HOME . SEARCH PHOTOS . NEWSLETTER      
Photography News and Archive
Current News             Issue Archive             Article Archive E-Photo Newsletter   Issue 191   4/1/2012

Auction Houses Invade AIPAD Show and Try to Kidnap Clients and Turn Them Into Zombies

By Di Transfer

As we've noted in previous years, the AIPAD New York Photography Show has encountered some serious problems--from record-setting blizzards and rainfalls to bomb scares. And even one year, reportedly, an infestation of locusts.

This year the show was hit with what may be one of its worst problems to date: an invasion of the body snatchers. The New York and London auction houses sent out personnel to kidnap collectors right off the floor of the show. Finding that scheduling promotions and receptions during the AIPAD show hours wasn't enough, several of the major houses enlisted the aid of voodoo priests to create zombie body snatchers to catch unwary collectors and curators.

The auction zombies tried to turn the collectors and curators into zombies too, so that they wouldn't have use of their brains when overbidding on most lots or figuring in the 25% buyer's premium and expensive shipping before bidding. Without their brains, auction houses also knew such collectors and curators wouldn't check out the actual condition and details of a print first too.

In defense, AIPAD's photography dealers dispensed free copies of the Zombie Fighters Manual, which showed that dealers often charged considerably less for the same material than actually paid at the auctions, especially after all the costs were factored in. The manual also pointed out that dealers often arranged terms for payments, while the most of the zombie auctions wanted their money immediately before clients woke up from their trance.

This URL is a You-Tube how-to video on fighting zombies that you should check out if you plan on going to AIPAD today (open 11 am-6 pm) and want to avoid being changed into a zombie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCd8V-1smFM .

Discovery of 18th-Century Photography Hoard Found in Peekskill, NY Basement

By Matt Damsker

(edited from an A&P wire dispatch)

A major discovery that is bound to shake up the photographic world was revealed when a trove of photographs were found to be the earliest known, which were dated "1788". The photographs were found in the basement of Earl and Betsy Grimsby of Peekskill, NY. Unfortunately, they didn't have an attic so that the Grimsby's had to discover the pictures in the basement.

Mr. Grimsby, a retired henchman and amateur yodeler, was in his basement wood shop when he noticed a brick askew in the wall. With his curiosity piqued (and Earl rarely piqued) he removed the brick to discover what he would later label as "Earlytypes," not to be confused with the Fresh Prince (or prints) from Deauville.

He found 15 images of the same gentleman wearing a tricorn hat and pointing his index finger vigorously at the camera. On the verso is the date "1788" and the name of the artist, Hobbs Burlew. The pictures are on sanded shingles along with a written formula of "one part silver nitrate, one part egg white (easy over), and an undecipherable sentence that reads like "Bacon? Why should I order bacon now?"

Recent research shows that Mr. Burlew (1755-1789), a Methodist actor and preacher, dabbled in the black arts, but only at night when it was very dark. An article in the newspaper of record for the period, "Ye Olde Goode Times", mentioned that the Good Rev. Burlew liked to perform conjuring tricks, especially with his index finger. Further research will have to discover what he did with the other fingers. It goes on to say that he was busily at work in his basement (many people of the 18th century worked in basements, some in cellars) conceiving the idea of fixing the shadows if they ever needed repairs.

Historians believe that Burlew came up with idea of photography after his subscription to the "Camera Obscura and Other Fun Things to Do" in the "Dark Quarterly" ran out.

We are not sure how the actual image was created on a shingle, but early notes have the artist toying with poultry products and other forms of livestock in attempt to "capture those damned shadows but they keep moving!" That last passage was found in a scribbled, faded note found in Burlew's britches that was dated March 19, 1788.

Burlew was to die shortly after his great discovery and, thankfully, not before. His last words were recorded by his wife Annabelle: "Is it blasphemous to say 'F' Stop?"

The cache of Earlytypes will be donated by the Grimsbys to the Library of Congress in exchange for dropping their overdue book fees, although the Grimsbys did tell us that a certain French auction house did offer to put them up for sale.


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.)

Major Discovery About Early Photo Pioneers Made At Bibliothéque Nationale

Edited by Dee Vellops and written by Robert "Tweety Bird" Yoskowitz

(Editor's Note: Photo-histerian Robert Yoskowitz wrote the following article for us about his recent major discovery in Paris. Most other observers just thought he was sampling too much absinthe.)

While I was in the Bibliothéque Nationale scribbling my latest tome "Baguettes: a Socialist Plague", I came across historical material that will change the course of communication history. Within the newly discovered stack of brittle papers that were wedged in a volume of Sartre's "Being and Nothingness, Whatever", was information that could change the course of history. These dusty documents revealed an historical dispute between the first giants of photography (both well over four feet tall). They were the Englishmen William Henry Fox Talbot and the Frenchman J.L.M. Daguerre, and the quarrel was over who invented the first "tweet".

The claim of Talbot being first came from his notes of July 23, 1839; "Whilst futzing around with my photographica, I had the desire to send a message to my chum Nick Henneman in the most minimal of manner. I picked up my Blackened Berry and--how should I say--"Tweet," like those little bastard starlings outside of my loo window to my dear assistant Henneman. I tweeted thee (or is it thou?): "I thnk will prt hair in a difrnt way. T served. BFF."

In the "London Times" the next day, Talbot read that Daguerre had tweeted ("La bon tweet") just three days earlier to Niepce (which amounted to folly since Niepce was quite morte at that point) tweeting: "Early rise. I thnk prt hair in opp way. SVP."

Daguerre would later read in "Le Monde" that Talbot was suing the French photographer for "Infringement on copyrights and hair direction," to which Daguerre replied "Merde! Screw polishing these silver plates, la tweet is the new form of communication for all! And where is my comb?"

Three weeks later, Daguerre tweeted a challenge to Talbot to a duel, settling the dispute once and for all: "Cme to Par du Car. Brng pist. + Brioches." Fortunately, the duel never took place due to Talbot's strict Calvinist upbringing of never breaking a previous appointment. In this instance it was with his barber.

Photography Questionaire

By Al B. Umen

We at I Photo Central wanted to see if our newsletter readers were up on their knowledge regarding photography. Well, actually we didn't really want to know, but we had this idea of a quiz to test your patience and ability to keep awake while reading questions on all things photographic. So let us start in. You need a sharp pencil (basically to jab yourself to keep yourself awake) and probably a good eraser. A score of less than ten out of ten means that:

A. You've been drinking too much again.

B. You've been smoking too much again (and we know who you '60s hippies are).

C. You've been breathing in too much developer fumes.

D. If you've skipped ahead and still can't answer these questions, then you've been doing A., B. AND C.

1. What is an Ozotype?

a. It is an old picture of Ozzy Osbourne.

b. It is a form of Italian pasta.

c. It is a type of Russian vodka.

d. It is a pigment process that didn't work right, so its inventor decided to improve it by changing the "type" part of the name to "brome".

2. What did hatters and daguerreotypists have in common?

a. Their own taste in haberdashery was usually atrocious.

b. They both used Mercury (a heavy metal with results much like Metallica), which rotted their brains, hence the famous phrase: "Mad as a daguerreotypist."

c. They liked tea.

d. They liked little girls named "Alice".

3. Some contemporary photographers, including Joel-Peter Witkin and Doug + Mike Starn (I often wonder what that adds up to exactly), sometimes make encaustic prints. What exactly is "encaustic"?

a. A sadomasochistic form of ancient painting that involves hot beeswax or linseed oil, and hot metal tools?

b. A photograph that causts a lot?

c. An expensive method for crucifying a horse, as Joel-Peter Witkin once reportedly screamed out on the phone to photo curator Kathleen Howe.

d. A sticky taffy pudding that is only good for coating old photographs and is used extensively by British photographers.

4. In an auction house if you stick up your hand, you are:

a. Asking for permission to go to the bathroom.

b. Being that teacher's pet with the correct answer who nobody liked in school.

c. Pleading to pay more than you probably should for a photograph, including--usually--a 25% buyer's premium, sales tax and overpriced shipping.

d. Wasting your time since the auctioneer is only focused on the auction's phone banks and on preening for the camera for the Internet viewers.

5. What makes Richard Prince's photographs so expensive?

a. He has a lot of legal bills to pay for all the photographers suing him over copyright infringement.

b. Nobody got the punch line of his joke paintings, so he had to make up for it on photographs.

c. Kinko's increased the costs of color copying Marlboro ads to such large sizes.

d. His gallery has a lot of legal bills to pay for all the photographers suing it over copyright infringement.

6. When buying photographs at auction, one should:

a. Always trust what they put in the catalogue and in their condition reports.

b. Feel safe because the auction house has vetted the item carefully and guarantees everything that they say.

c. Never worry about what the item costs somewhere else, because it is bound to be cheaper at the auction.

d. Bid away because having an under-bidder always means that you paid a fair price and can sell it later for at least that much.

7. An autochrome is:

a. An old Cadillac with a lot of that shiny metal stuff.

b. A silver-plated Polaroid.

c. A color photo made from squashed, not mashed, potatoes.

d. What you polish frames with.

8. An etched daguerreotype is:

a. Something that Mitt Romney's campaign advisor wished he never referred to in an interview.

b. Your daguerreotype plate on acid.

c. Something that a guy named Fizeau improved on by electrocuting himself.

d. Something that never really worked, so they went back to using an etch-a-sketch (see answer a.)

9. Famed 19th-century photographer Gustave Le Gray was noted for:

a. Selling bad photography supplies and chemicals.

b. Dumping his wife and kids and taking a trip to Italy to avoid his creditors.

c. Really liking wax a lot!

d. Smoking bad cigars.

10. American 19th-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge was:

a. Actually Scottish.

b. The first person in the U.S. to get off from a charge of murder by pleading temporary insanity after he murdered his wife's lover when Muybridge came back from a long trip. He actually lost the plea, but won the case when the jury acquitted him for "justifiable homicide" (most of the jurors must have been ex-state senators from Florida or Arizona).

c. Settled a dumb bet that proved that horses could defy gravity (at least for the instant that their hooves left the ground together), showing that a Scotsman will do almost anything for a wee dram.

d. Not really named Muybridge, but Muggeridge, perhaps after the Muggles of the Harry Potter series. He also changed his first name three times from Edward to Eduardo to Eadweard, although he occasionally liked being referred to as the Sun God, Helios.

Answers in the opposite order of the questions to further mess with your mind: 10., because Muybridge was an Englishman and not Scottish, you only get points if you selected b., and d., which was correct except for that supposition about Harry Potter; 9.a., b., c. and d.--he just was not a nice guy.; 8.b.; 7.c.; 6. ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Those are good ones! LMAO. If you selected any of these, do not pass GO, but do lose all your money and go immediately to jail; 5.a. and d.; 4.c. and/or d. (if you said both, you get extra credit); 3.a.; 2.b.; 1.d.

April Fool!

This is our second "April Fool" newsletter. The first one was actually three years ago (My, how time flies! Probably in Coach.). Of course, some readers tell me that they think every newsletter sounds like an April Fool's joke.

The normal E-Photo Newsletter will be out in a couple of weeks with a report on the highly successful AIPAD Photography Show New York. No, the show was really NOT invaded by zombie body snatchers (although it may have felt like it at times), but instead is having another record-breaking exhibition of wonderful works of photography for sale without any additional buyer's premiums. So come and use your checks and even your credit cards at most dealers, unlike at most of the auction houses where you HAVE to leave home without it.

And, yes, all those other weather records, etc. did indeed happen at past AIPAD shows (except for that locust thing). And, yes, that You-Tube segment on zombies was pretty dumb.

However, you can still see the AIPAD Show today, Sunday, April 1st, from 11 am until 6 pm at the New York Park Avenue Armory at Park Avenue and 67th Street.

And my further thanks to all even obliquely referred to for their good sense of humor, Robert Yoskowitz for some of the ghost writing this time on two of our articles, and others who added their warped sense of humor to the mix (no names to protect the guilty, but you know who you are), although all the real responsibility for this newsletter belongs to that guy, Matt Bored, so write to him with all your complaints.