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Memorable moments at AIPAD, told by the exhibitors


This year, The Photography Show presented by AIPAD will take place from April 5th to 8th at Pier 94 in New York. It is one the oldest photographic fair with lots of special moments. Until its opening, The Eye of Photography will publish a selection of memories of the fair collected from  gallery owners, mostly related to photographs.

– Robert Mann, Robert Mann Gallery, New York: One of my most memorable moments was at one of the first or second AIPAD shows when it was at the Roosevelt Hotel in NYC and Robert was still working with Harry Lunn. Harry had a deal with Robert Frank to purchase 1,000 photographs, delivered in what was described as “tranches” 250 prints per year over a four-year period.  Harry just received one tranche right when the AIPAD show began. They were attempting to catalogue and organize 250 vintage and later Robert Franks in the booth at the same time Harry was selling them to both clients and dealers. It was utter madness, but completely exhilarating, watching dozens of Frank prints fly out of the booth, many of which over time come back to Robert Mann Gallery ! Here is one that Robert Mann Gallery brought to AIPAD in 2014.


– Stephen Bulger, Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto: A few months before AIPAD 2003, I received a call from a woman whose recently deceased mother had received some photographs by Paul Strand, a gift related to some work he had done for her. A similar call prior to this one had resulted in posters, so hearing that she didn’t like the photographs enough to keep them–and apparently, that her son didn’t even want them for his university dorm room – made me less than enthusiastic. That changed, however, when she visited with three beautiful gold-toned gelatin silver contact prints. Her mood changed drastically when she learned how much they were worth! The portrait of Hilaire Cotton sold to the National Gallery of Canada only minutes after AIPAD opened that year.


– Catherine Edelman, Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago: One of the most memorable moments for me was last year, and seeing how amazing The Photography Show looked at Pier 94. The place was huge, and allowed many who show contemporary work to rent larger booths to showcase important work. Last year I featured Syrian photographer Omar Imam, and his award-winning series Live, Love, Refugee – 11 images he created in the refugee camps in Lebanon, describing people fears and dreams. Through constructed narratives, Imam helped us understand the challenges Syrians faced and continue to endure today. While it’s difficult to pull one image to represent the series, the one of the father holding a plate of dirt, stands out. In the piece, he states: “There was only grass, but I couldn’t pass it through my throat. Yet I forced myself to swallow in front of the children so they would accept it as food.” – Aminah, 40 years old. I think the photograph speaks for itself.


– Jenkins Johnson, Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco and New York: Ortiz’s Night Vigil, Lil’ Al, Englewood, Chicago 2008, exhibited at AIPAD 2015, is memorable to me, a black gallerist, because of the emotional reaction of the viewer to the tears and pain of Lil’Al’s family captured by candlelight. Some of the viewers silently cried, others discussed the image with their friends while some expressed their comments to me and my staff.  The photograph, installed with eight other images from the series We All We Got stopped viewers in their tracks. While the shootings on the Southside of Chicago continue to this day, I am impressed by the empathy and compassion expressed for Humanity today. Where there is terror, there is also a glimpse of the innocence that remains and a tiny glimmer of hope. – Karen Jenkins-Johnson


– Nailya Alexander, Nailya Alexander Gallery, New York: At the last AIPAD Show (2017) our gallery presented large scale photographs by the master of Russian avant-garde photography, Boris Ignatovich (1899-1976). These photographs were exhibited for the first time in the US, among them was Shower1935, that generated a lot of interest and produced a lasting impression. Scholar and art critic Margarita Tupitsyn, Ph. D. commented on the photograph in her essay in Arts Magazine (1989): “In 1935, photographer Boris Ignatovich, a former member of the October Group, took a photograph of a group of young, athletic men in a public shower. It showed one figure sitting in the foreground, his muscular back to the viewer, with more bathers standing together in the background. Ignatovich’s friend, painter Alexander Deyneka, came across this photograph and asked if he could use it as a prototype for one of his paintings. Later he produced a work which he himself considered to be a failure in comparison to the original photograph.”


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