L’oeil de la Photographie, by Sophie Bernard, November 15, 2016
Majestic as ever beneath the glass dome of the Grand Palais, Paris Photo, which is celebrating its twentieth anniversary, outdoes itself as a venue showcasing major trends in photography. An in-depth look and analysis.
At Paris Photo, you can of course find some nineteenth-century classics alongside more recent, time-honored figures, such as Pierre & Gilles, Gregory Crewdson, and Valérie Belin. They are the fair’s regulars. But above all, you could discover some treasures, those you knew nothing about only yesterday but to which you will now pay attention. For example, the Daniel Blau Gallery presents stunning images of Saturn taken by NASA in the 1980s, as well as no less spectacular shots of nuclear tests recorded by the American army in the 1940s. This is a point where documentary photography changes status and becomes a work of art.
At Paris Photo, visitors invariably delight in seeing, anew or for the first time, the pioneers of color photography as well as another America, the one of the 1960s and 70s, and even 80s. From Stephen Shore at the Edwynn Houk Gallery to Frank Horvat and Harry Gruyaert at the Fifty One Gallery, through Arlene Gottfried at the Douches Gallery and Paul Fusco’s series Funeral Train at Danziger’s: this is a true feast for the eyes. The format of all these, mostly vintage, prints, seldom larger than 30×40 cm, confirms a trend that began last year: the scarcity of seductive, decorative, oversized photos. The return to intimate small formats is undeniable, even if, when assembled on the wall, they add up to one imposing work of art.