Saturday, March 26, 2011

Surreal Photo Face Game: Physogs England 1930s

PHYSOGS The Novel Card Game was published in England circa mid-1930s. It's an exceptionally clever use of photographs of parts of the face - eyes, nose, mouth - to create endless arrangements, many with surreal results. For details click here to read the description written for the game, which is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Note that the Met citation lists the date as 1940s. However through research on toy/game sites, it appears this was published in the mid-1930s by Waddington.

Four blank face cards, eyes, mouth and nose cards and additional 
game elements

 Eyes, nose and mouth cards in the game box

Arrangement of cards creating faces

Game box with all elements in place

Portion of the game box with arranged face

Face cards; three blank

Arranged face elements with surreal results

 Guess who?

 Blank face card

Three faces cards with bizarre results!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Body In Print: First Periodical ~ Nude Studies 1903

Through the efforts of Librarie d'Art Technique, and the development of the halftone printing process at the turn-of-the-century, the first periodicals devoted to the photographic nude were published in Paris circa 1903. Although there was the precedent setting, folio size Les Nus Esthetique published a year earlier (a post dedicated to it will soon follow), L'Etude Academique was the first magazine aimed at a larger general audience. Although the veil of the "academic nude" was draped over this publication, it is clear that the intended buyer was not the creative community of painters and sculptors (see the previous post). 

Too much emphasis cannot be placed on the importance of the development of the halftone (dot matrix, benday screen) printing process for the dissemination of photographic images in magazines, newspapers and books. This technical advancement transmitted for the first time, photographic images of people and places (as well as nudes) around the globe via the printed page. Here's the first pin-up magazine, the first men's magazine, the ground breaking Playboy magazine of its time.

Above is the cover of a bound volume of this rare publication. 
Below, in no particular order, are scans of covers and pages from 
these exceptional publications, measuring 7" x 9".

 Frontispiece created for the bound volumes 

 Title page created for the bound volumes

 On the right, the youthful, popular model Fernande


Click here for a link to my eBay store to see another periodical published by Librarie d'Art Technique, La Grace Feminine, 1905.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

French Nudes: Small Format Photographs 1870s~1900

Photographic images of the male and female nude, influenced by classical paintings and sculptures, dominate the early history of the genre. Towards the end of the 1870s in France, the role of the photographer as creator of nude studies for use as "academic" studies for painters and sculptors, was drawing to a close. Although a number of photographers active in France continued in the academic vein, there was the emergence of a new style, embracing realism as well as allegory, fantasy and eroticism.

All of the photographs in this post measure approx. 4" x 5". The earliest image, circa 1870s and all those up to circa 1890 are albumin emulsion photographs. The post 1890 images are gelatin emulsion photographs. 

The photograph above, attributed to Louis Igout (see my post about Igout's photographs) circa 1870s, is an example of a late academic pose.

Below is a circa 1880s, albumin emulsion photograph, showing the influence of classic sculpture on the photographer's composition.

The following three photographs are all circa 1880s and albumin emulsions. The compositions and imagery remain within the academic realm while 
introducing "realistic" props for the models. 

The following four images are late 1880s albumin emulsion photographs. The imagery takes a big step into the realm of fantasy and allegory as it moves away from the influence of academia. These images were made by posing the models laying on the floor with the camera overhead, creating a feeling of floating or being suspended in air. 
Ingenious and quite surreal.

The final five photographs are circa 1900 and have moved away from the academic influence. The focus, on the curves and sensuality of the bodies, is to amuse and seduce the viewer.

All five are very beautiful, burgundy toned, gelatin emulsion photographs, often referred to in France by its technical name, "papier citrate". Most collector's and dealers in the states refer to this type of emulsion as printing-out-paper or p-o-p prints. 

Are you old enough to remember those dark burgundy colored photographs that the high school photographer gave your parents with the word "PROOF" written across them? Those contact prints on "proofing paper" were a modern version of this, circa 1900, printing-out-paper.

Photographic nudes available for sale can be found in my eBay store by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Next Shows: New York, London & Verona May, 2011

Plans for my upcoming show season were put into complete disarray when the schedules for three major shows were set for the same weekend in May! The weekend is the 21st and 22nd. The shows are The New York Postcard Show, Cartexpo ~ Paris Postcard Show and Veronafil ~ Postcard, Stamp and Postal History Show in Verona, Italy.

It was difficult to come up with a plan that made sense until I found out about another show taking place in London on Sunday the 15th, one week before the two European shows. After sending in the agreement to participate in the Verona Show, I also decided to take my usual table at the New York Show which will be maintained by my son, Simon, for the first two days of the show. Information and links to all four shows follows.

The London Photo Fair  Sunday May 15th. Bloomsbury Holiday Inn, Coram Street. The fair will be taking place on the same day as a preview for a photographs auction at the Bloomsbury Auction House.

The New York City Postcard Show  May 20, 21 and 22nd. New Yorker Hotel, 34th Street & 8th Avenue. Last day of the show is optional for dealers; best to attend on the 20th or 21st.

Cartexpo Paris Postcard Show  May 19 and 20th. Espace Champerret, Porte Champerret. New location for the show is also the perennial location for the fall paper show.

Veronafil  Postcards, Stamps, Postal History, Numismatics. May 20, 21 and 22nd. Verona, Italy. Verona Trade Show Center. Many dealers pack up and leave the show as early the afternoon of the 21st; best to attend the 20th and early in the day of the 21st.

My stand at last years Verona show

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.