The inaugural Photo Shanghai

China’s first international art fair dedicated to photography

Image: © Herb Ritts, Versace Dress, Back View, El Mirage, 1990 / Courtesy of Camera Work

“Photography, art fairs and China are three of the most dynamic opportunities in the art world today,” says Alexander Montague-Sparey, the former head of the photographs department at Christie’s London, so it’s no surprise that he has moved on to direct the inaugural edition of Photo Shanghai, organised by the World Photography Organisation, which runs from September 5 to 7 at the Shanghai Exhibition Centre (tickets RMB50).

Image: Boomoon: Naksan # 4277, Laserchrome print, edition of 6 / Courtesy of Flowers

China’s first international art fair dedicated to photography will gather 42 galleries, both from Shanghai, such as Aike-Dellarco and Vanguard Gallery, as well as those from around the world. These include Berlin’s Camera Work, which will exhibit a collection of fashion shots and portraiture, including by Herb Ritts (such as Versace Dress, Back View, around €100,000, first picture); Fahey/Klein Gallery from Los Angeles (pieces from $40,000); and the UK’s Flowers, which will exhibit work by South Korean painter-turned-photographer Boomoon, whose large format images of vast seas, sky and land consider the immensity of nature (such as Nakasan#4277, edition of six, $20,000, second picture)

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Though China has long been a destination for legendary lensmen like Marc Riboud and Henri Cartier-Bresson – both of whose works will be brought over from Santa Monica, California by the Peter Fetterman Gallery during the two-day event – it is now getting a glimpse of a world-class collection of 19th- and 20th-century photography. This can be seen alongside emerging and established contemporary photography, including works by buzzworthy Chinese artists like Peikwen Cheng at MD Gallery (Praying, €1,550, third picture) and RongRong, the founder of Beijing’s leading ThreeShadows +3 Gallery.

Image: Peikwen Cheng Praying, Lost and Found series, 2010, edition of 10, Inkjet print on Fine Art paper / Courtesy of MD Gallery

Though billed as an arts event, there is an emphasis on “accessible and collectible” photography, which should appeal to the investment-minded buyers who flocked to last spring’s Art Basel Hong Kong. Co-founder Sandy Angus, also chairman of the World Photography Organisation, says, “The vast Asian art market has seen considerable growth over the past decade and in that time photography has been an ever-increasing part. Photo Shanghai has the opportunity to draw on this interest amongst both Chinese and Asia-Pacific collectors.”

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Photo Shanghai’s commitment to quality lured Lisa Botos onto the advisory board. The long-time Hong Kong- and Singapore-based curator and art consultant says she’s especially excited for the Chinese video project programme. “It is an important nod to the future of photography, which is inextricably linked to the moving image,” she says. “Video is one of China’s most dynamic areas of growth among artists and collectors.” The innovative video programme will present three artists each day, including Mainland China’s Lu Chensheng, Yang Fudong and Cheng Ran as well as those of the Chinese diaspora such as Berlin’s Ming Wong and Royston Tan from Singapore. There’ll be a great deal to snap up.

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