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AIPAD 2012: Collectors's portraits Taking advantage of the opening of the AIPAD photography show yesterday afternoon in New York, La Lettre presents nine New York art collectors with various backgrounds. Stephen Perloff asked the same questions to each one of them and Gilles Decamps was there with his camera. Their answers are often fascinating. You be the judge. Stephen Perloff is the founder and editor of The Photo Review as well as the editor of The Photograph Collector. He is also a photographer. Gilles Decamps is a photographer and contributor to La Lettre.


Vince Aletti Š Gilles Decamps 1. How and when did you begin collecting? What was the first photograph you bought? Casually, compulsively, and mostly at flea markets, where I bought cartes de visite portraits, real-photo postcards, and stereo views, starting in the late 1960s. The first photographs I spent real money on were from a small, shortlived gallery in the East Village whose name I no longer remember. The photographer, Todd Smith (who I would like to know more about), showed a series of black-and-white portraits he'd made on the street in Brooklyn and Coney Island, and I couldn't decide between three Latin teenagers showing off the studio portraits they'd just made (I've always liked pictures within pictures) or four Puerto Rican girls posing against a car. I got a deal, and bought both for $150 sometime in the mid '70s. 2. What do you consider your first real success in collecting? Your biggest failure? What is your prize? Collecting doesn't really involve success or failure for me. Pleasure and disappointment, maybe, but even that is hard to pinpoint. I'm happy to have bought photographs by Aaron Siskind, Weegee, Lewis Hine, Willem von Gloeden, George Platt Lynes, and others in the late '70s and early '80s when they were affordable for someone with a very modest income. The photographs I most prize are portraits of friends and lovers by Peter Hujar and Gary Schneider. 3. What is your concentration or theme in collecting now, if any? My focus is primarily on images of men — portraits and figure studies from all periods, by unknown and well-known photographers. 4. What is your approach? Do you go on instinct? Do you buy from galleries, dealers, auctions, and/or directly from artists? My approach is a combination of instinct and intelligence. The image matters more to me than the author is most cases, but if the work is not anonymous or the product of a studio, I like to know as much about the artist as possible. Ideally, the image I'm considering is not a fluke but is supported by a history, however brief, of other equally interesting work. But the absence of that history hasn't kept me from buying a photograph I'm really excited by. I buy occasionally from dealers but current prices are usually way out of my range, so most of my photographic purchases are from flea markets, student shows, eBay, charity auctions, or the sort of private dealers who show up at book fairs with an album of mug shots. 5. Is there any other photography collector you especially admire? Sam Wagstaff, who I know primarily from A Book of Photographs and the exhibition of that work at NYU's Grey Art Gallery. The depth, range, and idiosyncrasy of his collection, especially his interest in anonymous and vernacular


material, had a huge influence on my way of thinking about photography. And Thomas Walther, whom I got to know when images from his collection of found photographs were published (in Other Pictures) and exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum. Again, it's Walther's combination of visual intelligence and openness to an extraordinary image no matter where it comes from is what I most admire. 6. Is the idea of collecting vintage work important to you? Yes, because I want the image to reflect the period in which it was made. The paper, the format, the mount, even the flaws should be authentic to that period. I'm interested in contemporary work but not in modern prints of vintage material. 7. How important is investment potential versus esthetic pleasure in choosing what to buy Since 99% of what I buy has little or no investment value, this isn't usually an important consideration for me. 8. If there is one picture you would like to buy but haven't been able to, what would that be? There's at least one at every art and photo fair, usually a portrait by Rodchenko, Helmar Lerski, or Wolfgang Tillmans. I would love to have one of Avedon's portraits from the American West, but the picture that immediately comes to mind when I'm asked this question has nothing to do with my collection as a whole: It's one of Irving Penn's monumental cigarette butts, ideally a gang of them.


Michael H. Berkowitz Š Gilles Decamps 1. How and when did you begin collecting? What was the first photograph you bought? My parents would bring me to MOMA when I was a kid and I would always head straight to the photography collection. I would get lost in the images by Arbus, Eggleston, Penn and Avedon. First photograph was actually a series of small photogravures by Edward S. Curtis. They were Native American costume studies. I was a teenager at the 26th Street Flea Market trailing Andy Warhol. They are printed on tissue and their very stylized tribal costumes definitely influenced me to pursue studying fashion design at Parsons. 2. What do you consider your first real success in collecting? Your biggest failure? What is your prize? I believe that photographs are more than images on sheets of paper, they are three dimensional objects with texture and soul. My prize is a collection of photographs that had once belonged to Diana Vreeland. These prints by Avedon, Dahl-


Wolfe, Horst, Platt-Lynes, Penn etc., are from her personal collection, some used in her book ALLURE. I like to imagine why she kept these prints and what they could have possibly meant to her. Aside from the fact that she was a legendary fashion editor at Harper's Bazaar and Editor in Chief of Vogue and that she was responsible for the content and spirit of these images, I still wonder what her visceral connection was to these prints? They are beautiful and fascinating images of great American Fashion. 3. What is your concentration or theme in collecting now, if any? Vintage Fashion photographs by the masters. 4. What is your approach? Do you go on instinct? Do you buy from galleries, dealers, auctions, and/or directly from artists? I buy from dealers, auctions, estate sales, from other collectors is my favorite. 5. Is there any other photography collector you especially admire? The late John McWhinnie inspired me a lot. He encouraged me to go beyond my comfort zone with collecting. I was always inspired by what he had in his own library and of course what was in the back of his shop, not on the selling floor. The latest treasures he reserved for special customers. He had a knack for spoiling his clients and at the same time teaching us something new. Mike Gallagher on East 12th Street was an Alladin's Cave. Mike's energy was always exciting and it was amazing what would turn up: Avedon, Beaton, Penn, and Warhol would frequently appear on his walls and in his flat files. Mike had a sizable collection from the estate of M. F. Agha the late, great art director. It was always fun to check out his cave. 6. Is the idea of collecting vintage work important to you? Yes, I love vintage prints. I love the intimate experience of handling a vintage print. One can really sense something of the time when the photo was taken and printed. The texture of the paper, the handwriting or stamps on the verso. I can feel the pulse, the energy these prints give. 7. How important is investment potential versus esthetic pleasure in choosing what to buy? Never bought anything with the goal of turning around and selling. 8. If there is one picture you would like to buy but haven't been able to, what would that be? Irving Penn, Two Guedras, 1974, platinum print. I would be very happy to add this to my collection.


Leon Constantiner Š Gilles Decamps 1. How and when did you begin collecting? What was the first photograph you bought? In 1990 I went to a photography auction viewing at Sotheby's and fell in love with a piece that made me laugh: Self Portrait with Wife and Models by Helmut Newton. I did not know who Helmut Newton was nor did I know who the characters were in the piece. That was the first photograph I bought. 2. What do you consider your first real success in collecting? Your biggest failure? What is your prize? My success in collecting was to be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. I consider my biggest failure to have achieved the ultimate Helmut Newton, Marilyn Monroe ,and Fashion Photography collections in the world and simply having nothing more to collect. My biggest prize in my life are my wife and kids. 3. What is your concentration or theme in collecting now, if any? I now collect crayon drawings and paintings created by my kids! 4. What is your approach? Do you go on instinct? Do you buy from galleries, dealers, auctions, and/or directly from artists? My approach was to collect what I liked and from my heart. Yes, I did go on my instinct. I would say I bought 80% from auctions and 20% from dealers and galleries. 5. Is there any other photography collector you especially admire? I admire all the collectors that have a true love and appreciation for photography and collect with passion; not just to make a quick buck. 6. Is the idea of collecting vintage work important to you? It is always better to collect vintage work but if the condition and image of a piece is good, I will sacrifice vintage for the image. 7. How important is investment potential versus esthetic pleasure in choosing what to buy? Buy what you like, if down the road you make money then you have achieved both pleasure and success. 8. If there is one picture you would like to buy but haven't been able to, what would that be? When my children grow up, if I still have the energy and means; I would like to repurchase the entire collection I sold, and build a home for them to share with the public. I believe I achieved the best collection of its kind in the world. Leon Constantiner sold his extraordinary collection at Christie's in December 2008.


Michael Feldschuh Š Gilles Decamps 1. How and when did you begin collecting? What was the first photograph you bought? I began collecting 12 years ago. The first photograph that I purchased was a vintage print by Carlotta Corpron, an abstract study of shadows in black-and-white. It was purchased from a friend who was a collector who had been kind enough to let me live in his apartment after I graduated from college. He had an art collection, and I realized that the quality of appreciation for a work of art changes when one lives with it, has time to reflect and consider it, and to see it in an evolving way. For me this is the chief reason to collect, I experience art in a completely different way by living with it rather than seeing it once or twice in a museum. 2. What do you consider your first real success in collecting? Your biggest failure? What is your prize? My first success in collecting was purchasing a portfolio of Hans Bellmer prints. My biggest failure has been passing up the chance to acquire some rare Duane Michals works that were offered to me. My prize in collecting is my JoelPeter Witkin en-caustic entitled Printemps. 3. What is your concentration or theme in collecting now, if any? I started by collecting based solely on what appealed to me at an intuitive level, it was only later that I realized what my theme was by examining what I had assembled. One day a photographer saw my collection and said "Oh, you are a black-and-white people guy." By that he meant that most of my collection is black-and-white, and most images have a person in them, although only some would be considered portraits, others set-up photographs, fashion work, reportage, etc. I believe that Helmut Newton dryly remarked once about landscapes something like, "They all tend to be a bit dull, don't they?" I suppose that extroverts find people pictures more appealing and introverts are drawn to landscapes due to their internal orientation. Landscapes are only 2% of my collection, but I do enjoy the few that I have quite a bit. 4. What is your approach? Do you go on instinct? Do you buy from galleries, dealers, auctions, and/or directly from artists? I have purchased from galleries, dealers, auctions, artists, garage sales, and other collectors. Some of the photographs that I treasure most cost less than a few hundred dollars. A piece must have something that appeals at a deep and timeless level, photographs involving celebrity bore me and are ephemeral. I want something that speaks to a deeper spiritual level of life or the human experience, and often I cannot always articulate or understand why something is successful in that way. 5. Is there any other photography collector you especially admire? I admire my friend Herbert Lust, a great Witkin collector and art collector in general. He taught me that you must only buy what you love and want to live with, and that a great work of art has some quality of mystery to it. If you can completely articulate why it is appealing and good, it probably is not going to be compelling or long lasting in its merit. 6. Is the idea of collecting vintage work important to you? Vintage for me is interesting in that it conveys the artist's original intent properly. For example, vintage Disfarmer prints are completely different from the posthumous prints made from negatives discovered later, in that the original prints have burning and dodging which reflects a gentleness Disfarmer had to the human imperfections laid bare by his sharp and large negatives. If, as Ansel Adams said "the negative is the score and the print the performance," then the vintage print, if it is a good one, can be like stepping back in time to see a beautiful performance exactly as the master intended. 7. How important is investment potential versus esthetic pleasure in choosing what to buy? If one is spending a good deal of money on a work of art, he or she should buy carefully and at a fair price. That said, buying art in hopes that it will increase in value is a dull endeavor and holds no interest. There are far easier ways to make money, and it is a cynical exercise to simply acquire what one believes others will pay more dearly for in the future. 8. If there is one picture you would like to buy but haven't been able to, what would that be? A vintage print of Steichen's portrait of Gloria Swanson.


William M. Hunt © Gilles Decamps 1. How and when did you begin collecting? What was the first photograph you bought? In my book The Unseen Eye: Photographs from the Unconscious I talk about my first acquisition as an Imogen Cunningham I bought at auction 40 years ago. The truth of the matter lies a little deeper. I had bought an odd untitled, unauthored still life of a faceless figurine a few years before that when I was an actor living and working in Cambridge, MA. In any event, the whole thing has been a delirious mystery. 2. What do you consider your first real success in collecting? Your biggest failure? What is your prize? "Success" is a relative notion. Being identified as a collector by Charles Hagen in 1993 - almost twenty years ago - in The New York Times had unexpected consequences. My prize is Irving Penn's Two Guedras, 1972. 3. What is your concentration or theme in collecting now, if any? The first Collection Dancing Bear, which consisted of magical, heart-stopping images of people in which the eyes cannot be seen is done - basically. A second collection ofAmerican Groups Before 1950 has some life. 4. What is your approach? Do you go on instinct? Do you buy from galleries, dealers, auctions, and/or directly from artists? Wit and guile and a big fat smile (with apologies to Noel Coward) and all of the above. 5. Is there any other photography collector you especially admire? 
Michael Wilson as well as Sam Wagstaff and Paul F. Walter and Stephen White. 6. Is the idea of collecting vintage work important to you? 
Yes, said the hooker who enjoyed her field of endeavor. 7. How important is investment potential versus esthetic pleasure in choosing what to buy? Not a factor. 8. If there is one picture you would like to buy but haven't been able to, what would that be? Humphrey Hime The Prairie, on the Banks of the Red River, Looking West, 1857, or Richard Avedon, Andy Warhol, artist, New York City 1969 (gunshot wound), or Andreas Gursky,Tooten Hosen, 2000.


David Kronn © Gilles Decamps 1. How and when did you begin collecting? What was the first photograph you bought? I probably started seriously in collecting in 1996 when I was successful at my first auction at Christies. I have been interested in photography as long as I can remember, participating in the camera club in school and learning how to develop my own photographs. Moving to New York led to opportunities to learn more about photography, visiting galleries and exploring the market. The first photograph in collection is by William Claxton of the Black Humorist Poet Terry Southern. The image is from the exhibition Photographs of Peace and shows him releasing a dove. This was followed a few minutes later by the photograph by the Argentinean Photographer of the Pope’s Foot. This photograph is very interesting in that it seems as if printed on holy parchment and on closer inspection one can see the Pope’s characteristic Prada slippers. 2. What do you consider your first real success in collecting? Your biggest failure? What is your prize? For some time I had researched the photography of Irving Penn. Learning about the breath of his work and the


methods he used to create his masterpieces. At the time I first really appreciated his work his fashion photographs where already highly prized and so it was to ethnographic work that I focused. In particular I started looking at his Small Trades series and so when opportunity arose I decided to bid on the Tree Pruner from this series of work at Sotheby’s. This was nearly ten years before the Getty Museum had their exhibition of the entire Small Tradesseries. The three Small Trades photographs represent to me one of the cornerstones of the collection. They have been constantly on display in my apartment and I never tire of looking at them. They are as time capsules and remain fresh and appealing even though sixty years has passed since the original portraits where shot for Vogue. In terms of failures there are many photographs that got away so to speak, at auction a certain discipline is required and I always set myself a maximum bid before the start of the auction, as it is all too easy to get caught up in the frenzy of bidding. On many occasions I have been the under bidder at the auction, this is frustrating as in many cases I may have just missed getting the photograph and in the second I have set the final price. I try not to dwell on these photographs, as there are many other opportunities out there. If one photograph is not to be then something else usually comes along. At any one time I could be looking at a dozen photographs for the collection. Also invariably if I’m unsuccessful with one photograph, there will be an opportunity to acquire the photograph from a dealer or at another auction in the future. 3. What is your concentration or theme in collecting now, if any? Currently part of collection is being currently being exhibited at the Glucksman Gallery in Cork, Ireland after the initial exhibition of the collection at the Irish Museum of Modern Art last year. The title of both exhibitions is Out of the Dark Room and represented a concept in collecting that I hold closely to, namely Out of the Dark. The idea that nothing is exactly as it appears to be. The idea behind the image literally comes out of the dark. At first an image is considered on its surface, but under closer inspection additional insight and meaning can be gained and then the back-story is further revealed. An image to me must initially be pleasing on the eye and then the layers of meaning can be discerned with deeper inspection, as such to come out of the dark. 4. What is your approach? Do you go on instinct? Do you buy from galleries, dealers, auctions and/or directly from the artist? In the beginning I tended to collect more based on what I would see by chance like the photographs coming up for the next auction. Over time however, ideas and themes have developed within the collection and now I approach collecting looking into those themes and how the next photograph adds to these dialogues. For example, I tend to go for more graphic photographs where the image is reduced to its simplest form and perhaps where a minimalist approach has been taken. As a pediatrician I have tended towards photographs of children, which forms a prominent section within the collection and more recently photographs with Ireland as the subject matter. I have bought photographs from all sources: galleries, dealers, auctions, and on a few occasions I have bought directly from the artist. Early on I even bought photographs on eBay! 5. Is there any other photography collector you especially admire? Photography collecting is a relatively new phenomenon. The collection of Samuel Wagstaff is key to photography collecting. He recognized the importance of photography as a collecting medium in the early 1970s and went on to build one of the seminal collections before anybody really knew its importance. His collection of course went on to to form the cornerstone of the Getty Museum’s magnificent photography collection. 6. Is the idea of collecting vintage work important to you? I guess that really depends on the photographer and really becomes a judgment of many considerations. In general vintage work or contemporaneous prints are printed close to the date of the original negative and most closely represent the artists original intent for the photograph, but for many photographers their later prints more closely represent their final statement on the work, for instance Ansel Adams's Moonrise, Hernandez was printed by him differently over time. In the later prints he managed to remove almost all traces of cloud cover around the moon, which makes the moon really pop in later prints. One of the problems with modern prints these days as certain processes and papers are no longer being made is it is becoming impossible to reproduce a print that can match the original photograph. In general if one could judge merely by aesthetics a vintage print would be preferrable as long as it is in good condition. However, modern prints which are very close to the original work are generally more affordable. Sometimes it may be preferable to have a good modern print than none at all; again a judgment call. 7. How important is investment potential versus esthetic pleasure in choosing what to buy? The potential for investment is less a concern at this point, as I have no plans to sell the collection. Instead I am more concerned about the rapid rise in prices attained for certain photographs that has pushed them out of my budget. On the flip side it does vindicate my early decisions. 8. If there is one picture you would like to buy but haven’t been able to, what would that be?


I would have to say that there are many photographs that I would like to have in the collection. The most recent one that comes to mind was a photograph from last year's Hiroshi Sugimoto exhibition at Pace Gallery. A large format print from his seascape series was particularly compelling. The photograph in question was taken from the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland, and reveals his typical seascape, this time looking over the Atlantic Ocean, in essence a remembrance and time capsule of Ireland.

Michael Mattis Š Gilles Decamps 1. How and when did you begin collecting? What was the first photograph you bought? Irving Penn's Ballet Society while still in college. My wife Judy and I started collecting in earnest when we were in grad school at Stanford in the early 1980s; photo galleries were sprouting like mushrooms throughout Northern California. 2. What do you consider your first real success in collecting? Your biggest failure? What is your prize? We purchased Julia Margaret Cameron's Mia Album in 1990, after it had finally been granted an export license to leave the UK, which had originally been denied in 1974. This acquisition took every available cent we could beg, borrow or steal. Biggest failure? We totally missed Eggleston (now it's too late). Prize? I suppose we're best known for our Edward Weston collection.


3. What is your concentration or theme in collecting now, if any? We identify the photographers we love and that we think are true geniuses, from Talbot to Nègre to Cameron to Weston to Brassaï to Arbus and beyond, and collect them in depth, showing various phases of their careers. The exception is daguerreotypes where we specialize in that great artist, Anonymous. 4. What is your approach? Do you go on instinct? Do you buy from galleries, dealers, auctions, and/or directly from artists? Almost all the artists in our "core" collection are long dead, but yes, we buy from all of the above, including the artists' estates. We prefer to buy large tranches of work rather than one at a time, when such opportunities exist. We collect 19th century with a 20th century collector's eye, and 20th century with a 19th century collector's eye. 5. Is there any other photography collector you especially admire? What Helmut Gernsheim accomplished and foresaw in his day takes one's breath away. That the British museums didn't see fit to purchase his collection is astonishing in hindsight. 6. Is the idea of collecting vintage work important to you? Not just important — essential. 7. How important is investment potential versus esthetic pleasure in choosing what to buy? Like all serious collectors, we know the market for the artists we are interested in. Everybody overpays from time to time, but it is always best to do so with one's eyes open. Show me a collector who claims not to care at all about the investment value of his holdings, and I'll show you a liar. 8. If there is one picture you would like to buy but haven't been able to, what would that be? It is the Joseph Nicéphore Niépce View from the Window at Le Gras in the Gernsheim Collection at the Ransom Center, Austin, Texas, from 1826 that started it all. Michael P. Mattis (914)725-7148 mattis@post.harvard.edu


Jed Root © Gilles Decamps 1. How and when did you begin collecting? What was the first photograph you bought? 
I started around 1986. But I was not really serious about it then. Mainly I acquired a few photos from friends & business acquaintances. There were a few different ones, but Sante D’Orazio stands out. I was working in a model agency at that point & Sante had done a few projects with some of the models we represented. I think it was about 4 years or so later that I got a bit more serious about it & started buying at charity auctions mostly. I picked up several Irving Penn photos and Avedon photos in that first year. 2. What do you consider your first real success in collecting? Your biggest failure? What is your prize?


Well I guess those first few Penn & Avedon photos were pretty big successes. I paid between $2,000.00 to $4,500.00 for each of them. Now they are probably worth about twenty times that. I still have them, I have never sold a single photo. I don’t think of any of them as failures, since I only buy things that I really like & would want to have in my house. I don’t think there’s one piece that I could choose as “THE prize”. 
3. What is your concentration or theme in collecting now, if any? 
I don’t seem to have one & never really did have a thought-out strategy or concentration. I’ve always just bought what grabbed my eye. Though I seem to be buying a lot of Gordon Parks images these days for whatever reason. 4. What is your approach? Do you go on instinct? Do you buy from galleries, dealers, auctions, and/or directly from artists? 
I really just buy things that I would want to have in my home; usually images that I love or have a personal connection to. I buy at auctions & directly from artists mostly. I don’t specifically avoid galleries & dealers, but I’ve just always been more of a “passive” collector in a way. 5. Is there any other photography collector you especially admire? I honestly don’t know too many other collectors, or at least rarely talk about collecting with the ones I do know. But Sam Shahid definitely comes to mind. He has some very rare & interesting things in his collection. 6. Is the idea of collecting vintage work important to you? Yes! Those photographers are not taking any more photographs. Also, the older a photo is, somehow makes it easier to tell how good or important it is. 
7. How important is investment potential versus esthetic pleasure in choosing what to buy? I never really think about investment value. I just always buy what I love. But that being said, it’s still important to think about what the fair price should be. I don’t buy for investment purposes, but it’s always good to know that you have some money hanging on your walls if you ever need it. 
8. If there is one picture you would like to buy but haven't been able to, what would that be? Since I always go on instinct & have no collecting strategy whatsoever, I’d have to nothing comes to mind.


Alice Sachs Zimet © Gilles Decamps 1. How and when did you begin collecting? What was the first photograph you bought? I began to collect about 10 years after I was an intern at The International Center of Photography — during its very first year of operation — in 1975! And ironically, the first photo purchase was thanks to an ICP field trip in 1985 to the Parish Art Museum in Southampton to see a Flowersexhibition from the collection of Sam Wagstaff. I fell in love with


a photograph by Andrew Bush from a series that he did documenting a charming house in Ireland. Columbinesimmediately hit me emotionally as it included many of the “ touch points” from my childhood — family portraits on a bookcase with a cropped painting above, a vase of flowers and lots of European paperbacks. It just spoke to me. (Julie Saul was conveniently sitting in front of me on the bus and was Bush’s dealer at the time.) So I bought it along with a companion piece. And despite the fact that my collection is primarily about people, I still adore these two initial first purchases! 2. What do you consider your first real success in collecting? Your biggest failure? What is your prize? That’s like asking who is your favorite child! No big failures…but my taste has changed from the early days, which seems like a fairly normal outcome over a 25-year-plus period of time. And I have de-accessed a bit but only a very small percentage. When you ask about success, it can be measured in different ways. One is perhaps financial and it is nice to see some of my early purchases — Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Sugimoto, Goldin, Mapplethorpe, Levitt, Muniz, Serrano — grow in value. But probably the success that I am most proud of is watching those naysayers who told me that “photography is not art” begin to collect! I have a somewhat infectious enthusiasm about photography and am always so pleased when someone — a collector or even a dealer — tells me that I’ve influenced them. Very satisfying! 3. What is your concentration or theme in collecting now, if any? I’d say there are a few themes. From the beginning, the one theme that has lasted throughout my years of collecting is the reference to art history and my love of artist’s portraits (and a few self portraits). I have an undergraduate and graduate degree in art history, and my first job was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So my collecting comfort level began with portraits of artists — and I have at least 30 of them. There’s Cartier-Bresson’s portrait of Matisse, Karsh’s portrait of Giacometti, a great vintage Avedon portrait of a young Nureyev, Cindy Sherman as Lucille Ball, Steichen’s portrait of Rodin, and even “portraits” of artist’s studios (Bill Brandt’s portrait of Cezanne’s studio and Brassaï's of Picasso’s from the mid 1940s). I also love the inter-connection between the artists in real life — Noguchi (by Karsh) who had a long affair with Martha Graham (by Barbara Morgan) and who created the symbol (lyre) for the New York City Ballet (image by Platt Lynes). Or a portrait by Beaton of David Hockney and his partner Henry Geldzahler taken at the same time as Andy Warhol’s first show (byVillage Voice photographer, Fred McDarrah). Another theme is tied to France where I’ve spent a great amount of time (my grandfather lived there for nearly 50 years) — CartierBresson’s On the Banks of the Marne, Kertész’s Under the Eiffel Tower, Marc Riboud’s Painter on the Eiffel Tower and a great contact print by Brassaï of the Street Walker and another contact print by Lartigue of Renee. Finally, I am attracted to portraits and the human spirit. These portraits over the years have become stronger and stronger, and a bit more “in your face” and perhaps even shocking — Bill Klein, Lisette Model, Alec Soth, and Christer Stromholm, to name a few. 4. What is your approach? Do you go on instinct? Do you buy from galleries, dealers, auctions, and/or directly from artists? My approach is eclectic — as I buy from galleries, auctions, art fairs, and benefit auctions. But what I do is homework — so even if something is instinctual, I try to do a little research — from provenance to getting a condition report, even if it’s a benefit auction. 5. Is there any other photography collector you especially admire? I admire anyone who takes collecting seriously — and supports artists, galleries and nonprofits in the process. Over the last year, it has given me great pleasure to give back by teaching others how to collect. Collecting Photography 101: Beginner Basics doesn’t preach what to buy but gives students the tools and ammunition to ask the right questions and gain enough confidence to make smart purchases. Collecting Photography began with the Camera Club of NY and has now spread to classes at ICP, Center for Photography at Woodstock, PRC in Boston, The Jewish Museum, and even to the Columbia Museum of Art in South Carolina. Another new class for photographers — rather than collectors — is about to begin too: “Inside the Collector’s Mind: How They Think, Decide and Buy” to help photographers understand what makes us collectors tick! 6. Is the idea of collecting vintage work important to you? Actually, it is. 7. How important is investment potential versus esthetic pleasure in choosing what to buy? I don’t collect for “investment” purposes but I do believe in a “threshold” approach. Up to a certain amount, many of us have a “threshold” where you might not get your money out. And you need to be OK with that. And anything above that “threshold” you look at the image as a collectible or commodity where you know you can trade or sell it. 8. If there is one picture you would like to buy but haven't been able to, what would that be? I am totally opportunistic. Nothing is on the radar screen and everything is. I love to go through the auction catalogs, dog-ear pages and see if they sell. Often, if they don’t, I’m on with the specialist the next day!



New York Photography Collectors portraits