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Saratogian Curates Virtual Robert Farber Retrospective, ‘Women as Art’

The photography exhibition, curated by Saratoga native Nicole Ianniello, opens on November 10.

A career retrospective of photographer Robert Farber's work is being presented by New York City's Selects Gallery and has been curated by Saratogian Nicole Ianniello. (Selects Gallery/YouTube)

The New York City–based Selects Gallery, an online hub for high-quality fashion and beauty photography, will be hosting an exhibition of American photographer Robert Farber’s work, 50 years in the making—and a Saratogian has served as its curator.

Art professional Nicole Ianniello, who grew up in Saratoga Springs—and has contributed to Saratoga Living on the fine art beat—curated the show, which features many never-before-seen works by the master photographer, whose work has appeared in high-profile national publications such as GQ, Cosmopolitan and Vanity Fair, and been collected in popular coffee-table books from the ’70s onward (former First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis was a fan). The exhibition, entitled Women as Art, which runs from November 10-29, encompasses 50 years of Farber’s career as both a commercial and artistic photographer, so there’s a lot of ground to cover. It includes everything from his classic nudes and editorial photography to beauty and experimental portraits. Farber’s most recent works, part of his Deterioration and Wet series, will be included in the exhibition as well, the former literally photographs that were in the process of deteriorating but have taken on new hues and abstractions; and the latter, the amazing result of prints “damaged” by a flood in the photographer’s New York studio. The exhibition will even include a quartet of Farber’s video art, which appears on a 65-inch screen and shows select Farber originals “transforming” into and out of their deteriorated or reimagined-by-water-damage forms.

Curating his Women as Art exhibition wasn’t Ianniello’s first rodeo with the high-profile photographer, whom she first met during her time at Sotheby’s Art Institute, where she earned a master’s degree in the business of art. “I connected with Robert Farber through an ad he posted during my last semester at Sotheby’s,” says Ianniello. “He had a link to his photography on it, and I went to discover more images and was immediately intrigued, so I reached out to him.” Ianniello went on to interview with and work a few days a week in Farber’s studio. As for the actual meat-and-potatoes of the exhibition’s curation, Ianniello tells Saratoga Living that she chose 95 percent of the works—though, some, of course, were personal picks from Farber himself. “I probably went through at least 2,000 images in his basement studio on the Upper East Side,” she says. “Some on the computer, and others still in archives. It was very difficult to choose, sometimes, because every image was special and unique. They had a certain soul and presence to them that I had not felt in awhile when looking at photography.” What was her favorite Farber she included in the exhibition? While Ianniello says it’s hard to pick just one, a photograph entitled “Lanzarote,” taken on the Canary Islands in Spain, particularly resonates with her. (Eventually, physical exhibitions will pop up in New York, Paris, Dallas and São Paulo, and Ianniello’s long-term goal is to get the exhibition in a museum.)

The exhibition, which was teased last month as part of Cube Art Fair’s “Art Beyond Borders” initiative in Brussels, Belgium, will be presented entirely virtually, with a number of interactive elements involved in the e-exhibition. For example, if you find a work you’re particularly interested in in one of the “rooms” of the gallery, you can click on it to isolate it and then listen to a pre-recorded story about it. There is also a longer preview video available online that you can view in its entirety here, which includes a voice-over by the photographer himself.

A private opening will be held on the Selects Gallery’s YouTube channel on November 10 from 6-7pm ET, and all works will eventually be available to view online and/or purchase in limited quantities on the gallery’s website. (Worried that you’ll miss out? A second virtual launch party will be taking place on December 2.) To pre-register for the live-streamed kickoff on the 10th, which will be hosted by Farber himself, click here.

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Will Levith

Will Levith is Editorial Director at Saratoga Living and Capital Region Living magazine. He's a native Saratogian and graduate of Saratoga Springs High School. His work has been published by Esquire, Playboy, Condé Nast Traveler, Men's Health, RealClearLife and many others. He lives in Troy with his wife, Laura, and dog, Esopus.

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