Monday, March 28, 2011

On the Road Again

As you can probably see from this picture taken out of my hotel window, I'm in Paris - to participate in a symposium at the Pernod Ricard Foundation. Then on to London to meet with some museum and gallery people.

I've just arrived but will share whatever good things I find.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Photograph by Robert Beck/SI

The above photograph of Brigham Young University's Jimmer Fredette graces the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated and is justly being hailed an instant classic. Taken by SI's Robert Beck during BYU's third-round win over Gonzaga, it captures the 6' 2" leading collegiate scorer as he soars to make a three-pointer.

It has it all! The impossible height Fredette seems to achieve, the domination of the Gonzaga defender, the dramatic light that echoes the ball as it prepares to make its way to the hoop. The greatest sports photographs are always works of art.

Monday, March 21, 2011

AIPAD Reader Favorites

Nobuyoshi Araki. Untitled, from the series "Mythology", 2001

Two people were kind enough to send in their AIPAD favorites. Above - from photographer Frank Schramm with this explanation:

Here is my favorite image from this years AIPAD Show 2011. The Galerie Priska Pasquer, who specializes in Japanese Photography and, who was effected not getting all the images it wanted from some of there newer artists, due to the Tsunami, I was very taken by a photograph by one of my favorite photographers, Nobuyoshi Araki. This being from his series "Mythology" 2001 - I have never seen this image before. It is not the style one would expect from Araki's - other work. It's interesting to me because of it's - classic style of a young japanese woman dressed in traditional kimono attire. I really love this image, because, I see it as Araki - "Inside - Out" in reflection of his traditional images.

Photograph by Esteban Pastorino Diaz

And these two images (above and below) from Lane Nevares without any comment.

Photograph by Rita Bernstein

Saturday, March 19, 2011

AIPAD 2011

It's the weekend of AIPAD (the Association of International Photographic Art Dealers show) at the Park Avenue Armory, and while it didn't work out on our gallery schedule to participate, there are plenty of great things to see. Given a busy travel schedule, I haven't able to do my usual aisle by aisle round-up, but one of the great pleasures of AIPAD is discovering that gem of a photograph by some unknown or little known photographer and this year, the always reliable David Winter came through again.

For those not in the know, David is a private dealer specializing in vernacular, press, 19th century and other great images not in the usual high-end or big name price range. It's the image that matters to him and his booth is always bursting with a hyper-salon style floor to ceiling hanging.

I caught this image there of Coretta Scott King and while I don't know the exact details, it seems to have been taken at a rally in the 1960s (that's Harry Belafonte in the back) or perhaps a funeral. It looks a little like a William Klein of the period but the composition with King's face framed by the two military helmets, the drama of the foreshortening combined with the slashing line of the gun and bayonet, and the incredible nobility of King's face make for a memorable and powerful image.

AIPAD runs through tomorrow afternoon so if you're anywhere near the city do go see it. And feel free to send me your own favorite find. (To

Friday, March 11, 2011


Lunching at The Standard Hotel today, I noticed that every single person at the tables around us was on their phone. This touching father/daughter scene was a wry comment on communication in the digital age (and made for a pretty good iPhone snap). FYI - I was not on my phone. I'm not a fan of texting while dining with others.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

When Terry Met Robert

The legendary art director Alexey Brodovich famously instructed his student Richard Avedon to "Astonish me!". I've always thought my mantra would be more about delight, but originality, energy, wit and sometimes shock are in there too. The bad boys of photography get this and today no-one gets it better than Terry Richardson.

I was surfing the web looking at Terry Richardson pictures when I came across these images that the photographer shot for Reebok last year. (They're pretty tame compared to a lot of his work, I know.) The brief was to revitalize the brand's "Classics Collection" with a campaign that would run in VICE Magazine but I think he did an amazing job showing what can come out of a creative and original vision. Bear in mind that all he's working with is a girl in a room, rather basic clothing, and the sneakers, but look what he brought to the job with his humor and verve.

A further example of Richardson's work can now be seen around New York on billboards of his new campaign for the skateboard and clothing company Supreme. Chelsea being Chelsea, these pictures have now been integrated into street art by an unknown artist who's been pasting up half-tone details of famous artist's portraits including the famous Robert Mapplethorpe self-portrait. It's an apt mash-up. And I'm pretty sure Robert would have approved of it all - Richardson, Lady Gaga (especially after she reportedly dissolved a deal with Target over their support of anti-gay candidates), and the street art!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Galliano Affair

I wanted to write about the John Galliano affair because as a Jew with an English accent and a posh education (St. Paul’s School and Yale) people often assume I'm not Jewish and are therefore more open (and conspiratorial) about their prejudice. I’ve stopped counting the number of times people have inadvertently confided to me about some place being “too Jewish” or “jappy”, or bemoaned the power/stinginess/grubbiness of the Jews. Most of the time I say something. Sometimes I let it pass appreciating that the person has revealed themselves.

The Galliano affair is both an old and a new type of story. Old because prejudice is as old as civilization and new because it was new technology that did Galliano in. A video recorded on a cell phone showed his anti-semitic rant was a habit, not an isolated incident and confirmed the inevitability of his firing.

After the first account of Galliano’s restaurant behavior surfaced and he was suspended but not fired, a smart friend of mine who is the p.r. for The Met Costume Institute said “there must be other things out there for them to have suspended him so quickly”. And lo and behold the next day the “I love Hitler” video surfaced and Galliano was fired. But Christian Dior and LVMH must have known about Galliano’s habit of drunken tirades - so no great credit to them. The only person to have come out with any integrity was Natalie Portman who refused to wear her planned Galliano dress to the Oscars. This was the only thing that made me deal with her Oscar for what I thought was one of the worst films of the year. (Yes – I’m afraid I’m anti-Black Swan!)

Prejudice, I believe, is an ingrained characteristic. There’s nearly always some “type” you tend to internally react against. Rich, poor, fat, skinny, gay, black, Jew, WASP, etc.. I know as many people who don’t like bankers as bankers who don’t like welfare mothers. And while we should all work to fight this feeling and respect everyone, our prejudices are part of what makes us an individual. Our dislikes define us as much as our likes.

The line to draw is when private prejudice crosses into public prejudice. A private prejudice acknowledges that there is something wrong about prejudice. A public prejudice mistakenly assumes it is acceptable. It is not.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Game Changer

The entrance to Pier 24 in San Francisco.

Word has slowly been getting out about a new photography space in San Francisco that is quite literally a game changer. The result of one man’s relatively new-found passion for photography, Pier 24 is a 28,000 square foot private museum that is open to the public on a by appointment only basis. The back story is extraordinary.

In 2002, Andy Pilara, a San Francisco businessman, went to see the Diane Arbus show “Revelations” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and was, to understate it, deeply moved. Without having ever bought a photograph, he delved into the medium – learning, looking, listening to experts and ultimately acquiring over 2,000 pictures to date. His collection became so large he began to look for a space to house it and after a fruitless search a friend suggested he contact the San Francisco Port Authority which owned a number of piers that were unused but in disrepair. Two years later, Pier 24 opened in the spring of 2010. Beautifully finished and constructed and designed to be a series of 17 interconnected spaces that flow engagingly from one gallery to another, I am sure it must be the largest space devoted exclusively to photography in the world.

The opening show was a selection of works from Pilara’s collection. The just closed second show highlighted work from the collection of Randi and Bob Fisher (of the GAP). Next up will be works relating to San Francisco - either pictures of S.F. or pictures by S.F. based photographers.

To get in you have to e-mail in advance to set up an appointment. Admission is free. The museum admits only 20 visitors per two-hour time slot from Monday through Thursday, along with a few small school or museum groups. A glass door at the entrance is unlocked after your appointment is confirmed via intercom. From then on you have the place to yourself. There are no wall labels as Pilara wants visitors to have a "quiet and contemplative" encounter with the work on view. It is in many ways a place very much for the photographic cognoscenti, but Pilara takes the justifiable point of view that too many museum visitors spend more time looking at labels than at art.

In any case, Pier 24 now firmly establishes San Francisco as a center of photography to rival anywhere in the world. Between Pier 24, SF MoMA, the Fraenkel Gallery and the numerous smaller galleries that dot the Geary Street area, as well as the recent appointment of Julian Cox (formerly of the Getty and The High Museum) as Founding Curator of Photography for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Chief Curator at the de Young, there is more than enough and at the highest level of quality to justify a special trip for any photography lover.

Below - a few snaps from my recent visit to Pier 24. Unfortunately, this show closed right after my visit but the new show should be opening at the end of March. And rather than show room after room, these pictures are just to give a flavor of the space.

As you walked into the Fisher Collection show at Pier 24, you were greeted by this assemblage of vintage Edward Weston's from his nude on the dune series.

A Struth "Museum" picture leads to a room of Bechers.

The Becher room.

The Eggleston room.

A corner of the Winogrand room.

Andy Pilara's office with a view of the Bay Bridge.

Totally Gratuitous Weekend Video