Paris Photo – Wednesday pm

 © 2012, Peter Marshall

Wednesday afternoon was the press preview, followed by the ‘vernissage’ and I’d already applied for and received my press pass, so all I had to do was to find the entrance. It took me a little while, as I started by finding the very long queues for the Hopper exhibition and then turned in the wrong direction, managing to walk virtually the whole way around the outside of the building (and its a very large building) before finding Paris Photo. After managing to get into the steps leading down to the show I was then sent back to find the press entrance, where I was given some documentation and finally, having had by then half a dozen security men wave readers at my card, magic wands over my body and peering into my bag was allowed to enter.

I decided to start by trying to see every stand, walking around the show in a logical fashion so as not to miss anything, stopping when I saw anything that interested me, and taking notes, but the magnitude of the show soon defeated me, and too often my handwriting does also.

So the comments I’m going to make are somewhat fragmentary, and don’t really represent the show as a whole, but are some of the highlights, and in particular will concentrate on a few things that were new to me. Take it as read that there were many good – if now familiar – images by many well-known names, as well as a great deal of work that I found without much if any interest (and much of it printed very large in colour.)

On the Robert Mann stand, some black and white work from the last decade by John Mack in Mexico stood out, with some strongly graphic images, though perhaps a little old-fashioned. Nothing wrong with that and some of the best work there was from the 1930s in Paris by Fred Stein. They also had one of the few good Robert Frank prints in the show.

At the galerie Le Réverbère from Lyon there were several photographers of interest new to me, and I particularly enjoyed the work of Géraldine Lay (b1972), Les failles ordinaires, a series of images of ‘fault lines’ in ordinary reality, some of which have a rather Hopperesque quality. You can see more of her work on her web site. They were also one of several stands to be showing work by William Klein, and you there is a link to an interview with him on the Lensculture blog which I watched yesterday.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

Another stand which caught my interest was Gungallery from Stockholm, not just for the work by Anders Petersen, largely familiar to me, but for a group of pictures by Gerry Johansson. You can see work from his various books on his web site, including Deutschland. Looking at his work I immediately thought of Robert Adams, and picking up the book Oglunda and opening it I found myself reading an appreciative foreword by Adams.

One area was devoted to the 30 short-listed books in the Photobook of the Year Award, and I’m pleased to hear that Anders Petersen’s City Diary – three straightforward volumes of photographs which to me stood out head and shoulders above most of the rest for both the quality of the photography and for the simplicity and effectiveness of its design – was the winner. Some of the others seemed to have been selected simply for their tricksy design despite the often banal images, and at least one seemed to lack all the basic qualities of an actual book. Out of the 10 there were only perhaps two or three I would have made space for on my shelves had I been sent copies for review – including those by Lise Sarfati and possibly Stephen Shore – though I didn’t think the print on demand volume showed his work too well. Overall, the standard of the First Photobook Prize was perhaps higher. Although I wouldn’t myself have picked the winner, David Galjaard‘s Concresco, it was an interesting set of pictures. Other interesting books were by Lucas Foglia and Jerome Sessini, and Cristina de Middell deserved a prize for humour for her images of the Zambian space program. She has just been announced as one of those short-listed for the 2013 Deutsche Börse photography prize. Though I hope it goes to Chris Killip, it seems unlikely and I can only agree with Sean O’Hagan about that and the nomination of de Middell.

The Magnum stand was perhaps a little disappointing, though a collection of images by Raymond Depardon mainly taken in the San Clemente Psychiatric Hospital in 1979 stood out.

There were tributes to Louis Stettner, marking his 90th birthday – and most of his best work was from his early years in Paris, so this was a fitting place, as well as to Martine Franck who died in August, aged 74.

Other shows within the show included one from the J P Morgan Chase Art Collection. It started well, with a couple of Cartier-Bresson‘s best (and one also-ran), and a couple of good Walker Evans images among his four and the same for Robert Frank. 11 by Eggleston seemed rather too many for such a small show, and then there were four Friedlanders and 3 Winogrands. After all this, the portrait of a farmer by Eve Arnold and two by Lynne Cohen came as rather an anti-climax. It looked as if the curator had got to that point and suddenly realised that there were no pictures by women in the show and searched desperately for anything that might fill the gap. Surely there are better images by women – these women or others – in the 6000 in the JP Morgan collection? Perhaps an Arbus or two and a Nan Goldin?

As usual many of the best colour prints on show, and quite a few of the black and white, were inkjet prints, though there were at least one hundred and one ways of making that less obvious to the label reader (and far too many pictures that didn’t have any label, as well as some that you would have had to get on your knees to read.)  But there were vintage C-types, almost always recognisable by an overall orange or brown cast as they continue to decay, though this does not yet seem to have affected their prices.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

There was, as in previous years, some interesting Japanese photography on several stands, and I was also amused by the photocollages of Toshiko Okanoue, at the Third Gallery Aya from Osaka which was showing the work of 4 Japanese women, with Ishiuchi Miyako, Yamazawa Eiko, Akasaki Mima and her.

There was so much more. Kertesz, another photographer who made Paris his home, had work on so many stands, but particularly on that of Vintage from Hungary. Weegee too came up on several, there were a few by Leon Levinstein I don’t recall having seen before. The Feroz Gallery, founded by Julian Sander, great grandson of August Sander had a nice wall of grandfather’s prints, while another stand had an unfortunate collection of bad copies made by Sherrie Levine, along with her lousy copies of Walker Evans, work which I can’t accept has any validity or place on an exhibition wall – the only place it belongs is as an exhibit in a copyright court.

By around 7.30pm I was exhausted, and since no-one seemed to be offering me any of the champagne they were drinking I decided it was time to leave and get something real to eat and drink.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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