Aperture Foundation

Edification value  2/5
Entertainment value  3/5
Should you go?  2/5
Time spent 22 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned A picture from a series of night-in-Manhattan photographs by Richard Rinaldi.  It made me think of rewriting The Red Balloon to feature a lonely club kid befriended by a semi-sentient disco ball.

Richard Rinaldi at Aperture Foundation
From Richard Rinaldi: Manhattan Sunday

The Aperture Foundation is well known as a publisher: of the eponymous quarterly magazine, fine photography books, and photographic art prints.  It also has a gallery space in New York as well, where it shows, unsurprisingly, smallish exhibitions of contemporary photography.

Places like the Aperture Foundation straddle that ill-defined line between museums and commercial galleries. As such, I’m sometimes unsure I should review them. Still, as a not-for-profit foundation, they’re not in it to rake in the dough, so I will err on the side of inclusion.

Aperture FoundationLike the nearby International Print Center, Aperture occupies a classic West Chelsea gallery space.  Super stark white walls, unfinished ceiling, scattered columns, industrial floor.  They had the space wide open when I visited, but it feels very flexible.

What I Saw

Alessandra Sanguinetti at Aperture Foundation
Alessandra Sanguinetti, “Ivana, Jardin des Tuileries, Paris,” 2016

I saw two shows.  First, “Le Gendarme Sur La Colline,” pictures of changing life in France by Alessandra Sanguinetti, and second a small series of works by Richard Rinaldi titled “Manhattan Sunday.”  The latter’s gimmick is  that Rinaldi took all the photos on a Sunday  morning between midnight and noon. 

I liked, but did not love, both shows. Sanguinetti and Rinaldi each has a good eye for composition, and both included portraits and genre scenes and landscapes. Both also had a narrative or even journalistic flavor to them. But neither contained any pictures that will haunt my dreams–or that I’d want to own and look at every day.

Who Should Go?

I don’t think everyone needs to go to the Aperture Foundation.  Like so many museums, partly it depends on what they’re showing–some photographers would of course justify the trip. Aspiring and professional photographers must make a pilgrimage there.  And collectors of contemporary photography, too. But for the average fan of photography, or of art, I’d say consider skipping Aperture. Plenty of other places (like the International Center of Photography, or The Met) will serve fine if you just casually like the photographic arts.

Aperture Foundation Bookstore
Aperture Foundation Bookstore

I’ll offer one other reason to go, though. I have not said much about museum shops in these reviews (although I did rave about the design shops at MAD and the Cooper Hewitt). But Aperture’s bookstore takes up a healthy amount of their space. It’s fantastic, and of course heavy on their books.  If you find yourself needing a fancy art photography book…well, actually head to the Strand.  But if you find yourself in that need in far west Chelsea, go to the Aperture Foundation and I’m sure they will hook you up.

For Reference:

Address 547 W. 27th Street, 4th Floor, Manhattan
Website aperture.org
Cost Free
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