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Paris: Visual Beauty Anywhere and Anytime

As was expected, I immersed myself last week in the land of photography at Paris Photo at various exhibitions around town and with the people who drive the fine art photography industry — the photographers, the dealers and the collectors. They all converge this time of year in Paris like clockwork and therefore we can look forward to their descent on our landscape along with all the pleasures of gazing at beautiful images.

The Paris Photo event is held in the Grand Palais, one of the city’s most beautiful edifices. Made of stone and iron and glass, its domed roof of glass allows for the natural light to perfectly illuminate the photo galleries’ offerings. While the show itself is overwhelming with dozens of gallery spaces and thousands of photos at which to gaze, the venue makes it easier to stroll the aisles and take it all in. I have found that it is best to try to ‘edit’ out those photos of lesser interest in order to fully take in those that have more meaning — or only stop the galleries whose work deserves more of one’s time.

From talking to a few of the gallery owners, the show was a success for them — a good sign that appreciation of photographic art is still strong and that as an investment, photography as an art is tough competition to painting, sculpture and other media. There were many photos on display for sale well over the million dollar mark — nothing ‘to sneeze at!’

Nicholas Nixon Brown's SistersThe show stopper was clearly Nicholas Nixon’s “The Brown Sisters” exhibited by the Fraenkel Gallery. “Nicholas Nixon has been photographing his wife, Bebe Brown Nixon, and her three sisters for 40 years. In 1975, it was just a picture of four women; in 1976, it was just a picture of four women a year later, and so on. But in a short amount of time it became a portrait of time. Now in 2014 the forty pictures together tell a story that illustrates both the visceral and actual aspects of photography. For the first time anywhere, the gallery shows the series in its entirety.” (parisphoto.com/paris/exhibitors/fraenkel-gallery)

Nicholas Nixon Brown's SistersKiss on the River – photo by Erica SimoneI have three sisters, too — all older than me — and I wish someone would have been as astute as Nicholas Nixon to have photographed us over time in the same way, so consistently in the same position in similar situations to have had such impact. Sure, we can come up with photos taken over the years at various occasions of the four sisters together, but they just won’t be the same. This coming Saturday, I head west to “The Big Easy” (New Orleans) for a family Thanksgiving celebration week and hope to ’employ’ my daughter, the photographer, to record the event and perpetuate some of the same as Nicholas Nixon did for his wife’s family.

Paris in Color - by Erica SimoneParis in Color – by Erica SimoneIt is not surprising that visual beauty of every sort is important for such an aficionado of photography and that it’s a big reason Paris has held such a strong spot in my heart all these years. Every time I even begin to consider leaving Paris (even to live in such great cities as Nice or New York), the first thing I’m sure to miss will be the beauty…the every day visual impact the city has on me, whether it be gray and rainy (that black and white quality with more than 50 shades of gray, with no lights or darks), or bright and sunny (that blinding color quality that makes it picture postcard perfect).

Once upon a time, when walking down the street with my daughter, long before she discovered the lens of a camera, and I was pointing out the visual virtues of the pink tones of the dusky sky, she said to me, “Mom, Paris is the perfect city for you. You never cease to see its beauty anywhere and anytime.”

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds - Beerman Girls and GertAdrian Leeds

Adrian Leeds Group

(The Beerman Girls and Mother at the Wedding of the Oldest Sister, 2012. Photo by Erica Simone)

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