11 Must-See Works at Paris Photo

While 2013 marked Paris Photo’s first U.S. edition in Los Angeles, the Parisian art fair has been held in Paris since 1997, annually luring the world’s top photography collectors to the historic Grand Palais. Today, as 169 galleries and art book publishers convene in Paris for the 18th edition of the fair, we offer a look at 11 must-see works—from Chris McCaw’s sunburnt photograph made in the arctic circle, to a rare piece of a triptych by Francesca Woodman—that, like the fair, represent some of the most innovative and intriguing photography being exhibited today.

1. Corinne Vionnet, Mecca, 2005-2014, at Danziger Gallery  

For her best known series, “Photo Opportunities,” Swiss-French photographer Corinne Vionnet mines the internet for images of popular tourist destinations—the Eiffel Tower, the Egyptian Pyramids, or the Black Stone of Mecca (pictured)—which she then layers into impressionist painting-like photographs combining hundreds of images of a single location. The series was inspired by her 2005 visit to the Tower of Pisa, and has established Vionnet as a pioneer in repurposing web-based images. Vionnet is a new addition to Danziger’s roster; look for her solo show at the gallery in January 2015. 

2. Chris McCawSunburned GSP#486 (Sunset/sunrise, North Slope, Alaska), 2011, at Yossi Milo Gallery

Chris McCaw built his first camera in 1995, and today, the California-based photographer is known his “Sunburn” series, made using hand-built, large-format cameras and employing the power of the sun. Sunburned GSP#486 (Sunset/sunrise, North Slope, Alaska), a solarized triptychon view at Paris Photo, was created in the Arctic Circle with the artist’s giant 30” x 40” camera. Printed on rare “A” weight Kodak paper, which was discontinued in the late ’80s, the work is physically and visually delicate, depicting a searing arc of the sun over a spare landscape—recalling the processes of Henry Fox Talbot and Lucio Fontana.

3. Francesca Woodman, Untitled (George Woodman, Sol Lewitt, Francesca Woodman), ca. 1976, at Robert Klein Gallery

At a timely moment following her recent show at Victoria Miro in London, and news of her exhibition next year at Moderna Museet, Robert Klein Gallery presents this rare Francesca Woodman photograph, one part of a narrative triptych. The work pictures Woodman tearing through a poster advertising a lecture on Sol Lewitt, given by her father George Woodman; taped on her torso is a smaller poster promoting her own exhibition featuring one of her nudes. In the next work in the triptych she rips apart the smaller poster, revealing her nude body. The image captures the playful rivalry among the artistic Woodman family, and the late artist’s fresh approach to the female body.

4. Cathleen Naundorf, L’arche de Noé XXXIV, 2014, at Hamiltons Gallery

French-German photographer Cathleen Naundorf’s lavish series “Un Rêve de Mode” incorporates fashions from leading couture houses—like the Philip Treacy headdress and the Jean Paul Gaultier gown seen here. Naundorf’s use of vintage, large-format cameras and her hand-pressed printing technique lend an antiquated air to these elaborately staged images, a contemporary take on the legacy of her mentor, Horst P. Horst, whose seminal body of fashion photographs will also make an appearance at Hamiltons’ booth.

5. Saibal Das, A Young Devotee, Nabadwip, 2011, at Tasveer

Tasveer, the only gallery from India at Paris Photo, shows the works of Saibal Das, who began his career through socio-political photojournalism in the Middle East and South Asia in the 1980s, and has since developed poetic, contemplative works portraying his native India and its peoples. At the fair, Tasveer presents works including this one from his “Before the Birth of Time” series, which delves into sacred religious traditions and pilgrimages in India, and the devotees who partake in its rituals. The works currently form a traveling exhibition in India that heads to Delhi in January 2015.

6. Thibault Hazelzet, Soldat #9, 2011, at Christophe Gaillard

In his photographs, Versailles-born artist Thibault Hazelzet invents his own reality. Challenging common conceptions of the photographic medium, his works, like Soldat #9, are the result of manipulating images and finalizing them while in negative form, then destroying the negatives, making images that are as precious as paintings—the discipline he studied in art school. Working in a 4-by-5-meter room, he employs an unconventional approach, experimenting with negative prints, reflections, and textures, among other elements. 

7. Mona Kuhn, Wander, 2012, at Jackson Fine Art

Brazil-born, Los Angeles-based photographer Mona Kuhn is best known for her large-scale nudes; in this series, titled “Private,” she uses the naked form to explore the endurance-testing, exhilaratingly physical experience of being in the desert. Intrigued by the desert’s alluring interplay of free, open space and harsh climate conditions, Kuhn employs light and shadow to question and dissolve the barriers between the natural landscape and the human body.

8. Jake Verzosa, Fabg-od Oggay, 2011, at Silverlens

Manila-based photographer Jake Verzosa spent three years traveling across remote villages in the Kalinga province of the Philippines to capture indigenous women covered in intricate, incredible tattoos. Verzosa’s resulting series, “The Last Tattooed Women of Kalinga,” has been shown in exhibitions across Europe and Asia, and they will feature in a new publication, which Verzosa is launching with Silverlens at Paris Photo.

9. Jim Campbell, Tuileries Garden, 2014, at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery

With degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics from MIT, Jim Campbell is recognized among leading new media artists and lauded for his innovative approach to and manipulation of electronic and computer media. At Paris Photo, Campbell presents a new series in which he has taken images of iconic Parisian locales, like the Tuileries in this work, and transformed them into luminous tableaux that appear to be in motion. The works further his investigations into LED technology and photography. This new series follows Campbell’s first New York museum retrospective last spring at the Museum of the Moving Image, and a complementary show at Bryce Wolkowitz. 

10. Steve Fitch, Grand View Motel, Raton, New Mexico, December 18, 1980, 1980, at Robert Koch

Steve Fitch’s 1980s series “Western Landmarks” captures the extravagant signposts that serve as beacons for lonely travelers, seeking momentary refuge in roadside motels. The brilliance of these illuminated landmarks and their melancholy grandeur encapsulate the thrill and isolation to be found on the open road. Works from Fitch’s series are also on view in the Rijksmuseum’s current exhibition of 20th-century photography.

11. Christopher Williams at David Zwirner

If you missed Christopher Williams’ retrospective that just closed at MoMA, and can’t wait until its opening at Whitechapel Gallery in 2015, you can see the conceptual photographer’s work in a new exhibition at David Zwirner Gallery in New York, “For Example: Dix-Huit Leçons Sur La Société Industrielle,” as well as in the gallery’s solo booth at Paris Photo. 

Paris Photo is on view at Grand Palais, Paris, Nov. 13–16, 2014.

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