Last year saw the inauguration of the Photo Paris Vintage Fair, a table-top fair with 62 dealers, organized by Bruno Tartarin and held at Pavillon Wagram. It was a great success and Tartarin showed the international photo world just how good and exciting these small fairs could be, that is, if thought and effort are applied, not least with regards to promotion.
For many of those who attended I suspect that this year's edition was as much of a draw as Paris Photo and the auctions, if not more so. It was held at same venue but this year on Saturday instead of Sunday. And shortly before the fair, Tartarin changed the fair's name to the snappier Photos Discovery. And there certainly were discoveries to be made here. As I moved around the fair, I met some very experienced collectors, clutching their newly acquired treasures with a smile, as well first-time buyers who were clearly fascinated by the material on offer.
And there was a great range of material here, from family snapshots from the 1970's to museum quality salt and albumen prints. I noted some great images with Daniella Dangoor, Serge Plantureux, Roland Belgrave, Vintage Works, Arnaud Delas, Stacy Waldman, Erin and Dennis Waters and Richard Meara, to name a few. But the one outstanding piece here for me was a large carbon print of a torso by Adolphe Braun, offered by Olivier Degeorges.
The exhibitors and visitors I talked to felt that this year's edition was even better. Word had spread and this year saw more collectors as well as curators coming to the fair. And the quality of the material was generally higher.
Tartarin had made some changes and told me. "It was a great show. I think that this year we had better exhibitors, and many of them promoted themselves, not only with newsletters, but also with flyers. We ourselves sent information to everyone on our mailing list and sent information to every customer who made a purchase on the internet. In addition, we were outside Paris Photo everyday with flyers and had also handed them out at previous fairs in Bièvres and New York."
Tartarin himself had had a good fair. "I purchased some really nice things and made very good sales. My staff was busy nearly all the day. Next November, we will make some more changes. We will start at 9 am to catch early buyers among the Paris Photo exhibitors and will close at 9 pm, with a break for cocktails at 6 pm. Next up is a smaller edition of the fair next year on April 13th."
UK-based dealer Roland Belgrave was more than pleased with the fair,
"Like its inaugural edition, this year was very good, with a superb institutional presence and a host of private collectors from around the globe. It was nice and short and very vibrant. I brought along strong material by Linnaeus Tripe, Mammoth prints by Francis Frith, a beautiful Julia Margaret Cameron and some other gems. I sold well and the larger items are now on hold. It was a great fair for buying as well, and I purchased some superb Central Asian material."
Paris-based dealer Serge Plantureux also enjoyed the fair, "The Wagram fair is getting stronger and busier with more visitors. It was amusing to watch upper class French museum curators trying to learn how to walk with their own legs on the ground. I was full of empathy for some of them having direct hand contact with authentic prints. Some American curators are probably more familiar with visiting table-top fairs. With regards to my own material, I invited an artist friend of mine, Zaven Paré, to make a selection of hundred prints in my office, and we brought them and it was a great success sales wise. I bought several groups of photographs at the fair, plus a handful of nice prints, by Berthier and Cuccioni, but I decided not to keep all, and I sold five of my fresh finds to enthusiastic collectors."
Serge Plantureux has launched many interesting and important projects over the years. He is also involved in the Biennale di Senigallia, which will take place in the historic town of Senigallia in Italy in May beginning 2020, with exhibitions, lectures, conferences, workshops, concerts and a fair. The prelude to the biennale will take place May 2-4, 2019 with a fair with 40 exhibitors. Tables are 250 euros, booths are 900-1800 euros. Interested parties can contact Plantureux at email@example.com.
Alex Novak of Vintage Works also had a good first time here exhibiting. Novak told me, "It was an excellent table-top fair, with an interesting mix of attendees. I saw curators and collectors from Europe, U.K., Switzerland and the U.S. The mix of dealers was a bit erratic, but the best brought very important and interesting material on a par with the larger Paris Photo fair, but at a price point a bit lower, of course."
Novak found some fascinating material. "I managed to buy from a handful of the dealers there, snapping up both 19th and 20th-century images. I bought a very good and rich Domenico Bresolin of Venice—the best one that I’ve ever seen for sale; two Bisson Jeune of 1850s Rome; and a great Charles Clifford of Spain.
"There were some great 20th-century pieces there too. I bought a nice Ruth Bernhard nude, a small Russian Constructivist photo by Rodchenko (already sold upon return) and a great modernist group by a Belgium photographer named Maurice Broquet. The latter was a real find, considering that his work photographing the Marseilles Transporter Bridge looks exactly like many of Germaine Krull’s Constructivist-style photos of the same bridge and area below—perhaps even better. They are simply magical. Broquet was published in many of the top photography publications of the 1930s period. His high and low angles and play of shadows strikes an exciting modernist point of view."
Novak had also sold well. "All my sales were to European buyers, mostly new to me, except my good friend Hans Gummersbach from Germany, who bought a stereo daguerreotype nude that he had been eying since the NYC Daguerreian Society Show held in September. I also sold a wonderful Heinrich Kuhn gum print of his son Hans to a Swiss collector and several other good lower-priced photos. I sold out of the copies that I brought of my own book on early 19th-century French photography (note: more copies are available through the IPhotoCentral.com website). I also have a sale of one of the magical Belitski salt prints pending from an English conservator friend.
"Bruno Tartarin does a very good job of organizing and promoting the fair, and at only 250 euros a table, it really is a no-brainer for any photo dealer. It’s a fun, one-day event that every lover of photography—curator, collector or dealer--should put on their calendar to attend."
The year 2018 marked 20 years in the business for Bruno Tartarin, and he and Adnan Sezer threw a great party at Villa Frochot in the Pigalle district to celebrate it on Saturday evening. It coincided with Adnan Sezer's birthday, so congratulations to them both.
There was another great get-together the evening before, a champagne reception and dinner hosted by Vintage Works, Galerie Françoise Paviot and Galerie RX at restaurant Maceo. This was the fifth year of the upscale dinner event, which had 120 important collectors and curators attending. My companion Clare De Gobert and I met some great people we hadn't met before, as well as old friends. In his welcoming speech, Alex Novak stressed the importance of community in the photography world, and I think we would all agree with that.
Michael Diemar is a long-time writer about the photography scene, in addition to being a collector, curator, lecturer and ex-London gallerist (in 2009 opening Diemar/Noble Gallery). He has written extensively for several Scandinavian photography publications, as well as for the E-Photo Newsletter and I Photo Central.