Born in London, Peter Fetterman has been deeply involved in the medium of photography for over 30 years. Initially a filmmaker and collector, he set up his first gallery over 20 years ago. He was one of the pioneer tenants of Bergamot Station, the Santa Monica Center of the Arts when it first opened in 1994.
The gallery has one of the largest inventories of classic 20th Century photography in the country particularly in humanist photography. Diverse holdings include work by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sebastião Salgado, Steve McCurry, Ansel Adams, Paul Caponigro, Willy Ronis, André Kertesz, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Lillian Bassman, Pentti Sammallahti, Stephen Wilkes and Jeffrey Conley.
Peter and his colleagues are committed to promote the awareness and appreciation of the most powerful of the mediums in an intimate, user-friendly salon environment.
Availability and Prices:
The availability of artwork is subject to prior sale. All prices are subject to change without prior notice.
The gallery provides framing at additional cost. Please inquire at time of purchase about availability of frames.
There is a 9.5% sales tax for all purchases within the state of California. Sales tax is not applicable to purchases billed and shipped to an out of state address.
Artwork will be packaged professionally and shipped via FedEx at the expense of the client. Any damage to artwork incurred during shipment is insured by the gallery.
All purchases are guaranteed to be as described. All photographs are in excellent condition unless otherwise noted.
It is important to remember that photography is the youngest of all collectable art forms. Whereas painting, drawing, graphics and sculpture have centuries of tradition and scholarship behind them, photography in comparison is a mere infant. Invented as recently as 1839, the medium has nonetheless become very much the art form of our time, with photography exhibitions at the forefront of many major museums’ programming.
The first serious auction of photography only took place in 1974 in New York, and its’ real turning point as a highly prized collectable took place in our own city in 1984. That was the year the Getty Museum, in a carefully orchestrated secret coup, swooped up the eighteen most important collections of fine art photography in private hands. They went for the earth-shattering price (at that time) of $25 million. Of course today, only eighteen years later this seems like an extraordinary "steal" when a single Man Ray photograph of"Glass Tears"has changed hands privately for $1 million or a single Paul Strand sells at auction for over $600,000.
What does this all this mean for the "ordinary" collector? Years ago it was always assumed that in order to have a major collection one had to be born into a rather gilded life. One of the wonderful things about photography is that it is still possible to build up a significant collection for relatively small sums of money, if you go about it in a smart way. You may love Modigliani, or Rubens, or Rembrandt or Matisse but for most of us that would be fantasy collecting. Fortunately it is still possible to acquire images by the equivalent masters of photography, at an accessible level, and in a market that has so far only ever gone up in value.
"How do I go about it?" you may be wondering. The best advice I give my new clients is to do what I call"photo aerobics". Exercise your eye. Take every opportunity to look at as many images as you can, be it in museum shows, galleries, art fairs (like this one), and build up a library of photography books. As in any field of collecting the more knowledge you can acquire the greater the pleasure you are going to experience from the whole process. Find a dealer you can communicate with who is willing to share their own knowledge and expertise with you. Remember that there are no such things as stupid questions. As your eye and knowledge develop so will your confidence. Finding the photographs that inspire you is a highly creative endeavor in itself, and can even be an act of self-discovery. As your learning curve grows you will soon understand and appreciate the difference between a silver print and a platinum print, a vintage print and a modern print.
Happily it is still possible to buy an important print in the $1000-$5000 range, and by important I mean a photograph that is going to have longevity not only in terms of the image itself, but also the reputation and importance of the artist. To do this today in any other medium is virtually impossible. This will of course not always be the case with photography either. The realities of increasing demand as more and more collectors enter the arena, will mean a diminishing supply of available, affordable prints of classic images by recognized masters.
What I have seen over the last twenty-five years of collecting is that the medium has enormous power and emotional interest for a large number of people. Many have had their entire sense of reality altered by what they have seen. This is what has contributed to its vibrancy as a collectable art form, and will continue to do so.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Once you have explored and located photographs of interest, you will probably have some technical and practical questions to ask. We are always happy to answer any queries, either by telephone, email or in person at the gallery. In the meantime, here are some questions that we are often asked:
*Is the photograph signed?
In the early days when photographers were not working within the context of an art market, photographic prints may not have been signed. Such instances are usually well documented and most dealers or auction houses will provide provenance (ownership history) to justify the attribution of the work to the particular artist. Today, it would be extremely unusual for a photographer not to sign his or her photographs. They may be signed on the back (verso) or front (recto) of the image and the signature may or may not be hidden by the mount. Some people prefer not to see the signature, it’s a personal preference. The signature can be in pencil or in ink, and sometimes the prints will also be titled and dated, but by no means always.
*Is the photograph from an edition?
The market for photography only really began in the 1970’s, and even then just a handful of galleries were exhibiting and selling photographic prints. As a result photographers did not tend to number their work in an edition prior to that time, as they were more likely to be printing for a museum show or for reproduction in a newspaper, a magazine, or book. In fact many photo-journalists (a profession that has been responsible for a great many of the most acclaimed and sought-after prints) are steadfast even today in refusing to edition their work, believing it to be a construct of the fine art market. You are much more likely to find younger, more contemporary photographers editioning their work, operating from the beginning of their careers in the gallery art market. Edition size can vary from three to fifty (sometimes more), and this number can depend on the level of work involved in each print, but is more likely simply the personal preference of each artist. Ultimately, the value of a particular print is decided by many factors: the stature and reputation of the artist, whether the particular image is considered to be important in terms of their career as a whole, whether it was made in their lifetime and signed, and what condition the print is in. If you are considering making a purchase, ask questions, and any reputable dealer will be happy to provide details.
*If the photograph is not from a limited edition, how many of them are there/will there be?
Many factors contribute to how many prints have been made of a particular image, and these factors vary greatly from artist to artist. It can depend on the particular process involved, as some are much more time-consuming than others. It can also be a question of how much time the artist wants to spend in the dark room – many prefer to be out in the world taking more pictures! It’s important to remember though that each photograph is hand-made, there is no production line generating hundreds let alone thousands of prints. Most photographs are made to order, based on a firm sale, and as such you are unlikely to find a great stockpile of even the most well-known artists’ work. In general the private and auction markets also give us some guage of how many prints are changing hands, and what prices they are achieving. Any gallery representing and selling the work of a particular artist should be able to give you some idea of how many prints have been made, based on personal knowledge of the artist and the market in which the photographs are sold. However, exact numbers are not always known.
*What process was used to make this photograph?
The majority of photographs today are printed from a negative on to gelatin silver paper. Any reference to a 'print' generally refers to a hand-made silver print, made using exhibition quality fibre-based paper. There are however over 20 different techniques of printing from a negative.
*What is the condition of the photograph?
Contemporary photographs should be in immaculate condition. If they are not, ask for the reason. The condition of 19th and early 20th century photographs can vary dramatically from perfect to faded, kinked or even torn. The condition depends primarily on the photographer. He may have kept his life’s work in a stack in a drawer or each print may have been mounted and kept immaculately. To begin with, always assume a photograph should be in perfect condition. If it isn’t ask about the photographer. Was this normal? Are no perfect prints available? If perfect, would the price rise dramatically?
*What is a vintage print?
Within the photography market, there is often a premium attached to vintage prints. The definition of vintage is not quite uniform, but in its strictest version, the photographer should have photographed and printed from that negative within one year. As we get further from the negative date, the window of ‘vintage’ can often be expanded to cover five or even ten years. The price for a vintage photograph can be about four to six times as much as the price for a modern or later print. In the case however of Andre Kertesz’s Chez Mondrian, 1926, a vintage print sold in the early 1990’s for $250,000, while you can still purchase a modern print for about $8,000-$10,000.
*How are the prices set?
Prices for living photographers are set by the artist and should be the same in any gallery around the world (subject to currency fluctuation and local taxes). If you feel a photograph is expensive and you want more information ask some of the following questions:
-What makes the photographer’s work important?
-Has his/her work been exhibited and published?
-Which public collections have purchased his/her work?
-What is the general price range for his/her work and why does one print differ in price from another?