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Paris Photo Los Angeles concludes with capacity crowds

Photographer Alain Declerq (right) explained his Camera Obscura project to a visotr at the Loevenbruck Gallery booth.
Photographer Alain Declerq (right) explained his Camera Obscura project to a visotr at the Loevenbruck Gallery booth.Photo by Max Donner

The mantra “Change is good” worked well for the second edition of Paris Photo Los Angeles this weekend. Refreshing reports about the exhibits and programming circulated widely, so that hundreds of viewers lined up around large blocks just to see the top attractions. The venue at Paramount Studios turned out to be a top attraction on its own. At the stage set gallery of Printed Matter, Inc., a collector noted “when Paramount rolls out the red carpet, they know what they are doing.” The host from Printed Matter, Inc. agreed, reporting, “it’s a treat to be in the studios.” The featured artist Jason Evans was equally pleased, observing that “people are also enjoying the location.”

The benefits of a refreshingly different format for an art show were reflected in strong sales and confidence that next year’s show will be even better. As the program drew to a close on Sunday afternoon, Parker Jones of the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills reported excellent sales exceeding last year’s totals, buoyed by good approval from collectors. As Jones observed, “our collectors are contemporary art collectors, not photography collectors.” This creative environment encouraged two New York galleries to try out a completely different format that resounded well with collectors. The Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery of Chelsea teamed with the Howard Greenberg Gallery of Midtown Manhattan to present a solo show of works by Edward Burtynsky. Both galleries represent the photographer, a rarity in the art world, and pooled their inventories to present a show that neither gallery could achieve on its own. The result was a museum quality exhibit with a unifying theme that was rewarded with strong sales.

Another solo show at the Flatland Gallery of Amsterdam confirmed that this format gets good results. The gallery sold a dozen art photographs to collectors this weekend, including multiple sales of two photos from limited editions. Exhibitors confirmed there was no advance co-ordination of the solo show format. It was a collector friendly format that took on a life of its own boosted by excellent response from visitors and their connections on social media. About half of the exhibits were solo shows, reportedly the first time this has ever happened at any gallery exhibitor show. Some smaller shows like the Beverly Hills Art Affair feature individual artists, but very few artists have enough capital to invest in space and staff at a major international show.

The novel solo show format also presented an exceptional opportunity for artists to interact with art collectors and art critics. Photographer Alain Declerq met with collectors at the Loevenbruck Gallery booth to share his “hidden camera” photo essay on New York. Declerq used small, self-made pinhole cameras to produce intentionally fuzzy images of designated sensitive subjects in New York where commercial photography is normally prohibited. In a day and age when almost every aerial image is available on Google Maps, many people do not see the point, but the comings and goings at certain sites remain hush-hush in New York. Or the cachet of designating them hush-hush may make often mundane photo subjects like prisons more interesting. The concept certainly interested collectors, who lined up at the booth to hear Declerq detail his photography adventures in New York.

This theme was one more good reason that crowds lined up for more than an hour to see the special exhibition “Unedited” a selection of historic photographs from the archives of the Los Angeles Police Department. The fascination with the CBS franchise for “Crime Scene Investigation” inspired visitors to this photography fair to realize how close they are to troves of historic photographs. These are also a treasure trove to everyone who works in the creative industries. With an encore performance for Paris Photo Los Angeles and its sister fair Paris Art and Design already scheduled for April next year, Los Angeles is one step closer to its goal of becoming the “Creative Capital of the World.”