Two centuries of photography: spotting trends at triumphant 20th anniversary of Paris Photo
Paris Photo is the most important event in the photography calendar, drawing collectors, dealers, and curators from around the world. After last year’s closure in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks, fair expanded its exhibition spaces this year and 153 galleries and 30 booksellers with 43 newcomers from over 30 different countries had come together to create the 20th edition. For a weekend the city became the capital of photography, and was bustling with events, exhibitions, and auctions.
Paris Photo took place since 1997, and traditionally located in the Grand Palais from 2011. Here are collected the works of the best photographers of the last two centuries, and every year it is visited by tens of thousands of people.
This event is hugely influential as it’s attended not just by the art trade and collectors but also by curators, institutions, and patrons who see this as a vital point of inspiration; increasingly, it’s a place to spot trends.
Photo by Jérémie Bouillon, 2016
This year there was certainly a dialogue between the photographs throughout the fair concerning the representation of the human body and the
Works varied from traditional, idealized images of women to surrealistic works, and raw images of the human form in a more natural state, like in Schmidt’s photography and Galerie Vu’s showing of the series "Gender Bender" by Laerke Posselt.
“The Last Sitting”, commissioned by Vogue in 1962. Image of Marilyn Monroe by Bert Stern, (Staley-Wise Gallery, New York.)
Horst P. Horst, Muriel Maxwell, Ensemble by Sally Victor, Bag by Paulo Flato, Sunglasses by Lugene, 1939
Laerke Posselt De la série Gender Bender, 2016 © Laerke Posselt / VU'
Michael Schmidt, Untitled (from Frauen) (1997-1999). Photo ©Stiftung für Fotografie und Medienkunst mit Archiv Michael Schmidt; Courtesy Galerie Nordenhake Berlin/Stockholm
"Body as a material — photography as a medium," are the words on the wall beside Valérie Belin’s pigment print, framed with non-reflective glass to create striking visual and textural effects. (Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris)
Detail from "Power Girl" from the series All Stars (2016), by Valérie Belin
The second, ultimate shock was from Ulla Jokisalo’s ongoing "Headless Women" series (from 2013 onwards), which replaces the heads of graceful female models with those of birds, hedgehogs and other animals, using pigment print and sewing pins. (Gallery Taik Persons, Berlin.)
For others, this year’s most interesting aspect was the new interpretation of vintage works and how much printing has improved and changed: ink jet prints are now producing work of a comparable quality with those produced in a laboratory and the new process allows for much larger formats.
New editions of vintage works are controversially commanding impressive prices. Rose Gallery was selling William Eggleston‘s series with a price tag of €191,000. The edition was produced and sold in 2011.
Other curious technical works include Sally Mann at Karsten gallery who is combining the old-fashioned technology of wet plates with ink jet printing. Michael Hoppen gallery was selling Manuel Franquelo, an artist who prints his work on gesso-coated aluminum. Franquelo is one of the few contemporary artist’s at the fair who has successfully crossed over to photography, and the gallery is reportedly "pleased with the sales."
One notable runaway success at the fair has been at Galerie 1900−2000, a first-time attendee, with a series of 20 David Hockney photographs. Fresh to the market, these works were sold out within moments of the fair opening. It’s a series that made up the artist proofs—produced between 1970−1975 and printed by Sonnabend Gallery in New York in 1976, each photograph is inscribes to Lucien, the assistant of Man Ray and later, Hockney
At the heart of the fair were the main sector galleries, the publishers and the PRISMES sector featuring series, large formats and installations.
Following its success last year, the Prismes sector has expanded this year to a larger space in the Salon d’Honneur of the Grand Palais; there are 14 presentations of works, including White Space Gallery’s selection of prints by the Russian cinematographer Andrei Tarkovsky, and an Edward Burtynsky display courtesy of the Howard Greenberg, Nicholas Metivier, Bryce Wolkowitz and Flowers galleries. Additionally, the Platform proposed a conversation series, and under the glass roof of the Grand Palais we could discover Alinka Echeverría.
Winner of the BMW Residency, Alinka Echeverría presented a project
examining the photographic medium — invention, reproduction, image
transfer, and its dissemination process, through the character of
Nicéphore Niépce and its founding origin, invention of photography
with the first heliography. With an interest in the representation
of women in the history of Art and Photography, she weaved
historical, technical and philosophical ties between ceramics
and the collections of the Nicéphore Niépce Museum where
the BMW Residency takes place.
Asian photography had an appealing presence at the fair. Dispite that there were mostly black-and-white photography, it characterized incredible strength and expression.
For example, Yumiko Chiba Associates, a commercial gallery in Shinjuku (Tokyo), was showing works by Masafumi Maita; Flowers Gallery was pleased to announce a solo exhibition by South Korean photographer Boomoon. Also there were works by Risaku Suzuki, Hiroshi Yamazaki, Yukio Futagawa, Masao Yamamoto and many others.
Paris Photo has evolved to reflect the changes in the photography market over the last 20 years and the professional white booths are a long way away from the origins of the fair when dealers were trading photographs out of cardboard boxes.
Based on materials from the official websites of Paris Photo, Artnet news, The Guardian and other sources