It’s only been around for 170 years, but photography long ago overtook painting and sculpture to become the dominant medium that records our era. From world headlines and family portraits to the incidental events of life shared between friends via iPhones, the still camera is the artistic tool that will surely define our time.
But despite what social media may imply, photography is not simply the conduit for breaking the internet, one bum selfie at a time. So it is the artistic innovations and craftsmanship that are being celebrated by AIPAD (the Association of International Photography Art Dealers) at the 35th AIPAD Photography Show in New York, held later this month in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. With work from more than 80 international galleries, by photographers including Robert Mapplethorpe, Sally Mann, Sandy Skogland, Robert Doisneau, Steve McCurry and Shomei Tomatsu, it is one of the most exciting shows for new and old buyers alike to track down unique pieces. So, ahead of the show opening on April 16th, AnOther selects their ten favourite photographs along with the reasons you should buy them.
Sandy Skoglund, Knees in tub, 1977
Skoglund operates in an area she terms "True Fiction", creating surrealist landscapes and set-ups that are entirely literal, untouched by Photoshop. Colour is key, as in this concoction of flesh pinks, and wit is ever present.
Sally Mann, Candy Cigarette, 1989
One of Mann's most famous pictures, this shot depicts her daughter Jessie toying with a candy cigarette with all the insouciant cool of a woman three times her age. Part of a series of photographs of her family titled Immediate Family, this image lingers on the brink between childish innocence and adolescent knowing.
Robert Doisneau, Palm Springs, 1960
He’s famous for his monochrome pictures of Paris that have come to represent the definitive idea of the city of love during and after the war. But in 1960, the master of French character was commissioned to take his camera to the heartland of American leisure – Palm Springs, Florida. Eschewing black and white for bleached out hyper colour, the pictures – 23 of which were published in Fortune Magazine, the rest languished in his archives – are in gorgeous technicolor contrast to his more famous work.
Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Jean Patchett, Grenada, Spain, 1953
This is a marvellous confluence of two of the great fashion names working in the ‘50s. Dahl-Wolfe was staff fashion photographer at Harper’s Bazaar between 1936-58, working closely with Diana Vreeland, shooting more than 60 covers and starting the career of Lauren Bacall. Jean Patchett was a popular model, described by Irving Penn as “an American goddess of French couture”. This picture represents one of Dahl-Wolfe’s tenets of photography: “I believe that the camera is a medium of light,” she said, “that one actually paints with light.”
Bill Owens, Hockney Painted This Pool, 1980
David Hockney’s swimming pools, in their exploration of light, depth and splash, have inspired reactions from artists since they were first painted in the 1960s. Bill Owens’ composition of iconic location and near painterly line is a marvellous tribute and agorgeous shot in itself.
Denis Brihat, Poire (Pear), 1971
Brihat is a master of the still life, rendering vegetables and flowers as constellations of line and shade. His pear takes on a flagrantly erotic quality under the lens, anthropomorphised to create the sense of a full posterior countered with a coy look over the shoulder. So much more than a piece of fruit.
Robert Mapplethorpe, Isabella Rossellini, 1988
Another collision of two big names, this is one of Mapplethorpe's latest portraits, taken just a year before he succumbed to HIV. Isabella Rossellini, daughter of two of film's most notorious and beloved stars and filmstar in her own right, takes on a Madonna-like purity.
Scott Hammond, #88 Cuba, NM, 2005
A specialist in polaroid photography, Scott Hammond's work is the spirit of holiday in 3¼" x 4¼". A fan of the polaroid because of the imperfections of the process and the singularity of the results, Hammond has created a body of work that celebrates the incidental, saturated shot.
Sarah Moon, Fashion 11, Yoji Yamamoto, 1996
Sarah Moon transforms the photography of fashion into dreamy vignettes – silhouettes, colour, texture all combining to extraordinary, fantastical effect. ‘For me, black and white is closer to introspection, to memories, to loneliness and loss," she said in 2008. "I don’t see the same in colour – it’s another language, a living language.”
Shomei Tomatsu, Smoking Prostitute, Nagoya, 1958
Shomei Tomatsu dramatically altered the landscape of Japanese photography in the post-war years, moving the fashion away from quiet formalism into more dynamic, impressionistic pieces. He worked on social commentary, from the continuing fall out of the Nagasaki atomic bomb, to this arresting shot of a formally dressed prostitute having a cigarette break.
Alec Soth, Dave and Trish, Denver, Colorado, 2013
This shot comes from a series of photographs taken by Soth on his travels around the United States. Just one of many random meetings with subjects – he started talking to Dave and Trish outside a church in Denver, and they connected over a mutual love of the Beats – this shot is an incidental homage to Kerouac, touching on the fluid nature of being American in the 21st century.
The AIPAD Photography Show, New York runs between April 16-19.