A Walk on the Wild Side of Photography
I can’t say that I’m wild about the Grand Palais Ephémère as a venue for Paris Photo, compared to the REAL Grand Palais…but it works if you focus on the works on display rather than the structure of the building.
Designed by architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the Grand Palais Éphémère is a temporary building that was installed on the Champ-de-Mars just opposite the Ecole Militaire. Unfortunately, it blocks the view of the tower from that vantage point, which previously was quite spectacular. If you go all the way to the very end of the structure where there is a snack stand and a few tables and chairs, there is a spectacular view of the Champ de Mars and the tower.
They claim that the “wooden framework and ecological virtues make it a remarkable building, and a real architectural feat that fits into this site, whose history, like that of the Grand Palais, is closely linked to the Universal Exhibitions of the 19th and 20th centuries.” Not sure I buy this propaganda, but it was designed to host events normally organized in the nave of the Grand Palais while it is being restored, due to reopen in 2024. I’ll be very happy when it does and hopefully, the Ephémere will come down.
I was able to visit Paris Photo only twice during the week which really isn’t enough time to see it all. This is sensory overload if you don’t edit out what’s worth taking a serious look at and what’s not. And while looking at the art is what it’s all about, what’s most fun is chatting with the gallery owners, artists and collectors that are doing what you’re doing: gazing at the work while schmoozing with everyone.
I schmoozed with Nicholas Fahey of Fahey/Klein Gallery from Los Angeles, who represents works by my favorite artist, Steven Arnold, and learned that the work I own of his has gone way, way up in value thanks to a major collector recently having purchased several pieces. While that made me very happy, it really doesn’t matter as I’ll never let go of the works. On Sunday, in honor of the artist and the gallery, I wore a skirt imprinted with a portion of an Arnold photo and drawing.
Just down the alley from Fahey/Klein was Gallery Luisotti, another one of L.A.’s most important purveyors of photographic art. Gallerist Theresa Luisotti is one of my oldest friends who was my art dealer when in the throes of creating the collection I now have. She and I hosted a couple of shows in my L.A. home by replacing all of my own photos on the walls with those she represented…this was before she had her own gallery space.
Yossi Milo Gallery, from New York, is another one I make a point of visiting. Yossi is a big fan of our House Hunters International shows and who always has interesting works by cutting-edge artists. At Howard Greenberg Gallery, it was fun to talk with David Peckman who was named as Co-Director in 2019, after working 12 years of service at Hamiltons as Director, where I first came to know him.
One of the big surprises was to see a wall of photos of Holly Woodlawn, about which the song by Lou Reed was written, “Walk on the Wild Side.” They, along with another wall of photos taken of Andy Warhol’s Superstars, were at the stand of The Music Photo Gallery (TMPG), from New York. I knew Holly from our days living in Los Angeles, having met her through Steven Arnold. I have photos of my own from parties we attended together, but these had been taken by Bob Gruen many years earlier. Holly was the last surviving Superstar, a Puerto Rican who grew up in Miami and became one of Warhol’s famous transvestites, immortalized by Lou Reed and in her own memoir, A Low Life in High Heels, of which I have a signed and kissed copy. No one ever saw Holly as a man…at least no one I knew!
People watching at the fair is almost as good as the photos. When you go the first night as I did, open for VIPs and Press, you see the cream of the crop in the industry. They are dressed to be seen and be noticed, usually quite creatively. I made my own fashion statement on purpose and learned later that Theresa Luisotti had spied me, checked me out, and then realized after a bit of time ogling my shoes that it was me, her old friend. How funny!
I was with two VIPs myself—the well-known photographer, Wendy Paton who lives part-time in Paris, and old friend and art dealer, Melissa Alonso, who came in from New York for the week. We bumped into Australian photographer Vee Speers, who lives in Paris and whose work I own…and of which I would love to have more. Paris Photo is that kind of event, where one can peruse, mingle and discover a whole world of wonderful art and an entourage of people with your same interests.
We didn’t stop at just Paris Photo to take in photographic art over the weekend. Saturday, Melissa and I visited two museums exhibiting photography: “Les Tribulations d’Erwin Blumenfeld, 1930-1950” at the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsm and the “Henri Cartier-Bresson Avec Martin Parr Réconciliation” at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson.
The Blumenfelds are on display until March 5th, 2023, so you have time, but you won’t want to wait to see them. Through nearly 180 photographs—including sets never before exhibited—”the exhibition highlights his most fertile period, both from the point of view of his artistic experiments and the revelation of his talent in fashion photography, which led him to work for the largest American magazines. It also sheds light on his vision of art and his personal life during the Occupation.”
The collection is breathtakingly beautiful and mostly the work held dearly by the family, rather than in the public domain. The most iconic work for Parisians is likely “Lisa Fonssagrives on the Eiffel Tower, Paris, 1939” which is represented larger than life on one of the stairwells inside the museum. I collect photos of this particular model, and so I was drooling over the images. Another that totally took my breath away was “La Pudeur” from 1937. I will be dreaming about them, knowing they will be way out of my price range.
At the Fondation HCB, the juxtaposition of the photos by Henri Cartier-Bresson taken in the same location as Martin Parr’s…years later…is fun and fascinating. “This exhibition reconciles the two photographers, who were separated by a ‘gulf’ as Martin Parr himself calls it, through their views, at three different times, of society in the North of England at work and at leisure.” The photos were taken more than 20 years apart, in black and white by Cartier-Bresson and in color by Parr, yet you will find them amazingly similar! In the beginning, the men were at odds with one another and according to Cartier-Bresson, they were of “two different solar systems.” Hence the “reconciliation.” The exhibition is on until February 12th, 2023, so don’t waste too much time getting there.
Now, I just have 364 days of anticipation until next year’s fair.
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
Adrian with Melissa Alonso
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