My reward for finishing the taxes was a day trip to NYC to see the AIPAD show. The Association of International Photography Art Dealers annual show brings together dealers, collectors and just plain lovers of fine photography at the romantic (and slightly dilapidated) Armory at 67th and Park. Seventy galleries display hundreds of gorgeous prints from all the masters — Kertesz, Adams, Cartier Bresson, Weston, Avedon, Mapplethorpe — I came to pay homage and to be stimulated. I was especially taken by the Robert Bergman series from his trips out west in the late 80’s. Armed only with a 35mm film camera, a fast lens and an enviable ability to get very close to his subjects, he created these emotionally charged portraits of some of life’s less fortunate travelers.
I studied with Joel Meyerowitz last spring and admire both his street and landscape work (two very opposite disciplines that I also embrace) but I’ve never seen one of his prints at this scale. I think it’s from his seminal Cape Light book which I remember pouring over in a store unable to buy it as a college student. Working with a view camera and available light, his landscapes from this period are brilliantly profound and artfully nuanced — masterpieces that still yield a salty air of serenity even 35 years later.
Salgado is mostly known for his haunting social documentaries of third world workers and displaced populations. His powerful images pull back the veneer of a world economy that often depends on exploited peoples in hard surroundings. His more recent work focuses on endangered wildlife and ecosystems. This timeless elephant portrait (only $14,000!) leaves me breathless.
Finally, Alec Soth, an artist who finds rich narratives in the everyday. Every picture asks a dozen questions and his style is fluid and unpretentious. His Sleeping by the Mississippi portraits from a decade ago were so powerful and unnerving that I never thought he could go much further or deeper. But he has. The show runs through this Sunday and is the best $25 ticket you’ll ever spend.