The fact, that the decision was made to place the fair at a Hollywood movie studio was no coincidence either as the organizers instinctively felt if you are going to go in--you go all in and Hollywood is known for it's moving images and what better place to salute photography and the moving image than the historic Paramount Lot.
So there I am, eager with anticipation--just me and an entire day of photography galleries and book sellers. I am not sure what to do first, think Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory and I am the holder of a golden ticket. The very first image I see when I walk in the first sound stage is the above print by one of my favorite photographers and mentor Catherine Wagner. I saw Catherine's giant print from Gallery Luisotti and I knew I was in photo heaven.
Below is my list of what surprised me and what took my breath away and what I want, still..
Sally Mann, Battlefields at Karsten Greve
I will start with the above shot of the Sally Mann solo show by Paris based Karsten Greve Gallerie. We all know Sally Mann's iconic work of her kids growing up au naturel but I have never seen this work from her before, dark brooding and breathtaking. I loved how the exhibition takes up the space of quite a large booth too.
Above work by Carolle Benitah, Gallerie 127, Marrakesh
If I had to pick one gallery and one artist that absolutely floored me, left me breathless and I learned new ideas from as an artist and an art collector it would have to be this beautiful Moroccan artist Carolle Benitah. She is the reason I come to these fairs. Her work was beyond. Carolle took her family photos growing up from her life and embroiders them with red thread, or paints on them in red ink or applies red or black beads to them. Her work reads so personal and intimate and by hand sewing each image in each edition and hand beading or painting byzantine designs on her subjects she is personalizing it further by drawing upon her past, her culture and her experience as a woman within that culture. I cannot say enough about this brilliant artist and I know we will see her again and again. I wanted everything she made.
John Cyr, is just the type of young emerging photographer I like to collect. He is documentary in style, straightforward and has contemporary relevance. Also his work made me chuckle. Whenever an artist's work makes me laugh out loud I know they are smart and clever and worth investigating further.
His work stopped me in my tracks and was provocative. Each artwork was framed in a shadow box with a small engraved brass plate attached to the frame attributing the artist name whom the tray belongs to such as "Ansel Adams, Adam Fuss or Aaron Siskind." John Cyr writes each artist or their estate and in some cases is given the actual developer tray that the photographer is using right now and only given 24 hours or a few days to shoot it before he must return it back to them.
The obvious being that darkrooms and developing your own film is a dieing art and merits documenting in today's digital Adobe age. If you can't own an Ansel Adams or a afford a Sally Mann- hey get their developer tray!
Gregory Scott is an artist I first noticed last year at Art Platform and then again at the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair. His work uses new media or video and creates a tromp de l'oeil illusion. Scott is quite clever and each installation references another famous artwork from Hopper to Seurat or Rothko. They all take place in a gallery or museum setting as the artist plays with a picture within a picture within a picture. At Catherine Edelman's booth there were two running concurrently and I could not stop watching as I was trying to hold a conversation between Catherine and Director Julie. These artworks are incredible and his craft is amazing. See video below.
Case in point, Fred Herzog is another artist I was not aware of before Paris Photo Los Angeles. I was immediately attracted to his work though because it reminded me of Gary Winogrand or Joel Meyerowitz. Of a time when street photographers ran around with nothing but their Leica cameras and documented their world. However, I also loved this work because of his documentation of the late 60's and early 70's. The fashion and the signage in the streets. The image "Family" I was drawn to in particular because I can relate to it's subject matter. I love the nostalgia of a family not dissimilar to my own growing up in Canada. Fred Herzog is another photographer I am glad I learned about and am definitely marinating over a future acquisition.
One last thought I wanted to share was the prominence of rare edition books and publishers of art books at the fair. The book arts is alive and well and was displayed all over the New York backlot but definitely not for the price sensitive. Among some highlights I saw was an entire set of first edition volumes on Bernd and Hilla Becher sold as one lot--I did not even want to know the asking price but impressed just at the sight of the volumes altogether in a display case like that. Yikes. I also found a first edition rare handmade book-the last one left by artist Daido Moriyama (who I might add is suddenly everywhere(!)) selling for $65,000. So now the books have become a collectible entity in their own right and cost more than many of the artworks at the fair. Well it was just a matter of time, sigh.
Last edition of rare book handmade by Daido Moriyama selling for $65,000.
The lectures and book signing appearances were staggering as well. Next time Paris Photo Los Angeles hits town I think I will treat it like I am going on a business trip. Book a room at the W Hollywood and map out the lectures I want to attend:
John Divola and Richard Misrach-check
Todd Hido and Doug Rickard book signings- check and check
My take away from Paris Photo Los Angeles is this, Merci Beaucoup REED Exhibitions for bringing a show of this caliber to Los Angeles and throwing a fantastic celebration of photography that brought the art collecting and photography community together. I loved that in one Hollywood historic backdrop I could schmooze with gallery friends from Canada, Chicago, San Francisco and yes Los Angeles too. I was in photography heaven and I cannot wait for them to return again. My hunch is the galleries did well, very well.
This show was like catnip to art/photography collectors and we could not stay away. If you missed it this year and we are lucky enough for it to return next year-GO, in fact do not pass go do not collect $200 just run and soak in all the dare I say great Los Angeles "culture."