The Photography Show by AIPAD 2019


Held at Pier 94 for the third year, the Association of International Photography Art Dealers’ (AIPAD) 39th edition of The Photography Show was slightly smaller and less crowded, mostly due to the organizers’ decision to reduce the number of special exhibitions from three to one and spread the booths toward the ends of the pier, opening more space.  Over 90 galleries from around the world were present, including some new ones, while some of the fair’s longstanding presenters did not participate this year.

With over 2,000 visitors reported by AIPAD in just the first day (the most for an opening day), and multiple dealers reporting sales, this installment of the fair was considered very successful, as noted by an Art News review on the second day.[1]

New and contemporary work was in abundance and exciting to see. Showcasing the work of a number of new artists. The Arnika Dawkins Gallery from Atlanta, which was exhibiting in a full-sized booth for the first time this year, showed oversized unframed portraits, each of them stained, smeared and stepped on, from the series #InHonor by Ervin A. Johnson, bringing forth issues of race-related violence. On view at the same gallery booth were Delphine Diallo’s portraits that included models wearing African-style masks made of braided hair extensions.

Also new at this year’s fair were 24 project spaces, each dedicated to a single artist, featuring a specific project, photographer or theme.  This gave galleries an opportunity to show both a larger range of classic photographers as well as exposure for new artists.  Etherton Gallery of Tucson, for instance, offered highlights from the career of Danny Lyon including a large-scale collage providing a visual narrative of the artist’s influences, and also partnered with Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago, to present rare Cibachromes by Magnum photographer, Alex Webb. Stephen Bulger Gallery from Toronto introduced Meryl McMaster’s whimsical work featuring self-portraits with masks and birds among other props in open landscapes, exploring her native and European background. In another booth, Brooklyn-based artist Lissa Rivera, represented by ClampArt, New York, showcased a series of portraits of her non-binary partner BJ.  The images show BJ wearing dresses or nude in various rooms of a former religious complex in upstate New York, bringing forth notions of female representation.

Ervin A. Johnson, Sherelle (2015). Courtesy of Arnika Dawkins Gallery.

Meryl McMaster, On the Edge of This Immensity, 2019. Courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery

Lissa Rivera, Votive Portrait (Prayer Closet. Courtesy ClampArt


A project space of particular note to us exhibited the works of the Kamoinge Group, an association of African American photographers founded by Louis Draper in the 1940s and still active today.   Works in the exhibit ranged from Adger Cowans (one of the founding members of the collective), who became prominent in the 1960s with his images of Harlem and celebrities, to the more contemporary examples by French-Senegalese portraitist Delphine Diallo.  Other photographers featured were Magnum member Eli Reed, and jazz photographer Frank Stewart, as well as Russell Federick, Jamel Shabazz, Laylah Amatullah Barrayn and Delphine Fawundu, among others.  In May last year, Kamoinge released an exhibit, titled Black Women: Power and Grace, which was on display at the National Arts Club in New York. However, this was the first-time work was for sale and there was a great deal of activity in the booth.

Along with the striking contemporary works, works by 19th and 20th century artists attracted many seasoned collectors.  Rarely seen photographs by Dorothea Lange from a private collection were on view at Richard Moore Photographs, Oakland (with many sold) alongside some of Lange’s iconic images.  Classics by Ansel Adams claimed some of the highest asking prices, such as a mural sized The Tetons and Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, 1942 offered for $685,000 at the Halsted Gallery from Birmingham, MI.  The Michael Shapiro Gallery, Westport CT, meanwhile offered the opportunity to compare a vintage and a later print of Adams’ Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park, California, c. 1940, with the darker tones of the latter evident, showing the artist’s evolving style as he was perfecting the mood of the image. The vintage print was priced $300,000 while the later was $75,000.

Ansel Adams, Clearing Winter storm, Yosemite National Park, California, c. 1940, vintage print. Courtesy Michal Shapiro Gallery

Ansel Adams, Clearing Winter storm, Yosemite National Park, California, c. 1940, printed 1977. Courtesy Michal Shapiro Gallery


Canonical artists were the pillars of the special exhibition at AIPAD curated by Alec Soth.  Titled A Room for Solace: An Exhibition of Domestic Interiors, it included works from quiet still lifes to poignant portraits, such as a 1920s view of surrealist poet Paul Nougé’s home photographed by René Magritte to a 2013 portrait of artist Osamu James Nakagawa’s aging mother.  Other artists represented were Robert Mapplethorpe, Diane Arbus, Harry Callahan, Dorothea Lange, among many others.  Central to the exhibit were themes of respite and the private versus the public view.  “With this exhibition, I want to take a break from the fractious public square of photography and wander quietly into people’s homes,” the photographer wrote in a statement about the exhibition. “Behind these doors I hope to find a sliver of solace in these unstable times.”[1] As pointed out by Sammy Dalati in Art News, an interesting “inside photography sub-theme,” as Soth put it, could be detected within the exhibition, in that several photos either showed or in some way related to the life of Robert Frank.

[1] Hutton, Belle, “Inside a Calming New Photography Exhibition Dedicated to Domestic Spaces,” AnOther, 3 April 2019.

Laura Letinsky, Untitled #38 from the series Hardly More Than Ever, 2001. Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery

Elliot Erwitt, Valencia, Spain, 1952. Courtesy of Weinstein Hammons Gallery, Minneapolis


By Dora Yordanova


Sources consulted:

[1] Dalati, Sammy, “At Exciting, Slightly Smaller AIPAD Photography Show, What’s Old Feels New Again,” Art News, 5 April 2019.

[1] Hutton, Belle, “Inside a Calming New Photography Exhibition Dedicated to Domestic Spaces,” AnOther, 3 April 2019.