"Looking for Leisure," July 11-Aug. 29, 2003, at Staley-Wise Gallery, 560 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10012
Sometimes photography is all about vicarious living. Visitors to "Looking for Leisure," the summer group exhibition at Staley-Wise Gallery on Broadway in New York's SoHo district, are invited to imagine a life of picnics, beach idylls and pool parties. Even better, this refreshing summer fantasy is populated by a substantial number of unusually beautiful people. For Staley-Wise, which was founded by Takouhy Wise and Etheleen Staley in 1981, is famous for celebrity and fashion photography (as well as social photojournalism).
David LaChapelle once said, "For me pictures are fantasy. At the same time, they're a document of our era." And no one draws our pop icons into their fantasies better than LaChapelle, lucky for him. Here, he gives us none other than the Pop Tart herself, Britney Spears, having a frankfurter on a busy New York street. Britney Spears, Hot-Dog Stand (2001, ed. 10) can be yours for $3,700.
Lee Miller was a photographer in her own right as well as serving as Man Ray's muse and wife to Surrealist biographer Roland Penrose. She specialized in portraits of her acquaintances, personalities like Picasso, Joan Miró, Dylan Thomas and Rene Magritte. But she is also celebrated for her witty spoof of Manet's infamous canvas, Le Dejeuner sur L'Herbe. The print here of Miller's version, titled Picnic, Mourgins (1937), is only $1,000.
Speaking of Surrealism, photographer Willy Rizzo supplies an image of Salvador Dalí in 1956, taking the waters as only a great hallucinatory visionary can -- completely dressed, examining the surface of the pool with not one but two magnifying glasses. The photo, from an edition of 20, is $1,500.
No fantasy summer would be complete without a visit to the French Riviera, here provided by photographer Helmut Newton, whose recent retrospective at the International Center of Photography in New York was widely praised. Saint Tropez, a striking color photo from 1975, juxtaposes a woman in a striped floor-length gown lounging on a zebra-striped couch by the side of an azure pool with a sleek, black-clad swimmer in vaguely fetishistic goggles and swim cap. The price: $15,000.
Photography can take the viewer back into the past, of course, as well as around the world. Two grainy black-and-white photos by the mid-20th-century photojournalist Arthur Leipzig deal with the subject of children in the big city in the summer -- swimming in the East River and playing stickball. Divers, East River (1948), is priced at $1,600 and Stickball, New York (1950), is $1,200; both are signed by the artist.
The fashion photographer Ellen von Unwerth is known for highly charged, erotic images, and here her fans can indulge in a Performance-style bathtub session involving an androgynous man and three cigarette-smoking girls. The work, which dates from 1995 and comes in an edition of 30, is $2,000. Another Unwerth photograph shows a pair of topless women in fishnets, kissing, also for $2,000.
The great photojournalist Harry Benson captured an image of Greta Garbo in 1976, wrapped in a white robe after a swim at the beach, displaying an elegance and grace (and pair of legs) that belie her 71 years. Here, Garbo can be yours for $3,330 (ed. 5/35).