Monday, March 21, 2011

New York City Photo Fairs: March 19, 2011

The AIPAD fair was in full swing at the armory at 67th and Park when I walked up to take a look on Friday after checking in at the Photo Fair on 59th Street. The exhibits were crowded with viewers as the AIPAD dealers always present an excellent selection of 19th, 20th century and cutting edge contemporary photography. 

Along with the superb presentations, the eye-popping escalations in the price structure of the photograph's market continues to make an impression. Prices for high quality 19th and 20 century photography appear to be based on record breaking winning bids achieved at auction. When it comes to pricing for a public showing such as AIPAD, many seasoned dealers seem to ignore the realities of the current market, the continuing economic slump and most importantly, the quality of the images themselves.

In particular, I am referring to the prices of non-iconic photographs, such as those on view by Frantisek Drtikol and Eugene Atget (low six figures) as well as a Diane Arbus portfolio of ten photographs, just shy of seven figures. It's time to send in the canaries to test the little air left to breath at the top of the photograph's market. 

Below are a few photos of the gallery offerings.


On the other side of the coin, eight blocks south was the New York Photo Show, a one day, table-top event held at the Lighthouse on 59th Street, just off Park Avenue. The show is in its second year and was organized and promoted by Steve Yager who deserves a hearty "thank-you" from all involved. I was pleased to be a participating dealer at the fair. 

There were about 30 dealers at their tables at eight in the morning for the "early buyers", which included many dealers exhibiting at the AIPAD show. It was great to see the AIPAD dealers in the room (besides the obvious reasons) as some of them had started their careers, like many of us holding stands, in similar photo fairs in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. 

In the tradition of what began more that 30 years ago, this one-day show and sale brought together primarily metro area dealers specializing in 19th century photography, especially dealers in "hard images": daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes. There was also an abundance of press photos, stereo views, real photo postcards, snap-shots and large format 19th century travel and ethnographic imagery.

Saturday's overdue and welcomed event was therefore a resurrection of the "collectibles" photo fair in New York City. Historically the photo fairs in New York City go back at least to the late 1970s. My first experience with the fair was in  1985/86 soon after I started my business. When I took my first stand at the photo fair (which I believe started as a camera fair) it was held on the 21st floor of the Penta Hotel (34th Street and 7th Avenue, known today as the Hotel Pennsylvania). This was the same venue, with floor to ceiling windows and spectacular views of the city, where the Metropolitan New York Postcard club held its shows for about ten years.

Many years later with the growth of the internet and explosion of the eBay marketplace, the existence of photo fairs in particular and collectibles fairs in general, were jeopardized and after years of downward momentum, photo fairs of any kind ceased to exist in New York City. So it was with enthusiasm that I prepared for the fair, pulling together material that I thought would be of interest to a "local crowd" of collectors and dealers alike.

However, what hadn't crossed my mind was that the fair, because of its strategic placement on the calendar during the AIPAD weekend, besides stimulating sales, would bring together many colleagues and old friends, some going back 25 years. In the final assessment this fair was a return of an event that has been, for too long, absent in New York. Hopefully, going forward, it will continue to expand and grow via the network of photo dealers and collectors in the metro area. 

Some of the familiar faces selling at the fair were Julian Wolff, Larry Berke, Andrew Daneman, David Chow, Thomas Harris, Dr.Stanley Burns and Stewart Butterfield. Dealers attending who were in the mix at the New York fairs going back to the late '80s and early '90s were Mack Lee, Henry Feldstein, William Schaeffer, Charles Schwartz, Keith de Lellis and Fred Pajerski.

General view of the fair with the huge windows facing 60th Street.
 Part of my stand; Larry Bauhmor in the background.

 Above, two views of my stand

 Wendell Maruyama, photographer, at my stand.

Three photos above: dealers at their stands.

Photo dealer Keith de Lellis

 Andrew Daneman on the left in the foreground. Flying in from Copenhagen earned him the unofficial long distance award by a long shot.

 Wide-eyed and ready at a dag display case.

 Thomas Harris (left) at his stand with photo dealer David Winter.

Andrew Daneman and photo book dealer Fred Pajerski.

Larry Bauhmor, long time photo dealer and regular at The Garage flea market in Chelsea, kept me amused with his day long "shtick" about his grandmother, facebook putzes (putzii?), gefilte fish and much more. Click here to read and see more about Larry.

1 comment:

  1. It was impressive to see the New York Photo Show also attracted attendees from outside the U.S.. I enjoyed the show and am looking forward to visiting again next year.