NEW YORK—The Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) recently wrapped up its annual show (March 29–April 1) at the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan. Toronto photography dealer Stephen Bulger, who is completing his second two-year term as head of the AIPAD, told ARTnewsletter: “Everyone I spoke with sounded pretty happy. I’ve never been happier or more relieved.”
This was the first AIPAD show in five years in which all of the 76 exhibitors were members of the association. In the past four years, AIPAD has invited nonmembers “in order to fill the floor,” according to Kraige Block, director of New York’s Throckmorton Fine Art and chair of AIPAD’s show committee. He added that the results of this year’s show and the experience of other member galleries “indicate that the economy has gotten stronger and that people feel more confident” about buying photographs. Bulger also noted “more confidence among visitors to the show. There was no talk of doom and gloom, as we’ve seen in the past several years.”
Attendance at the most recent AIPAD show continued its upward trend. This year’s 11,000 total was 10 percent higher than last year’s record 10,000, which surpassed the previous year’s 8,300.
Block called this AIPAD show “the best we’ve ever had,” resulting in the sale of 30 photographs for a total of “more than $150,000.” The gallery’s two top-selling works were a 1924 black-and-white print by Tina Modotti, Arch Wall and Fountain, and a 1927 image by Edward Weston, Tina Reciting, both of which sold for $50,000 apiece to private collectors.
Another AIPAD exhibitor, dealer Richard Moore of Oakland, Calif., also considered this year’s show his best yet. Moore noted that the timing of this show, taking place just before the photography sales at the New York auction houses, enabled visitors to compare what they were seeing at the previews of the auctioneers with the material on view at AIPAD.
Manhattan photography gallery owner Robert Mann said that the auction houses published their catalogues a bit earlier this year, which enabled some AIPAD dealers to make adjustments in what they were bringing to the show in order to avoid duplication. “In general, the auction houses have more vintage work, while this year’s AIPAD had a lot more contemporary, large-scale color work,” he noted.
Sidney Monroe, owner of the Monroe Gallery of Photography in Santa Fe, N.Mex., also called this the “best year we’ve ever had” at the show, having sold between 40 and 50 prints at prices ranging from $2,000/45,000. In total, sales amounted to “just under $500,000.”
Several large-format, color digital prints by Stephen Wilkes from his “New York: Day to Night” series, priced at $40,000 each, were sold, as well as a number of $5,000 black-and-white images of the 1960s Civil Rights movement by photojournalist Bill Eppridge. “All of our buyers were private collectors, although there were several institutions we talked with,” said Monroe.
Private Manhattan dealer Charles Isaacs, whose “business is heavily weighted toward museum sales,” was also pleased with his results. The most notable sale was a pair of 1858 Gustave Le Gray images of the French fleet in the harbor that brought $175,000. Another private New York City dealer, Charles Schwartz, who said he grossed $120,000 in sales during the four days, noted that “I generally do well at these shows, and this year I did very well.” His top sale was $25,000 for an 1850s daguerreotype by an unknown photographer, which sold to a private collector.
Among the 76 exhibitors were some newcomers to AIPAD, including Sasha Wolf, a private New York City photography dealer since 2007, and the David Zwirner gallery in Manhattan, which is better known for paintings, sculpture and installations.
The Zwirner booth featured photographs from Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s recent series titled “East of Eden,” priced from $25,000/35,000. “We sold a few works” from that group, according to gallery director Julia Joern, as well as a few of the artist’s Polaroids, priced at $4,000 apiece, and one photograph from his series “A Storybook Life,” priced at $15,000. All of the sales were made to clients who were new to the gallery, Joern said.