Focus on AIPAD: Association of International Photography Art Dealers Show


For photography lovers in New York City, the coming of spring signals more than just the promise of nature’s reawakening and added daylight hours—it heralds a chance to be swept up in the fervor of thousands of fine art photographs on view at The Photography Show, organized by The Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD).

Now in its 39th year, the AIPAD show has been an annual rite of passage for me since the days when it spread across two floors of the New York Hilton (from 1994 to 2005), and when its original February timeframe subjected attendees to the unpredictable whims of mother nature. While this did tend to brighten the winter doldrums, I have little doubt that rescheduling the show during milder weather was a smart business move, particularly given recent trends for long, cold winters.

Above photograph: AIPAD 2018 Installation View © Julienne Schaer

2019 marks AIPAD’s third year at the trendy Pier 94, along the banks of the Hudson, at West 55th Street.

The fun starts on Wednesday, April 3, with a VIP preview from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., and an opening reception from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. VIP ticket holders benefit from an 11:00 a.m. early entry on Thursday through Sunday, with public hours beginning at noon.

This year’s show promises a diverse program, with more than 80 international fine art galleries in attendance, hailing from 41 cities and 11 countries that span the Unites States, Europe, Asia, Canada and South America. Exhibitors feature a wide range of museum-quality work, including contemporary, modern, and 19th-Century photographs, as well as photo-based art, video, and new media.

Lissa Rivera, Votive Portrait (Prayer Closet), 2018, Archival pigment print, 45 x 33 ¾ inchesLissa Rivera/ Courtesy of ClampArt, New York

As a fan of photo history, I’ve always appreciated the opportunity to admire the classics up close, and I delight in the rare vintage prints peppering many of the gallerist’s booths. Over the years, I’ve heard colleagues grumble about this show being too safe in focusing on long-dead photographers at the expense of risk-taking contemporary work. But, lately, an enterprising mix between long-established galleries and special guest exhibitors has offered more of a balance between past and present. New in 2019, a special block of the show dedicated to Project Spaces highlights themed presentations and single-artist displays curated by leading photography non-profits, emerging arts spaces, and AIPAD member galleries alike.

Another new show highlight, located to the right of the front entrance, is a special exhibition that speaks to the possibility of finding refuge during turbulent times, curated for AIPAD by renowned photographer Alec Soth. Entitled A Room for Solace: An Exhibition of Domestic Interiors, the assembled portraits, still life, and reportage pictures were selected from exhibitor galleries based on a shared quality of intimacy. With this exhibition, Soth entices viewers to “take a break from the fractious public square of photography, and wander quietly into people’s homes.”

Stephen Wilkes, Grizzly Bears, Bella Coola, British Columbia, Canada, 2018, Archival C-print, 50” x 92”Stephen Wilkes/Courtesy of Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, New York

As a medium, photography has endured a long struggle to be taken seriously as an art form. In 2017, the AIPAD Award was established to recognize and celebrate some of the photo industry experts whose dedicated scholarship and longstanding efforts have raised the profile of this type of image making to its rightful place among the other arts. The 2019 honoree is Sarah Greenough, senior curator and head of the department of photographs at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, who will be presented with the award as part of the opening preview at 5:30 p.m., on Wednesday, April 3.

Since establishing the National Gallery’s photography program in 1990, Greenough has been responsible for growing the museum’s collection, which now numbers more than 17,000 works, while also shepherding the visibility of the medium through her prolific writings, and by presenting two to three exhibitions per year in the museum's dedicated photography galleries, as well as through many smaller installations.

Past AIPAD Award recipients have included photography curators Keith F. Davis of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO (2018), Sandra Phillips of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Anne Wilkes Tucker of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

William-Furniss, Queens-Plaza, 2016, Archival pigment print, 14.5” x 20”William Furniss/Courtesy of VRG, Hong Kong

To celebrate the contribution of the photobook to the evolving story of photography, a section of the show floor is dedicated to 33 different book dealers, publishers, and photography-related organizations, located directly in front of the AIPAD Bistro & Bar. On Thursday through Saturday, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., all eyes will turn toward Aperture’s 2019 PhotoBook Spotlight, featuring live discussions about individual books and publishers. Among the many distinguished presenters are Tod Papageorge, discussing his book Dr. Blankman’s New York (3:00 p.m., Thursday); Erwin Olaf unveiling I Am, the first comprehensive survey of his work, published in honor of his 60th birthday (3:00 p.m., Friday); Andrea Modica talking about her 2018 book project January 1 (4:40 p.m., Friday); and Nadav Kander discussing his 2018 monograph Dark Line - The Thames Estuary (4:00 p.m., Saturday).

In addition to this dedicated space for publishers, select exhibitors will be holding artist book signings and other events at individual booths throughout the weekend.

From Thursday through Sunday, AIPAD also hosts a program of 12 AIPAD Talks as a complement to the fair, featuring prominent artists, curators, and journalists. Select speakers include 2018 MacArthur fellow Dawoud Bey (Thursday, April 4, at 12:30 p.m.), AIPAD award winner and National Gallery of Art Curator Sarah Greenough (Thursday, April 4, at 3:30 p.m.), pioneering feminist artist Martha Wilson (Friday, April 5, at 3:30 p.m.), trailblazing color photographer Stephen Shore (Friday, April 5, at 5:00 p.m.), world-renowned celebrity photographer Harry Benson (Saturday, April 6, at 12:30 p.m.), among many other art world luminaries. AIPAD Talks require a separate $10 admission ticket for each presentation, available on a first come, first served basis.

Meryl McMaster, Calling Me Home, 2019, Chromogenic print on archival paper flush mounted to Dibond, 40” x 60”Meryl McMaster/Courtesy Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto, and Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain, Montreal

Single-day and multi-day admission tickets to The Photography Show can be purchased online ($30 single/$60 multi) or onsite ($40 single/$75 multi), with discounted single-day tickets available for students and those 65+ ($20 online/$75 at the door). An illustrated catalog is also included in the purchase price. This handy guide to the exhibiting galleries features the names of the artists represented by each dealer. All names are cross-referenced in an index at the back, allowing you to home in on prints from your favorite photographers at the show in their respective exhibitor booths.

To learn more about the galleries and photographers who provided images for this story, click on the links below.


Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery

VRG, Hong Kong

Stephen Bulger Gallery

Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain

Do you have memories from past presentations of AIPAD’s The Photography Show or insights about this year’s show to share? Please chime in with a comment, below!