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Paris Photo 2021 showcases some of the best in photography right now

Top Image: Sandy Skoglund, "The Green House", 1990. Archival color photograph. Courtesy of the artist and Paci contemporary gallery.

Last weekend was a packed one for art lovers in Paris. In addition to AKAA 2021, Paris Photo also opened its doors to art collectors and enthusiasts alike for their 24th edition of the annual fair. As its name suggests, Paris Photo dedicates itself to the photographic medium and features works from all sorts of creators who use photography in their practice.

From November 11 to 14, 2021, the fair, for the first time, was located in the temporary structure of Grand Palais Ephémère. Designed by architects Wilmotte & Associés, the structure, located at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, serves as a temporary exhibition space while the Grand Palais is being renovated for the Olympics in 2024. Paris Photo 2021 featured photography from more than 190 galleries and art book dealers from 30 countries. In addition, the fair also hosted multiple programs, which includes panels, a photobook competition, and film screenings.

David Alekhuogie, WE 410/2 “A Reprise,” 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York.

There were many wonderful photographs that we saw exhibited at the fair. Here are some of the highlights from our visit there. Paci contemporary gallery staged a solo exhibition by Sandy Skoglund, who created colorfully staged, surrealistic scenes within the frame of her camera. England & Co features highly conceptual works by artists Anne Bean, Michael Druks, and Rose Boyt. Yancey Richardson, a gallery dedicated to artists using lens-based media, brought a presentation by artists like David Alekhuogie and Zanele Muholi.

For this edition of the fair, Paris Photo has also dedicated a portion of its programs to uplifting the voices of female photographers. While efforts have been made to make the photography world more inclusive, the field still remains a largely male-dominated one. Curated by Nathalie Herschdorfer, the Director of the Musée des beaux-arts de Locle, the program, titled Elles x Paris Photo, created a path within the fair that traces the role of women in the history of photography. The path features works from 1851 to 2021 by a diverse group of female photographers from around the world.

Anne Bean, Mortality (Shouting Mortality as I Drown), 1978. Courtesy of the artist and England & Co. Gallery.

Paris Photo also featured panels, artist talks, and film screenings about photography. And of course, a photography-focused event is not complete without the photobooks. Many publishers set up shops to sell photobooks, but the highlight is the annual PhotoBook Awards. Initiated by Paris Photo and the Aperture Foundation, the 2021 PhotoBook Awards chose three photobooks as this year’s winner: Sasha Phyars-Burgess’s Untitled for the First Photobook award, Muhammad Fadli and Fatris MF’s The Banda Journal for Photobook of the Year, and What They Saw: Historical Photobooks by Women, 1843–1999 by Russet Lederman and Olga Yatskevich for Photography Catalogue Of The Year. Outside these three, the jury also gave a special mention to Amma by Vasantha Yogananthan, the final volume of A Myth of Two Souls, a seven-book series initiated by the artist in 2016.

All in all, it was a great weekend for photography lovers. There was a huge variety of work that would satisfy any collectors or enthusiasts, no matter what kind of photography they like. Here's a few more look at our visit to Paris Photo.

Having worked with many collectors of different types, many of them tend to be uninterested or even specifically stay away from collecting photographs. But looking at the amazing works we saw this past weekend, it’s a shame if many of these photographs are left behind in favor of more “traditional” art. When done correctly, a lens-based art piece can be worth as much as or even more than a painting or sculpture.

The key? Look for works that aren’t easily duplicated. Anyone these days can take a photograph, but not anyone can make good artwork. Elaborately staged photos, like the ones by Skoglund, or physically manipulated works like by Bean, make the work more unique and help them stand out in a crowd. There is so much to discuss when it comes to collecting photography, which we will cover in another post.

If you have any questions about collecting photography or photography in general, don't hesitate to contact us! You can shoot us an email at info@artgence.co.

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