The words "print is dead, the future is digital" have been repeated ad nauseam the last 10 years. Evidently the French dealer and fair promoter Bruno Tartarin and the London based collector and writer Michael Diemar don't think so. Just before Christmas they founded a new magazine, "The Classic". It will have its US launch at the New York Photography Show presented by AIPAD and its UK launch at the Special Edition of the London Photograph Fair.
The first issue, with a paper negative by Dr. John Murray as its cover image and an accompanying article on the Alex Novak collection of early paper and glass negatives and matching positives, has five additional lengthy interviews: David Fahey of Fahey/Klein Gallery on the Dennis Hopper Archive, Robert Hershkowitz about his career and his upcoming Roger Fenton exhibition at Photo London, Martin Barnes, Senior Curator of Photographs at The Victoria & Albert Museum and the French auction specialist Christophe Goeury. There is a preview of the London May season. The section "In brief" has short articles about exhibitions on both sides of the Atlantic. In the article "From a private collection", Robert Flynn Johnson discusses two prints, one of the Countess Castiglioni and one of her mother.
The Classic is free, available at fairs and selected distribution points in Paris, New York, Los Angeles and London. It's also available through subscription, two issues for 50 euros within France and 80 euros outside.
"Publisher" is new role for Tartarin. He explains why he has decided to expand his activities, "I felt that the classic photography market needed a real boost, something substantial. Having thought about it for a while, I decided to start a magazine. While the web is very useful, there is nothing like holding a beautiful magazine in your hands."
So why does the classic photography market need a boost? Tartarin says, "When the modern photography market as we know it today was established around 1970, the focus was very much on works from the past, the 19th century, the Avant Garde of the interwar years. Around 2000, the focus changed and contemporary photography became increasingly dominant, at fairs, auctions and in the press. But as a photography dealer with over 20 years experience, I can tell you that it's still the classic photography, the Man Rays and the Gustave Le Grays, that underpins the whole of the photography market and gives it credibility."
It seems somewhat extravagant to make it a free magazine but as Tartarin explains, "My ambition is to bring new people to the market, as well as rekindle enthusiasm among established collectors. There is no entrance fee at my fair, Photos Discovery, and I felt that the same spirit should be applied to the magazine."
Tartarin asked Michael Diemar to create the new magazine from scratch.
Diemar says, "Bruno gave me a completely free hand, with regards to both its name and contents. I decided to call it "The Classic". It described what it was about and was also memorable. There were a number of things I wanted to avoid. I didn't want it to be an academic journal, nor did I want it to be a promotional brochure, full of articles about "golden investment opportunities" and graphs showing market expansion and price increases for individual artists. Because it wasn't the investment opportunities that turned me into a photography collector many years ago. It was the images, the prints, the Polaroids, the cased images, the wonder of the photographic object. And while books and museum exhibitions taught me a lot, they didn't provide me with nearly enough of the information I needed to operate as a collector. That information came from all the conversations I had with dealers, collectors, curators, auction experts, conservators, archivists, editors etc. And it's those kinds of conversations I have tried to replicate in the magazine."
Getting the content right was a balancing act, Diemar says, "The magazine had to be of interest to experienced collectors, as well as first-time buyers. With regards to the latter, I didn't want to clog up the pages with basic but essential information, explaining the difference between "vintage print", "printed later" and "posthumous", supplying mounting and framing advice etc. I would have had to include that information in every issue. Instead, all that information will be supplied under "resources" on our website."
And getting the look of the magazine right was equally important. Diemar says, "The magazine is richly illustrated, and I felt that this was key to attracting first-time buyers, making them fall in love with the images. I'm extremely pleased that some of the images, including a Julia Margaret Cameron, have never been published anywhere before."
The Classic was put together by a small team. Diemar says, "Pascale V. Marquis is our publication manager, and she enlisted the services of our art director, Mike Derez. Their work has been outstanding throughout. I have never worked with a better team."
The website launched in conjunction with the magazine can be found at: http:///www.theclassicphotomag.com.