Civilized and Art Fair aren’t words one immediately pairs together, since most fairs are means for sales, occasional shock and the attempt to stand out amongst the sea of participants. In the flashy art fair trends, where galleries are forced to battle for attention on the pages of catalogues and rows of exhibit halls, the general equilibrium veers far into a state of frenzy and chaos. All of which may explain why I found the AIPAD Photography Show last week to be quite refreshing and was left impressed with the relaxed atmosphere and the quality of the work.
This subtlety may have as much to do with the medium, which lends itself to smaller gestures, as it did with the overall fair. The intimate Francesca Woodman photograph Untitled (Francesca in High School, with Bonnet), 1972-1975 at Robert Klein Gallery ($35,000) immediately caught the eye with its unearthy ephemeral quality and delicate sense of loss. Having received a lot of attention and a current Guggenheim show, her work is no longer under the radar but still remains a rare treat.
Over at Higher Pictures, which just moved to a new location in the Madison Avenue Gagosian Building, Jessica Eaton’s works drew me in. Made entirely from filters and in-camera effects the color-fields revealed themselves to be much more than simple geometric abstractions but rather feats of filters and film. The works were in the $4,000 price range and were the best deals of the show. Julie Saul Gallery did not disappoint either, with a great Sarah Anne Johnson piece in the booth, combining photographic elements with watery gouache blurs, teasing out childhood memories in the fantastical tableaux.
Even the Zwirner booth, which ran the risk of conspicuous hype of the solo space dedicated to Philip-Lorca diCorcia, resonated a wonderful subtlety. The set of four Polaroids were especially charming. The works were carefully chosen and the subjects were unlike his typical starkly-glossed images, reflecting restraint and befitting the intimate space of the booth.
Of course some galleries still chose to make a vivid splash and Bryce Wolkowitz and M+B were among those whose palettes swept up the viewers and caused camera-phone traffic. All in all, the fair was a treat for the photo-lovers and a pleasant respite from some of the entropic art mash-ups that won’t seem to go away.