There’s so much I liked about Alice Austen’s story and her home. However, I was blown away by Clear Comfort’s spectacular, panoramic views of the harbor. I’d go back there just to sit on the lawn and watch the ships go by.
Touring Alice Austen’s house in Staten Island, my guide quipped that if Alice Austen were alive today, she’d be one of those people who lines up for the new iPhone each time one comes out. I say she’d also most likely be an Instagram star.
That her life stretched from the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th, most of it spent in a lovely house on the shores of Staten Island, makes her even more fascinating.
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.
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.
Like 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
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.
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.