By Brian Appel
If power is the ability to direct or influence the behavior of others, Richard Prince and Cindy Sherman have become the 'new' hyper-real prototypes in the world of contemporary photography.
Both artists utilize a 'spectacular' mode of address that engages the viewer in a way that exploits the myth of photography as a reference point to a 'literal' description of how a camera sees a piece of time and space that actually exists in the natural world.
As early as the late 1970s, both artists came to realize that by isolating and removing mass-culture imagery by re-contextualizing them through performance or by re-photography and severe cropping, a new dialogue became possible where the various codes of representation including gender and class could be re-examined. These photographs do more than document--they are also imposing norms of behavior by portraying men and women in revealing poses.
We see in the Sherman image the disempowered female on the floor looking up at the unseen 'all-powerful other' (camera is elevated looking 'down' onto her) awaiting his next move. Her body language and facial gestures suggest she is desired by the unseen other and is also possessed by him. She is at his mercy and you can see in her eyes she is filled with the anticipation of what the encounter will bring.
With Prince you are looking up (low camera-angle shooting up) to the all-powerful master of the universe (the ultimate individualist as displayed in the cowboy who is the image of endurance itself) about ready to rope an unseen horse (already captured in a fenced in area) ready to be 'tamed'. The cowboy is one of the most sacred and mask-like of all cultural figures--it is used in the Marlboro campaign as an aspirational figure. All Marlboro advertisements suggested the self-sufficient male or males taking control of any environment that had to be tamed. Both images establish the power position of the protagonists and the viewer by default.
Richard Prince's 2001 adaptation and re-contextualization of the ubiquitous Madison Avenue Marlboro man (Untitled [Cowboy]) is both a critique and celebration of one of America's most insidious consumer cultural mythologies. The super-sized, eight-foot Ektachrome cowboy, in stunning silhouette complete with rope, hat and spurs etched against a fiery orange-red sunset, broke the artist's previous world auction record for a photograph by over $1.5 million. Landing in at an unprecedented $2.84 million, the deconstructed homage of one of society's most sacred icons (and by extension most popular brand of cigarette) reached triple its pre-sale high estimate easily topping every other photo-based artwork of the season. Only Edward Steichen's "Pond-Moonlight" at $2,928,000 and Andreas Gursky's 99-cent diptych at $3,346,456 have achieved a higher price for a photograph at auction.
The Prince "Cowboy" is printed in a scale and with such an intense saturation of color that this image triggers meaning in one's mind before the spectator can interpret the photograph fully and create a conscious meaning. The photograph seems to overtake reality with something more 'real' than real.
One of the trademarks of 'postmodern' work is its hyper-reality--a simulated experience where the authentic moment is overdone. Some would say overdone in a way that would be impossible in 'real' life--like the white teeth in a Crest ad, the enhanced breasts of a centerfold model or the over-the-top orange red in a sunset. Advertisements and Hollywood movies are like that--they immediately tap into the 'myth' of the sexy woman, the fabulous vacation, the impossibly rich payoff at the gambling casino. As soon as your eyes hit the very surface of the image you are 'there' even before you are consciously ready for it. TV ads that run for ten seconds explode in your head over time. You might not even be consciously analyzing what you are watching but you are already experiencing the pleasure that comes with the supersaturated colors of the beach and what that cold beer in an ice bucket pictured is doing to your thirst.
Cindy Sherman's 1981 self-portrait ("Untitled No. 92 [Centerfold]") of an adolescent girl in an emotionally suggestive pose is, like Prince's cowboy, slyly suggestive of the codified style of American advertising in a vernacular that ironically plays off of the image itself. Sherman's subject, however, unlike Prince's powerful individualist in a cowboy hat and boots, is the artist herself, crouched down on the floor in an emotionally suggestive pose wearing a pleated plaid skirt and open white shirt with the matted hair and slightly parted lips that are often associated with a "Playboy" type venture or the style of pulp illustration. It easily outperformed her previous world record price by the almost identical amount as in the Prince photograph ($1.5 million) striking home at a robust $2.11 million.
Although both photographs convey the opposite in terms of the power relations of their protagonists to the unseen viewer, each image provides the spectator the scopic drive to explore the irony-clad manipulations that clearly critique the hidden psychological tone of the images and the cliché gender roles they perpetuate. Scopic drive is a term pulled from psychoanalysis that describes the viewer's desires through looking. Watch a man gaze at an attractive woman and you cannot help but see where the eyes immediately go for (clue: not the eyes). The theory goes that in order to function in our lives we suppress certain desires, fears and fantasies. One cannot act on fantasies like making love to your best friend's attractive wife or focus too morbidly on the inevitability of one's own mortality. Pictures (movies/TV) give us an opportunity to rehearse our fascination for another man's woman or ponder the enormity of our own uncertain death. Often this happens so quickly that it takes place below the conscious level and we find ourselves strangely moved but not knowing why. It is just these kinds of images that are so effective: the less conscious these images impact us the more powerful they are.
Prince and Sherman create photographic images in high verisimilitude that carry the weight of a society where the stage-managed modern conditions of production prevail. Representation here--specifically the attention to the power of presentation and display--has trumped everything that was ever directly 'lived'. This is really about meta-communication--meta-communication as a postmodern strategy that speaks not about the thing displayed as much as about the effects of the process of looking and its after-effects.
What makes these images so central to the contemporary art process and to the ever-growing nouveau-rich collector is their total infatuation with the present model of socially dominant life--today's consumer culture. The questioning of the myth of photography as a vehicle for finding a 'true image' and the focus on ideas that critique contemporary culture are guides to the 'new' use of the medium of photography.
Today's spectator is now more fascinated by the heady images imposed on us by print ads, 'reality' TV, the hyper-real celebrity magazines and narratives created by the Hollywood movie machine. All these examples are 'mediated' experiences where the prize is the optical malleability of the representation rather than the thing in its 'natural' state. Social relationships now revolve around the totality of constantly fed images imposed by the "machinery of America". Politics, money and social/sexual relationships all revolve around the spectacle of images that constitute the techniques of coercion.
A million artists can utilize an attractive woman or a cowboy in a photograph. Sherman and Prince do so, however, in a way that emphasizes the politics and processes of modern advertising and commodity cultures. They allow us to 'see' the mechanisms of brain-washing techniques utilized by the corporate American machinery that sets the behavior for millions of Americans and many more overseas. Our ruling corporate cultures have much more of an impact over the populations of the world than an army or navy. We are much more successful as an exporter of desire for goods and services than any form of political mindset. This is not a conspiracy theory. Just look at the dollars involved in this process and you will understand what I mean. Prince and Sherman are borrowing the same techniques and standing them on their heads.
Richard Prince and Cindy Sherman, today's king and queen of the camera, are at the forefront of the discovery that truth may in fact be only an illusion.
TOP 25 PHOTOGRAPHY LOTS AT THE SPRING 2007 CONTEMPORARY ART SALES
[Christie's, Sotheby's & Phillips de Pury & Co.]:
1) Richard Prince, Untitled (Cowboy), 2001, Ektachrome print, 100 x 66 inches, ed.: (1/2), lot #71, pre-sale est.: $700,000-$900,000; realized: 5/16/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Evening, #1834] $2,840,000. WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST. Previous record $1,248,000 for a photograph, Untitled (Cowboy), 1989, Christie's N.Y., 8/10/05.
2) Cindy Sherman, Untitled (#92), 1981, color coupler print, 23-1/8 x 47-¼ inches, ed.: (8/10), lot #73, pre-sale est.; $700,000-$1,000,000; realized 5/16/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Evening, #1834] $2,112,000. WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST, Previous record $665,600, Untitled #209, 1989, Christie's N.Y., 10/16/06.
3) Hiroshi Sugimoto, Red Sea, Ozulucel; Yellow Sea, Cheju; Red Sea, Safaga, 1991-1992, 3 panels--each 46-5/8 x 58-¼ inches, ed.: (3/5), lot #72, pre-sale est.: $900,000-$1,200,000; realized 5/16/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Evening, #1834] $1,888,000. WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST. Previous record $1,031,496, English Channel, Weston Cliff, 1994, Christie's, London, 2/8/07.
4) John Baldessari, Kiss/Panic, 1984, back and white photographs with oil tint, mounted on board in 11 parts, 80 x 72 inches, unique, lot #7, pre-sale est.: $350,000-$450,000; realized 5/15/07 [SOTHEBY'S, N.Y., Evening, N08317] $992,000. WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST IN THE MEDIUM OF PHOTOGRAPHY.
5) Richard Prince, Untitled (Self-Portrait), 1980, Ektacolor print, 24 x 20 inches, ed.: (10/10) + 2 APs, lot #370, pre-sale est.: $150,000-$180,000; realized: 5/17/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Afternoon, #1836] $936,000.
6) John Baldessari, Hands / Horses (To Agree), 1987, three black and white photographs with acrylic in two parts, overall: 48-¼ x 122-½ inches, unique, lot #32, pre-sale est.: $400,000-$600,000; realized: 5/17/07 [PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., N.Y., Part 1, NY010207] $880,000.
7) John Baldessari, Mountain Peak, 1990, diptych--vinyl paint on color coupler print, 91-¾ x 73 inches, unique, lot #1, pre-sale est.: $300,000-$400,000; realized 5/16/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Evening, #1834] $576,000.
8) John Baldessari, Two Cars (One Red) in Different Environments, 1990, color photographs with acrylic and vinyl paint, overall: 69 x 87 inches, unique, lot #358, pre-sale est.: $350,000-$450,000; realized 5/17/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Afternoon, #1836] $504,000.
9) John Baldessari, The Overlap Series: Street Scene and Reclining Person (With Shoes), 2000, color photograph and digital print, and digital print mounted on Sintra board with acrylic and felt-tip pen in three parts, overall: 61 x 84 inches, unique, lot #59, pre-sale est.: $150,000-$200,000; realized: 5/17/07 [PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., N.Y., Part 1, NY010207] $384,000.
Gilbert & George, Dusty Corners #7, 1975, four gelatin silver prints in artist's frames, overall: 48 x 40 inches, unique, lot #352, pre-sale est.: $200,000-$300,000; realized: 5/17/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Afternoon, #1836] $384,000.
Cindy Sherman, Untitled (#224), 1990, color coupler print in artist's frame, 54 x 44 inches, ed.: (4/6), lot #377, pre-sale est.: $120,000-$180,000; realized: 5/17/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Afternoon] #1836] $384,000.
10) John Baldessari, Path (With Ducks [One Red] and Knight), 1990, vinyl paint on color photographs, in two parts, 59-½ x 80-½ inches, unique, lot #525, pre-sale est.: $200,000-$300,000; realized: 5/6/07 [SOTHEBY'S, N.Y., Afternoon, N08318] $348,000.
Matthew Barney, Cremaster 5: her Giant, 1997, color coupler print in acrylic frame, 52-¾ x 42-5/8 inches, ed.: (1/6) + 2 APs, lot #374, pre-sale est.: $180,000-$220,000; realized 5/7/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Afternoon #1836] $348,000.
11) Richard Prince, Untitled (Girlfriend), 1993, Ektacolor print, 64-¼ x 44-½ inches, from an edition of two, lot #63, pre-sale est.: $200,000-$300,000; realized: 5/17/07 [PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., N.Y., Part 1, NY010207] $318,000.
12) Francesco Vezzoli, Crying Divas from the Screenplays of an Embroiderer I, 1999,
black and white laser print on canvas with metallic embroidery (in thirty parts), overall: 39 x 171-¼", each: 13 x 17-1/8", unique, lot #64, pre-sale est.: $120,000-$180,000; realized: 5/17/07 [PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., N.Y., Part 1, NY010207] $300,000.
13) Andreas Gursky, Untitled VII, 1998, chromogenic print, 72 x 87 inches, ed.: (6/6), lot #622, pre-sale est.: $60,000-$80,000; realized: 5/16/07 [SOTHEBY'S, N.Y., Afternoon, N08318] $276,000.
14) Cindy Sherman, Untitled #76, 1980, Color photograph, 19-7/8 x 24 inches, ed.: (1/5), lot #605, pre-sale est.: $100,000-$150,000; realized: 5/16/07 [SOTHEBY'S, N.Y., Afternoon, N08318] $252,000.
15) Piotr Uklanski, Untitled (Monsieur Francois Pinault, President du groupe Artemis), 2003, chromogenic print mounted on foam core, 44 x 57-½ inches, ed.: (2/5), lot #415, pre-sale est.: $80,000-$120,000; realized 5/16/07 [SOTHEBY'S, N.Y., Afternoon, N08318] $240,000.
16) Gilbert & George, Shadow Blind, 1997, 12 hand-dyed photographs in artist's metal frames, each: 25 x 29-¾ inches; overall 75 x 119 inches, unique, lot #35, pre-sale est.: $200,000-$300,000; realized: 5/17/07 [PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., Part 1, NY010207] $228,000.
Cindy Sherman, Untitled (#183A), 1987-1988, color coupler print in artist's frame, 38 x 23 inches, ed.: (1/6), lot #373, pre-sale est.: $150,000-$200,000; realized 05.17.07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Afternoon, #1836] $228,000.
17) Cindy Sherman, Untitled (Film Still #32), 1979, gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 inches, ed.: (7/10), lot #381, pre-sale est.: $80,000-$120,000; realized: 5/17/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Afternoon, #1836] $216,000.
Cindy Sherman, Untitled (Film Still #50), 1979, gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 inches, from an edition of 10, lot #270, pre-sale est.: $60,000-$80,000; realized: 5/18/07 [PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., N.Y., Part 11, NY010307] $216,000.
18) Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Untitled (Sand), 1994, portfolio of eight photogravures on Somerset Satin paper, in silk-covered archival box, each photogravure: 12-½ x 15-½ inches, ed.: (11/12) + 6 APs, lot #492, pre-sale est.: $60,000-$80,000; realized: 5/16/07 [SOTHEBY'S, N.Y., Afternoon, N08318] $204,000.
Andreas Gursky, Singapore I, 1997, chromogenic print, 70-7/8 x 88-¾ inches, ed.: (1/6), lot #623, pre-sale est.: $90,000-$120,000; realized: 5/16/07 [SOTHEBY'S, N.Y., Afternoon, N08318] $204,000.
19) Hiroshi Sugimoto, Satellite City Towers, 2002, gelatin silver print in artist's frame, 58-¾ x 47inches, ed.: (3/5), lot #422, pre-sale est.; $150,000-$200,000; realized 5/16/07 [SOTHEBY'S, N.Y., Afternoon, N08318] $192,000.
20) Gilbert & George, Thirteen, 2001. 12 hand-dyed gelatin silver prints in artist frames, each: 33-¼ x 28 inches; overall: 133 x 83-7/8 inches, ed.: unique, lot #359, pre-sale est.: $150,000-$200,000; realized 5/17/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Afternoon, #1836] $180,000.
21) Thomas Demand, Terrasse, 1998, chromogenic color print face-mounted on Plexiglas, 71-¼ x 105-½ inches, from an edition of 5, lot #500, pre-sale est.: $100,000-$150,000; realized: 5/17/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Afternoon, #1836] $168,000.
Barbara Kruger, Untitled (You Are Giving Us the Evil Eye), 1984, gelatin silver print in artist's frame, 48-7/8 x 73-5/8", ed.: unique, lot #606, pre-sale est.: $60,000-$80,000; realized: 5/16/07 [SOTHEBY'S, N.Y., Afternoon, N08318] $168,000.
Vik Muniz, The Sugar Children: Valentina, the Fastest; Jacynthe, Loves Orange Juice; Lil' Calist Can't Swim; Valicia Bathes in Sunday Clothes; Big James Sweats Buckets; Ten-Ten's Weed Necklace, 1996, gelatin silver prints, in six parts, each: 14 x 11 inches, ed.: (6/10) + 5 APs, lot #432, pre-sale est.: $100,000-$150,000; realized: 5/16/07 [SOTHEBY'S, N.Y., Afternoon, N08318] $168,000.
22) Barbara Kruger, Untitled, 1985, color photograph mounted on board in artist frame, 46-½ x 48 inches, unique, lot #278, pre-sale est.: $40,000-$60,000; realized: 5/18/07 [PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., Part 11, NY010307] $162,000.
23) Matthew Barney, Cremaster 5: Bocass el, 1997, four color coupler prints in acrylic artist frames, each: 38-1/8 x 27-¼ inches, lot #378, pre-sale est.: $120,000-$180,000; realized: 5/17/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Afternoon, #1836] $156,000.
Thomas Demand, Abgang (Exit), 2000, chromogenic print with Diasec mount, 61-½ x 98-½", from an edition of five, lot #260, pre-sale est.: $80,000-$120,000; realized: 5/18/07 [PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., Part 11, NY010307], $156,000.
Gilbert & George, Carry, 1992, nine hand-dyed gelatin silver prints in artist's frames, each: 33-3/8 x 28 inches, overall: 100 x 84 inches, unique, lot #308, pre-sale est.; $150,000-$200,000; realized 5/17/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Afternoon, #1836] $156,000.
Vik Muniz, Marilyn Monroe (Pictures of Diamond), 2004, chromogenic print mounted on Sintra, 57-5/8 x 48 inches, ed.: (9/10), lot #508, pre-sale est.: $50,000-$70,000; realized: 5/17/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Afternoon, #1836] $156,000.
Cindy Sherman, Untitled (Film Still #50), 1979, gelatin silver print, 33 x 41 inches, ed.: (2/3), lot #380, pre-sale est.: $120,000-$180,000; realized 5/17/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Afternoon, #1836] $156,000.
Thomas Struth, Uffizi I Florence, 1989, color coupler print face mounted on Plexiglas, wooden frame, 71-½ x 85 inches, ed.: (7/10), lot #502, pre-sale est.: $80,000-$120,000; realized: 5/17/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Afternoon, 1836] $156,000.
24) Gilbert & George, Four Haunts, 2003, nine hand-dyed photographs in artist metal frames, 27-7/8 x 33-¼ inches each; 83-¾ x 99-7/8 inches overall, unique, lot #287, pre-sale est.: $100,000-$150,000; realized: 5/18/07 [PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., N.Y., Part 11, NY010307] $144,000.
Thomas Ruff, 15h 52m/-45 degrees, 1990, chromogenic color print face mounted on Plexiglas, artist wood frame, 102-3/8 x 74 inches, ed.: (1/2) + 1 AP, lot #516, pre-sale est.: $60,000-$80,000; realized: 5/17/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Afternoon, #1836] $144,000.
Thomas Ruff, Substrat 15 11, 2003, chromogenic-print with Diasec mount in artist wooden frame, 51-¼ x 71-¾ inches, from an edition of 5, lot #285, pre-sale est.: $60,000-$80,000; realized: 5/18/07 [PHILLIPS de PURY & CO., N.Y., Part 11, NY010307] $144,000.
Cindy Sherman, Untitled (#187), 1989, color coupler print, 71 x 46-½ inches, from an edition of 6, lot #385, pre-sale est.: $120,000-$180,000; realized: 5/17/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Afternoon, #1836] $144,000.
25) Bae Bien-U, Pine Tree, 1986, Cibachrome print with a Diasec mount, 63 x 78 inches, ed.: (2/5), lot #617, pre-sale est.: $35,000-$45,000, realized: 5/16/07, [SOTHEBY'S, N.Y., Afternoon, N08318] $132,000.
Gilbert & George, Spink on Us, 1996, four hand-dyed gelatin silver prints in artist frames, each: 25 x 29-¾ inches, overall: 50 x 59-½ inches, unique, lot #366, pre-sale est.; $80,000-$120,000; realized 5/17/07 [CHRISTIE'S, N.Y., Afternoon, #1836] $132,000.
TOP PERFORMERS AT CHRISTIE'S
Lots sold: 54
Average per lot: $252,578
1) Richard Prince $3,776,000
2) Cindy Sherman $3,240,000
3) Hiroshi Sugimoto $2,383,600
4) John Baldessari $1,080,000
5) Gilbert + George $ 852,000
TOP PERFORMERS AT SOTHEBY'S
Lots sold: 35
Average per lot: $120,434
1) John Baldessari $1,340,000
2) Andreas Gorky $ 480,000
3) Cindy Sherman $ 459,600
4) Hiroshi Sugimoto $ 372,000
5) Richard Prince $ 60,000
TOP PERFORMERS AT PHILLIP'S
Lots sold: 97
Average per lot: $59,283
1) John Baldessari $1,264,000
2) Richard Prince $ 504,000
3) Gilbert + George $ 372,000
4) Hiroshi Sugimoto $ 330,000
5) Cindy Sherman $ 291,000
TOP OVERALL ARTISTS
1) Richard Prince $4,340,000
2) Cindy Sherman $3,990,600
3) John Baldessari $3,684,000
4) Hiroshi Sugimoto $3,085,600
5) Gilbert + George $1,224,000
GROSS OVERALL SALES FOR PHOTOGRAPHY AT THE SPRING
NYC CONTEMPORARY ART SALES
$23,604,840 (186 lots)
PER PHOTOGRAPHY LOT OVERALL AVERAGE
Brian Appel is a contributing writer for both iphotocentral.com and artcritical.com, focusing on photography and contemporary art. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from the University of Manitoba's School of Art and a Masters of Arts (Photography and Film Studies) from the University of Iowa. He has been intrigued by the concept of photographer as witness since walking into the first posthumous New York Museum of Modern Art exhibition of Diane Arbus in 1972. He has written several articles for the E-Photo Newsletter and the I Photo Central website on contemporary art photography.
Photo Miami, a photography, video, and new media art fair will be held, December 4-9, 2007, during Art Basel Miami Beach. Organized by Artfairs, Inc., which produces photography and contemporary art fairs in Los Angeles, Photo Miami returns to the Wynwood Art District in a new location. For its second edition, the fair will be staged in a 40,000 sq. ft. marquee structure at NW 31st and North Miami Avenue, just steps away from the Rubell Family Collection and the developing Midtown Miami district and side by side with the new AIPAD Photography Miami Show. With the 105 exhibitors between the two shows, this combined venue will be the largest showing of art photography in the world, easily outdistancing other exhibit shows in Europe and the U.S.
Photo Miami, the only fair during Art Basel Miami Beach dedicated exclusively to contemporary photography and media-based art, offers an expansive and immediate overview of these current international trends. Photo Miami showcases a range of established to emerging galleries, presents curated sections by international artists and curators, and partners with local and international art institutions. This year, the fair will be host to a carefully selected group of exhibitors from 11 countries. For 2007, Photo Miami will expand to host an even greater number of exhibitors from across the globe.
Sixty galleries will be represented in Photo Miami 2007 including ADN GalerÍa (Barcelona), Charles Guice Contemporary (Berkeley), Galerie Caprice Horn (Berlin), Galerie Conrads (Düsseldorf), Galerie Dominique Fiat (Paris), Galeria Fernando Pradilla (Madrid), Galerie Hohenlohe GmbH (Vienna), MKgalerie (Rotterdam), Skew Gallery (Calgary), The Third Gallery Aya (Osaka), Camara Oscura Galeria de Arte (Madrid) and Voss Galerie (Düsseldorf).
Highlights of the fair include invitational solo projects by international artists including Alex Prager (Robert Berman Gallery) and Lidia Benavides (Estiarte). Madrid-based independent curator and writer Paco Barragán will curate "The Last Painting Show", a series of works investigating traditional aspects of painting through a combination of media based arts and installation.
Photo Miami 2007 will open with an invitational VIP Preview Reception on December 4th from 6 pm to 10 pm. Public fair hours are Wednesday, December 5th from 10 am-3 pm; Thursday, December 6th through Saturday, December 8th from 10 am-7 pm; and Sunday, December 9th from 10 am-6 pm. Both AIPAD and Photo Miami hours will be coordinated, making visits to these shows a "must" stop on any itinerary for collectors and curators of photography-based art. Tickets are $10 for a one-day pass. Those holding VIP passes from Art Basel, NADA, Aqua, INK Miami, AIPAD Photography Miami and Scope are all allowed complimentary entry.
All exhibition tickets are available for purchase at the door. For additional information on Photo Miami, please click on http://www.artfairsinc.com or call 1-323-937-4659.
The core of the Jack Naylor collection, which is considered to be one of the finest privately-owned photographica collections, will be sold at an unreserved auction on October 18-21, 2007 by Guernsey's Auctions. Following several days of public previewing, 2,000 items from the very earliest photographs to rare and historic cameras will be auctioned off at the America's Society landmark mansion located at 68th St. and Park Ave. in New York City. Jack Naylor is a long-time collector since the mid-1950s, who is well-known for his house/museum and his kind hospitality.
The balance of the collection will be sold on-line approximately six months after the October event. A four-color catalogue documenting the collection and October auction can be reserved from Guernsey's at $50 ($65 for international buyers).
The Naylor collection has been described as representing the "complete history of photography"--from the earliest pre-photography period to the 20th Century.
Naylor's assemblage of daguerreian material contains literally thousands of daguerreotypes (both American and European) taken between 1839 and 1850 by some of the masters of the new art, including Southworth and Hawes, Whipple and Plumbe. The daguerreian portion of the Naylor collection is also replete with rare daguerreian cameras, lenses and studio furnishings. It also contains a collection of daguerreian and early photography nudes and erotica. An early image of Edgar Allan Poe was also discovered in Naylor's vast daguerreian archive.
The Naylor collection also includes significant "pre-photography" objects and curious devices from around the world, created in the centuries and decades prior to the advent of the daguerreotype. Other later photography equipment represented in the collection is quite rare. One key example is the carved and inlaid Megalascope, created by Venetian photographer Carlo Ponti in 1859.
Although the Naylor collection is primarily focused on photography, there are sections of the collection that include non-photography-related items. For example, well-known for his work related to the Civil War, the Mathew Brady section leads into an even larger 150 item Civil War section that is, for the most part, not photography-related. It includes the rare Wedgwood abolitionist medallion given to Ben Franklin and a life mask of President Lincoln. Among the other non-photographic items are Queen Victoria's purse and what is believed to be the first print made in America--a 1727 engraving of Reverend Cotton Mather. Yet another remarkable non-photographic artifact in the collection is an American flag actually taken to the moon by astronaut Neil Armstrong and gifted to Naylor.
The Naylor collection has hundreds of rare cameras and lenses, including Dr. Edwin Land's instant photography prototype, the earliest Kodak examples, Jacques Cousteau's first underwater cameras, multiple lens cameras from the 1860s, Leica's best efforts (including a 1930 gold-plated, lizard-skinned Luxus 35mm and the 8 x 10-inch Deardorff used by Playboy to capture 30 years worth of centerfolds. Of particular note is the espionage section of 165 specialized cameras and other related items used by Soviet, German, British and American spies throughout the 20th century, along with several 19th-century examples. To keep it intact, the entire espionage collection will be sold as a single lot and will be the only item in the sale with a reserve.
The Naylor collection also contains many of Edward Curtis' original glass-plate positives of his famed Indian images.
The collection is also rich in vintage photographs, such as 21 images by Margaret Bourke-White, which were taken while traveling in Russia in 1930. Other iconic images include Alfred Eisenstaedt's VJ Day in Times Square and Arthur Rosenthal's Iwo Jima Flag Raising. Original prints by Dr. Bradford Washburn of the world's most unapproachable terrains and stop-motion pictures by Dr. Edgerton add to the collection, as do the photographic portraits of Marilyn Monroe, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Douglas MacArthur, Winston Churchill and the memorable image of Nastassja Kinski and the serpent, which is boldly autographed by Richard Avedon.
Although the above is far from a complete category listing of this amazing collection, Naylor's impressive library of rare photography books certainly needs mentioning. It, along with many rare examples of ephemera, will be exciting to paper collectors universally.
For complete information, you can go to the auction house's web site at http://www.guernseys.com or contact Guernsey's at 1-212-794-2280 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Be-hold's 50th catalogue/internet auction, "The Art of the Photograph," will take place on September 20th, in conjunction with eBay Live, although Be-Hold also takes other types of bids directly. The selection, in keeping with the 50th milestone, is particularly impressive.
There will be a preview of the material in Manhattan at 36 W. 25th St., 10th Floor (next to the Antiques Center, near the weekend Flea Market) on September 13-16th. This is a new venue, so please take note. Times for the New York City preview are Thursday, 9/13 from noon-5 pm with a reception party from 5-7 pm that night; Friday, 9/14 from noon-7 pm; Saturday, 9/15 from 9 am-5 pm; Sunday, 9/16 from 9 am-4 pm; and at the Yonkers location by appointment.
There are some unusual collections being offered. One is a group of 20 rich large prints, ca. 1940, of studies of the South American Bororo Indians of the Amazon, probably by the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, who worked with and photographed that culture in that period. A group of 19 photographs made shortly after 1906 show scenes in German South-West Africa (now Namibia), sympathetically portrayed even though this was just after the genocide of the Herero and Nama.
There is a large collection of 104 original contact prints of photographs taken from U.S. bombers in Europe during WWII as the bombs were falling. These have a kind of abstract beauty but are also chilling as we see some of the landscapes and great cities of Europe seconds before they were forever altered, including Budapest, Vienna, Bucharest and Verona. Other WWII material includes an archive of official German photographs, including sports activities, and a number of Margaret Bourke-White's WWII press photographs.
An extremely rare group of publicity film stills from Carl Dreyer's great 1932 film "Vampyr" is one of the offerings dealing with early theater and cinema, including a publicity portrait of Leni Riefenstahl by Lotte Jacobi and a vintage publicity photograph for Riefenstahl's first film as director as well as star. A 1932 portrait of Marion Davies is from an album of photographs of Davies commissioned from Clarence Sinclair Bull by William Randolph Hearst.
One of the highlights of the sale is one of the largest albumen photographs made, greater than 3 feet by 5 feet, a framed photograph of a lion that hung in the New Jersey estate of the Circus impresario James Anthony Bailey ("Barnum and Bailey"). This was commissioned to William H. Rau, and is signed by him.
There are fine early and vintage prints by Brassai, Doisneau, Rothstein, Robert Capa, Harold Edgerton, Max Thorek, Wynn Bullock, Imogen Cunningham, and more recent prints and photographs by Ilse Bing, Andreas Feininger, Flor Garduno, Lourdes Grobet, Duane Michals, Jock Sturges, Arthur Siegel, Barbara Kasten and others.
The sale also offers 34 lots of choice daguerreotypes and other early formats, including important plates by Vance, Whitehurst, Anson and others. There is a strong featured selection from the collection of Gary Bart, including, among other subjects, daguerreotypes that include dogs.
Information about the auction including subscriptions to the catalog can be found at http://www.be-hold.com . Contact Larry Gottheim at email@example.com or by phone at 1-914-423-5806. Again, there will be a preview of the material at a new venue in Manhattan at 36 W. 25th St., 10th Floor (next to the Antiques Center, near the weekend Flea Market) on September 13-16th.
Page and Bryan Ginns have announced their 14th annual Absentee Bid Sale, featuring 400 lots of antique and collectable cameras, daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, stereoscopes, magic lanterns, lantern slides, optical toys and related material. The entire catalogue is now illustrated on-line at http://www.stereographica.com and will feature Real Time Live Bidding. Bids will also be accepted by mail, fax and telephone. The sale will close at 3 pm on Saturday, September 15, 2007. This is an especially fine sale with quality items of interest in all categories of Antique Photographica.
The sale features several very good stereoscopic daguerreotypes including an image by T. R. Williams. Other American and European daguerreotypes include fine portraits and military subjects. Ambrotypes include a tinted whole plate of a gentleman. A variety of other ambrotypes include a scarce stereo ambrotype of the Crystal Palace, occupationals, military and outdoor images as well as Union Cases. There is a scarce outdoor stereoscopic tintype and a large outdoor tintype of a store front. A good range of mono and stereo autochromes is also included in the sale. Cabinet cards and cartes de visite feature famous people including Queen Victoria. A large selection of stereo views categorized by subject as well as a huge selection of boxed sets.
There is a good quality wood and brass stereoscopic camera, a sliding box wet plate camera, a Stirn Detective Camera and a rare Woodward solar camera. Fine and rare stereoscopes are well represented and include a Knight's Cosmorama, an octagonal model by Cadwell, an Ives early color Kromskop, a French Gaumont magazine type and several Brewster style viewers of various designs. The optical toy and pre-cinema items feature a Praxinoscope Theater, magic lanterns and a good selection of static and mechanical magic lantern slides including slip, lever, rackwork types and Chromatropes. There are two rare early examples of photo illustrated books. A small section of advertising, ephemera and a whimsical wrought iron advertising sign complete the sale.
Each lot in the sale is illustrated on-line at http://www.stereographica.com .
A text version of the catalogue (U.S. and Canada) is $3 and includes a post sale list of prices realized. For more information contact Bryan & Page Ginns, "Stereographica", 2109 County Route 21, Valatie, NY 12184; Phone: 1-518-392-5805; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ; Fax: 1-518-392-7925.
In January, Sotheby's had taken the lead to bump the commission rate (buyer's premium) which was 20% on the first $200,000, and then 12% on the balance, to 20% on the first $500,000, and then 12% thereafter. Christie's quickly followed suit.
Christie's later this summer quietly raised the fee it charges buyers a second time in less than a year. This increase targets low-end purchases. Beginning September 1st buyers will be charged 25% (increased from 20%) on objects costing up to $20,000. Charges on prices above $20,000 remain unchanged at 20% on the sale amount from $20,000 to $500,000 and 12% on any amount above that.
Then Sotheby's announced that it would also match the Christie's increase on the low end in September. Its stock jumped 3.5% on the news.
This is on top of the second best business quarters in Sotheby's history and one of Christie's best.
Sotheby's originally bumped its buyer's premium to 20% in December 2004 and Christie's increased its premiums one month later.
In my estimation the auctions' greedy managements are killing off the golden goose of the art market. Without reasonable expectations of liquidity and return, collectors will ease off the throttle of their buying. Sotheby's and Christie's change means that a collector will actually lose about 44-45% of the actual value of the sale (25% buyers' fee; typical 15% sellers' fee; and various other costs added--2% insurance, illustration fees, preparation for auction fees, shipping, etc.). A Christie's person (not in the photo dept.) just told me by phone that they wait until Sotheby's moves and then they too hike their rates. If that isn't collusion, I don't know what is. If it isn't breaking the law, it is definitely pure greed. One well-known blogger (MAO) illustrated the first hike with a picture of a stuffed pig. I wonder what his next illustration and comment will be.
One alternative is simple: buy from photography dealers and consign your work to them, or to auction houses which haven't yet gotten so greedy. Otherwise expect to give away any profits to Christie's or Sotheby's. They will continue to take greater and greater shares until their actions result in a total market revulsion.
If you are a long-time reader of this newsletter, you may recall that I covered the announcement of Sotheby's sale of its New York headquarters' building in early January 2003. They also hiked their rates back then too. As Yogi Berra used to say, "It seems like déjà vu all over again." Except with a twist that Yogi would love.
According to a quarterly August 9th filing by Sotheby's with the Security and Exchange Commission, the buyer of the building, RFR Holding might have "violated" the terms of its lease agreement with the auction house by reportedly shopping the property for as much as $500 million. RFR at the time of purchase reportedly paid only $175 million to Sotheby's, not including a lucrative lease back by Sotheby's.
Sotheby's claims that its lease agreement with RFR Holding puts it at the front of the line of any potential buyers. "The company is pursuing its rights with respect to the right of first offer," said Sotheby's in the SEC filing. "If the company is successful, this could result in a material benefit to the company."
According to the filling, "On February 7, 2003, the company sold the York property and entered into an agreement to lease it back from the buyer for an initial 20-year term, with options to extend the lease for two additional 10-year terms. According to the terms of the lease, if the landlord desires to sell the York property or to engage in certain other transactions involving a change of ownership or control of the landlord, notice shall be given to the company by the landlord of such proposed transaction and the landlord shall give the company an offer to purchase the York property and a statement of the proposed purchase price and the proposed closing date for the transaction. Upon receipt of such notice, the company has a 30-day right of first offer to accept or reject the landlord's offer. If accepted, the company would purchase the York property at the proposed purchase price."
Gee, sounds like Sotheby's is having seller's regret. Of course, that was then (a stock that was tanking, a chairman that was in jail for price fixing that screwed the company's customers and resulted in multi-million dollar fines for the company, a website that blew over $100 million and had to be folded later that year, a lower Moody's rating, a net loss of nearly $55 million in FY2002, etc.). Today, after Sotheby's just posted its second best quarter in its history and has hiked its fees twice this year, it may be looking to buy back some property--and pay nearly three times what it sold its headquarters for less than five years ago.
There is lots of current news and publicity on many of Contemporary Works' represented artists, all of whom we will feature at the AIPAD Photography Miami Show, December 4-9, 2007 and at Photo LA, January 9-13, 2008 at its new venue at the Santa Monica Barker Hanger. Contemporary Works is a subsidiary of Vintage Works, Ltd.
Arthur Tress, who is considered one of the greatest living photographers, will be featured in the next issue (October) of Focus magazine, which is one of the U.S.'s top magazines for photography collecting. Tress will also be featured in a cover story for the September issue of Fotografi Norway, which is widely distributed in Europe and at a few select newsstands in the U.S.
Arthur's "Flying Dream" was used for the cover of the recent New York Public Library retrospective book on its photography collection, and the National Museum of Modern Art Centre Pompidou and Steidl Editions have just chosen "Flood Dream" to appear in the Centre Pompidou's 30th anniversary catalogue of its historical collection. To see Tress' images and his bio, click on http://www.contemporaryworks.net/artists/artist_imgs.php/1/6606 .
Amsterdam-based artist Lisa Holden will also be featured in the next issue of Focus magazine. The Holden article compares her to the likes of Cindy Sherman and Tracey Moffatt, while maintaining that "Holden's imagery stands apart with her interest in themes of identity and gender combined with fantasy and art historical precedents, as well as for her unique process that merges photography with painting and sometimes installation and performance art." Lisa's work also made it into Focus's article on the AIPAD Photography show in this publication.
Holden, who is clearly breaking out now, added coverage in New York Art magazine's blog on the last AIPAD show and in its July issue on digital art photography. Lisa Holden was also the cover-featured artist in the July/August issue of CameraArts, an excellent magazine devoted to the work of top photography artists.
Lisa's work and interview is also splashed across the pages of the current issue of Eyemazing, the superb international cutting-edge contemporary art photography magazine. This oversize full-color magazine is based in Amsterdam but published in English and is simply the best such publication on contemporary photography in the world.
And Holden was one of the featured interviewed artists in the new book, "Adobe Photoshop & the Art of Photography", which is perhaps the single most important book on this topic to have been published and is the only such university level textbook.
Holden will visit with us at the AIPAD Miami show. To see Holden's images and her bio, click on http://www.contemporaryworks.net/artists/artist_imgs.php/1/4205 . Contemporary Works is pleased to be Lisa Holden's exclusive North American representative, but we can also sell work in Europe.
Claudia Kunin's color work will make it into Eyemazing's November issue, just in time for the December Art Basel Miami week, where we will be distributing free copies of the magazine. At the regular 20 euros each price (and well worth it!), you will want to stop by early for your copy. Kunin's new work (the "Holy Ghost" series) is a complicated process of photographing models in the studio, background shoots and a considerable amount of work in Photoshop. These powerful archetypal images are virtually unique in contemporary art.
Kunin will also visit with Contemporary Works in Miami at the AIPAD Photography Show. To see Kunin's images and her bio, click on http://www.contemporaryworks.net/artists/artist_imgs.php/1/6782 .
Mitch Dobrowner was just awarded this year's Lucie award as "Non Professional-Nature Photographer of the Year". You should also note that Dobrowner's prints will go up $100 each on October 1st, and Wind Swept Tree will be going up $200 due to the edition numbers sold.
We are pleased to announce that we will be the exclusive dealer in the new large 30 x 40 paper size for Dobrowner's images. I can tell you that they are spectacular! These prints will be limited to no more than ten in any print edition (and the actual number printed will often be quite lower) and be offered at $1,500 each. They make wonderful images to decorate corporate offices and personal spaces. Not all of Dobrowner's images will be offered in the larger size, so check his listings on our websites for details. To see Dobrowner's images and his bio, click on http://www.contemporaryworks.net/artists/artist_imgs.php/1/6597 .
Marcus Doyle's color landscape work will also be featured in an upcoming issue of Sweden's FOTO magazine, widely available in Europe. To see Doyle's images and his bio, click on http://www.contemporaryworks.net/artists/artist_imgs.php/1/3727 . We are very pleased to be Marcus Doyle's exclusive representative.
From September 27-October 27, 2007, the large, multi-layered, black and white photographs of Michael Philip Manheim will be on display at Safe-T-Gallery, 111 Front St., Room 214 in the Dumbo area of Brooklyn, NY. The show entitled "New Butoh Photographs" features images created by Manheim in collaboration with talented contemporary butoh dancers that capture both the movement and the psychological dynamic of this rigorous dance form. The exhibit will open with a reception for the artist on Thursday, Sept. 27 from 6-8 pm. During the course of the exhibition, Safe-T-Gallery will host several butoh performance pieces, both during the annual Dumbo Art-Under-the-Bridge Festival (Sept. 28, 29 and 30) and for the first two weeks of the Biennial New York Butoh Festival, which starts Oct. 18th. Safe-T-Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday 12-6 pm and Thursday 12-8 pm. Admission is free. Further information, pictures and directions are available at the gallery web site at http://www.safeTgallery.com .
Manheim's work is also available from Contemporary Works. To see Manheim's images and his bio, click on http://www.contemporaryworks.net/artists/artist_imgs.php/1/6520 .
The non-profit Center for Fine Art Photography has selected Charlie Schreiner's work for its newest exhibition of photographic fine art, "Alternative Processes". Elizabeth Spungen, the Executive Director at The Print Center in Philadelphia, was the juror for the Alternative Processes show. Alternative Process will be on display in the Center's galleries from August 24-September 22, 2007. The artists' and public reception for this exhibition will be held on Friday, September 7, during the Fort Collins Gallery Walk. The Center is located on the 3rd floor of the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art, 201 S. College Ave., Fort Collins, CO. Phone 1-970-224-1010. Gallery hours are 12-5pm, Tuesday through Saturday.
Schreiner's wonderful "Cityscape" multiple image color photograph was also a finalist in the internationally juried ArtKudos art competition and exhibition. This is a cross-media competition. The 2007 award selections were made by Peter Trippi, editor of "Fine Art Connoisseur" magazine. To see Schreiner's images and his bio, click on http://www.contemporaryworks.net/artists/artist_imgs.php/1/3701 . We are pleased to be Charlie Schreiner's exclusive representative.
Over the last month over 230 new photographs and photo books have been added to the I Photo Central website, including many classics. Plus, numerous Special Exhibits have also been added. To see everything that has been added, click here: http://www.iphotocentral.com/search/result_list.php/16/30/0 .
Vintage Works, Ltd. has added large collections of two important photographers to its inventory: Barbara Morgan and Clarence John Laughlin. You can view all of the Morgan images here: http://www.iphotocentral.com/search/result_list.php/256/Barbara+Morgan and her Special Exhibit selection here: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/154/1/1 . To see the Special Exhibit of Laughlin's work, just click here: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/153/1/0 .
Of course, lots of other new Special Exhibits have been added and almost all have been changed and added to, so you should check them all out by going here: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase.php . There are not only photographs for sale, but also in-depth essays that accompany each Photo Exhibit.
But besides these two major collections, a number of other important photographs have been added to the site including:
--A portrait of Rebecca Salsbury Strand with Farm Equipment by Alfred Stieglitz.
--A very rare Japanese woodblock print of a Japanese woman photographer.
--A photograph of Dr. Albert Schweitzer by W. Eugene Smith.
--New contemporary photographs from Arthur Tress, Claudia Kunin, Lisa Holden and Michael Smith.
--A group of important autographed photographs of Pope John Paul II by Arturo Mari.
--An anonymous daguerreotype portrait and two letters from a Canadian gold miner in Australia.
--A beautiful 1862 Civil War image by Wood & Gibson of Battery No. 4, Near Yorktown, VA.
--A set of 100 collotypes from Animal Locomotion by Eadweard Muybridge in fine condition.
And many more.
I got the quiet, tearful call last Friday from Margot Ihlder, my dear friend Ted Jones' long-time companion and his favorite model. Ted had passed away upon waking up in his bed at home in Falls Church, VA. It was a quiet passing. But I, and many other old friends, had a tougher time losing such a wonderful presence in our lives. I shared several tear-filled hours letting some of his old friends in the photo business know what had happened to this genial giant of a photographer and talking about our memories of Ted.
His memorial service will be held this Friday, August 31, at the Quaker Meeting House, 6410 Georgetown Pike, Mclean, VA at 11 a.m. As Margot told me, "I did find out that there is no air conditioning in the church. If you decide to come, please come without tie and wear something cool. You know how Ted hated ties, et al." She was right. Ted was casual and cared not a hoot for formality or pomposity.
Ted was first an artist of life. But he was also a talented photographer, accomplished sculptor and Emmy-award-winning filmmaker.
Even after heart surgery and 80 years, Ted had a passion for life, photography and experimentation. His keen sense of humor and willingness to share his encyclopedic knowledge about alternative processes endeared him to many, including myself. He was a master printer, particularly in the gum process, where I believe he had no equal--not even the old masters like Demachy, whom he admired. But he also absorbed new digital processes to keep his ideas and work fresh. I had the privilege and pleasure to have represented him and his work, but the greater privilege was to count him as a friend and teacher.
He is survived by Margot, his ex-wife and his five sons and their families.
A more complete biography of his life and many of his photographs are on all our websites, including this one http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/49/1/0 .
By Matt Damsker
POINTS OF VIEW: MASTERPIECES OF
PHOTOGRAPHY AND THEIR STORIES.
Edited by Annette and Rudolf Kicken, and Simone Forster. Essays by Janos Frecot, Richard Pare and Wilfried Wirgand. 2007, Steidl, 326 pages and approximately 140 plates. ISBN No. 3-86521-214-X; ISBN-13 No. 978-3-86521-214-6. Steidl Publishers, Dustere Strasse 4, D-37073, Gottingen, Germany; email: email@example.com ; websites: http://www.steidl.de or http://www.steidlville.com .
This excellent volume celebrates the 30th anniversary of Berlin's Kicken Gallery, which has played a major role in brokering fine-art photography for collectors and museums worldwide. Happily, the book is much more than a vanity project, as Annette and Rudolf Kicken have not only assembled some 140 of the medium's most important works of the modern and post-modern era (along with a few pre-modern treasures) but have also paired them with commentary and annotation from the extended family of photographers, curators, collectors, other gallery owners, dealers and writers who have a strong connection with and feeling for these photographs.
The result is informative and wonderfully eclectic in charting the course of photography's emergence as a full-fledged and provocative art form. Janos Frecot's illuminating essay on post-World war II German photography, for example, points out how Germany's best artists were driven from the country by Nazism. It took the return of such figures as Heinz Hajek-Halke to revive the photographic arts after the war, while the biannual photo trade fairs of the 1950s, overseen by L. Fritz Gruber, began to link Germany's illustrious photographic past with a new international scene, reestablishing the reputations of August Sander and Erich Salomon, among others. It was in this context of discovery and rediscovery that the Kicken Gallery began to flourish, and by the 1970s, when photography began to enjoy the broad embrace of museums and collectors, Kicken was at the center of things.
Not surprisingly, then, there are powerful images paired with first-rate insights on virtually every page of this rich tome. Walter Keller, the influential Zurich-based founder of the Scalo Verlag art publishing house, addresses the ambiguity of Wolf Strache's macabre 1943 image of a figure in a gas mask pushing a baby carriage along a bombed-out Berlin street. A few pages later, we move back in time to 1865, with a charming portrait of a child by Julia Margaret Cameron, from a private German collection, while on the next page a masterful Harry Callahan image from 1953 depicts "Eleanor and Barbara," mother and daughter, as small figures in a large, cold Chicago space. Chicago gallery owner Stephen Daiter explains why he views this image as "a photographic masterwork that deserves recognition alongside other great mid-century American artworks like Edward Hopper's 'Night Hawks'…"
Indeed, to reference the book's title, these "Points of View" are hardly limited to the photographers on display; they extend importantly to the global experts and collectors who so passionately advocate for these individual photos. Leading Munich-based curator Klaus-Jurgen Sembach, for one, was among the first to purchase the work of American photographers Stephen Shore and William Eggleston in the 1970s, and here he presents three towering Egglestons--of a man on a motel bed that rivals anything by Hopper; of a green tile bathroom that evokes some odd church alcove; and of a red ceiling strung with wire and a naked light bulb. Sembach helps us see how Eggleston's color-saturated dye transfers brought a new, anti-romantic realism and deadpan irony to photography that felt completely American and was especially eye-opening to European aesthetes.
Similarly, Peter MacGill, president of New York's Pace/MacGill Gallery, and Wilhelm Schurmann, photographer, professor and leading collector based in Herzogenrath, Germany, deconstruct Robert Frank's great 1948 photo of a New York street in which four-fifths of the image is devoted to the asphalt of empty road surface, with a white painted lane marker leading our eye through the center of the picture, and its radical, receding perspective, to a white sky. MacGill points out how the white line on a black field foreshadows the gestures of Abstract Expressionist painting, while Schurmann notes how "the lane marker--unexposed material--connects with the paper-white sky between the buildings to become a flower, a tulip balancing on its stem."
Such startling artistry and unexpected connections abound in this book, none more startling than "Haverstraw, New York," Lee Friedlander's 1966 self-portrait behind the wheel of a truck, his camera perched obviously on the hood (we see its shadow at the bottom of the frame). As Jeffrey Fraenkel, of San Francisco's Fraenkel Gallery, points out, this anomalous Friedlander represents "a curious sub-strain in his work… Friedlander as a performer." It doesn't take much to see how this strange self-dramatization presages Cindy Sherman's untitled movie stills of nearly two decades later, and one is grateful to Fraenkel for lifting the curtain on a brilliant curiosity.
Of course, one can quibble at the sprawling, seemingly random arrangement of the material in this book--it would make sense to move more chronologically from earlier to later periods--but at the end of the day the constant juxtapositions work their magic, taking us back and forth along the continuum of photography's most inspired moments, reminding us that art exists in and out of time. This book is a superb anniversary present from Kicken Gallery to the world.
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.)
Bid farewell to summer at the Photo Review's Gala Garden Party on Saturday, September 8 from 2 to 7 p.m. (rain date, Sunday, September 9). Enjoy music, conversation, drinks, and delicious food at a fabulous country house in Downingtown, PA, west of Philadelphia. The Photo Review is a non-profit organization that promotes the photography arts.
You will meet photographer Elliott Landy, chronicler of Woodstock and Bob Dylan; Katherine Ware, curator of photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and photography dealers Martin McNamara of Gallery 339 and Alex Novak of Contemporary Works/Vintage Works, among others. Other surprise guests are sure to be there. You can hobnob with Photo Review/Photograph Collector editor Stephen Perloff, relax to music by the Midi Trio and buy and have your books personally inscribed by our special guests, including Laurence Salzmann, Harvey Stein, Blaise Tobia, Steve Weinrebe and Linda Troeller. You'll also get to look at pictures, as everyone is invited to participate in informal portfolio sharing.
For more information, contact the Photo Review at 140 East Richardson Avenue, Suite 301, Langhorne, PA 19047; Phone: 215-891-0214 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
You can download an invitation and reply card at http://www.photoreview.org/party.htm .