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Collector's Focus




By John A. Bennette

It would be irresponsible for me to name what I think is or will be hot in 2007. I want anyone who reads this to go out to the many galleries and look, find and discover the joy of seeing for yourself. Pick up a book, talk to your friends, meet and support an artist in your town—set your own trend. Vincent Libretti once said, “I don’t own the future, I just let it come.” Vincent was on to a good thing—the future is better in hindsight. I feel that the most remarkable aspect of 2007 will be the fulfillment of the past’s future—most of the predictions of 15 years ago are now being accepted as part of today’s photographic world. Some of these are scale, color and new technologies. To help me resolve this enigma of trends, I asked three questions of a few people each representing a different level of the photographic art world: gallery owners Bill Hunt, Yancy Richardson, Andrea Meislin and Michael Mazzeo and several artists.

The Three Questions

What are the trends in photography that you see? What directions are you taking to meet changes? For Bill, Yancy, Andrea and Michael the third question was: Which artists will you be showing in 2007/08 and will their exhibition reflect the trends? For the artists, the third question was: Which artists from your generation do you admire?

Bill Hunt – Hasted Hunt Gallery

1. People love new toys: home printers and Photoshop. But I am always knocked out how nothing is ever really new. I am not interested in trends, but ambitious to be ahead of the curve. The general level of photography talent is very high, but again I am more interested in what is extraordinary. Unfortunately, I don’t see any trends towards greatness. I think there may be less emphasis on separation within photography, that is, fashion, photojournalism, fine art—talent is talent. If this is a trend it is a good one.

2. Education. Listening. Patience. Guessing. Looking. Also we will phase out prints with face mounted Plexiglas and return to conventional framing.

3. We have two artists, which demonstrate two different things. Jean-Paul Goude created works in the ’70s that made it possible for artists at the turn of this century to make staged, Photoshopped work. Of course, he did it with an X-Acto blade and paste. Nothing is new. Everything old is new again. Andreas Gefeller has taken contemporary technology and used it to see something that doesn’t exist. He is the first contemporary photo-based artist whom I have encountered to see something that could not be seen before.

Yancy Richardson – Yancy Richardson Gallery

1. The biggest trend I see is the disappearance of black-and-white photography. Of all the new work I look at, I see very little good new work being produced in black-and-white. In addition, there is a continuing push towards larger and larger-sized prints made feasible by technology and the buoyancy of the art market.  Finally, there is a great deal of interest in work from the ’60s and ’70s.

2. I cannot do anything about the lack of interesting work in black-and-white, as it seems fewer artists are choosing to work that way. I just look for the best work I can find, regardless of the medium. As for scale, I am renting more storage space!

3. Our upcoming exhibitions include Don Donaghy, a long-forgotten New York school photographer who made work in the ’60s in black-and-white. In 2005 we did two shows of the ’60s photographs by Ed Ruscha. This December we will be showing the work of Andrew Moore, whose breathtaking photographs made in Russia, Sweden and the American West will be printed as large as 70 x 90”.

Andrea Meislin – Andrea Meislin Gallery

1. The gallery has been open for just over 2-1/2 years, so I may not be the right person to talk about trends. What I have noticed recently is that some collectors who are new to the gallery are buying photographs for the first time, after collecting contemporary paintings, drawings and sculpture. It is no longer just photography collectors who are interested in photographs. The medium is now another form of contemporary art to collect.

2. We will be adding at least two painters to the gallery’s stable of artists. The gallery will be participating in international contemporary art fairs—not only those devoted exclusively to photography. Most of the photographers we work with produce large-scale color images that are not limited to the earlier expectations of photographs: portable, black-and-white, etc.

3. Our schedule for 2007/2008 is still being worked on. That being said, we hope to do shows for a variety of artists ranging from a photographer who does traditional black-and-white portraits to a very smart older female “naive” painter who has never before shown in Chelsea.

Michael Mazzeo – Peer Gallery

1. Technological advances and global, political affairs will have the greatest effect on trends. Looking ahead, I expect to see more influence from Asian and South American countries as their economies grow and Internet access proliferates. As far as content and style, the ever-present narrative will give way to a more elusive poetry; we will see a greater confluence of Eastern and Western ideologies; social and political issues will be prominently addressed and environmental awareness will continue to be an important topic. I also expect to see more work from older artists. Successful photographers will need to have a good understanding and connection to the art that has come before, as well as an openness and awareness of current issues.

2. I keep an open mind and look for work that moves me on a visceral level.

3. So far, we are showing Jeff Jacobson, a photojournalist and Stan Gaz, a multimedia artist. Jacobson’s recent photographs are reflective, visionary and transcendent in a way that can only come from age and wisdom. Gaz is a prolific artist whose work, inspired by geology, art history and mythology, addresses memory, family, life and death.

These opinions and answers reflect the responses I received from other dealers and curators whom I queried. I feel that the majority of collectors will still “follow their gut,” as Bill Hunt would say. Yet we must understand that what collectors buy will be influenced by what they see and the serendipity of life. The artist’s answers were surprising in that the majority were unaware or unwilling to give in to the idea that there are trends. Most said that focusing on the creative process and their art was all they will be thinking about in 2007. This was a response from the youngest to someone like Lillian Bassman, who has made photographs for over six decades and made accommodation for the continual progression of technology in photography. Not only is she working with new papers, but also she is using, when necessary, new digital techniques. The idea of keeping an open mind about the “New Age of Photography” was also on the mind of another working photographer from the mid-century, Frank Paulin, who was excited about what could be accomplished and things he could improve upon using new systems. Frank spoke to a group of my students recently and I can say this vital 82-year old was enjoying making pictures in the 21st century. I will only be quoting one artist, Doron Gild, but I think he sums up most of what the others had to say. Here are his answers.

1. Our culture lends itself to trends, whether it’s Ryan McGinley, the Yale Girls, or one of the Britney Spears pop star things. People like certain things because they’re hot or fresh. But, at the end of its cycle, it all looks and feels the same and, for that reason, it withers away just in time for the next big thing to come onto the scene. As for photography and art in general, there will always be trends, but the images, paintings and other art forms that are really great will last. They won’t just be trends; they are timeless. They are the tools that shape our culture and history.

2. I’m trying to stay passionate and faithful to what I believe in about photography and the process. It is a very real thing for me. At the same time, I am trying to be realistic about our culture and the digital age, realizing that an evolution is happening around me. I have to adapt to the accessibility to photography. With this revolution . . . no one is necessarily forcing me, or us, to live by it. But we absolutely have to learn about and find ways to be inspired by the bombardment of images and, if need be, apply some new knowledge accumulated through these changes. Basically, I’m doing whatever feels right and moving forward in my own way.

3. Phillip Toledano inspires me with his desire to make beautiful photographs. His generosity and support of others, both artists and the people he works with—behind and in front of the camera—is amazing. He makes people around him want to become better artists, better people. He makes people smile. Phillip makes art because he loves to make art, not to prove anything to anyone. That is rare in a photographer in New York. Simon Johan’s first body of work inspired me to take my .photography to the next level. It gave me a sense of drive that pushed me to put my all into my photographs and make them my own. Even though it’s cliché to say—me. I try to make photographs AS photographs. I try to understand why I am making each individual photograph. I’m not trying to make the photograph fit within a body of work. I want to make something specific. My school of thought is not such that I say, “Okay, I’m working on a show and I’m going to make these 12 pictures.” Then, there’s the show and I’ll just move on afterwards. I like to make photographs where I enjoy my train of thought surrounding the creation of the image. That’s what I admire about Phillip Toledano. He’s currently in the process of completing four bodies of work. Not because they are projects necessarily, but because each of them is something he is passionate about and he wants them to open a dialog with the viewer; to share his passion and vision with the world.

Well, that is what the insiders have to say. What more can I add? I spend a lot of time talking to artists and realize that for them the least concern is trends. The idea of trends feels too much like commercial hype. Appreciation and understanding of their vision by others with the hope of sustaining their creative process is what concerns them most. Everything else is fluid. Is not the need for narrative depth, color and even new larger scale a type of pictorialism? I fell in love (heat) with a photograph recently, the photograph was by Leora Laor, Untitled #154, that was shown this fall at Andrea Meislin Gallery it was 32 x 42”. Except for the fact that it was a photograph it was almost timeless, painterly. I felt as if I were eavesdropping on a beautiful, yet awkward moment, the rush of a voyeur. The predominate mood was quiet longing and detachment filtered through an amber and absinthe-green palette. There were historical and layered suggestive hints, that allusions and my memory reinforced every time I visited. My soul welled with desire, but in the end, it will be a lost love. I wait to see it published somewhere, so I can rip the page out as a souvenir. So what do I feel about trends? Most of them mean nothing to me. Technology is not a trend; the demand for an artist to create is not one either. The struggle between art and life and fashion and what defines them is a constant.

   The market place needs and creates trends, one of which I think is Focus magazine and others like it.  I think that because of the number of artists that the market place must now face, Focus magazine becomes another tool, like a website to help artists showcase their images. I see that these types of publications will become a multi-purpose directory and a forum for discussions about photography. I see the need and the evolution for this kind of publication . . . I also see that every man woman and child will someday have a camera. Vincent was right—let it come!

John A. Bennette is a well-known New York photography critic and scholar whose passion is collecting and supporting emerging artists. His 1996 AIPAD address on “The Joy of Collecting” brought him to national attention within the photographic community. He is a frequent panelist and lecturer at photographic symposia nationwide. To contact John with any comments or questions, please e-mail him at [email protected]

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Collector's Focus




NEW YORK CITY—Howard Greenberg Gallery will present the photography exhibition Gordon Parks: A Choice of Weapons from October 8 through December 22 in the new gallery on the 8th floor of the Fuller Building at 41 East 57th Street.

One of the world’s leading galleries for classic and modern photography, the Howard Greenberg Gallery is celebrating its 40th anniversary with an exhibition of important work by the renowned photographer and filmmaker Gordon Parks. Through his still images, both candid and staged, the exhibition explores the roots of Parks’ future as a filmmaker. 

Parks, who described his camera as his “choice of weapons,” was known for his work documenting American life and culture with a focus on social justice, race relations, the civil rights movement, and the African American experience. He was hired as staff photographer for Life magazine in 1948, where over two decades he created some of his most groundbreaking work that cast light on the social and economic impact of poverty, discrimination, and racism.

In 1969, Parks launched a pioneering film career by becoming the first African American to write and direct a major studio feature, The Learning Tree, based on his semi-autobiographical novel—a career move foreshadowed through his cinematic approach to photography.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the release of Parks’ second feature-length directorial endeavor, Shaft (1971), a classic New York City detective film that spawned the blaxploitation genre, the gallery will present photographic works that reveal the artist’s cinematic approach. 

Parks’ earliest photographs often imply a narrative beyond the individual frame, echoing his desire to represent complex facets of his subjects’ lives and communities. Like his films, Parks’ photographs present robust narratives that seek to reveal the complexities of his subjects’ lives.

The works on view include those staged in 1952 in collaboration with Ralph Ellison and inspired by his novel  Invisible Man, as well as those made while Parks was embedded with the New York gang leader “Red” Jackson in 1948, and images of the Fontenelles, a Harlem family that struggled to feed their eight children in 1967.

The exhibition coincides with the release of the HBO documentary A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks in November, and the extended presentation of works from his series The Atmosphere of Crime in the permanent collection galleries of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

About Gordon Parks (1912-2006)
Gordon Parks was born into poverty and segregation on a farm in Kansas in 1912, the youngest of 15 children. He worked at odd jobs before buying a camera at a pawnshop in 1938 and training himself to become a photographer. From 1941 to 1945, Parks was a photographer for the Farm Security Administration and later at the Office of War Information in Washington, D.C. As a freelance photographer, his 1948 photo essay on the life of a Harlem gang leader, Red Jackson, won him widespread acclaim and a position as the first African American staff photographer and writer for Life magazine, which continued until 1972. In addition to being a noted composer and author, in 1969, Parks became the first African American to write and direct a Hollywood feature film, The Learning Tree, based on his bestselling novel of the same name. This was followed in 1971 by the hugely successful motion picture Shaft. Parks was the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Medal of Arts in 1988, and was given over 50 honorary doctorates from colleges across the United States. Photographs by Parks are in the collections of many major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, National Gallery of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. stated, “Gordon Parks is the most important Black photographer in the history of photojournalism. Long after the events that he photographed have been forgotten, his images will remain with us, testaments to the genius of his art, transcending time, place and subject matter.” 

About The Gordon Parks Foundation
The Gordon Parks Foundation permanently preserves the work of Gordon Parks, makes it available to the public through exhibitions, books, and electronic media, and supports artistic and educational activities that advance what Gordon described as “the common search for a better life and a better world.” The Foundation is a division of the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation.

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Collector's Focus

Paris Photo 2021 Review



This review originally appeared in

Paris Photo, the world’s leading art fair dedicated to photography, returns for the 24th time with a packed schedule at the impressive Grand Palais Ephémère in the heart of the French capital, from 11-14 November.
─── by Josh Bright, November 3, 2021

Featuring 177 exhibitors from 25 different countries, along with 30 publishers and booksellers, the fair represents the best of the medium, encompassing the full breadth of the photographic spectrum including the full range of styles and genres, and its earliest forms through to its most cutting–edge iterations.

New York, 1967 © Tod Papageorge / Galerie Thomas Zander

In addition to the numerous returnees, the fair will welcome 29 new main sector galleries, such as AFRONOVA (Johannesburg) who will exhibit recent works by young South African female photographers, and LOFT ART (Morocco) who will present multimedia artworks by Côte d’Ivoire-born Joana Choumali.

De bom jesus a milagres. Galo, 2011 © Claudio Edinger / Galeria Lume

Some of the highlights of the 17 solo shows and 10 duo shows, include, a selection of works by preeminent German photographer, Herbert List, presented by KARSTEN GREVE (Paris); BRAVERMAN (Tel Aviv) celebrates Ilit Azoulay’s work on photography and hysteria; São Paulo gallery LUME, Claudio Edinger’s series on Brazilian identity, and MAGNIN-A (Paris) introduce “Allegoria”, the latest, politically charged series, by Senegalese artist, Omar Victor Diop.

The diverse array of group shows incorporate a host of new and rare works, from unpublished dye transfer prints by American photographer, Tod Papageorge, exhibited for the first time by THOMAS ZANDER (Cologne), to rare prints by Magnum’s, Bruce Davidson, courtesy of HOWARD GREENBERG (New York). A selection of images by newly represented artist, Carrie Mae Weems, will be presented by FRAENKEL (San Francisco).

Drummies, 2017. The school has one sports court, which is used by all the sports teams. The drummies have to be supervised when using this court, there are active gangs present around the periphery of the schools property © Alice Mann courtesy AFRONOVA Gallery

Group presentations celebrating women in photography include the work of, among others, modernists, Berenice Abbott, Ilse Bing, Germaine Krull, and Helen Levitt, exhibited by BRUCE SILVERSTEIN (New York), and new imagery by Zanele Muholi, presented by STEVENSON (Cape Town), whilst GREGORY LEROY (Paris) and CHARLES ISAACS (New York) extol the work of Mexican photographer, Yolanda Andrade, who documented the 1980s LGBT movement in her homeland.

First launched in 2018, the Curiosa sector will return for 2021. Dedicated to platforming and celebrating emerging artists, it will highlight new trends in contemporary photographic practice, including cutting-edge documentary approaches and themes focusing on identity and the natural environment.

Curated by Shoair Mavlian, Director of Photoworks and Tate Modern’s former Assistant Curator of photography, it features solo presentations by twenty artists from eleven different countries, a number of whom will be exhibiting in France for the first time. The kaleidoscopic photographs of rising London photographer, Maisie Cousins will be on display (TJ BOULTING London) as will Jošt Dolinšek’s poetic depictions of the natural world (PHOTON Ljubljana).

Additionally, for the first time ever, Paris Photo Online Viewing Room will open to the public from November 11-17th.

Powered by Artlogic (the industry leader in digital solutions for the art world) it provides a platform for galleries and book dealers, allowing them to expand on their physical offerings, and, an opportunity for those collectors and photography enthusiasts who are unable to attend in person, to peruse and purchase artworks, discover new talent, and connect with galleries and art book dealers from around the world.

The 24th edition of Paris Photo will run from 11-14 NOV 2021. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit their website.

All images © their respective ownersSHARE:839

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Collector's Focus

A Trillion Sunsets



A Century of Image Overload

Are there too many images in the world? Too many of the wrong kind? Too many that we don’t like, or want, or need? These feel like very contemporary questions but they have a rich and fascinating history. A Trillion Sunsets: A Century of Image Overload takes a long look at our worries and compulsive fascination with the proliferation of photographic images. The exhibition highlights unlikely parallels and connections across the decades. From picture scrapbooks to internet memes, from collage and image appropriation, to art made by algorithms, the exhibition offers powerful insights and new perspectives on our long love/hate relationship with images. 

Artists include Hannah Höch, Nakeya Brown, Sheida Soleimani, Walker Evans, Sara Greenberger-Rafferty, Guanyu Xu, Hank Willis Thomas, Robert Capa, Barbara Morgan, Richard Prince, Louise Lawler, Andy Warhol, Pacifico Silano and John Baldessari.

International Center of Photography

79 Essex Street, New York, NY 10002Jan 28, 2022 – May 02, 2022

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