An interview with Edwynn Houk, member AIPAD
Collecting anything is about bearing witness to the process and development of a chosen topic or an object. Essentially collecting catalogues history through the objects one selects. It is a process where the collector is fully engaged with the artists and essentially becomes an active participant in the creative dialogue. This exchange, this conversation ultimately benefits all sides, and dealers are often essential in fostering this relationship between artists, their art, and collectors. We spoke to Edwynn Houk, founder and owner of Edwynn Houk Gallery, about AIPAD, The Photography Show, about what types of people attend the art fair, and what collectors should consider when buying art. Below is the transcript of our conversation.
Video interview transcript:
CONVERSATIONS AT THE PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW?
Edwynn Houk: “It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet the entire field; to look at the work from some of the youngest galleries to some of the oldest and most established; to meet the owners of the gallery. To have conversations and get the opinion of a lot of the leaders of the field in photography, which is a very different perspective then one would maybe get from an auction house, which is handling what passes through their doors and is limited to that, whereas the galleries have made personal decisions: this is the artist I want to show, this is the work of theirs I want to present.
WHO COMES TO THE PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW?
Edwynn Houk: The kind of people who attend an AIPAD fair contrast very sharply with our experience at all the other fairs. It’s really the most serious of collectors, the highest level of quality and, obviously, exclusively focused on photography. The audience has a very high representation of museum curators and collectors who come in person. Also, there’s more discovery, there’s more to learn by being there in person.
BEST ADVICE FOR COLLECTING ART?
Edwynn Houk: Don’t collect as an investment. One should collect work that you want to live with, that you find enriching, that you like looking at all the time. Also if you are spending a considerable amount of money, it also makes sense that you’d like to know the reputation of the artist, their standing, that it’s a major talent, someone who has a real role in the history of the medium.
ANALOGUE VS. DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY?
Edwynn Houk: What I find very interesting about one of the areas really being explored recently is the renewal in interest in antique processes, whether it’s collodion printing, daguerreotypes and different forms of that but adapting it to very contemporary world, a contemporary esthetic. So someone like Vera Lutter using camera obscura, but taking pictures that are just hauntingly modern or Sally Mann doing collodion plates where her re-creation of the technique includes quite a few flaws. She hadn’t perfected it like the 19th century photographers but she didn’t expect to and embraces as though to make it part of the image. Or someone like Adam Fuss with daguerreotypes. At the same time, that other people are experimenting with the computer and scanning negatives, digitizing, making small to, sometimes, very large manipulation in it. So the public, unless they are very knowledgeable in photography, really needs some information, some education as to what is altered by computer, in a very modern sense, or what is very basic photo optics and technique.
WHAT DO DEALERS BRING TO AIPAD’S THE PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW?
Edwynn Houk: We like to have something new if we can. If we represent a photographer that would be a great opportunity to really announce it, to the public and to show whatever body of work we’re going to kick it off with. If we have major works of historical importance; we’d certainly bring it there more than any other fair.”
This interview was conducted in partnership with AIPAD.
The Edwynn Houk Gallery was founded in 1980. Since its inception, the gallery has specialized in vintage photographs from 1917-1939 by the leading figures of the Modernist movement. The gallery has mounted over 200 exhibitions and published more than a dozen monographs.
Houk Gallery has served as the exclusive representative of the Estates of Brassaï, Bill Brandt, Dorothea Lange, André Kertész, Ilse Bing, and the Robert Frank Archive. Beginning with exclusive representation of Sally Mann in 1989, the Edwynn Houk Gallery has acted as the sole agent for a select group of leading contemporary photographers, including Robert Polidori, Lalla Essaydi, Annie Leibovitz and Abelardo Morell.
In 2010, on the occasion of its 30th anniversary, the gallery opened a second location in Zürich.
Mr. Houk has served on the Board of Directors for ADAA, Paris Photo, AIPAD, and on the Selection Committee for Art Basel and Paris Photo.
Edwynn Houk Gallery is a member of AIPAD. The gallery is located at 745 Fifth Avenue New York, NY