November 18, 2010

Stephen Cohen: Photo L.A.

22_Mark Shaw_Vanity Fair Gown 1955

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Stephen Cohen, creator of the highly acclaimed photo l.a., the longest running art fair in Los Angeles history, which celebrates its 20th Anniversary January 13 - 16, 2011 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The largest photo-based art fair in the country, photo l.a. brings together photography dealers from around the globe, displaying the finest masterworks from the 19th century continuing through modern photography stars and emerging photographers.

My conversation with Stephen about art was all over the map in a good way--from film noir to the upcoming Pacific Standard Time to speed dating for artists {not what you're thinking}--and we both share a love and passion for Los Angeles as an arts destination. Not only is he the founder and driving force behind photo l.a., but produces the highly acclaimed artLA art fair, photo NY, several other art fairs, and runs the Stephen Cohen Gallery.

photo l.a. special events


photo l.a. is one of my favorite Los Angeles art events to attend, and this year's show includes special installations, a video lounge, lectures & collecting seminars plus a few more exciting happenings that I'll be posting about soon. This year a new art/photography book fair bridging both the photo l.a. and artLA art fairs is also being introduced to serve a growing patron base that includes over 11,000 collectors, curators and dealers of photography. One of the highlights of the upcoming photo l.a. show is Troubled Waters, a panel of experts that include Jean Michael Cousteau, Ernest Brooks, and Jeanine Adams, who will be discussing art and politics--specifically as it relates to the heated water issues that have plagued California history.

new trends in photography


Stephen says there are always new trends in photography, but the advent of social networking has changed the face of photography. People post photos of themselves casually taken on their cell phones, tweet videos, and view hundreds of these images daily. Obviously this is not how photography or portraits were ever viewed in the past. He related a story of how his facebook photo is being used in an installation of facebook photos at The Museum of New Art in Detroit. When he saw that his photo had been placed above David Hockney's, it felt like kismet--years ago Stephen had worked for Hockney as a color supervisor for Hockney's Pompidou series. Stephen marveled that the cost of installing this kind of exhibition is the price of burning a CD and printing it out on a desk printer!

the La Brea Matrix Project


Over the next few months, I'll be following up with a series of interviews with artists and gallerists participating in photo l.a., and will also be covering Part II of The La Brea Matrix Project. Part I was exhibited last January at photo l.a. 2010. The La Brea Matrix, a project of, Cologne & The Lapis Press, Culver City, features the results of six photographers in an artists-in-residence program that searched for photographic points of reference to Stephen Shore’s iconic 1975 photograph.

For more information on the January 14-16 2011 event please go to photo l.a. will feature many of the world’s leading galleries and private dealers representing international, regional and U.S. artists.

Images: Mark Shaw Vanity Fair Gown, 1955; photo l.a. 2010; Autism Series, Blind Photographers Guild; Stephen Shore


Sandy at Ooh La Frou Frou said...

A Saturday of wandering through art galleries with my husband and stopping for lunch or a mid-afternoon cappucino somewhere along the way is one of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday. Looking forward to your interviews with artist. ;)

and flowers pick themselves said...

that first photo is spectacular. thanks for sharing!

xo Alison

Whimsy Being said...

wow, photo la sounds fascinating! i really enjoyed the insight on how photography has changed with the addition of social/digital media. can't wait to see what interviews you have lined up with photo la! sounds awesome, Mary Jo!

shari @ little blue deer said...

Amazing photography, you were so lucky to be there! Very cool! XX!

Brandi said...

Okay, I am absolutely amazed and only wish I lived in LA to be able to see more. I can't wait for more!

Absolutely Ladylike said...

How could I miss this post? What a fantastic event...and OMG that first photo!!! Wish I could attend...

Happy Monday dear Mary Jo, cheers: Evi

Ps: will email you back asap!

Death By Shoe said...

This looks like a fantastic event - such an interesting post too, I love the water photo! Ok officially addicted to your blog, following now LOL!


Relyn said...

That first image makes me gasp with its beauty.

Brent said...

Old-family-photographs-in-a-shoebox has been the usual way of discovering more about one's (recent) past, so I wonder what happens in future with the fragile social network. My Flickr account, to which I've uploaded nearly every digital photo I've taken, requires me to pay every couple of years. When I'm dead-and-gone, it may simply disappear. It gets hardly any visits from anyone anyway, let alone relatives, and mostly only functions as a backup device. But the historical record is probably something different from what your correspondents are interested in.

What they may be more interested in discussing is the implications of the explosion in the number of images. Back in the film days, the difficulty and cost of producing images was prohibitive. If you took a single roll of film -- thirty-six images -- at a birthday party, you would have been considered prolific. These days, I find I can produce three times that number of images in an evening without especially trying. Too, images are now available everywhere on the web; photography used to be largely sequestered in books, family albums, and art classes, but now it's just a click away. The number of compelling photographs I've seen on Flickr has dwarfed the few I used to see when flipping through old copies of Bresson and Atget's books.

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