Photography News and Archive
Current News             Issue Archive             Article Archive E-Photo Newsletter   Issue 139   1/3/2008

Report From Miami: Art Basel's Decadence, Balanced By AIPAD's Vintage and Large-Scale Contemp and Photo Miami's "Energy/Nerve"

By Matt Damsker

Into its sixth year as the biggest art fair in the U.S.--and, as far as anyone knows or cares, maybe the biggest in the world, given the swirl and sprawl of parasitic/symbiotic art shows that have attached themselves to its orbit (this year including AIPAD's first Miami-based tent)--Art Basel Miami Beach was everything people say it is: impossible to really absorb, a fashion event as much as a truly artistic one, and most of all an enormous excuse for the rich and trendy to party, compete, self-congratulate and enjoy Miami weather at its most moderate, as the early December sun kisses rather than assaults the skin, and the 43,000 attendees and 1,600 journalists who descended on it between December 5th and 10th worried about what really matters in South Florida--finding the right place to eat.

And so, while a relatively staid show such as AIPAD's has entered its Miami Vice era, one could say that ABMB has entered its decadent stage, but that would be disingenuous, since decadence was always built into this "Art Costco for billionaires," as New York Times critic Guy Trebay dubbed it last year. And as doyenne Nadja Swarovski, of the famous crystal manufacturing family (which sponsors an annual blowout here), observed, ABMB was invented as the geographically convenient way of catering to the North America and South American capital that plays hard in Miami--thus, ABMB is, to the rich and richer, just another traffic jam/parking nightmare to be overcome by limo or private plane.

After all, the world is flat and access to art and artists is much easier for the privileged, and so big, showy, campy, faux "events" are of greater interest to the press and the scene-makers than to the powerfully wealthy, and gradually, perhaps, that message has sunk in with ABMB's organizers. Now there's less frenzy and more purpose--last year's striptease by Dita von Teese was the sort-of media highlight (by last year, it might be noted, Dita was already so last-year) but this year there was more of an emphasis on timelessness, and nothing exemplified this better than having ageless punk avatar Iggy Pop and the remnants of his original band, the Stooges, kick things off on the beach with a typically furious rock 'n rage set, as Iggy asked that the spotlights be turned on the true stars of the day--mainly, the collectors, dealers, and gallerinas who energize ABMB as much as does the art.

This was nicely balanced at AIPAD by the non-musical but nonetheless thrilling--in it is own dark and dour way--appearance of pre-Iggy, proto-punk rock icon Lou Reed, whose expectedly brooding photos of New York and its inner dimensions were hanging at the Steven Kasher Gallery booth. (AIPAD did well enough on the celebrity front, with Calvin Klein, Bob Vila of "This Old House" fame, and even Mandy Moore seen schmoozing and browsing.) And AIPAD's trove of Latin American artistry was especially apposite in the Miami context: Throckmorton's reverent display of works by Mexico's Manuel Alvarez Bravo--who recently broke auction records for a photograph by a Latin American--and PDNB Gallery's showcase of Argentina's Esteban Pastorino, who builds his own cameras and flies them from kites (especially stunning was his dramatic bullring photo).

AIPAD also had a greater veneer of dealer integrity going for it. Indeed, it's arguable that much of the best art for which ABMB is ostensibly held was sold even before the show opened. Pre-selling is nothing new, but apparently it's more common now in Miami, according to the Wall Street Journal's Lauren Schuker, in part because of ABMB's emphasis on major contemporaries, and the intense competitiveness of their collectors. Increasingly, these buyers have no desire to cool their heels waiting for the main hall to open in the Miami Beach Convention Center when they can negotiate for their prizes beforehand. Miami's Lisa Austin, an art adviser, acknowledges that the pre-selling at ABMB is "getting earlier and earlier every year." Thus, according to Schuker's reporting, new work by American pop-art painter Alex Katz was sold just prior to ABMB by his dealer, the Richard Gray Gallery, which was offering lesser Katz drawings at the Miami fair. Similarly, New York's Mary Boone Gallery reportedly sold some $10 million worth of Eric Fischl paintings to a single collector a month prior to ABMB.

That hardly means that there's nothing worth buying or seeing at ABMB, but it gives some credence to the notion that the event is more of a jetsetter festival than anything. As a result, ABMB's canny impresario, Samuel Keller, seems determined that it be distinguished by seriousness, rigor, and high imagination in its presentations. (Perhaps there's the issue of his legacy. After organizing 20 editions of Art Basel, Keller will move on in 2008 to direct the Foundation Beyeler in Riehen, Switzerland. As of January, the new artistic director of Art Basel will be Cay Sophie Rabinowitz.) Thus, not only did we get Iggy over Dita, but the proximity to Miami Beach's matchless surf and sand led to an inspired showcasing of "young" galleries in large shipping containers along the Collins Park beachfront--as if they had been washed in by time and tide, and that's as potent a metaphor for the fair's existence as any.

On the Trail of Scale

But timelessness amidst an ironic whirl of fashion, trend, and gimmickry is a pretty good thematic conceit for ABMB's effort to squeeze the universe into a ball, and that's where the rest of the art comes in. Thus, the most elite and established galleries--such as PaceWildenstein, Sonnabend, and Metro Pictures--balanced their offering of rising art stars like Sterling Ruby, with his enigmatic astral collages, with the enduring likes of John Chamberlain's twisted auto bodies, Sol LeWitt's mathematical abstractions, Warhol silk screens, some small Picassos, Jeff Koons molds, or Cindy Sherman images. Amidst all the new, envelope-pushing, randomized, fragmented, cartoonish, hypersexualized, and ultra-violent pieces and installations, it is at once comforting and profound to note that nothing had more of a presence--nor seemed more contemporary--than Dan Flavin's familiar tubes of colored light, juxtaposed so simply with one another, set against white corners and illuminating their space with blended electrical hues that make us stop and wonder, as they always have, bathing our eyes in the purest glow of minimalism's heyday.

Today's breed of billionaire collectors, of course, needn't canvass ABMB for their Flavins, so there is something quaint about this show when it throws up the big names of modernism and post-modernism with that Costco flair. Which leads us to ABMB's relationship with art photography. Thanks to large-format C-print and inkjet and laser technology, photographs needn't remain the step-child of Big Art, especially since today's breed of hedge-fund manager/collectors demands SCALE to fill that vast wall space in the Hamptons or Pacific Palisades. And so the leading photography galleries at ABMB go well beyond the typically intimate framing of the modernist masters they sell--Harry Callahan, August Sander, Weston, Winogrand, and the like--with whopping large-format images full of sound and fury, signifying…well, the usual.

At Jeffrey Fraenkel's booth, for example, Richard Misrach's gorgeous bird's-eye view of a swimmer in the green surf measured 68 by 118 inches, all visual sensation, a symphony of sunlight reflected on small, rippling waves--this is HDTV without the TV. Similarly, over at Kicken Berlin's booth, where big versions of Helmut Newton's Asian nudes towered intimidatingly for Miami's fetishists, one of the walls was given over, magnificently, to a reprinting of Dieter Appelt's 1993 assemblage of black-and-white close-ups of rippling water, "Field," another immersion in pure liquid eye seduction. If nothing else, these artworks paid homage to Miami's briny geography, bringing another thematic strand into focus for ABMB. But over in a far corner of the hall, Paris Projects plastered its walls with a somewhat unfathomable photographic series that documented some deranged quasi-religious festival of seeming cannibalism, zombie-ism, sodomy, torture—in other words, another ABMB metaphor for the byproducts of capitalism, rather quietly self-critical in an important way.

The AIPAD Connection

As for AIPAD (the Association of International Photography Art Dealers), the logical strategy of aligning, finally, with the ABMB experience meant setting up more than 40 of the world's top photography galleries across Biscayne Bay, in Miami's trendy if downscale Wynwood art neighborhood, where it shared its setting with Photo Miami's like-scaled tent (admission to either show included access to the other). The result was convenient and complementary.

For solid contemporary work, modern masters and vintage photographs, AIPAD offered a well-lit, navigable maze of booths, while Photo Miami, a discreet few yards away, delivered the cutting-edge blend of photography-based art that prods the barriers of style and format. You could begin your visit in the calm thrall of AIPAD's unpretentious dedication to fine-art photographs, then dive into Photo Miami's din of genre- and gender-bending, emerging at the end of the day with a decent sense of what the photography market will bear.

In AIPAD's case, the spillover from Art Basel Miami Beach was, of course, a key reason for being here. "There's going to be people you wouldn't see otherwise," agreed Aspen, CO, dealer Joel Soroka, "and that means curators as well as the private collectors. Whether that translates into more sales for us becomes harder to say." It certainly may require a long-term assessment to determine just how much ABMB drives sales for AIPAD's members going into 2008. Meanwhile, AIPAD dealers were exhibiting with an eye to the Big Art imperative of the ABMB crowd.

"Certainly, scale is important to collectors, more and more," observed Portland, OR, dealer Charles A. Hartman. "And so we're conscious of being able to fill wall space with large-format photography--but it's equally important that the photography makes sense on a large scale." Hartman's small booth was devoted to a single photographer, Scott Peterman, a New York-based artist whose images alternate evocatively between arid, minimal, monochrome studies of spaces such as the Bonneville Salt Flats and dense cityscapes--a bustling, multi-leveled Cairo, with commercial signage atop buildings, cars speeding along on the freeway below, and people at bus stations at the bottom of the frame; Mexico City, with serenely repetitive, clustered homes; and a Manhattan homage to Berenice Abbott's famed vantage point atop the Empire State Building, which Peterman recasts in color, the snowcapped skyscraper roofs reflecting a gorgeous blue tint.

At the end of the weekend at AIPAD, dealers were expectedly mixed in their assessments. Florida dealer Howard Schickler called it "generally a slow fair, but we had a brisk interest/response to Richard Pare's 'Lost Vanguard' series with five sales at the fair, two post-fair and climbing, and Pare's 10-foot long diptych "Melnikov House" sold at $17,000. Many visitors to the booth had seen his show at MoMA NY which had just come down on Nov. 1."

But Schickler "could not ascertain any trends here at the show, although the two blackouts and lack of signage for two and a half days was a real bummer."

Chicago dealer Catherine Edelman, while agreeing that the show had its functional problems, "thought it was terrific and definitely worth doing again. We sold 32 Julie Blackmon pieces, a few Joel-Peter Witkin pieces, among others. We sold to UBS folks [UBS was the main sponsor of ABMB], a number of Europeans, and several Florida residents. Overall, we sold to only one collector known to us, which is always a sign of a good, new art fair, as I picked up over a dozen new collectors."

And David Barenholtz of Culver City, CA's David Gallery, said, "We did relatively well. Not as good as I have done at past AIPADs or even some Photo LA's, but not bad. We sold about 20 prints--three Harry Benson prints ranging from $6,000 to $10,000 and two large format Stephen Wilkes prints (72 x 48) from his new China series at $17,500 each.

As Barenholtz put it, "Overall I would say it was a fair fair. I was surprised there were so few collectors from Europe, as I thought with the weak dollar they would be in Miami in droves. Also I think ABMB has matured considerably. There was less energy than last year in Miami; it was easy to get into fancy restaurants--the hoi polloi have left!"

Contemporary/Vintage Works, Ltd., took AIPAD's largest space, as dealer Alex Novak rolled out generous wall displays for his Internet-based gallery's stable of artists. Novak's contemporary charge is led by the provocations of Lisa Holden, whose meldings of photography, paint and multiple imagery question identity and image, and Claudia Kunin, who builds dreamscapes and recasts mythic scenes with deceptively pure photographic style. Then there are the night landscapes of Marcus Doyle, who imparts an alien grandeur to mundane locales, and the majestic Western vistas of Mitch Dobrowner. All of these artists afford scale.

But some of the most powerful work on display at Contemporary/Vintage Works didn't trade so much in wall space as in sheer content: Arthur Tress' magnificent series of saturated color prints from his remarkable Welfare Island project, in which he set up his camera at an abandoned Manhattan hospital, with its rusted machinery and haunted detritus. Using wildly colorful spray paint, Tress turned these "objects trouve" into astonishing artistic shrines, and then photographed them--a superb transformation of object into art, and art object into photographic subject.

When one thinks of Tress' long history--his naturalistic black-and-white photography of past decades, with its imaginative capture of form, light and shadow, and its theatrical, sculptural play of human subjects, from rural children to street hockey players--this Welfare Island project is a daring progression, since it addresses the human in retrospect, as having produced these hospital objects and left them behind (much as our culture leaves behind the sick and dying). Tress ironically yet compassionately celebrates this junkyard of the body, and the result is unique--a photographic theater that departs from Tress's earlier work yet remains utterly consonant with it. As Alex Novak observed, "The thing is, just about the only place where people can see this work is here, now, at AIPAD."

Novak's assessment of AIPAD's show was highly positive. "Contemporary Works/Vintage Works had its most successful art photography fair ever at the AIPAD Photography Miami show," he said unequivocally. "The company has sold or has on "hold" about $350,000 in vintage and contemporary images, with interest in many others." Novak also thought that most of the AIPAD dealers exhibiting had "brought their 'A' game, so the show looked great. And all our clients told us that this show was the most professional and interesting of any of the so-called satellite shows."

"Because we were able to get the kind of space in Miami that we did, I think that all the dealers, including ourselves, were finally able to do justice to the larger scale contemporary work at an AIPAD fair," Novak added. "I hope that will be true in the future. AIPAD's New York City fair at the Armory has space limitations that really make it difficult, if not impossible, to show contemp work properly; so Miami is all we have currently."

And as for that contemporary work, Lisa Holden (who was recently compared to Cindy Sherman, Pipilotti Rist and Tracey Moffatt by Focus magazine and featured in the contemporary art photography magazine Eyemazing) was clearly Contemporary/Vintage Works' star.

"We sold eight of her pieces," Novak said. "We had to take down off the wall and deliver three of hers and one of Marcus Doyle's work for local Floridian collectors who wanted to show them off immediately at dinner parties. One of the Holden's was a unique painted/varnished work just completed in time for this show. We also sold three Arthur Tress pieces and a Mitch Dobrowner landscape."

A number of institutions and corporate clients are also looking at purchasing a number of other Doyle nightscapes, Dobrowner's Californian images, Michael A. Smith's powerful new large color prints of inmates awaiting murder charges and Claudia Kunin's stunning mythological studies from her new "Holy Ghost" series. The latter two were shown in Miami for the first time in the U.S. There is also some institutional interest in possible shows for some of these artists.

As for vintage work, Novak sold a number of important pieces to fellow dealers, including a Robert Frank, several Helen Levitt's and a Manual Alvarez Bravo portfolio, as well as to institutions and private collectors. One museum has Edward Steichen's Marion Morehouse image that appears in Vogue in 1928 on hold. Another bought nearly six figures worth of 19th-century work that Novak had stored away, rather than on display. Other private clients bought up four more Levitts, a rare oversized and superb print of Andre Kertesz's "Melancholic Tulip", another very rare late 1950s print of Kertesz's surrealist "Arm in Ventilator", and an early and published Josef Sudek "On the Embankment, Prague".

Novak attributes much of his sales to a combination of personal pre-selling before the show and his company's major pre-show marketing blitz that consisted of two-page color spread ads in several photography and art publications and a massive mailing to his clients, plus several email blasts.

"We also made arrangements for several major museum and art groups to come to the fair as VIPs." "In addition," Novak continued, "AIPAD's new PR/marketing team made a great effort to gain exposure for the show, which was extremely helpful to the success of all the dealers here."

Several unsold works that got lots of interest for Novak included a beautiful Irving Penn platinum/palladium print of "Woman in Bed", a unique little gem of a portrait of Kiki peering out of a Giacometti sculpture by Man Ray, Edward Steichen's iconic "May Pole", the two multiple exposure images by Francois Kollar ("Eiffel Tower" and "Women and Chess Pieces"), a rare 1960s print of Robert Frank's Butte, Montana, from his "The Americans" series, a very rare Horst vintage print of "Barefoot," and a circa 1960 print of Cartier-Bresson's famous "Au Bord de la Marne."

The list certainly goes on. San Francisco's Michael Shapiro reported a "good level of interest from serious collectors" and sold 22 works, among them a W. Eugene Smith gelatin silver print for $110,000 and a Harry Callahan gelatin silver print for $22,000.

Bruce Silverstein of New York noted sales of two prints by Edward Weston in the $50,000 range, nine prints by Randy West of his iconic blades of grass for $5,000 to $6,000, and a set of prints of manhole covers by Marvin Newman for $24,000. In addition, six tiny prints by André Kertész made from 1912 to 1925 were sold for $10,000 each.

Barry Singer of Petaluma, CA, who also felt that this was one of his best shows ever, cited sales of photographs by Richard Prince and Cindy Sherman to a major industrialist and a Swiss collector.

HackelBury Fine Art Limited, London, sold a number of prints priced from $4,000 to $25,000 by Stephen Inggs, Richard Caldicott, and Malick Sidibé, the Malian photographer noted for his black-and-white studies of popular culture in the 1960s in Bamako, who won a Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale this year.

Scott Nichols, of San Francisco, commented on "the tremendous interest from all over the world."

Peter Wach, of Wach Gallery reported the sale of Ansel Adams' "Half Dome, Orchard and Winter, Yosemite National Park", c.1935, for $32,000 and Robert Glenn Ketchum's Choose Joy, 2007, for $24,000.

Throckmorton Fine Art, New York, noted it was "a very well presented show" and sold more than a dozen works including Nicholas Murray's 1938 portrait of Frida Kahlo for $8,000.

"We did well at the show," said Tucson, AZ dealer Terry Etherton. "Not as good as we usually do at AIPAD but better than Photo LA. We sold everything from Curtis to Witkin. Mostly classic well-known photographers sold: Curtis, Gibson, Garduno, Lyon, Morris, Witkin, Mann, Sommer. Pieces that did not sell that are special: a selection of the best images from Alex Webb's impressive career; a really stunning Frederick Sommer Colorado River Landscape, 1942; and an exceptionally beautiful Curtis goldtone."

Boston's Robert Klein, who is also president of AIPAD, sold both contemporary and modern work across the board including four prints by Arno Rafael Minkkinen from $10,000 to $25,000 and work by Jeff Brouws and Kenro Izu. Klein also sold an Edward Weston print for $20,000 and an Edward Steichen print for $125,000.

The transgender world of the 1970s captured by Jeffrey Silverthorne was of interest at Photographs Do Not Bend (PDNB) Gallery, Dallas, TX. Eight prints went for $5,000 each. "The biggest surprise was Jeffrey Silverthorne's photographs of Transvestites, taken 1972 to 1974. We had a group (15 images) and sold most of them, but some are still available," said Burt Finger of Dallas, Texas's PDNB Gallery. "These were gritty pictures that portrayed the transvestite scene in Providence, RI directly as only Silverthorne could do."

"I did well selling work by Alison Rossiter, Cynthia Greig, Vid Ingelevics and SX-70 Polaroids by Andre Kertesz. Thus far my follow-up sales have been almost as good as my sales on the floor," noted Stephen Bulger, of Toronto, Canada. "The most interest was in the Kertesz Polaroids as well as Rossiter's new work called 'Lament.'" In the latter series, Rossiter makes photographs of expired and discontinued sheet film; she also processes long expired papers that have not been exposed. Their abstract imagery stems simply from age and circumstantial damage.

San Francisco's Robert Koch Gallery had fine displays of Edward Burtynsky's wide-angle explorations of the vast marble and granite quarries of Iberia and Maine, and more than a few dealers made sure that the prime obsession of our era--celebrity--was well-represented, whether in Mark Shaw's glamour shots of Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn, or in Daniel Kramer's many candid captures of Bob Dylan in his mid-1960s ascendancy, being hugged and lifted by Joan Baez, or slyly perusing a newspaper. And Steven Klein's sacrilegious tableau of an elder David Bowie and a Christ-like figure was a showstopper, equaled only by David Hockney's fractured Polaroid montage of a nude Theresa Russell.

Photo Miami's Nerve Center

Over in Photo Miami, of course, the familiar gave way to the shock of the truly new--a bracing blast of headlong contemporary artistry that may prove as disposable as the hip-hop and alternative rock music that blared over the speakers, although that hardly matters. Mainly, what differentiates it from AIPAD is that Photo Miami is a show of "photo-based art, video and new media," as impresario Stephen Cohen's publicists carefully describe it. And what registered was the energy and nerve of the photo-based projects on display--indeed, a preponderance of these artworks are not about taking pictures but about using the photographic image as a mere point of departure.

During my visit, it was tough to gauge where the collector excitement was, since the manufacture of youthful art stars has become as much of an industry as the marketing of athletic shoes, but once again, being in the orbit of Art Basel Miami Beach had to bring an extra dollop of recognition to the emerging artists at Photo Miami.

In fact, youth is very much the subject of so many of the works on display--youth as embattled inheritors of a broken, bewildered world. Thus, the art collective known as AES+F (which consists of four Russian-born artists: Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovich, Evgeny Svyatsky and Vladimir Fridkes, represented by New York's Claire Oliver Gallery), create big color tableaux using young, ethnically diverse models, posed in Renaissance styles, enacting a variety of surreal, sci-fi street battles amidst iconic architecture. It's hard to describe, but it is elegant and urgent work that echoes many forebears--from Caravaggio to Gilbert & George.

Other works combine photography with text, as in Stephanie Lampert's images of New York, over which a stenciled stream of troubled, typically youthful sentiments ("I'm sorry I don't know why I feel this way…") blurs the image--it's as if the air were about to explode from the press of consciousness. Then there is the potent minimalism of a post-Joseph Beuys Germany, as in Norbert Brunner's delicate assemblages of inflatable plastic--one of them bearing the words "You Are Important"--over which videos are projected, turning the small space of Vienna's Lukas Feichtner Gallery into a dark closet of adolescent angst and hope.

If anything, Photo Miami reflected the transformation of American culture that Miami is certainly all about, as the Latino population not only swells in previously Anglo-American bastions but comes into its own as an aesthetic, as well as a cultural force. Galleries such as Miami's Hardcore Art Contemporary Space offered the collaged photography and design of edgy artists such as Nina Dotti or Carl Pascuzzi, who deal with legacies of displacement and cooptation by commercial forces. And further abroad, in towns like Caceres, Spain, such art spaces as Galeria Maria Llanso are offering the large-format color work of Jose Maria Mellado, who marshals brooding, overcast skies and compelling perspective in documenting the clash of ancient and modern that defines Spain.

But Photo Miami had even more, ethnically speaking, including New York gallery ChinaSquare's wonderful display of large digitally manipulated images by China's multifaceted Chen Jiagang, an architect, businessman, curator and collector turned photographer who also engages the battle between his country's old and new, man against nature, often with a small human figure set vulnerably amidst massive structures and vast, polluted landscapes. What such art affirms--as did Photo Miami at least as well as did ABMB--is that the global viewpoint is the lens through which we must measure ourselves, and the challenge, perhaps, for collectors is to avoid a narrow engagement with art that could turn them into hermitic preservers of nostalgia or cultural elitism as opposed to nurturing new and ever more inclusive ways of seeing. It's fine, of course, to limit a collection to, say, 18th-century river views, but why go to Miami in December with such a small checklist?

And that's where I dead-end. Unfortunately, to do a relatively complete Art Basel week in Miami takes the sort of time, energy and patience that few of us non-billionaires can muster. I would have liked to wander from AIPAD a few streets over to the Rubell Collection, or peruse more of the cutting edge five blocks south at Aqua Wynwood, or 10 blocks down at Pulse--not to mention Scope, Art Miami and NADA--but it was all I could do to strategize my traffic jam-dodging for ABMB, let alone get through that mother of all art malls without collapsing from sensory overload.

There was never enough time to visit one show, one booth, one artist without feeling an unpleasant pressure to move on. If that's a symptom of modern malaise, then the enormousness of Art Basel Miami Beach--don't forget the scores of satellite events it spawns and succors--shares some guilt for turning us into a bunch of raw nerves plagued with attention deficit disorder. Then again, it's only further proof, as if we needed it, that The Market works.

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.)

Richard Prince's Marlboro Man Sets World Record of $3.4 Million For Photo At Auction

By Alex Novak

Richard Prince's Marlboro Man
Richard Prince's Marlboro Man

Richard Prince's Marlboro Man (Untitled, Cowboy) sold at Sotheby's, NY's November 14, 2007 Contemporary Art Evening Sale for $3,401,000. That beat the record for a photograph at auction previously held by Andreas Gursky's 99-cent diptych of $3,346,456, which had been set at Sotheby's London on February 7, 2007. It also beat Prince's own previous record for a photograph set at Christie's, NY's May 16, 2007 Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale where it sold for $2,840,000

Considering the edition size of this copy print was supposedly only two (except for the ads themselves, of course), it is amazing how many of these have come up for auction or are in institutional collections. This one was an AP. I wonder just how many APs were produced. Most of the price difference between the Prince and Gursky auction prices--not that it really matters--was a result of the higher buyer's fees that Sotheby's had put in place later in 2007.

The only downside to this record-breaking auction for the photo market is that Prince's artist record was reset during this same sale. Instead of a photograph, which had held his record as an artist (Marlboro Man), one of Prince's Nurses paintings sold for even more than the Marlboro Man. "Piney Woods Nurse", 2002, sold at the same sale for a whopping $6,089,000 and is currently the world auction record for a work by Richard Prince.

Artcurial Sets New World Record For 19th-Century Lot At Auction, as Le Gray Chalon Album Goes For Over $1 Million

By Alex Novak

At Artcurial's November 17th auction, three records were broken on one lot. The lot was a very rare and complete Chalon album by Gustave Le Gray that was simply the finest that has come on the market, eclipsing several previous albums in terms of its high quality, especially on the key images in the album.

New York dealer Hans P. Kraus, Jr. outbid the room and the phone to take the lot for 696,730 euros, including the premium. At the official bank exchange rate of that day, the total was $1,021,300, which broke the previous world auction record for a 19th-century photograph, the French and Continental European record for a photograph at auction, and the world auction record for a Gustave Le Gray. It put Le Gray back on top of the auction records for a 19th-century photography lot, which Le Gray's Grande Vague, or Great Wave, had set at the first Andre Jammes' sale until it was unseated by a Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey daguerreotype, which then held the previous auction record for a 19th-century photography lot at $922,488 until this sale, although it is still the highest priced individual 19th-century photograph at auction.

The last reasonably good (but not in the same class as this one) Chalon album to come up at auction was eight years ago during the first Jammes sale, and it sold for just over $650,000 at that time.

Kraus found himself bidding with plenty of company, including Hallmark's Keith Davis and dealers Lee Marks and Serge Plantureux--all in the room--and myself and, reportedly, collector Thomas Walther on the phone.

Sotheby's Nancy Richardson Sale Takes in $1-3/4 Million, With Only 12.5% Buy-Ins

By Alex Novak

My apologies for such a long wait for the rest of the fall New York auction schedule. Preparation and exhibition at AIPAD Photography Miami and Photo LA have taken up most of my attention and time (and still do), not to mention the holidays.

Going back to the Oct 31st newsletter, Sotheby's had record-breaking results with its multi-owner photography sale. We reported then on the front-loaded evening sale portion of this auction. Now we will report on Nancy Richardson's single-owner sale and the daytime portion of the multi-owner sale at Sotheby's. Remember that this is the first time that Sotheby's and Christie's had put in their new nose-bleed-high buyer's fees--a very steep 25% premium on the first $25,000, 20% premium from there until $500,000, and only from then on the more modest 12%. The prices below reflect those new fees. I will generally only include lots that hit $40,000 or over at these two sales, although the average cost per lot was a lot lower on these two portions of Sotheby's fall action than its Monday evening sale. And, just to remind everyone, that, yes, most of the photography market is well below this mark and you can buy excellent images at much more reasonable prices, especially from the many photography dealers servicing the art photography community.

While Sotheby's Charles Moffett wrote glowingly about Nancy Richardson's eye and courage concerning the images in the collection, what he and Sotheby's didn't mention was the tabloid stories swirling around the blonde Manhattan socialite and Frank Richardson, who had just fought a very public, messy and contentious divorce. Both the New York Post and New York Daily News, as well as the British tabloid press, had a field day with the allegations of infidelity (her Wall Street financier ex-husband Frank was alleged to have had an affair with Kimba Wood, a U.S. District Court judge and ex-Playboy bunny in training, whom he married after the divorce was final), of Nancy's $350,000 a year clothing allowance and an equal amount for six mental health professionals, and of her husband's secret and spicy diaries and his "rage disorders". At one point Richardson even allegedly hinted that her husband might have had an affair with Jackie O. The divorce settlement was estimated in some corners as upward of $80 million. Now aren't you happy you bid in this auction to support poor old Nancy in her time of trouble and old age?

The images themselves were certainly as interesting as the source of them. The results were a bit erratic with some lots doing spectacularly and others doing as expected or considerably worse. Overall the sale brought in $1,759,351, including that outrageously higher buyer's fee. The sell-through rate was strong at 87.5% of the lots. Many were scooped up by photo dealers, either for stock or clients. New York City photo gallery owners Howard Greenberg and Bruce Silverstein were both very active here. The material in this sale was mostly vintage American (with a couple of European images thrown in for good measure) experimental work from the 1930s-60s that is currently being reevaluated and seeing higher prices. What was interesting was how much space Sotheby's devoted to rather low priced images, often giving two pages to individual items that sold for well under $10,000. I am sure the additional space did result in higher attention and sometimes in higher amounts being bid, but it was a departure from some of Sotheby's past catalogues.

While the evening sale had a more substantial crowd, the next morning's sessions started off with well over 50 bidders in attendance, but this dwindled down to below 30 in the afternoon. The Richardson sale was first up.

A commission bid by a collector fought off the room and the phone to take home lot 46, Aaron Siskind's Ironwork, New York City. This work was somewhat reminiscent of a Karl Blossfeldt plant image. The $73,000 final price (estimate $20,000-30,000) doubled the high estimate and set a world auction record for the artist. The price was good enough for fourth place overall in this sale. Oddly enough this was not my favorite Siskind by a long shot, although I could see why it might be sought after by some. Early Siskind prints are finally getting some of the due respect that they deserve.

The same commission bidder picked off the next lot, a similar Siskind, but for only $29,800, or about midway in the estimate range. This bidder then took an excellent Harry Callahan (lot 49, Chicago, Wall with Paint Drips) for $44,200 over the bidding of New York contemporary art dealer Jude Ahern.

San Francisco dealer Michael Shapiro battled off bids from the front of the room to take lot 53, an Aaron Siskind "Kentucky 15 (Paint on Blistered Paint), for double the midpoint of the estimate at $61,000. It appeared to be a strong print and the price put it in sixth place in this sale.

Collector Gary Davis, sitting at NYC dealer Howard Greenberg's side, bid up lot 55, Aaron Siskind's Harlan, KY 4 (Letter Composition), to well above the high estimate at $49,000. It was a strong Siskind image and print that sold at a relatively reasonable price--one of my favorites in the sale. The price propelled the lot into a tie for tenth place.

A very nice Harry Callahan print of Eleanor, Lake Michigan (lot 59) was purchased by a phone bidder who had to fend off first Lee Marks and then Peter MacGill, who jumped the bid but still couldn't shake this phone bidder, who got the piece at $39,400. That was more than twice the high estimate.

Usually when a lot sells for $181,000 and is the highest selling lot in the sale, it is thought to have done well. But this successful six-figure bid on lot 63, Herbert Bayer's "Metamorphosis", could be deemed a disaster for Richardson, given what she had paid for it eight years before from a Christie's New York auction. The piece was sold to Richardson at the fall 1999 sale for $239,000 and was only eclipsed at the time by Bayer's "Lonely Metropolitan at $266,500. Swiss mega-dealer Kaspar Fleischmann of Galerie Zur Stockeregg was the consignor at that time. The work is an original (and therefore unique) photomontage from 1936. A commission bid by a private collector took the lot at what is a steal in today's marketplace. The image is highly important and iconic and should have easily gone into the higher part of Sotheby's estimate range ($250,000-350,000). It appeared to have merely gone for the very low reserve, a true bargain in the best sense.

A huge, mural-sized Adam Fuss photogram of water drops (lot 68) nearly doubled its low estimate and sold to a private collector's commission bid for a whopping $58,600, which put it into seventh place in this auction.

I remember when I could have bought Livia by Frederick Sommer for well under $9,000. Lot 70 was a very nice print of this image, although printed probably later in the 1970s. It was estimated at a fairly steep $40,000-60,000, but that wasn't a barrier at all, as the print sold to a private collector in the room for $85,000, which set a new world's record for the artist at auction and put the lot into third place overall in the sale. Great image and print, but it sure seemed a bit high to me. The same collector picked up lot 73, a superb print of Harry Callahan's Port Huron, MI, for $41,800, which was again well over estimate.

Lot 71, Pierre Dubreuil's "Le Premier Round", went for below the low estimate with a phone bidder trumping, I believe, Howard Greenberg on the lot at $169,000, which put it into second place. While that was more than Richardson had paid in April 1998 at Christie's ($112,500), it was well under the $216,000 that Sotheby's sold it for just two years prior (and with a lower buyer's fee). I have always felt that Tom Jacobson and Rick Wester had done a superb job of convincing the market that these images by Dubreuil were not pictorialist but modernist. As a pictorialist, Dubreuil's images wouldn't sell for a tenth of what they do. Actually that is a shame, as there are some excellent pictorialist images going begging. It may be an opportunity for a savvy collector.

North Carolina collector Julian Baker took on the room and in the end fended off a late challenge by fellow collector Stephen Stein to take lot 74, a late print of Frederick Sommer's Arizona Landscape, for $56,200, which put the lot into eighth place overall.

Frederick Sommer's Smoke on Glass abstraction (lot 77) got a lot of action. Estimated at only $15,000-25,000, this very strong print soared upward to double the mid-range of that estimate and sold to New York City dealer Deborah Bell for $49,000, which put it in a three-way tie for tenth place in the sale.

The Josef Sudek pigment prints mostly sold about mid-range in the estimates with one phone bidder taking all three in the sale--lot 81 for $11,250, lot 82 for $39,400 and lot 85 for $49,000. The latter price put that lot into the same three-way tie for tenth place.

Lot 92 had three very annoying and prominent chemical spots in the center and at the bottom of the photograph, which was otherwise an excellent print of a staircase by Eugene Atget. Estimated right on the money at $25,000-35,000, the print inexplicably took off with a phone bidder and San Francisco dealer Jeffrey Fraenkel pushing it up well past the high estimate. The phone finally "won" the lot at $67,000, which put it into fifth place overall. It isn't the first time that Atget's have taken off. This summer's Millon auction in Paris saw Atget prints selling for over 50 times the estimate in one case. Must be something in the water.

And, finally, lots 101 and 102, two oversized Robert Frank montages, sold for $39,400 each, with Frank dealer Peter MacGill buying the first and then underbidding the second to the phone.

Then, after a brief pause, it was back to the regular multi-owner sale portion of the auction, which I will report on in the next newsletter shortly.

Photo LA Moves Dates and Venue to Jan. 10-13 and The Barker Hanger At Nearby Santa Monica Airport

Photo L.A. 2008, the 17th Annual International Los Angeles Photographic Art Exposition, will take place next week, January 10-13, 2008. Besides the slightly earlier dates, the show is moving to a larger location: the 35,000 sq. ft. Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica Airport. The new event space will allow for larger booths and an improved lighting system, producing a clean, modern backdrop against which to display more photo-based art, including more digital and video than ever before.

Contemporary Works/Vintage Works will be exhibiting at this show in booth C16 toward the rear middle of the fair, so please come see us. We will be showing contemporary work from Arthur Tress, Claudia Kunin, Mitch Dobrowner, Marcus Doyle and Lisa Holden, plus lots of important vintage photographs from the 20th-century. Ask us about additional images we will have hidden away, including some fine new 19th-century ones. If you are planning on attending and are a client of ours, please call or email me, and I will attempt to get you tickets for the show.

The Barker Hangar, located at 3021 Airport Avenue in Santa Monica, CA, also will comfortably accommodate a crowd in excess of 10,000 people--a necessity as Photo L.A. has become one of the country's most popular art fairs and will coincide with Golden Globes week.

The exhibition will be open to the public Friday, January 11 and Saturday, January 12 from noon to 8 p.m., and Sunday, January 13 from noon to 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 for a one-day pass and $30 for a three-day pass.

The "Conversations with Artists" series of lectures are co-sponsored with LACMA and are free to the public. The "Conversation with Julius Shulman" will cost $10, as well a Sunday morning seminar on Book Collecting. Onsite collecting seminars are $80 (includes a three day pass and catalog). These guided tours of the exhibition will be held before public hours and will be led by Charlotte Cotton, Dale Stulz and John Bennette.

At the opening night reception scheduled for Thursday, January 10 from 6-9 p.m., Artfairs, Inc. will welcome to Los Angeles, and Photo L.A. 2008, the new department head and curator of photography at LACMA, Charlotte Cotton.

Renowned architectural photographer Julius Shulman will also be honored with Photo L.A.'s inaugural lifetime achievement award in association with the Center--a nonprofit organization that honors, supports and provides opportunity for gifted and committed photographers.

Proceeds from the opening night reception will benefit the photography department of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Tickets to the opening benefit reception on Thursday, January 10, 2008 are $80 (which includes a one-day pass to the show). To order tickets to the benefit reception, email the photography department of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art at photola@lacma.org or contact the event hotline at 1-323-932-5846.

All exhibition, lecture and preview reception tickets are available for purchase at the door or in advance. Seminar tickets should be purchased in advance. For additional information on Photo L.A. 2008, visit http://www.artfairsinc.com .

Over 130 New Images Posted to I Photo Central Website

You can find over 130 new images up on the I Photo Central web site, posted up just this week.

Twentieth-century photographers, whose important vintage images have just been posted up to the website, include: Dorothea Lange, Ilse Bing, Andre Kertesz, Aaron Siskind, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brassai, Josef Sudek, Josef Ehm, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Lewis Hine, Tina Modotti, Carl Mydans, Roy Schatt, Arthur Tress, Doris Ulmann and Max Waldman.

Included are also top 19th-century images by the following masters: Bisson Freres, Julia M. Cameron, Eugene Cuvelier, Louis De Clercq, Gustave Le Gray, Paul Nadar (of the rare and famous "photo interview" between Nadar, the elder, and Chevreul) and Louis Vignes.

There is also new contemporary work from Lisa Holden, Stanko Abadzic, and Arthur Tress.

This doesn't count the 200+ master images that went up last month, so search carefully on the site and in the Special Exhibits and the Member Gallery Top Picks, which have all been revised and updated as of yesterday.

This brings the total to over 6,300 images up on the website, making I Photo Central, by far and away, the largest and most important website for fine photography on the Internet. Contemporary Works/Vintage Works alone has now put up 4,000 images.

Just go to http://www.iphotocentral.com/search/search.php and go to the drop down menu on "Time Frame of Posting" and click on "Past Week" or "Past Month". You will see all of the great images posted up within the last 30 days--most just this week.

Photographer and Teacher Jack Welpott Passes Away At 84

Jack Welpott, one of the great photographers and teachers of the post-World War II generation, passed away last November 24. He was 84. Barry Singer, who represented Jack, passed on the news and provides the brief biography below.

Jack Welpott was born in Kansas City, KS on April 27, 1923 and was educated at primary and secondary schools in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.

In 1949, he earned his BS in Economics from the University of Indiana, Bloomington. He studied photography under Henry Holmes Smith, painting under Leon Golub and Harry Engle, and design with George Rickey and received his MS in Visual Communication in 1955. Jack completed his MFA in 1959 and began his long teaching career at San Francisco State College as he pursued his career as a professional photographer.

In 1973 Welpott was the recipient of the Medal of Arles, France; later a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1973; and, in 1983, a Polaroid grant in association with the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego.

Wellpott's photographs are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum, New York; International Museum of Photography, George Eastman House, Rochester, NY; Art Institute of Chicago; Center of Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson; University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; Norton Simon Art Museum, Pasadena, CA; Oakland Museum of Modern Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

Jack once said, "Part of the fascination that photography holds is its ability to unlock secrets kept even from ourselves. Like dreams, the photograph can uncork a heady bouquet of recognition which can escape into the cognitive world. Sometimes the aroma is sharp, sometimes dry. This "shock of recognition" can be, at times, unsettling. It can also be sublime."

Photo Books and Catalogues: Howard Greenberg, Photoshop, Japan and Kasebier

By Matt Damsker


2007, Lumiere Press, Toronto, Canada. Biographical essay by Lyle Rexer, with a portfolio of photographs selected by Howard Greenberg; edited with an introduction by Michael Torosian. 95 pages; approximately 25 black-and-white plates; hardbound. ISBN No. 978-0-921542-15-5. Handmade limited edition of 250 copies, facsimile of original limited edition printed in an edition of 1,500. Information: Howard Greenberg Gallery, 41 East 57th St., New York, NY; phone: 1-212-334-0010.

This handsome and impeccably crafted volume pays tribute to Howard Greenberg's life in photography--an odyssey that took him from his Brooklyn beginnings to the artistic awakenings of Woodstock in the '60s and '70s, and finally to Manhattan, where his gallery has been one of the key showcases for modern images since its opening in 1982. A quarter of a century later, Greenberg's eminence is a given among the cognoscenti, and this compact 25th-anniversary book tells the story to the world in eloquent detail, as Lyle Rexer's essay opens our eyes to Greenberg's lifelong passion and ongoing commitment to the medium. Rexer notes that when the gallery became the representative of the estate of Edward Steichen in 2000, with its 600 vintage prints, the acquisition "marked a passage…Greenberg was increasingly occupied with finding outstanding examples of work by canonical artists even as competition for these pieces was fierce."

Thus, Greenberg's 25th-anniversary portfolio of such works begins powerfully, with Karl Struss's dreamy declaration of modernism, a 1910 image of New York's "St. Nicholas Avenue, South from 146th Street," its bare tree centering a perspective of tentative high-rise buildings, with a lone figure in the middle distance. From there, Greenberg annotates a selection of such towering works as W. Eugene Smith's coal-black image of Welsh miners, from 1950, or Lewis Hine's 1925 icon, "Powerhouse Mechanic," or Walker Evans's shot of a couple at Coney Island in 1928.

The selections range even more widely, though, from an 1865 shot of a sleeping grandchild by Julia Margaret Cameron to the gritty urban realism of Weegee, Winogrand, and Bruce Davidson, while Greenberg's commentary on each photo brings a touching and well-earned intimacy to the presentation of these classics. Best of all, the book closes with a chronology that lists the gallery's month-by-month exhibition schedule since its opening in 1982, when Greenberg began with his first great collector's coup, The Photofind Collection and Cameraworks. Even at less than 100 pages, there is a universe of great photography in this book--and a potent narrative that makes clear that a love of art for art's sake is the first and abiding ingredient in the saga of a great collector and dealer.



By Steve Weinrebe. 2008, Thomson/Delmar Learning; 434 pages, trade paperback, includes CD with reference samples. ISBN-13 No. 978-1-4283-1209-8. Information: Thomson Delmar Learning, Executive Woods, 5 Maxwell Dr., PO Box 8007, Clifton Park, NY, 12065; Website: http://www.delmarlearning.com ; or Steve Weinrebe at Steve@mrphotoshop.com .

As Lyle Rexer writes in the previously cited book from the Howard Greenberg Gallery, "One can imagine that to the current generation, reared not on Dektol and Dupont paper but on digital programs and Photoshop, [the history of experimental darkroom photography] must seem nearly incomprehensible." Indeed, no less a photographic pioneer than Jerry Uelsmann chuckled recently when he mentioned to me in an interview that young photographic acolytes have praised him as the man who "invented Photoshop"--meaning that his surreal, seamlessly combined darkroom images presaged today's digital era of image manipulation.

But while the ubiquitous digital imaging software that is Adobe Photoshop may be fair game for such ironic asides from photography's old school, it is very much the currency in which most of today's commercial imagery trades. Thus, Steve Weinrebe's new book is a welcome exploration of everything the software (specifically, Photoshop CS3) can do, and how to do it. This is in fact the first Photoshop textbook written for photography students and instructors. As for Weinrebe, he's well qualified, and much more than a techno-wonk; not only is he an Adobe Certified Photoshop Instructor, but he's also a veteran, award-winning photographer with evident sensitivity and feel for the medium.

Thus, Weinrebe moves from an overview of contemporary photography (and Photoshop's place in it) to a wealth of technical know-how about the software. Tonal ranges, contrast adjustments, undoing changes, converting color to black-and-white, color correction, making and compositing, files and workflows--these and countless other topics and tips are described clearly, with copious illustrations and a lot of hard-won insight. Best of all, Weinrebe deepens his discussion with extensive interviews with prominent photographers, including the aforementioned Uelsmann and his wife, Maggie Taylor, who is a true master of Photoshop, plus Graham Nash, John Paul Caponigro, Lisa Holden, Olivia Parker, Pedro Meyer and others. The included CD brings Weinrebe's vast expertise to its logical end point--your own computer.


OLD JAPAN CATALOGUE 34 commemorates 150 years of Japanese photography,

as dealer and scholar Terry Bennett notes in his introduction that the daguerreotype portrait taken a century and one half ago of Satsuma Lord Shimazu Nariakira, by Ichiki Shiro and Ujuku Hikoeman, is the earliest surviving photograph produced by Japanese photographers. The rarities in this superb catalogue are impressive: an album of 25 hand-colored Felice Beato views of Japan, in unusually good condition, as well as important studio albums by Uchida Kuichi, whom, Bennett notes, was widely considered to be Japan's most gifted photographer, destined to rival the great Beato, but who died at age 32, leaving precious little work. Indeed, his hand-colored scenes and portraits—Mt. Fuji, Samurai warriors, and formally attired women--are richly evocative and fabulously composed, and Bennett insists here that these albums may go a long way in facilitating further identification of Uchida's work. There are also several studio albums by Kusakabe Kimbei and other Japanese masters, and various views (including a portfolio of photos illustrating the 1891 Aiki earthquake), stereoviews and cartes de visite. For information: http://www.old-japan.co.uk , or email to terry.bennett@ukonline.co.uk , or phone, +44 (0)797 0891003.


CHARLES SCHWARTZ COLLECTION, which catalogues some two dozen excellent

examples of the ambrotype method--a collodion wet-plate negative mounted in front of a dark background to create a positive image, each resulting, like a daguerreotype, in a one-of-a-kind artifact. These palm-sized images are all in kiri-wood presentation cases, and exceedingly well-preserved. More importantly, perhaps, the images are powerful--of women and men in a variety of poses and dress--and one, of a man in Samurai armor, may be a Uchida Kuichi, though it is attributed to Tsukamoto. For information: Charles Schwartz Ltd., 21 East 90th St., New York, NY 10128; phone: 1-212-534-4496; or http://www.cs-photo.com or http://www.iphotocentral.com .

Also of note: No. 140 of the five-times-per-year CONTACT SHEET series published by the Robert B. Menschel Media Center, in Syracuse, N.Y. This one features images by William Earle Williams, whose 2007 exhibition at the Center, "Unsung Heroes: African American Soldiers in the Civil War," documented some of the 50,000 miles he has logged in seeking out and photographing a comprehensive pictorial of the many important, yet historically invisible, sites where black troops contributed to the Union victory in the War Between the States. These richly toned silver gelatin prints are of pastoral spots that contain, at most, the merest traces of Civil War fortifications, but taken together, they remind us how the land remembers what we are so apt to forget. Information: http://www.lightwork.org .

And finally, there is an evocative catalogue of the photography of GERTRUDE KASEBIER, whose images of mothers and children in all their devotion and innocence convey a strong sense of the early 1900s in rural America. The catalogue, "Family," is co-published by the Lee Gallery of Winchester, MA, and Paul M. Hertzmann Inc., of San Francisco. Information: http://www.leegallery.com , or by email at pnhi@hertzmann.net .

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.)

Westlicht Sets New Auction Record For Leica After Setting Record For Highest Priced Camera in May 2007

On November 17, 2007 the 12th WestLicht Photographica Auction ended with a sensation: the top lot of the auction, an 0-Series Leica No. 107 was sold for 336,000 euros (nearly $500,000), which was a new world auction record for a 35mm camera or a Leica.

By accepting the bid of a private European collector, the auctioneer turned a slender black camera into the most expensive 35mm camera and the second most expensive camera ever auctioned.

Only approximately 21 of these cameras were produced to test the market in 1923, two years before the commercial introduction of the Leica A. The auctioned camera is the seventh camera of the Leica 0-series. The factory records indicate that the camera was sent to New York for patenting. This means that this camera is not only one of the major early Leica rarities still in existence, but it was also the first Leica to be exported.

The existing world record for a camera was also established by a WestLicht Photographica Auction: an 1839 daguerreotype camera by the Paris manufacturer Susse Frères, which was sold for 580,000 euros in May 2007.

All price quotes include auction charges. The next WestLicht Photographica Auction will take place in May 2008.

Photographer/Cinematographers Arrested

Photographer and cinematographer Thomas Dandois, member of the association Grains de Beauté-promotion, and Pierre Creisson were arrested in Niger while making a documentary for the French television channel ARTE.

The pair are accused of endangering state security and risk execution if found

guilty of this crime. Please show your support in any way you can. Here are the contact details for Thomas Dandois: website: http://www.camicas-productions.com and email t.dandois@gmail.com .

The pair has filmed important documentaries on Darfur and South Africa, as well as previous work on Niger. This is one more senseless attack on photojournalists trying to uncover embarrassing truths.

Matthieu Humery Joins Christie's NYC

Christie's has named Matthieu Humery as Vice President and Specialist Head of Sale, Photographs in its New York office. He began working with last October's auction. Humery reports to Josh Holdeman.

Matthieu worked from 2001 until 2005 in the Paris and New York offices of Phillips, de Pury & Company as a Specialist in Photographs, Contemporary Art & 20th Century Design. He has since been consultant to numerous organizations, notably the Magnum Agency, the Luma Foundation and the Watermill Foundation/Robert Wilson Art Collection. Matthieu holds Masters Degrees in Art History from both the Free University in Berlin as well as the Sorbonne, where he is currently working towards his PHD.

NY Met Acquires Arbus Archive

The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art has acquired the complete archive of Diane Arbus. The estate of Diane Arbus has selected the museum to be the permanent repository of the artist's negatives, papers, correspondence, and library. The Museum says it "will collaborate with the Estate to preserve Arbus's legacy and to ensure that her work will continue to be seen in the context of responsible scholarship and in a manner that honors the subjects of the photographs and the intentions of the artist."

The Estate's gifts and promised gifts to the museum include hundreds of early and unique photographs by Arbus, negatives and contact prints of 7,500 rolls of film, glassine print sleeves annotated by the artist, as well as her photography collection, library, and personal papers including appointment books, notebooks, correspondence, writings, and ephemera. The entire collection, which will be preserved, fully catalogued, and eventually made available for research to scholars, artists, and the general public, will be known as "The Diane Arbus Archive". The Museum has also purchased 20 of Diane Arbus's most iconic photographs, including such masterpieces as "Russian midget friends in a living room on 100th Street, N.Y.C.", 1963, and "Woman with a veil on Fifth Avenue, N.Y.C.", 1968 through the Arbus estate's representative, Fraenkel Gallery of San Francisco.

Chosen to complement the Metropolitan's noteworthy photography collection, the prints range in date from her earliest 35mm street photographs, such as "Masked boy with friends, Coney Island, N.Y.", 1956, to one of her last pictures, "Blind couple in their bedroom, Queens, N.Y.", 1971.

Many of the original materials in The Diane Arbus Archive were featured in "Diane Arbus Revelations", the traveling exhibition (2003-2006) that was organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art with the artist's estate and presented at the Metropolitan Museum in spring 2005. As Doon Arbus, the artist's elder daughter, wrote in the accompanying publication's Afterword, she and her sister Amy "kept an awful lot of stuff, partly out of diligence, or superstition, partly out of reverence for the kind of history that survives more or less intact in objects."

These items, the residue of the artist's life, will be used by this and future generations to trace the evolution of the photographer's visual ideas through a parallel understanding of the individuals and cultural conditions that molded and stimulated that development.

Jeff L. Rosenheim, Curator in the museum's Department of Photographs, will oversee the long-term effort to fully catalogue and preserve the collection, and to develop plans for future exhibitions and publications. He noted: "It is rare in any field that one of its greatest practitioners should leave behind her entire output. Because this is the case with Diane Arbus, as it was with Walker Evans, whose personal archive came to the Museum in 1994, the Metropolitan will now have the opportunity to map the creativity of two great artists in the most complete way. The Diane Arbus Archive will provide a contextual understanding of Arbus' stunning achievement with the camera, and simultaneously offer fundamental insight into what it means to be an artist in modern times."