image from her House Series.

Back we came at 2 pm, but it was clear there was no way we could sit through the entire afternoon and still get across town and uptown to Sotheby's evening sale in time. The afternoon session began with the Perrin Collection. Perrin's Baldessari had been sold the night before, but there were still a number of good pictures here. Peter MacGill outbid Ute Hartjen at $60,000 for Robert Frank's "Longchamp", 1948 ($20,000–$30,000), a young woman with a bouquet of wildflowers sleeping on a lawn. A phone bidder went to $90,000 for Penn's "Picasso (B), Cannes".

An Adams "Moonrise" sold for $45,600, his "The Teton Range and the Snake River" ($20,000–$30,000) meandered up to $60,000, and his "Winter Sunrise" sparkled at $49,200.

Howard Greenberg fell short as a Man Ray Rayograph fetched $312,000, the third highest price of the sale. Peter MacGill captured Weston's "Nude in Patio" at $60,000. Bruce Silverstein took Weston's "Dunes, Oceano", at $84,000, but lost out on "Black Dunes, Oceano" at the same price.

Ute Hartjen won the top lot of the day, Penn's "Harlequin Dress", at $384,000, a record for the image and the second highest price at auction for his work. Prints sold for $240,000 and for $352,000 last year. A hungry Kathryn McCarver Root paid $108,000, a 50% premium, for Penn's "Frozen Foods with String Beans".

Phone bidders also went over high estimate for two fine modernist pictures: Frantisek Drtikol's "Nude with Circles" at $114,000 and Tina Modotti's "Glasses" at $96,000. By the time the bidding got to lot 294, still far from the end, Peter Beard's "Lake Rudolf", auctioneer Simon de Pury took the bidding up to $88,000, but with the long day wearing on him, he got uncharacteristically confused and asked for a next bid of $60,000. When the associate on the phone shouted out the proper next bid of $90,000, Simon gleefully replied, "I like your bidding technique." One can hardly blame him for losing his place—all auctioneers have done it at one time or another—but it was a sign of everyone's frazzled attention spans. And those of us in the audience had been at it for almost three days with another big evening sale and a day sale to come. The lot finally hammered to the phone for $95,000 or $114,000 with premium.

Sugimoto's "Sea of Japan, Oki", floated to $54,000. And Howard Greenberg swooped in to take Cindy Sherman's "Untitled Film Still #20" at $132,000, more than double the high estimate. A phone bidder took three separate Louise Lawlers, including "Positional Together, Tous les Deux Ensemble" at $48,000. An internet bidder snacked on Irving Penn's "Still Life with Watermelon" at a cost of $49,000. That was the last of the important lots from the Perrin Collection and when the last of the Perrin lots, number 327, hammered, the clock read 4:11 pm.

As we returned to the regular catalogue, Rick Wester took over as auctioneer. By the time he reached lot 350, Joel Sternfeld's "Renegade Elephant", Wester sighed, "I know how he feels." But then I had to leave to get to Sotheby's in time for the evening sale. Still several lots after that were noteworthy. Sally Mann's "Virginia at 6" ($10,000–$15,000) brought an extraordinary $52,800. James Casebere's "Blue Hallway" ($20,000–$30,000) sold for $60,000, another world record. Thomas Ruff's "Nudes wf 09" solicited $54,000 and his "Substrat 17 III" ($60,000–$80,000) $90,000. Lastly, Hiroshi Sugimoto's theater, "Avalon, Catalina Island" ($20,000–$30,000) played to a packed house, also at $90,000.

The single owner collections in the Photographs sale performed remarkably well. The collection of Alain Dominique Perrin consisting of 93 lots was 87% sold by lot and 96% by value, while setting a number of records. The Property of a Swiss Foundation composed of 53 lots was 100% sold both by lot and value, exceeding the high end of the estimates by almost $300,000 and set several records for important photographs.

World records also were established at this sale for photographs by Mark Cohen, Luis Gonzalez Palma, Izima Kaoru, Ruud Van Empel, Wim Wenders, Dodo Jin Ming and Edward Burtynsky. The combined sales of the "27 Exceptional Photographs" sale on April 24 and the Photographs sale on April 25 achieved a total value of $10,413,165. As Rick Wester, Phillips Worldwide Head of Photographs at the time, pointed out, "The sale total of over $10 million in effect matches what the department sold all of last year."

Editor's note: Despite this amazing turnaround at beleaguered Phillips, Rick Wester and New York Head of Photography Lisa Newlin found themselves dismissed this month by De Pury (see above story).

(Copyright ©2007 by The Photograph Collector.)

My thanks to Steve Perloff and The Photograph Collector Newsletter for giving me permission to use this information. The Photograph Collector, which is a wonderful newsletter that I can heartily recommend, is published monthly and is available by subscription for $149.95 (overseas airmail is $149.95). You can phone 1-215-891-0214 and charge your subscription or send a check or money order to: The Photograph Collector, 140 East Richardson Ave, Langhorne, PA 19047. Or for a subscription order form to The Photograph Collector Newsletter, go to: http://www.photoreview.org/collect.htm.

Photographer Mitch Dobrowner's
Western Landscapes Added to Roster of Contemporary Works/Vintage Works

I Photo Central dealer Contemporary Works/Vintage Works has added another photographer to its roster--Mitch Dobrowner. Dobrowner's startling Western landscapes are beautifully printed and have an unworldly presence to them.

The artist describes his subject and his response to it this way: "The Earth is an ever changing ego-system. It's existed well before we were here and will hopefully be here well beyond the time we leave it. It's real, at times beautifully surreal, powerfully haunting and alive, all at the same time."

"While photographing, the world gets quiet around me. Things seem simple again, and I obtain a respect and reverence for the world that is hard to communicate through words. I get into a 'zone' where time and space seem hard for me to measure. For me those moments are a combination of the exterior environment and my own interior state. Hopefully the images presented help communicate what I visualize during those times."

All of the images presented have been captured on a combination of either 35mm black & white film and/or digitally. Most of Dobrowner's current work is now digital. All darkroom work is performed in a dry darkroom with minimal dodging and burning. Prints are produced on 100% archival cotton rag paper with archival pigment inks.

Dobrowner has won numerous awards over the last few years, including the latest, a first prize in the Nature category for his B&W photo entry, "Rainstorm" from the French Prix de la Photographie Paris (Px3) Competition. His work has also been recently featured in Black & White magazine and Lensworks.

Prints are produced using archival pigment inks on archival quality 100% cotton rag paper. The prints come in two sizes in a total edition of 50, plus 2 APs, except for Civilization, Los Angeles, CA, which comes in a total edition of 100. The smaller roughly 12 x 18 inch version is printed on 13 x 19 inch Fine Art Velvet paper and is currently $500 for most images. The roughly 15-1/2 x 21 inch version is printed on 17 x 22 inch UltraSmoothe Fine Art paper and is currently $700 for most images. Matting and/or framing would be additional. The prints are frankly stunning. Prices are expected to go up shortly after this introduction here at Contemporary Works. Dobrowner's work, although just introduced this year to the market, is quickly selling out, especially on his key images.

You can see examples of his photography and a full biography at: http://www.contemporaryworks.net/artists/artist_imgs.php/1/6597 .

Special Exhibits Go Up On I Photo Central

The photography dealers on I Photo Central have been extremely busy over the last month or so, putting up even more new Special Photography Exhibits.

There are so many new ones that I will simply list them by title and URL address. Most also have extensive essays about the exhibit or artist that you can click through to read.

Architectural Photography in the 20th Century at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/139/1/0 .

Body Parts at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/143/1/0 .

Bridges and Photography at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/140/1/0 .

Mitch Dobrowner: Unworldly Landscapes at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/151/1/0 .

Rare African-American Portraits and Carte-de-Visites from the 19th-Century at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/59/3/0 .

Street Photography, Part I: Europe at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/149/1/0 .

Street Photography, Part II: U.S.A. at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/150/1/0 .

We have also continued to change images and add to our essays for all our Special Exhibits, so they are worth another peek, especially if you have not looked lately. And, if you see one you like, let a friend know too!

You can see all of these fine new exhibits and others (now a total of 100 Special Exhibits in all!) at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase.php . Don't forget to check out the archived exhibits at the bottom of the page as well.

Summer Viewing: Joseph, Vicomte Vigier; John Humble; and Anonymous Snapshots

By Matt Damsker


Photographs by Joseph Vicomte Vigier. Text by Larry J. Schaaf with Russell Lord. 95 pages; 38 sepia-toned plates. Sun Pictures Catalogue 16, published by Hans P. Kraus, Jr. Inc., 962 Park Ave., New York, NY 10028; phone: +1-212 794-2064; fax: +1-212 744-2770; email: info@sunpictures.com ; Internet: http://www.sunpictures.com .

A prized pupil of Gustave Le Gray who mastered not only Le Gray's wax-paper negative process but also Fox-Talbot's calotype technique, Joseph, Vicomte Vigier, was one of France's most popular early photographers, thanks to his large-format views of the Pyrenees, which are among the most atmospherically rich photos of the mid-1800s. Vicomte Vigier's 1853 summer idyll through the mountains resulted in this newly discovered album, its salt-print images crisply reproduced in their original sequence, with an informative introduction by Larry J. Schaaf.

Indeed, Vicomte Vigier was an inspired, solitary soul who began this Pyrenees trek deep in the south, in a vaguely defined frontier between Spain and France. Working northward, his camera took in the unspoiled pictorial majesty of misty landscapes, with stone ruins, footbridges, distant waterfalls, and the great snowy peaks as an ethereal backdrop. Often focusing from a hilly vantage point on the gorges and passes that gracefully lead the eye to the natural depth of the scenery, Vicomte Vigier brought home a storybook world of simple, rugged beauty, with a keen sense of scale that often locates human evidence (a small cottage, a trace of broken bridge) to orient us to the landscape.

These photographs are magical without seeming overwrought, and define the particulars of their vast territory with a rigorous determination to convey the multitude of natural effects, textures, and terrains that are the Pyrenees. This timeless context of soil, rock, vegetation, and water almost mocks the humble effort of inhabitants to find shelter within it. Indeed, Vicomte Vigier was acutely attuned to the quiet drama of man's hope-borne intersection with indifferent nature, which makes this album one of the great documents of its kind.


Photographs of Los Angeles by John Humble. Essays by Gordon Baldwin. Issued in connection with the exhibition of the same name at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA. 2007, Getty Publications, 1200 Getty Center Dr., Ste. 500, Los Angeles, CA 90049; information: http://www.getty.edu . ISBN. No. 978-0-89236-881-5; 95 pages; 39 color plates.

Anyone driving through the vast Los Angeles region is struck as much by the sun-beaten sprawl and urban decay of most of it as by the rarefied glitz and picaresque charms of Rodeo Drive, the Sunset Strip or Hollywood. John Humble's photographs focus entirely on the glamour-starved side of L.A--its landscape of car dealerships, colorfully squat and boxy storefronts, poor housing shadowed by power lines and oil riggings; the evidence of ubiquitous freeways that define and detract from the general quality of Southern California life; and the troubled, choked passages of the Los Angeles River.

This collection, recently displayed at L.A.'s Getty Museum, offers fine examples of Humble's square, large-format views, many of them in the high-noon sunlight that always seems to blanket the city, with few human subjects in evidence (as opposed to the mute evidence of a humanity that has built and spiritually abandoned these impoverished sites). The geometry of telephone poles, traffic signals, billboards, the iconography of liquor and cigarette advertising--the broad decay of consumer society--are the stuff of Humble's social realism, but so is another side of Los Angeles, documented here in his many images of the L.A. River, as it struggles along--much of it only inches-deep--through ugly neighborhood channels, beneath overpasses, past electrical towers, and finally to its broad mouth in Long Beach.

The gorgeous shot of the river at Long Beach is Humble's single expression of natural grandeur, with a low row of clouds on the horizon, pale blue sky above, and a famed tourist attraction--the decommissioned Queen Mary ocean liner--as a lovely accent in the distance. Like his other photos, in which the imposing skyline of downtown L.A. is glimpsed far from such sites as the graffiti-scrawled walls along train tracks, this reminds us that Los Angeles is a powerful, multi-dimensional presence--founded on the Pacific Ocean as a mighty commercial engine, yet by now an industrial polluter and an over-developed and under-served metropolis like, and unlike, any other.


Edited by Jeff Fraenkel. 2007. Approximately 115 pages; 88 photographic plates. ISBN No. 978-1-933045-66-5. Published by Fraenkel Gallery, 49 Geary St., San Francisco, CA 94108; phone: +1-415-981-2661; fax: +1-415-981-4014; Internet: http://www.fraenkelgallery.com . Co-published by D.A.P., Distributed Art Publishers Inc., New York, NY; information: http://www.artbook.com .

This charming collection of anonymous snapshots from Jeffrey Fraenkel's large collection of flea-market and otherwise gathered curiosities is a testament to the richness of found photography, and suggests that the medium is the only art form that can yield such accidental evocativeness.

Each of these shots--from the early part of the 20th century to the 1950s--features the shadow of the photographer looming from the bottom edge of the frame. In some cases, it makes for a remarkably complex composition, as Fraenkel notes in describing a snapshot of a young man leaning against a wall, and "the mobius strip that begins with the boy's right hand…and passes with a gentle touch to the spectral arm and unseen hands of the photographer, who is and is not in the picture."

Such images may or may not be intentional, of course, but the ghostly presence of the picture-maker in each of these--whether wedding photos, playground photos of twins on swings, informal portraits of uniformed loved ones in school outfits or heading off to military service, backyard and beach snapshots, or graveside gatherings--touchingly conveys the emotional investment of the photographer. And where intentionality seems most likely--as in a 1966 image of a young soldier, his shadow thrown on the brick wall behind him, where it stands at attention next to the smaller shadow of (presumably) his photographer father; or in an expressionistic shot of a tree dominated by the elongated ground shadow of the man taking it--the effect is sublimely artistic. Most of these images don't rise above the level of curiosity, of course, but bound in this affectionate volume, they connect us to the simple humanity of photography in a profound way.

Matt Damsker is an author and critic, who has written about photography and the arts for the Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, Philadelphia Bulletin, Rolling Stone magazine and other publications. His book, "Rock Voices", was published in 1981 by St. Martin's Press. His essay in the book, "Marcus Doyle: Night Vision" was published in the fall of 2005.

He currently reviews books for U.S.A. Today.

(Book publishers, authors and photography galleries/dealers may send review copies to us at: I Photo Central, 258 Inverness Circle, Chalfont, PA 18914. We do not guarantee that we will review all books or catalogues that we receive. Books must be aimed at photography collecting, not how-to books for photographers.)

Weltanschauung/Worldview: The Photography of Leonard Freed

By Noel Chanan


The exhibition at the Musée de L'Elysée-Lausanne continues until September 2nd and then transfers to the Fotomuseum, The Hague, where it runs from October 6 through January 13, 2008, then to C/O Berlin, where it runs June-August 2008.

The exhibition is accompanied by a large format book, providing superb full-page reproductions of all 250 images featured in the show, as well as essays by William A. Ewing and Wim van Sinderen, and an interview with Freed edited from audio recordings by Nathalie Herschdorfer. The book is published by Steidl, 2007, pp. 311, hardback, ISBN 978-3-86521-463-8; email: mail@steidl.de ; www.steidlville.com ; www.steidl.de ; phone: +49-551-49-60-60.

The latest in a wide-ranging succession of exhibitions at Lausanne's Musée de L'Elysée, under the directorship of William Ewing, features the work of the American-born photojournalist, Leonard Freed. Intended as a retrospective of a lifetime in photography the show, under the title "Worldview", became, alas, a eulogy for the photographer, who succumbed to cancer a half-year before it opened, although the near-final selection of the 250 images on exhibit had been accomplished through a long lead period of close collaboration with Freed.

For my wife and myself the vernissage was a personal and emotional affair, for the photographer had been a much-valued friend since the late 1960s. At that earlier time my wife, June Stanier, was picture editor of the Sunday Times magazine, and Freed, based in Amsterdam, with his German-born wife, Brigitte, then his manager, and--for reasons of economy--his self-taught (and very expert) printer, came over to London on the look-out for assignments. Freed was still struggling to establish himself--money was never a very high priority but he did have a family to feed--and magazine work was erratic and hard to come by. Some minor commissions followed, but the real breakthrough came in 1972, by which time the peripatetic Freed had re-established himself in New York, and June commissioned a major photo essay on the violence that notoriously dogged the streets of the city. The essay generated powerful and disturbing imagery; produced outraged reactions in a New York that was in denial; became the basis of an exhibition at London's Photographer's Gallery; and eventually led on to Freed's book "Police Work" (1980), one of his signature works.

Leonard Freed was born in 1929, just as the first mass-produced high-quality miniature camera, the Leica, began to roll off the production line in Wetzlar. Alongside the development of the kind of high-speed presses that would be capable of printing quality picture magazines, the miniature camera ushered in the era of the photojournalist. Quick, silent in operation, unobtrusive, with fast optics using available light, the Leica would become the camera of choice for successive generations of the new profession (including Freed, never seen without his, and Henri Cartier-Bresson, an early inspiration) who sought out the in-depth human story that lay beyond the sensational Speed Graphic hold-the-front-page, flash-lit picture.

The persuasive phrase "The Decisive Moment", chosen for the English-language version of the first book by Cartier-Bresson (the man who became the popular face of photojournalism), more or less hijacked photojournalism. It seemed to indicate a paradigm image that made further images redundant, "decisive" implying also "definitive", and always carefully defined within the perfect frame. Cartier-Bresson's work and his philosophy of the photograph stand on their own infinite merits, but they do not address themselves in any real sense to Freed's work, of which he himself said: "I don't want the perfect image…because the imperfect detail gives life to a photograph. If we look for too much perfection we lose vitality". Yet, he said, "I am conscious about the movements of people in the frame. I have an innate understanding of visual forms". Freed believed, and said of himself, that photographers are born not made.

Freed's vast opus (he left behind an archive of a million negatives) is reflected in another enduring phrase that seized the public imagination: "La Condition Humaine", translated as "Man's Fate", the title of André Malraux's great novel of the 1930s. The brevity of the exposure makes a decisive moment of every frame, but where Cartier-Bresson excludes, Freed's photographs reach out to each other. They are about and embrace the nature and structure of communities, and in this sense have an explicitly political and philosophical content, in a tradition of (frequently disappointed) liberal humanism, which Freed acknowledged.

But they are also the work of an artist (for that is how Freed defined himself) responding to his own instincts and seeking the answers to his own urgent questions. Freed, the American-born son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, returned repeatedly to one of his earliest preoccupations as a photographer and as an individual: that of Jewish identity and in what sense he belonged (or did not) to the inherited traditions. Ultimately there was no answer, not least perhaps because, paradoxically, as an artist he necessarily remained perpetually on the outside, the observer of whatever it was he was seeking to understand by depicting it.

All of Freed's most significant work is about community and about belonging, even "Police Work", in which junkies and prostitutes, lurid transvestites, brutalised women, mafia slayings and the indelible image of dead bloated fingers clawing at a steel grill that interposed itself between their owner's life and his death, are tempered by the ordinariness of a policeman's family at home at Christmas or by the pool in summer; or in the joyful spontaneity of a uniformed policewoman caught at play with neighborhood street children.

In one of his essays on literature in "The Curtain", the Czech novelist, Milan Kundera, elaborates on a particular literary relationship that fortuitously and perfectly describes also the essence of Freed's photography and his relationship with his subjects, showing "…not merely the difficult or vulgar side of life (but) also a certain beauty, till then neglected: the beauty of modest sentiments…fondness tinged with familiarity…a new prosaic beauty".

Freed's last words, to his wife Brigitte, at his bedside, were: "No more pictures". Let his work speak for itself. One comes away from the exhibition with the conviction that the "certain beauty" will last, and that Freed's place in the pantheon of photojournalism is assured.

Noel Chanan is a retired maker of documentary films, including above a dozen on photography and early cinema. He continues to work as a consultant and writer on photography. Chanan's biography of the English aristocrat-photographer, 'William, Earl of Craven and the Art of Photography ', was published in 2006. He was the auction expert on the two Craven's sales. He is currently working on a book on photography in WWII India.

Two Art and History Photography Courses Announced For Fall


Christie's Education and Christie's Photographs Department are collaborating on a fall course dedicated to photography. "Photography in Context" will combine a scholarly approach with first-hand contact with objects to strengthen connoisseurship skills.

The course will be offered on Thursday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m., beginning September 20 through October 11. Classes will take place at Christie's Education, 11 West 42nd Street, New York, NY. There will be a sale walkthrough with a Christie's specialist on Sunday, October 14 at noon.

The lectures will be given by top scholars in the academic, museum and auction fields. Each session will address another facet of photography, including cultural history, technical processes, conservation and the market. The cost is $450 per person.

For more information or to sign up, contact: christieseducation@christies.edu ; Phone +1-212-355-1501.


Greg Erf and Robert Hirsch are the instructors for an online History of Photography course this fall. For more details on the course syllabus and other information go to: www.enmu.edu/photohistory .

This team-taught internet course is made available online through the Office of Extended Learning at Eastern New Mexico University, Portales NM. This History of Photography course is a three-credit-hour undergraduate or graduate course designed to fulfill General Education or Art credit. Transferability is the responsibility of the student. Check with your advisor at your school for transferability into your degree plan.

The course is a survey of photography's contribution to the visual arts from its conceptual beginning in the Renaissance through today. Work group discussion topics, group assignments, threaded class discussions and research papers will examine the work of individual photographers, tracing major issues that influenced their work. Course work will include discussion of the various artistic styles with an emphasis on exploring the parallels between aesthetic and technical development. Study will cover photography's relationship to other media and understanding the interrelationship between photography and culture.

To register by phone, call 800-537-5376, Office of Distance Education and Outreach and ask for Rebecca Cree or Susan Allan. The office is open Monday through Friday, 8 am-noon and 1-5 pm, MST. Credit Cards are accepted and the cost is $795 (for 3 credit hours).