Issue #248  2/23/2019
Remembrances and Condolences upon Charles Schwartz's Passing

By Alex Novak

For those of you who didn’t know yet, long-time AIPAD photo dealer Charles Schwartz passed away due to complications from Parkinson's, which he suffered from for a number of years. There are two other articles on his passing here: one from his family and long time associate Jennie Hirschfeld and another one from friend and fellow photo dealer Alan Klotz.

Charles was a dear and long-time friend, and it really hurt to see how disabling Parkinson's was for him.

Charles was one of those straight shooters in white hats that wouldn’t hesitate to call you out if you weren’t being kind or honest; but his own kindness and honesty set a bright example for all.

Like another of our photo dealer brethren, Tom Halsted, who also recently passed, Charles had a great sense of humor, and his intelligence always challenged you. He would do anything for a friend. Once when I had a partially detached retina and Charles found out, he immediately called his own eye doctor that he insisted was the best in NYC and got me emergency care within the hour. He may have saved my eyesight in that eye. But that was just a normal, everyday thing that Charles would do for a friend. He was the first dealer to support me on I Photo Central, and a stalwart friend. I truly miss our lunches and talks. And I just miss Charles, a lot.

Reportedly there will be a memorial service in the Spring. I am sure that AIPAD will hold one for both Charles and Tom Halsted during the April New York Photography Show.

Below you will find many of the loving comments that came in from his friends and fellow dealers.

"My thoughts are with his family and friends. Charles was a major force in the photographic collecting world and will be sorely missed. I have fond memories of visiting him and the selective reveal of his presentations of his collection (including seeing several old friends that he had acquired), then up to the camera obscura and settling in for our conversation. He was one of the core supporters that joined Matthew Isenburg in supporting the Daguerreian Society in its time of need, and was one of a handful of lifetime members." –Jeremy Rowe

"This is a big loss to our community, which seems to be shrinking every other month. I met Charles at one of the auctions back in the mid-'80s. I wasn’t even a dealer back then. He invited me up to his penthouse to show me his latest find and, of course, his camera obscura, (that was the topper). He was surrounded by assistants inventorying his many projects. It was a busy bee workshop. All kinds of stuff, especially daguerreotypes. He was always talkative but focused on this or that new discovery. He was intense, but a pleasure to be with. His interest in photography was not a hobby by a milk-magnate. He will certainly be missed. Please extend my sympathies to his lovely wife Nancy." –Barry Singer

"I am very sorry to learn about Charles Schwartz's passing. Whenever we met, he always had a warm smile and a twinkle in his eyes. He had a broad appreciation of all aspects of photography that ranged from its introduction in Japan, to assembling a group of photos of Juke Joints in the American South, to very early photographic images of animals. Charles was a founding and lifetime member of The Daguerreian Society. When the Society last met in Atlanta we drove together to Emory University and heard a wonderful talk that Jeff Rosenheim gave on the importance of family photo albums. A special memory was visiting Charles' townhouse apartment overlooking Central Park in New York where he showed me his camera obscura and commented about how involved it was to obtain permits for cutting thru the building roof for its installation. During the visit, a college student intern was there cataloging his collection. Visiting his booth at AIPAD was always a highlight, with the diversity of material he had on display. The last time Charles exhibited, I purchased a striking daguerreotype portrait of an elder Quaker woman. The fact that it came from his collection had added importance. In Charles' personal quiet way he had significant impact on many people." --Leonard Walle

"So very sad news! It was indeed a horrible disease to fight. He was a wonderful human being. And a kind friend." –Missy and Burt Finger

"It's another sad day in the photography world. Charles was a class act and will be missed greatly." --Henry Feldstein

"Charles was a wonderful guy. I met him back in my Swann days and always enjoyed his company, whether on the exhibition floor or in his marvelous apartment. We had a mini-tradition of having breakfast together during the Daguerreian Society Symposium. On at least two of these occasions, we were approached by people who asked him if anyone had ever told him how much he looked like Albert Einstein. Yes, he replied dryly, they have." –Chris Mahoney

"I was so sorry to hear that Charles Schwartz had passed away. I was thinking about Charles Tuesday afternoon and had even thought about calling to see how he was doing and then a few hours later to hear that he passed away--too sad. Charles and I were neighbors on the Upper East Side, I probably knew him for more than 30 years. We did business a number of times, he was an astute and savvy dealer and passionate in all the different areas that he collected in. I remember when I told him that I was making the leap from being a private dealer to opening a gallery, he told me that back in the '70s he opened a gallery with some partners on West Broadway in Soho called "Let There be Neon". I remember visiting that gallery from when Soho was just beginning. Leo Castelli, Ileana Sonnabend, Charles Cowles and Holly Solomon were the pioneers on that street. The world was not ready for a gallery that dealt in neon, and Charles's experience with having a commercial gallery was a costly mistake. He warned me that I should tread carefully. I appreciated his advice but was still determined to follow my gut. Charles lived in a magnificent duplex penthouse that he worked out of. I guess if I lived in such a glorious space, I wouldn't want to open up a gallery either. He will be missed. He was truly a dedicated and reliable presence in our field with a good eye and great instincts." --Keith de Lellis

"Charles was a lovely man and generous of spirit. He always was someone to go and see at AIPAD events, as he had such interesting things to show you and teach you about. I really missed his presence the past few years, as it really felt something was ‘missing’ from the fair. I wish all his nearest and dearest long life." --Michael Hoppen

"Charles always had a gentle presence around me. And, yes, his passion for photography was apparent. He will be missed by all of us. –Greg French

"Very sad news, indeed. I have been thinking about Charles recently, and hoping for the best for him and his family. What a dedicated photographic collector and historian. I feel grateful for the times we worked together to benefit the Smithsonian collections, and thoroughly enjoyed being in his presence and his lovely home." --Michelle Delaney

"Not entirely unexpected, but very sad. Charles was a wonderful person, with an absolutely infectious love for photography. He will be sincerely missed." –Keith Davis

"I met Charles several times in his house in New York. What a great experience to meet a real connoisseur and enthusiast in early photography! I am deeply grateful to have had this experience." --Hans Gummersbach

"Charles was an old pal for many decades. Photographer, businessman, dealer, collector--always generous with his time, knowledge and wonderful anecdotes about his upbringing and various interests and activities--a bon vivant. From running the milk company to helping his mother at the commune in Maine, he had a wonderful life until the Parkinson's debilitated him. Rest in Peace. I will miss him." –Andy Smith

"Charles was always interesting, engaging and fun to be around. We got to know each other one year at The Daguerreian Society dinner, where we shared our love of dags and dogs. He once had a bearded collie, which is related to Old English Sheepdogs that I have an affinity for. He would often call me before AIPAD to see if I had any great things that I could sell him. We always managed to do business, but more importantly the conversation and friendship was always warm. He will be missed." --Mike Medhurst

"We shall miss Charles, his helpfulness, his generosity, his ready smile . Sincere condolences and fondest thoughts." --Monah Gettner

"We are very sorry to hear of Charles’ passing. He was a gentle soul and it was always a pleasure to visit him in his booth at AIPAD. There were always surprises and we have a lot respect for his unique vision. We will miss him." --Mack and Michael Lee

"Charles was a passionate collector and conservationist also. We will all miss him." --Chuck Isaacs

"Oh, how sad. Charles was smitten by photography especially the very early and/or quirky. As with all of us, he had a deep interest in photographic history and how American history played out in the photograph. His camera obscura was another labor of love and excitement in processes. He freely shared his knowledge and enthusiasm." --Bruce Lundberg

"Sorry to hear this news. I met him only at the shows, but he was truly kind and helpful, and loved what he was doing. He was always eager to share. One of the best of this special group of people who love photography." –Neil Folberg

"So sad. Charles was a kind and generous man. Always had something positive to say." –Terry Etherton

"We will miss him. If there is an ever-after Charles will be there doing one of the things he loved to do best--buying and selling photographs." --Susan Herzig

"He was such a good man with a deep love of the medium of photography. His taste was diverse but specific, and his many different collections are a testament to the quality of his eye and the depth and integrity of his character. I will miss him." --Tom Gitterman

"So very sad to hear this news. I have known Charles for many decades going back to his days as a collector. What a shame!" –Willie Schaeffer

"So very sad indeed. We are losing some very talented people in the AIPAD family." –Catherine Edelman

"A terrific and generous man. RIP Charles." --Michael Shapiro

"A sparkle in his eye, a welcoming warm smile under the white mustache, then a lean into a work like he was sharing a great secret with you. A gentle soul, happy to share his passion and new finds. I join the many who will miss him." --Parker Stephenson

Novak has over 45 years experience in the photography-collecting arena. He is a long-time member and formally board member of the Daguerreian Society, and, when it was still functioning, he was a member of the American Historical Photographic Society. He organized the 2016 19th-century Photography Show and Conference for the Daguerreian Society. He is also a long-time member of the Association of International Photography Art Dealers. Novak has been a member of the board of the nonprofit Photo Review, which publishes both the Photo Review and the Photograph Collector, and is currently on the Photo Review's advisory board. He was a founding member of the Getty Museum Photography Council. He is author of French 19th-Century Master Photographers: Life into Art.

Novak has had photography articles and columns published in several newspapers, the American Photographic Historical Society newsletter, the Photograph Collector and the Daguerreian Society newsletter. He writes and publishes the E-Photo Newsletter, the largest circulation newsletter in the field. Novak is also president and owner of Contemporary Works/Vintage Works, a private photography dealer, which sells by appointment and at exhibit shows, such as AIPAD New York and Miami, Art Chicago, Classic Photography LA, Photo LA, Paris Photo, The 19th-century Photography Show, etc.