I wasn’t sure I could follow the excitement of Day 1 but Days 2 and 3 at Paris Photo Los Angeles provided just as much to look at, think about and ponder over.
I arrived on Day 2 just in time for the conversation between Photographer Gregory Crewdson and Matthew Weiner, best known as the creator of the TV show Mad Men. The conversation was part of the Sound and Vision programme curated by Douglas Fogle and this particular conversation was introduced by Marc-Olivier Wahler, founder and current director of Chalet Society in Paris. Every seat in the Sherry Lansing Theater was taken such is the popularity of Crewdson and Weiner. The two talked about their similarities and differences and touched on themes such as naturalism, manipulation, reality and fiction, style and obsession to detail. It was a lively conversation which flowed easily and seemed over all too quickly. Fortunately Paris Photo will soon be releasing video footage of the weekends’ conversations and I will keep you informed on this so you can access them yourself.
There was quite a different atmosphere on Day 2 with more families and more people in general. The New York backlot was a hive of activity as too was the VIP valet area. I didn’t get round Stage 5 on Day 1 so after the Crewdson/Weiner conversation I headed there. Once again the big names and new names came flooding in: Evans, Arbus, Stoller, Newton, Mann, Maier, Webb. Also in this stage was a dedicated space where Giorgio Armani presented “ACQUA #3,” a new body of work by photographer Jim Goldberg. The images here were taken in Haiti and reflected the continued struggle to access clean water following the earthquake in 2010.
Day 3 began with the conversation between Photographers Alec Soth and Roe Etheridge with an introduction by Dr Simon Baker, Curator of Photography and International Art at the Tate in London. This was another thought-provoking, although less dynamic, conversation covering themes such as influences, editing, assignments, narrative, and e-books vs printed books. I asked the pair whether they had seen anything over the weekend that had inspired them; it turned out that they had both only just got there and hadn’t really seen anything, although they did comment on how well the venue worked.
Following the conversation I went and revisited the 3 stages, all the galleries and stores on the backlot and generally just wandered, soaking up the atmosphere and taking my own photographs.
As the sun began to cast longer and longer shadows I knew the event was drawing to a close, but before I left there was one photograph I wanted to spend a little more time with. Ever since being transfixed by the Man Ray portrait of Pablo Picasso at the National Portrait Gallery, Pablo keeps finding me. There have been numerous coincidences/serendipitous meetings between he and I and I’ve been started to think of him as some kind of Talisman or guiding light. Within ten minutes of arriving on Day 1 I had discovered a Pablo portrait by Lucien Clergue, in the Louis Stern gallery, and it was to this photograph I returned for my finale. As I stood there transfixed for what must have been a good five minutes I heard a voice next to me saying “here, have a gift”. The lovely Marie from Louis Stern gave me a publication titled Lucien Clergue: The Intimate Picasso. I was extremely touched by this gesture and she seemed equally pleased by my reaction. We had a quick conversation about Picasso and Clergue and Cocteau and I think it was the perfect ending to my weekend.
From my perspective Paris Photo Los Angeles was a success and the visitor numbers appeared high. Whether it was a success for the exhibitors and for Paris Photo only time will tell. One exhibitor I spoke to said he felt the visitors had come more like they would to a museum, to view; whereas in Paris it is much more of a business affair. I hope there is another Paris Photo LA and if there is, I will definitely return.
I died and went to photography heaven today and I hope I never lose the sense of wonderment and pleasure that can be gained from being at an event such as this.
Today was a feast for the eyes and the soul. How often do we get to stand before the work of Klein, Frank, Winogrand, Meyerowitz, Friedlander, Koudelka, Man Ray…and how often do we get to stand before the photographer in person – in this case William Eggleston? Maybe for some this is an everyday occurrence, normality; but for me this is special, this touches at the very essence of what drives me to take photographs and to talk about photography.
It’s not just the big names, the ones I grew up with; it’s also the new names (at least new to me) giving me new avenues to explore like an excited tourist in a new town: Kenna, Mata Rosas, Pompery, Martínez, Søndergaard, Clergue, Bedoya, Franco, Jiminez, Herzog, Mekas. And this is from only half the fair, tomorrow I get to do it all over again and see what I missed today; more images, more names, more emotions.
The team at Paris Photo have done a fantastic job and I think they will feel satisfied with their choice of Los Angeles as a second home. The venue of Paramount Studios provides the perfect backdrop; from the constructed galleries in the stages, to the smaller spaces in the ‘New York’ shops; everything seemed at home. The diverse mix of people from collectors to gallery owners to photographers and everyday appreciators provided for an ambience that almost hummed.
Particular highlights for me – William Eggleston book signing; Sebastião Salgado’s VERY large format Genesis books at the Taschen Gallery and finding a Pablo Picasso portrait by Lucien Clergue (Stage 31).
Tomorrow I am particularly looking forward to listening to the conversation between Gregory Crewdson and Matthew Weiner and I’m looking forward to discovering what the galleries in stage 5 have to offer.
Maybe Sunday I’ll actually find some time to take my own photographs, but at present I’m more than happy to linger over the work of others.
If you’re visiting Paris Photo this weekend, then remember to take your childlike awe and wonder with you.