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Oral history interview with Janet Borden, 2006 May 18

Oral history interview with Janet Borden, 2006 May 18

Borden, Janet

Dealer

Collection Information

Size: 1 sound disc (1 hr., 21 min.) : digital ; 2 5/8 in.

Transcript: 44 pages.

Format: Originally recorded on 1 sound disc. Reformatted in 2010 as 1 digital wav file. Duration is 1 hr., 21 min.

Summary: An interview of Janet Borden conducted 2006 May 18, by Mary Panzer, for the Archives of American Art, in Janet Borden, Inc., New York, New York.

Biographical/Historical Note

Janet Borden is an art dealer from New York, New York. Mary Panzer (1955- ) is a historian from New York, New York.

Provenance

This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.

Funding

Funding for this interview was provided by the Widgeon Point Charitable Foundation. Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.

Transcript

Preface

The following oral history transcript is the result of a recorded interview with Janet Borden on 2006 May 18. The interview took place at Janet Borden, Inc. in New York, N.Y., and was conducted by Mary Panzer for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Janet Borden has reviewed the transcript. The reader should bear in mind that they are reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.

Interview

MARY PANZER:  This is Mary Panzer interviewing Janet Borden at her gallery at 560 Broadway in New York on May 18—

JANET BORDEN:  2006.

MARY PANZER:  Thank you. And it's for the Archives of American Art.

Okay. So we're going to just start at the beginning. When and where were you born?

JANET BORDEN:  Cincinnati, Ohio.

MARY PANZER:  And what did your dad do?

JANET BORDEN:  My dad was in the leather industry. He lived—he sort of basically did shoe findings for the shoe business.

MARY PANZER:  I guess what we're trying to figure out is, how your childhood might have led you to become interested in art. I mean, did you go to the museums? Did you take art classes?

JANET BORDEN:  We went to the museums and we—let's see. I just liked it.

MARY PANZER:  Did your mom sew?

JANET BORDEN:  Oh God, no. No, my mother cooked. My mother took French cooking in the 1960s. It was very exotic. Sort of Julia Child. They would go—she would go over to Kentucky. You know we lived in Cincinnati, which is right over the river, and they had a night club in Kentucky called Beverly Hills Supper Club. And they had a fancy French chef, and he gave cooking lessons and my mother learned to make fancy French food. It was very funny.

MARY PANZER:  So then, you went to Smith [College], right?

JANET BORDEN:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

MARY PANZER:  And did you go there knowing that they had an art museum or an art program? Or, why did you go there?

JANET BORDEN:  I went because my friends Susan and Carol Rice went there the year before me. And then, of course, I went early decision, and then by that time they had decided—both switched to Yale, so they weren't there when I got there. That's how I got there. That's why I went there. It wasn't such a big deal in the olden days. You just were sort of brought up to go to someplace.

So then I went to Smith and that was really fun. Took a lot of drugs, and then didn't take a lot of drugs. We were pretty crazy. It was fun. I mean, it was the '70s. So we had a good time.

MARY PANZER:  But then you went to RIT [Rochester Institute of Technology]?

JANET BORDEN:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

MARY PANZER:  All right. So that can be seen as a jump, from Smith to RIT.

JANET BORDEN:  No, it's not so bad. When I got out of college, I knew I was unemployable because one undergraduate degree makes you unemployable for anything except being a waitress. So, instead of being a waitress in Boston, I thought I'd go to Paris where I actually was a waitress for a little while, which was fun.

But, so I went to Paris and got into that whole scene, and I used to go the Bibliothèque Nationale because I had studied book production with a man named Elliott Offner at Smith. And he had written me a little letter of introduction to the Bibliothèque Nationale, and so I used that to go to the photography department. And, you know, they have a copy of every photograph ever made. And so I'd go and just ask for pictures and they'd bring them out, and finally the curator, Jean-Claude de Manier came out and he said, well what are you working on? I said, nothing. [Laughs.]

And he just kept saying, no, I mean what's the project? And I said, there is no project. It was so funny. And so then when he finally realized I really was just, I just wanted to see photographs, he would bring up treasures that I would not have known about. You know, I knew who [Eugène] Atget was, but I didn't know who [Alexander] Rodchenko was or Soviet-era photographers. Things that I just would never have known. It was pretty fabulous. I did that, and then—that sort of gave me the epiphany that I didn't really care about making my own photographs. That and that they were—my own photographs were published in, what is that called? Creative Camera? Is that something?

MARY PANZER:  Yeah.

JANET BORDEN:  They were willing to, and I never did it. That was it. Something called Nouveau Photocinema.

MARY PANZER:  So you were making photographs in Paris?

JANET BORDEN:  Oh, yeah. That's what I did. At Smith I made photographs, and then—

MARY PANZER:  Who'd you study with there?

JANET BORDEN:  Well, David Batchelder [ph] and then Ed Hill and then Billy Arnold, who taught at—he didn't teach at Smith, he taught at Amherst [College] and then Hampshire [College], I guess. You know, they have that five college thing.

MARY PANZER:  Right.

JANET BORDEN:  So then I had this epiphany and then I realized that I had to not live in Paris for the rest of my life, because I didn't want to do that. So I decided I wanted to go to the Eastman House—because by that time I'd found out—I'd heard of the Eastman House. I mean, it was a hundred years ago. People didn't know about this stuff. I called the Eastman House and I said, can I come there? And they said, well, do you have a graduate degree? And I said, no. And they said, well we have a graduate program, but you obviously can't—you know, a post-graduate program but you can't come to that. And they—it was Andy Eskin, and he said, but there is a secret program at RIT and you'd come to work at the Eastman House. I said, okay, I'll be there. And he said, well, you can't come next, you know, this year because it's already August or something.

So I said, okay, I'll come next year. So I had to live in Cincinnati with my parents for a year and be a substitute teacher in the Cincinnati public schools, which was really awful. And I was a volunteer at the Cincinnati Art Museum, but I got fired from that job. [Laughs.]

MARY PANZER:  Why'd you get fired?

JANET BORDEN:  I don't know. I think she was scared of me. I don't know. I think she just thought because I knew a lot more than she did about—at that time. Now she knows more. The one thing I did do was save up an entire set of camera-works from being on open shelves in just the reference room. I said, you've got to get this behind the doors. So that—I thought that wasn't bad.

MARY PANZER:  That's pretty advanced of Cincinnati to have even had those things, wasn't it?

JANET BORDEN:  Well, you know, they had Frank Duveneck and they had people that were in the Photo—in the Secession group.

So then I went—I applied to RIT and then I went to RIT. It was a hellhole. I mean, a lovely college. Well, you know, I just wanted to be at the Eastman House, so I didn't—but I liked the people there.

MARY PANZER:  Well it was an extraordinary group of people because you had RIT and Eastman House, and then you had VSW [Visual Studies Workshop].

JANET BORDEN:  SVA—I mean VSW, yeah.

MARY PANZER:  VSW was just starting then?

JANET BORDEN:  I don't know if it was just starting. I mean it certainly seemed up and running. It wasn't, you know, it was cool. It's where I know Buzz Hartshorn from, and Charles Dameray [sp] and Charlie Stainback. Those were the boys. They were the kids from visual studies. We were from the Eastman House.

MARY PANZER:  And so you were studying history of photography even though you were at RIT. I mean, that's why—

JANET BORDEN:  We were a class of three. Now there are only two of us. And it was called photographic museum practices. That's what it was. They made me take remedial, you know, photography in the summer, and then I didn't have to take any more photography. Because once you've decided you don't want to make any more pictures, you don't want to study too much dense optometry anymore. [Laughs.] But that's what we did in the summer.

And then you were only supposed to go to the Eastman House for two days a week, but I knew you needed to be there more often. I went four days a week. And I was always all dressed up, because it is in my nature. And so I used to sort of be the person that they'd send to the airport to pick up people because I looked kind of good. [Laughs.] I drove a lot of people. Karl Streuss was always my favorite person that I met. He was in his '90s and that was just like, oh, my God.

MARY PANZER:  You met Karl Streuss?

JANET BORDEN:  I told you I was old. [Laughs.] Yeah, but I was just young and I was just really stupid, but it was great.

MARY PANZER:  But wait, so Bob Sobieszek was there and Jan Berger [ph] was there and—

JANET BORDEN:  I preceded Jan Berger.

MARY PANZER:  Oh, my God.

JANET BORDEN:  She came when I was—she was there when I was there.

MARY PANZER:  So what did Bob have you do? I mean, I remember—

JANET BORDEN:  When we first went, there was a little program orientation—you had a couple weeks in each area.

MARY PANZER:  Meaning film, cameras—

JANET BORDEN:  Film, cameras, 19th century—they just separated them by 19th and 20th centuries. He was 19th and Bill Jenkins was 20th—and I led the revolt because they had us in these horrible little garages with the nitrate film, and it would make you so sick to be in there with nitrate film. I just said, I'm not doing it anymore. I said, you can do whatever you want to do, but I'm not going in there anymore. It was the funniest thing, and they just weren't used to anybody just refusing. I said, I'm just not, just not going in there. And then they blew up the next year, so I think they realized that—oh, they were so dangerous. That stuff was so dangerous, you know because it has an ignition point of about 75 degrees, no it's higher [laughs].

MARY PANZER:  But not very much higher.

JANET BORDEN:  And I'd get these awful headaches.

MARY PANZER:  Bob Dougherty? Was he—

JANET BORDEN:  Sure, Bob Dougherty was the director, yes, when I got there. But what I liked—and you'd go to this big room and it was—they had the graduate, graduate people which were Uta Eskelsen [ph] and Sally Stein and Chris Horvak [ph] was doing the film department. He was a student in the film department, and so—and then Grant Romer and the other one who's now dead, it was a woman named Lee Rothchild [ph]. So it was the six of us, and then they'd go around the table and say, well what do you want to do? And JoAnn Verberg, she was there and she says, I want to do [Alvin Langdon] Coburn. And everybody picked a project.

And I said, I just want to work in the 20th century department. I don't want to do a project. I can go to a library on my own, but what I can't, you know. I really knew early on that it was all going to be figuring out how to meet people and how to do that stuff, you know. It was very—and so I thought I can just learn how it works. So that's what I did. I mean, he was thrilled. Everybody needs an assistant.

MARY PANZER:  Everybody else was doing Lewis Hine—

JANET BORDEN:  Exactly, everybody else was on their own project. But I didn't need—I just didn't—the way my brain works I'm really practical, sort of, in a scattered kind of way.

MARY PANZER:  So wait, but Karl Streuss—

JANET BORDEN:  Oh, isn't that cute? He was so cute.

MARY PANZER:  I mean, he's hardly 20th century, but—

JANET BORDEN:  He made it over the 20th century.

MARY PANZER:  But I'm also thinking about you're there in the '70s. So much of what we think of as 20th century photography didn't even exist, right?

JANET BORDEN:  That was when it was happening. I mean, when it was starting, or you know—it wasn't starting, obviously, but the certain commercial end of it was just—

MARY PANZER:  Well, did you meet Lee Friedlander when you were there?

JANET BORDEN:  Never forget it. The first time you see that man, it's just unbelievable. He had an aura. I'll never forget it as long as I live. Lee Friedlander had an aura, and I was just—I couldn't believe it.

MARY PANZER:  So you were in the—

JANET BORDEN:  Down the hall or something—

MARY PANZER:  —at Eastman House as a student, and in walks this guy.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah. I had a place to sit. I think I sat on the other side of Bill, because I don't think I got a desk until they hired me. I can't remember. I think I just perched in his office or something.

MARY PANZER:  So as soon as you got through with RIT, they just said, why don't you just keep coming in and we'll give you a job.

JANET BORDEN:  They decided to do fundraising and have an auction, which they gave me to do. I had never even been to an auction—[laughs]—and I had to run this auction. And I called every living photographer in the country and asked for them to donate art. I just was shameless, fearless, and well, this is always the great story that JoAnn Verberg and I—because at that point they did give me a desk. And I was across from JoAnn Verberg, and every time I dialed a voice she'd say, lower your voice—I mean dialed the phone—she would say, lower your voice. Because you'd go [mimics high-pitched voice], "This is Janet Borden calling from—." So then I sounded like a hooker or something, so they all gave, I guess. It was wildly successful and it was very sweet.

MARY PANZER:  So what year was this?

JANET BORDEN:  Oh God, what year was that? I have to take my shoes and socks off.

MARY PANZER:  '72?

JANET BORDEN:  No, later. Maybe '77 or '76, something like that. That would be when it was. That's when I was there. Isn't that funny? So I ran this whole thing. I mean, I didn't know what the hell I was doing. I mean really didn't. I just remember cutting and pasting because I didn't know how to do anything, and I still don't. I still do everything the hardest way it is because I'm too stupid to learn the easy way. So I cut and paste with rubber cement and stuff. And I remember—I was doing that when Elvis died, so we could check out when it was because that was in August [August 16, 1977], I think. That's what I remember. I was there at night, alone, and heard that Elvis died. [Laughs.] Great moments in photography—I can't believe anybody's going to look this up.

MARY PANZER:  So wait. Who else—so you met Lee Friedlander when you there. You must have met—did you meet John Pfahl or—

JANET BORDEN:  Well, John Pfahl was still teaching at RIT, so I knew John Pfahl. Karl Streuss really stood out because—I mean John Szarkowski was just coming in and hanging out with Bill Jenkins. People just hung. Harold Jones. And everybody had been at the Eastman House, so then they'd come back and talk about how, oh, these aren't the good old days, we're the good old days. And so we felt like, oh, we were too late for being—

MARY PANZER:  Right. And when I hear you talk about it, that's how I feel.

JANET BORDEN:  Joe Deal was the exhibitions director.

MARY PANZER:  So do you remember—were there exhibitions?

JANET BORDEN:  I remember everything. I remember absolutely every minute of my life. It's just like a curse. What would you like to know? [Laughs.] I don't know when it was, but I—

MARY PANZER:  Were there some exhibitions that you particularly remember? Because I remember going to Eastman House and being a little disappointed. It was like this old house and there were these little corridors and these little rooms, and then there's amazing photography. That's what I remember.

JANET BORDEN:  That's the upstairs. But then the downstairs – and this was in the original house, right? It had a little add-on, but it wasn't like what they have now. But that was where they had the shows. The shows were downstairs. You'd walk past the cameras, and then there were these big exhibition rooms, where the big exhibitions—that's where (southward macaws ?). I mean that was just the most beautiful thing I ever saw to this date.

When I first got there I was working on "Extended Document" [1975]—that was a Bill Jenkins show that was really smart. And it had, like, [John] Baldessari in it and that was a really incredible show, and that must have been '76. So that's pretty early. And then—because this was before Topographics ["New Topographics:  Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape," 1975.]—

MARY PANZER:  Oh, "New Topographics?"

JANET BORDEN:  "New Topographics" was later. That was while I was there. It might have been before "Extended Documents." I don't know. I remember working on hanging it. I didn't work on any of the curatorial, really, of that. And then I worked on the Heineken [ph] so much that they made me the co-curator of it. Because Bill was very generous about that stuff. He was very sweet.

MARY PANZER:  So these are all these west cost people you got exposed to—

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  —and not New York art world people.

JANET BORDEN:  Well, yeah. That was then. Yeah, I guess Louis Balz was in that, Bob Adams and—everybody was in it, but I met most of them. People went there more often, I think. It was really much more of a player than—

MARY PANZER:  So you felt like you were the—

JANET BORDEN:  And I also came down to New York every six weeks or so. People thought I lived here, because—

MARY PANZER:  Well, did you take the train? How'd you come—did you drive?

JANET BORDEN:  Don't remember—must have taken the train.

MARY PANZER:  But then when you came down here, it wasn't like there were photo galleries here, waiting for you—

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah, there were photo galleries. It was sort of—because during that time, there was Light and there was Witkin [Inc.], and that was pretty much it. There was Light and Witkin, but it was—

MARY PANZER:  Well, and then there were auctions then, too, right?

JANET BORDEN:  And then the auctions.

MARY PANZER:  And Swann had auctions.

JANET BORDEN:  I don't know. I never got into Swann's. I don't know.

MARY PANZER:  And Sotheby's.

JANET BORDEN:  Yep. Sotheby's and Christie's.

MARY PANZER:  Right.

JANET BORDEN:  It was all Sotheby's. It was only Sotheby's, I guess, at first. Yeah. Lorna [Kelly]. Remember Lorna? They had a woman who was fabulous auctioneer. She stopped and worked for Mother Teresa. She was this big battle-axe. She was fabulous. I mean, because you're all new at it all and you're all sort of—so exciting.

MARY PANZER:  Everybody's so new—

JANET BORDEN:  It's so sweet. Well, I think that's just part of being young. I think you're more excited by things.

MARY PANZER:  Right, so how long were you at Eastman House?

JANET BORDEN:  Three years.

MARY PANZER:  The school and the job, or altogether?

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah, the job was only a year, because it was, you know—they never had any money.

MARY PANZER:  Right. So then you were ready to come to the big city, or—

JANET BORDEN:  Well, my boyfriend—[laughs]—we were living together, and the grant ran out and then—Mark Freidus was a guy who had gone to the University of Rochester and studied with John Pfahl and knew him. And his cousin—they were all in the tool business together. And his cousin, Bob Freidus, had met a woman and said, what would make you happy. And she said, it would make me happy to have an art gallery. And he said, there [snaps fingers], you've got an art gallery.

So he made an art gallery in his house for her, and—she of course didn't want him then, she just split. And he sold tools, so he knew some sculptors, because sculptors would come in to buy tools. And so he really like sculpture and then Mark liked photography, so they decided—Mark was just sort of advising. Mark was still, I think, in graduate school. So Mark said, well you should show John Pfahl. And so Bob said, okay. But he didn't know how to do anything, so he said, you should hire Janet Borden to come down. And they asked me if I wanted to do this job for six weeks. And I said, okay—I've stayed a little long at the fair. [Laughs.]

MARY PANZER:  That's amazing. So you came down, fell in love and that was it.

JANET BORDEN:  Fell in love with what?

MARY PANZER:  I don't know, photography?

JANET BORDEN:  I always was in love with photography.

MARY PANZER:  I don't know, this whole game of putting it on and getting other people other excited.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah, it was fun. And I was out of a job up there. And also when you're in private—in the museum end you think that everybody's making all this money and that's where the action is.

MARY PANZER:  So you came down to where to the action is?

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah, yeah. I just sort of accidentally live here.

MARY PANZER:  And you've been—but you've been representing John Pfahl ever since.

JANET BORDEN:  No, there were years—because I worked Freidus for, I think, four years. I can't remember that. That I can't remember. And then when I left, John was still with Bob. So while Freidus had a gallery, he was with him. But Freidus, he didn't know anything, so you know then they had to sort of build a program, which—

MARY PANZER:  Where was that gallery?

JANET BORDEN:  158 Lafayette Street on the corner of Grand.

MARY PANZER:  So, right in the middle of SoHo.

JANET BORDEN:  It was sort of the edge SoHo, so they always have a little problem, but he owned the building and stuff. And originally it was in his apartment, the gallery—well, you know, loft. They had a pool table, which was totally cool. I'm very good at pool, because that's what we'd do, you know?

MARY PANZER:  And who were the other artists that you showed?

JANET BORDEN:  And so then—he had a ton of money—and he wanted to collect photographs. And his way of collecting photographs was to buy all of the pictures in a book. Or, you know, all of everything. So he'd do that and he'd set that up, and he'd say, well what should I buy? And I used to say, buy Lee Friedlander, buy Friedlander, buy Friedlander. And eventually Friedlander said, well who is this guy? I want to meet him. And so we went out for dinner. And the next time Friedlander was looking for a gallery, he—give it a shot.

MARY PANZER:  So he came to Freidus because of you.

JANET BORDEN:  Well, because of—and I loved the work—but Bob bought a lot. And then the other great thing was at the "Mirrors and Windows" ["Mirrors and Windows:  American Photography since 1960," Museum of Modern Art, NY, 1978] opening, Larry Clark had been let out of the pokey. [Laughs.] And I went up to him and I didn't even know him—because I'm lacking in some sort of social shame. And I said, well, you know, you should be in this show but you're like a dead artist. So, whenever you want to not be a dead artist you should come to my gallery. I just said that and he was at Witkin, I think, at the time.

MARY PANZER:  Oh, that's true.

JANET BORDEN:  So then Bob Freidus did a deal because Larry had already published Tulsa [Tulsa/Clark. New York:  Lustrum Press, 1971], so he decided—he gave him a ton of money to produce a portfolio of Tulsa. You know, gave him like a hundred grand, which was a lot of money at that point. That's what we did. So then we represented Larry. It was fun.

MARY PANZER:  Did that have anything to do with the portfolio that's at Eastman House now? That's not the same thing—of the Clark Tulsa—they had that show at ICP just recently, all the Tulsa images ["Larry Clark," International Center of Photography, New York, 2005]—

JANET BORDEN:  That would probably be it. That's the portfolio that's got 100 pictures in it, or 51.

MARY PANZER:  I don't know. It just seems—like where on earth would those things have come from.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah. So they were produced then. Larry had already made one portfolio of ten prints that I think he had made with Lustrum. I don't know. Larry—a lot of artists count funny. There are editions, then there are editions.

MARY PANZER:  Well, that was before anybody thought there was any need—

JANET BORDEN:  It wasn't actually, at that point you knew—

MARY PANZER:  Well, some people knew.

JANET BORDEN:  Some people.

MARY PANZER:  All right. So now we're in New York and there are precious few photo galleries—or exclusively photo galleries.

JANET BORDEN:  Exclusively. And then at that point Sonnabend [Gallery] was showing Jan Groover, and this was the early end. You know, and Protech [Max Protech Gallery] showed people periodically. Max Protech.

MARY PANZER:  And then Marlborough [Gallery] would do something like—

JANET BORDEN:  They did [Richard] Avedon, they did Brassaï. Marlborough had a, more of a presence—Mark Cohen, I think, was at—early on—no, maybe not. No, he was at Castelli. There was Castelli graphics, which was very good.

MARY PANZER:  Was that where Marvin Heiferman was?

JANET BORDEN:  That was Marvin. Marvin was at Castelli.

MARY PANZER:  And then who was at Marlborough?

JANET BORDEN:  The woman. Some days I know. Not today.

MARY PANZER:  That's all right. It doesn't matter.

JANET BORDEN:  Vivica Weevy [ph]. Is that right?

MARY PANZER:  Could be. I don't know. So we've got Marlborough, Castelli, Sonnabend and you said sometimes—oh, Max Protech, sometimes.

JANET BORDEN:  I can't think who else. I'm sure there were others, I just can't remember.

MARY PANZER:  Did [Allan] Frumkin ever show?

JANET BORDEN:  No. In Chicago they often showed photographs, but I don't think in New York they did. But I don't know. I can't really speak for other galleries, because I can't.

MARY PANZER:  But you guys must have been competing for the same twelve collectors, or no?

JANET BORDEN:  I don't know. It's funny. The world's a funny little place, you know. You get your own collectors. You think you're competing for those people, but you have your own different collectors.

MARY PANZER:  That's just your—I'm sorry, this will sound sarcastic on the—but your effervescent personality. I mean, all these different dealers actually have different personalities, too, and so the people—

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah, the people come to different—yeah, because you can break your heart trying to get some fancy pants collector that you've heard of or know about. And to my mind, it's just not worth it. It's only money, it's only time, it's only—I don't know.

MARY PANZER:  So why not work with the people who understand what you've got?

JANET BORDEN:  Or that you meet.

MARY PANZER:  Were they mostly New Yorkers who were buying pictures, then or did you notice?

JANET BORDEN:  Oh, I don't know. Because I was new.

MARY PANZER:  So you didn't know.

JANET BORDEN:  I didn't know. I had a lot of clients from out of town. Eastman House—you know, Rochester is so not a place that your clients weren't—the people you knew from Rochester weren't from Rochester—that I knew from that venue.

MARY PANZER:  You mentioned John Szarkowski, and I don't think I can go further in the interview without talking—and also just Friedlander. So between John being such a big promoter of Friedlander, and you being his dealer, actually. Do you have a Szarkowski anecdote you want to say? Or, how was your relationship with him?

JANET BORDEN:  Oh mine? No I don't really—you know, it was fabulous when I met him up at the Eastman House. I think he's great. No, I don't interact with him. I mean, I liked him. I'd eat lunch with him periodically, but no, I just always liked him. I didn't have sex with him. How's that? [Laughs.]

MARY PANZER:  Well, that puts you in a particular category.

JANET BORDEN:  Now what is the statute of limitations on who you did have sex with?

MARY PANZER:  Well, I don't know.

JANET BORDEN:  They can come back for that, right?

MARY PANZER:  Yeah, we can come back to it. One of the questions on my list here has to do with mentors, or if there was somebody you admired or somebody who was like a model or someone that you looked ahead and thought, well, I would like to be doing that in my own way.

JANET BORDEN:  My epiphanies tend to go in the other direction. I'll never forget this one day realizing I didn't have to be Mary Boone. And this was in sort of the prime of, you know, of her sway over the art field—I'm really not megalomaniacal. It's very—it's funny. I remember very distinctly realizing that I could just have my business and do what I do without having to be the biggest gallery in the world and represent all artists. Probably got not good news for my artists, but I'd just rather—do what we do.

In fact there's always a big joke, people are always saying, how come Tina Barneys don't come up at auction very often? And I'm thinking, people keep them. They like them. And part of it is because I'm not just hammering every person that walks in the door to buy something. It's just not my way, and I just—it's a funny thing, though.

MARY PANZER:  To be able to understand what your own style is, you can not try to be somebody—

JANET BORDEN:  It was funny, but that's an epiphany. I mean, like, Sobieszek and Jenkins—when you're a student is when you really—

MARY PANZER:  Learn things, or absorb things.

JANET BORDEN:  —a way of thinking about photographs or something. Bob Freidus was—he was scary, but he'd sure like to eat. I always told him that I ate in every good restaurant in New York with him. I mean, I love to eat, and I just needed somebody to eat with. There is not a restaurant that I ever didn't go to. He gave me a birthday party at Lou Tasse [sp]—

MARY PANZER:  Oh, boy.

JANET BORDEN:  And then he subsequently sold his collection to MOCA [Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles] in California for a million dollars, which he regrets now because it's worth so much more. But people always forget that when they do something the money—

MARY PANZER:  Seems like a lot.

JANET BORDEN:  It is a lot. [Laughs.] That's why I always tell people don't sell stuff unless you have to because it will always eventually go up. Even crap will be worth more. And the good stuff will be worth a lot more.

MARY PANZER:  Well that's the other thing. The high end—the higher you can buy, the more it's going to increase in value, right? In a way, you don't do yourself any favors by looking for—

JANET BORDEN:  Well, people use it on the wall. They enjoy it. Only buying for investment is sort of creepy. [Laughs.] People just come in and out. They'll come in and say, oh, I want to get a [Thomas] Struth and you'll go, well why? You should have gotten a Struth 15 years ago or 10 years ago, and it might have been interesting. Now, you're just buying a relic, an artifact. Which is not the end of photography that's interesting to me. Plus, it's like, at this point do you want to spend $300,000? Which they don't.

MARY PANZER:  There are a lot of people who think they're, if it's not expensive, it's not valuable, which has been the problem probably until this winter when that [Edward] Steichen sold. Photographs just haven't been expensive enough.

JANET BORDEN:  They will be.

MARY PANZER:  I have all these questions I want to ask. I want to ask, that you're okay being—you know there are these artificial lines between a photography gallery and an art gallery.

JANET BORDEN:  And we never call ourselves a photography gallery, ever.

MARY PANZER:  Really?

JANET BORDEN:  We don't even—the name of the business is not even gallery, in case we need to do hair or something, sell shoes, do hair. Janet Borden, Inc.

MARY PANZER:  So has this been your space all the time?

JANET BORDEN:  You are on—I think you're in one side and I'm on the other side, actually. It goes—it's literally right here. I think this is it—this was the divider between—I used to only be from here it's further. And then Stanley Wise [Gallery] was here, originally. They moved out, put this temporary in between and then I took their space. It was always like $1.50 too much, so I gave up half of my space, which was stupid, but they let me keep an extra window. That was the dumbest thing that I did. I took the extra window. So my storage is my old storage. So it's really wacky.

MARY PANZER:  It's always been this building, though. You've always been—

JANET BORDEN:  Creature of habit, yeah. I do love it. I have such beautiful light. Well, we were going to be in the other room, which is more beautiful than this room. The light. We just took down the middle wall, because Tina Barney said, "Janet, do you ever think about taking down the wall?" And then she went to Switzerland to do a commission over the weekend. We had the wall taken down—Matthew [Whitworth] had gone, he had gone for spring break. I had a guy come in and take the wall away.

MARY PANZER:  I think I was here when he was—

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah, when he was here. You were, yes because my son was here helping me because Matthew was gone.

MARY PANZER:  All right. There's a couple things I always associated with your gallery, like the color. When no one else was doing color, you were doing color. And surely, you can't trace that to Eastman House, can you? I know Bob Sobieszek did the advertising stuff so he must have been interested in color a little bit.

JANET BORDEN:  But, no, he was 19th century when I was there. It wasn't until later that he was allowed to be—no, you know, he wasn't in the 20th century. He was only 19th century. They were very strict at that point. And it wasn't until Jenkins left and then Bob just sort of became the head curator that he got to do any of that. He didn't do any of that. He wasn't allowed.

MARY PANZER:  So who was the first person that you represented?

JANET BORDEN:  Neil Winokur—my favorite. I remember—he came to Freidus Gallery and he showed his work and Bob said, nah. And I said, I love it and I told Neil, I'm leaving here. I'll represent you. I love it. I still love it. It's just perfect for me, because it is what it is.

MARY PANZER:  But it never—it didn't look like anybody else's work.

JANET BORDEN:  No. That's what I like about it. I don't like that—because what's interesting to me is the way artists think and work in their heads. The actual artist will fall out of what's in their heads as far I'm concerned, and that's kind of what interests me. I'm not real fetish-y about the piece of paper.

MARY PANZER:  Well that's certainly—

JANET BORDEN:  But people like John Pfahl, who are the most—he's the best printer ever in color. He's probably the best color printer – he's certainly the best color printer I've ever met. Let's put it that way. Even though I would say I don't care about it, but—it's nice if it looks good.

MARY PANZER:  That's right.

JANET BORDEN:  Now not that many—and like Jan Groover, her color printing is so unbelievably great. We've had—every once in a while if something can be re-printed, like if some—people leave them out in the sun, and then they're all fucked up. Sometimes she'll let it be re-printed. Clearly the caveat like it's not really a Jan Groover anymore, it's something else.

And we have this wonderful printer, Grinham [ph], but it's a different thing and it doesn't look at all like fence [ph] printing. They look like nice photographs, because it's still pretty, but there's something about the way artists can print that's so cool. That's sort of why they have to be artists.

MARY PANZER:  Do these people do their own printing, or do they work with a printer or something?

JANET BORDEN:  They have up to a point, and then some do, some don't. Tina works with the same printer all the time, so that's—she couldn't print it exactly again.

MARY PANZER:  No, those are huge.

JANET BORDEN:  She used to print the little ones, but she doesn't print them.

MARY PANZER:  How little were her pictures ever?

JANET BORDEN:  Oh no, they were always this size, but you start—because she's using usually a four by five [inch] negative, so after you get that then you make an eight-ten—you keep making them a little bigger to see if you want to go the big. They're expensive to make.

MARY PANZER:  Right. So she would print the eight-tens.

JANET BORDEN:  She would print that. She could print them, but she's not a great printer—

MARY PANZER:  Good enough.

JANET BORDEN:  And Neil doesn't print because it's sebachrome. Nobody prints there own sebachrome. Jim Dow can print, but he doesn't print his own enlargements. But he's such an extraordinary—his negatives are so amazing. There are technical things that really are appealing to me.

MARY PANZER:  Right, because you have this education you understand it.

JANET BORDEN:  I actually know it, except I can't read a color negative and I never could. I mean, I just can't read them. People show me things. I can't do it, don't know. I can't tell what that red it going to be. But it's cool. I just love the artists. It's why Friedlander stays with me. I get it. I get it. You know, I just get what he does and I get what he's looking at and thinking about. It's cool.

MARY PANZER:  That's very exciting.

JANET BORDEN:  It's fun. That's the fun part.

MARY PANZER:  How did Tina Barney come to you?

JANET BORDEN:  We always love that story. She was a collector—she used to buy things, and then one day she said she had photographs—no, no, no—it wasn't that. She used to buy things and then I saw that John Pulse [ph] did a show at the Museum of Modern Art called the "Big Picture." And that was when her Sunday New York Times [1982] was in it. I'm like, I'm going to call her, I love it, I want to see that.

And I knew her. I knew her as a collector, and then she called me, actually. It was a mutual love fest. It was so funny. When I used to take her pictures around—before I had a gallery, that's how I got a gallery—I'd take them around. And I also had a Polaroid of one up in my little one bedroom apartment and showed that you could put them on the walls because they were considered huge and people didn't know what to do. And so I used to have them stacked up in my room. Well, we kept them in tubes. They weren't framed. If they were framed, I kept them stacked up behind my bed, called the Tina Barney headboard. And then John Szarkowski wanted to come over and see them and it was just so—I just thought it was so half-assed to have him over. Even though I dealt out of my house, it was just still half-assed. And I said, I'll call him—I'll have a truck bring them over. I had to call a truck and had them—I had six framed pictures taken up to the Museum of Modern Art.

And then I said to him, I've got to get a gallery—I mean an office. I called it an office. And I was looking at offices, and I saw the Village Voice and I still have it—the paper, it was so cute. And it was this space and this guy John Goodman, who had had some sort of print gallery, was moving up to Vermont and was selling it. And I walked in and I said, yeah, okay. And then he said, yeah, okay. And then I said, no, you don't understand. I don't know what to do. I said, what do I do. And he said, well you know, we can talk. And I said, no really, what do I do. And he said, call your lawyer. I mean, I had no idea how to do anything.

MARY PANZER:  You had just been selling them—I mean, it had been working.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah. But I mean, I didn't know how to do any real estate. It was very fun. I called my—[inaudible]—and I said, can we get this place? It was very funny. And we moved in on one afternoon. I had to be incorporated to get it, so I had to go to the lawyers and incorporate.

MARY PANZER:  And then also since it had been a print gallery, there was storage space or flat files or something—

JANET BORDEN:  He did sell me one wooden flat file. No there wasn't anything. You know, it had a little office area, which was fine.

MARY PANZER:  It was kind of set up.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah. It was a gallery. We didn't do anything—we literally walked in and I was too dumb to know that you could do anything.

MARY PANZER:  Did you have partners or investors?

JANET BORDEN:  Oh, no. No, we just started here. And Matt was my student. I was teaching at Purchase [Purchase College, Purchase, NY]. When Jan Groover went to France, she said, here you take my class. She told them, Janet is going to take my class. So I taught at Purchase just for a couple years.

MARY PANZER:  Were you teaching studio?

JANET BORDEN:  It was actually a studio class called Constructed Reality. And it was—I'm sure they still do this. Just trying to get the most out of these teachers. You'd come for one day and they'd want you to teach for eight hours. I don't know how the hell you do that stuff.

I just thought there was people—we didn't teach them anything. So I would sort of teach them the history of photography for part of the day—because it was an endless day, anyway. And we've have a little part where we'd look at their work, and then we'd do a little history of photography, and then we'd go out and make some art. I used to give homework, which they were appalled by; nobody gave them homework. Because mostly they just hung around.

And then Matt was my student—

MARY PANZER:  Any of your other students gone on in the world?

JANET BORDEN:  Mike Kreutzen [ph]. Well, he wasn't my student, he was Jan's student. Very funny. Long ago and far—I was only there for a couple years because then I got the gallery and I didn't have enough time. If you don't have enough time to get your laundry done or your dry cleaning, something's got to give. Because it was nice, it was structured, when I was private dealing it was easy because you can manage your time.

MARY PANZER:  So you were a private dealer for several years.

JANET BORDEN:  Six years.

MARY PANZER:  That's a long time.

JANET BORDEN:  I think so.

MARY PANZER:  See, I heard—What did I see? I was looking, doing some homework and I found an article from 1982 by Andy Grunberg saying the photo boom was over. The photo boom was over, that Freidus had closed, that you were out of business.

JANET BORDEN:  No, I was Freidus.

MARY PANZER:  Right, but somehow it was—

JANET BORDEN:  Isn't that funny?

MARY PANZER:  That you were sort of floating around and Marvin Heiferman was floating around and photograph had folded because it was such a mess even when it started and it was very, very funny. Like, oh, bubble's burst. That's the end.

JANET BORDEN:  Right. Well, I remember Andy from the SoHo District News. I almost killed him in a car accident when I had to take him to the airport in Rochester. That was how I met Andy. He was one of the people I was driving. Driving Miss Daisy. And all that snow, and my car went into a 360 and I thought, oh shit, I'm going kill Andy Grunberg. It was Rochester and there weren't any other cars on the street.

MARY PANZER:  So did you meet Peter Galassi?

JANET BORDEN:  I met Dennis—what's his name? Diana Edkins and Dennis—it's with an L—Dennis Longwell. They were both still at MOMA in those days. I think it was—I don't know if, I guess Galassi was there his entire career.

MARY PANZER:  Right, but he did the "Before Photography" [1981] show—came out in '82 or something. So he might have just gotten there around '80 or '79 or something.

JANET BORDEN:  No, I knew him when I was in New York. I don't think I knew him when I was in Rochester.

MARY PANZER:  I guess what I would really like for this interview is –

JANET BORDEN:  Direct me.

MARY PANZER:  No, no, this is perfect. But things were a lot simpler. I mean, everything was a lot simpler. Do you think so?

JANET BORDEN:  No. I think life is just life. I don't think it's actually—

MARY PANZER:  It wasn't as expensive. It was as—

JANET BORDEN:  It's all relative.

MARY PANZER:  You think it's still about the same, there's just another zero on the end of everything.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah. Sort of. It's sort of the widget thing. You know, widgets are widgets. So you're still selling widgets and you're still shining widgets. There's just huge marketing, so some of the pressures are a little different. Gauche [ph] and Sochi and all that stuff—that has a marketing influence different from what it used to be.

MARY PANZER:  But in terms of how to be a dealer, do you feel like it's pretty much the same?

JANET BORDEN:  I think. Because I really do believe that widgets are widgets and that you could be selling—I wish it was a hedge fund—

MARY PANZER:  Of course.

[Audio break.]

I don't know what a hedge fund—I do know what a hedge fund is—

MARY PANZER:  Well, no but—

JANET BORDEN:  No, you know—

MARY PANZER:  Well, so—

JANET BORDEN:  Promoting stuff.

MARY PANZER:  If I was a person who was going to be—so to be a good dealer—because, I mean, you got to admit you're pretty successful.

JANET BORDEN:  Ah, see I—

MARY PANZER:  Come on.

JANET BORDEN:  That's the great part about being a woman, you know, in a field, you never feel successful all right. Does my ass look fat? I mean, what do you—you know—[they laugh]—I'm just going to worry about those two.

[They laugh.]

JANET BORDEN:  Right?

MARY PANZER:  I understand exactly what you're talking about.

JANET BORDEN:  I'm just glad I get up and come here and have a good time every day. I just have no overview whatsoever. [Laughs.]

MARY PANZER:  So Martin Parr?

JANET BORDEN:  Oh, we love our Martin too.

MARY PANZER:  Martin is brilliant—

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  —but, I mean, I know that—or there is—what—a myth that it was hard for—that he was—it was a very contentious vote—well, at Magnum [Photos]—

JANET BORDEN:  Magnum.

MARY PANZER:  —which I'm sure it's always a contentious—

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  —vote because there all very contentious. But color.

JANET BORDEN:  Right.

MARY PANZER:  I mean, he is so—

JANET BORDEN:  And he is the number two earner for Magnum, you know that?

MARY PANZER:  No.

JANET BORDEN:  Elliot Erwitt is the number—

MARY PANZER:  —number one—

JANET BORDEN:  —earner and Martin is number two.

MARY PANZER:  Well, he is so flexible. I mean, he can do anything—

JANET BORDEN:  He does everything.

MARY PANZER:  Is he—

JANET BORDEN:  And he works incessantly.

MARY PANZER:  So is he—when did you—

JANET BORDEN:  We did that—let's see.

MARY PANZER:  When did you start representing Martin Parr?

JANET BORDEN:  The minute I met him.

MARY PANZER:  Ah.

JANET BORDEN:  The minute I met him that was it. I just said, oh, yeah. [Laughs.] And I can't remember—

MARY PANZER:  Did you meet him here in New York or London?

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah. No, here. Somebody said—I can't remember if it was Marvin—I don't think it was Marvin but I can't remember. That I don't remember. But I remember that it was the second I saw him and met him—oh, yeah, let's go, which is the fun part of being—when you're a young gallery and you still have room and time.

MARY PANZER:  So he was pretty much at the beginning? And were you still in the little space when you took him on I wonder?

JANET BORDEN:  Matt remembers that.

MARY PANZER:  Oh, okay.

JANET BORDEN:  I can't remember the difference between the little and the big space because once I started—once I had a baby I forgot everything and I don't know why. There are some hormonal issues there that wipes some part of your brain out.

MARY PANZER:  Right, well—

JANET BORDEN:  Isn't that weird. I don't know what that is—

MARY PANZER:  That's okay.

JANET BORDEN:  —but years. So now I can only remember things based on how old my kid is. [Laughs.]

MARY PANZER:  No—well—

JANET BORDEN:  You know it's funny.

MARY PANZER:  But Martin, I mean, he's very sophisticated. The first time I was aware of his work was when I was at—doing a jury for the Eisenstadt Awards [Alfred Eisenstadt Awards for Magazine Photography] for the four minutes—

JANET BORDEN:  Really?

MARY PANZER:  —when they were—I'm a historian so—

JANET BORDEN:  Yes.

MARY PANZER:  —I'm just sort of like—

JANET BORDEN:  Yes, you know, yeah.

MARY PANZER:  —I'm like Bob Sobieszek, I was only allowed on one—

JANET BORDEN:  Right, you were only—

MARY PANZER:  —side of the—you know, if they were dead I could talk to them—

JANET BORDEN:  Right.

MARY PANZER:  —if they were alive I couldn't—

JANET BORDEN:  Right, exactly.

MARY PANZER:  —basically. Made things simpler that way anyhow. And there I was on this Eisenstadt jury and we were looking at a story he had done in W about Florida.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  Do you remember that campaign?

JANET BORDEN:  Sure, Miami.

MARY PANZER:  Yeah. Fantastic story.

JANET BORDEN:  That's late. That's late, yeah.

MARY PANZER:  Well, this is 80—this must have been '96.

JANET BORDEN:  That's late for—

MARY PANZER:  Right, for finding out about him. But that's my—

JANET BORDEN:  At that point he had the—I always divide his work into the ring flash and not. There is a point where he gets real close—and that was one of the first things he did with it, the ring flash, which was so grotesque because they're so up close and like, you know, people's fat asses being fat asses. But that would be our leitmotif for this conversation.

MARY PANZER:  Okay, yes. The thing was that we ended up giving him a prize for the funniest picture essay [Martin Parr. Winner, Humor. W, June 1998, p. 174, Sun Kitsch]—

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  —which was—he was totally funny.

JANET BORDEN:  It's a great essay.

MARY PANZER:  It was hilarious.

JANET BORDEN:  That's Dennis Freedman. Dennis Freedman is a genius, don't you think?

MARY PANZER:  He's the picture editor of W.

JANET BORDEN:  Well, he was. Now he is the—

MARY PANZER:  Something else.

JANET BORDEN:  He's bigger, you know, whatever. He's the Alexander Liberman of Fairchild.

MARY PANZER:  Oh, no that—well, the funny thing was it wasn't an essay that had been nominated for funny.

JANET BORDEN:  Right.

MARY PANZER:  It had been nominated for something else but we didn't think any of the funny ones were funny—

JANET BORDEN:  Right.

MARY PANZER:  —So we moved Martin's over.

JANET BORDEN:  That's great. Yeah, he's really good. He's wonderful.

MARY PANZER:  He's kind of acid. He is very—

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah, we kind of—sometimes he's like—[inaudible]—

MARY PANZER:  Yeah, sometimes you're—he—

JANET BORDEN:  Well, the fashion work wasn't—I didn't want to show it because it's—it would—then when I looked at more of it I liked it a lot. But originally I didn't want to show it because I felt it was too mean, too mean and funny, you know that—

MARY PANZER:  Yeah.

JANET BORDEN:  At a certain point I don't care about making fun of people beyond. [Laughs.]

MARY PANZER:  Well, then you can pick someone—

JANET BORDEN:  Right.

MARY PANZER:  —and then—

JANET BORDEN:  Well, then he did like the Scotland work, which I just adore and it's very beautiful and dark, and then he didn't show it. Because he doesn't want to do, you know—

MARY PANZER:  He doesn't want to seem too sentimental?

JANET BORDEN:  I don't know why he didn't want to do—I don't know. And then Tina didn't realize it and she just saw the work and she said, oh, I'm going to tell him to show it. She's very—

MARY PANZER:  Well, when you said that you weren't too worried about print quality there was—there was color xeroxes of Martin's that you were showing.

JANET BORDEN:  We did that show, yeah.

MARY PANZER:  That was fantastic.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah, that was fun. That was really fun. That was—damaged my thumb permanently putting up—those up. There were 300, 11 by 14 inch laser prints and we—that was our idea—we know—well, we didn't know what we were going to do so we just tacked them up.

MARY PANZER:  And did they sell?

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah. Oh, God. We sold a million of them. Not a million but—

MARY PANZER:  Quite a lot.

JANET BORDEN:  A couple hundred of them. They were like $35. It was very funny. And then Matthew just kept saying it was like selling socks. We just—[laughs]—kept saying it's like selling socks.

MARY PANZER:  Can I have a blue one? Do you have a blue one in my size?

JANET BORDEN:  I do have a blue—can you find me another blue one.

MARY PANZER:  I'm being very all over the place too. Who buys Tina Barney's work? I mean, are they private collectors? Do people—

JANET BORDEN:  Everybody.

MARY PANZER:  —keep them up in their house?

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah, private, museums—

MARY PANZER:  And no one—

JANET BORDEN:  —corporate—

MARY PANZER:  And no one says—

JANET BORDEN:  —we do sell corporate to her.

MARY PANZER:  No one says those are other, you know—why would I want portraits of other people in my house?

JANET BORDEN:  They say it. And that's my favorite thing that people ask me and I go, oh, my God, I was going to give you that Rembrandt and now I know I—just it's not for you. [Laughs.] That's what I always say because it's in the tradition of art that it's not always you or your family. We were in Paris for—we do PARI Photo [Gallery] because it's in Paris.

MARY PANZER:  Right.

JANET BORDEN:  —We don't make any money on it but we love to go just because it's, you know—very—

MARY PANZER:  Totally.

JANET BORDEN:  —because it's Paris.

MARY PANZER:  Right.

JANET BORDEN:  So Matthew goes—he went to see the—what was it—I think it was a [Claude] Monet and [Eugène] Delacroix or something, it was just he walked in and Matt just turned to me and said, why would you want pictures of all the people? People ask all the time. That's why, because it's art. [Laughs.]

MARY PANZER:  So how do these people feel about getting turned into art?

JANET BORDEN:  They love it. People love it. I mean, obviously you can't do it unless they're complicit because she's using lights. It's a big view camera and she's got lights and she is in their house. So they have to know. They sign off.

MARY PANZER:  And they—

JANET BORDEN:  And she gives them usually a, you know—she gives them a small print. And sometimes people buy the big print of—

MARY PANZER:  They have to be—they don't get that for free.

JANET BORDEN:  You can't give the big one; it's too much money. I mean, it's too much production money.

MARY PANZER:  Right.

JANET BORDEN:  I mean, I—not even.

MARY PANZER:  Right.

JANET BORDEN:  We give them a nice discount for being a model. But isn't that fabulous? These people—they actually did buy one but he was worried about the price and said they might have to sell their [Francisco] Goya and I just said I would trade them. I said, I'll trade because I never know what to do when people give me a price argument. It's like, well, don't buy it then, you know what I mean? [Laughs.]

MARY PANZER:  Right. Right.

JANET BORDEN:  There are lots of things that I would like but I can't afford them. I mean, it's – I think it's a negotiating tool but I just think, hey.

MARY PANZER:  You can leave.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  That's a perfect sales technique actually. I mean if anybody—

JANET BORDEN:  I really don't know what to—I mean, it's too expensive for me is a perfect answer, I mean, but as a sales tactic it doesn't—I can't afford it doesn't work for me. It's not my job to make it affordable. [Laughs.] I don't know.

I did once insist on some television store giving me a discount because I had spent all day that day having people yammer at me for a discount. And I said, well, I need another 10 percent and they said, okay. And I thought oh shit; I should have been doing this for years. [Laughs.]

MARY PANZER:  Well—

JANET BORDEN:  What.

MARY PANZER:  Can you tell me how you decide what prices go on the pictures?

JANET BORDEN:  Oh, yes. This is how I do it.

MARY PANZER:  Okay. Okay.

JANET BORDEN:  I say to the artist what do you want, and then we double that.

MARY PANZER:  That's it.

JANET BORDEN:  That's very simple. And then I never take any discount from the artist, period—

MARY PANZER:  No wonder they like to be—work with you.

JANET BORDEN:  —which is quite rare. But I don't do it because I think it's—I don't think should have to worry about who I'm giving a discount to. That's just what I think. I try to keep them out of the sales room. I mean, I don't think they want to be in it. I don't think they—I don't know if my mother would be—they should give a discount for my mother or your mother or anybody. Their mother, yes.

MARY PANZER:  Right. Right. That's a very simple rule.

JANET BORDEN:  Actually, I keep everything simple because I told you I'm not that smart. [Laughs.] I forget; I can't remember things. We don't do graduated pricing. I just don't.

MARY PANZER:  So there an edition of—

JANET BORDEN:  Ten, and they're all the same price. Next year we might raise the price, but if ten people come right now they can all have it for the same price as far as I'm concerned. I just don't care. It's just too much fucking work. [Laughs.]

MARY PANZER:  Well, I know not everybody does it that way.

JANET BORDEN:  Oh, I know. Pick a price in the middle for me. I don't know. That's just—

MARY PANZER:  But it works, I mean, obviously—

JANET BORDEN:  It works for me.

MARY PANZER:  And your artists—

JANET BORDEN:  Well, they're very happy, you know what I mean.

Larry Sultan is always trying to do stuff. He wants the last three to be more, which is—and then, you know, it's, like, well, is that the last three, is that the last three I have or the last three that are out in the world or is that the one that counts, or is that the one that is over Europe? So that's why for me it's just easier that across the board they're a certain price.

MARY PANZER:  I should look at my list—

JANET BORDEN:  Right, okay.

MARY PANZER:  —and see if I've done anything.

JANET BORDEN:  Sorry.

MARY PANZER:  No. I feel like they're saying how has the gallery scene changed and you're saying—

JANET BORDEN:  Well, there is change but that's life. It's not—

MARY PANZER:  I mean, it's sort of the way—

JANET BORDEN:  The numbers are bigger. The audience is finally bigger but it's still, you know.

MARY PANZER:  Well, the audience is bigger. I mean, I remember calling the Met [Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY] and asking for the photography department and getting the photo lab.

JANET BORDEN:  Oh, that's funny.

MARY PANZER:  Okay.

JANET BORDEN:  Right.

MARY PANZER:  I mean, this was probably about 1979.

JANET BORDEN:  That's great.

MARY PANZER:  Right.

JANET BORDEN:  You got the lab, yeah. [Laughs.]

MARY PANZER:  That wouldn't happen now. So—

JANET BORDEN:  No.

MARY PANZER:  —people don't have to ask you—you're selling what, you know, why?

JANET BORDEN:  That's true. Right. That's true. Although, it's still—I don't know. It's funny. No, you're right.

MARY PANZER:  A little bit has changed.

JANET BORDEN:  It has changed but, you know, but that's just development. I mean, it's—I'm not wearing the same shoes either. I just think there is a, you know—

MARY PANZER:  Well, the other thing—

JANET BORDEN:  —life is—

MARY PANZER:  Life is—

JANET BORDEN:  —fluid.

MARY PANZER:  [Laughs.]

JANET BORDEN:  Life is change.

MARY PANZER:  Now, do you know what I really—what I loved was Friedlander's speech.

JANET BORDEN:  Wasn't he cute? Wasn't that marvelous?

JANET BORDEN:  With that list of who was alive and who he knew. Because I've given, like, a speech like that when I teach history of photography because that's how I learned history—

JANET BORDEN:  So great, yeah.

MARY PANZER:  —was when I was taking studio. They would say, well, you got to see what other people did—

JANET BORDEN:  Yes.

MARY PANZER:  —and know that they were the only ones who knew or cared.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  David Leventhal, Jerry Thompson—those are my Photo One teachers.

JANET BORDEN:  Isn't that great. I love it.

MARY PANZER:  So anyway, that's, you know, me. But to say Imogen [Cunningham] and Lisette [Model], right.

JANET BORDEN:  Absolutely.

MARY PANZER:  And Walker was walking around the library when I went to college.

JANET BORDEN:  I met Walker Evans, yeah.

MARY PANZER:  Yeah, I mean, he was a person.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  This wasn't history.

JANET BORDEN:  Right.

MARY PANZER:  This was kind of—

JANET BORDEN:  But you knew he was history. I mean, it's like—

MARY PANZER:  Yeah.

JANET BORDEN:  He looked like history.

MARY PANZER:  He looked like history.

[They laugh.]

MARY PANZER:  He looked like history. But Beaumont [Newhall], I mean, I heard Beaumont lecture.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  I mean, granted coming in on the tail end of these lives, these people were not youngsters. But still for photography to be this world full of people whose memory—

JANET BORDEN:  Oh, I know.

MARY PANZER:  I mean, Imogen's.

JANET BORDEN:  I drank bourbon with Harry Callahan.

MARY PANZER:  Did Aaron Siskind pinch you?

JANET BORDEN:  He tried, yeah.

MARY PANZER:  Yes.

JANET BORDEN:  And then he—it was so awful. And then he tried to give me a picture and I wouldn't take one because I was mad at him. [Laughs.] That was stupid.

MARY PANZER:  I guess so.

JANET BORDEN:  I should have just said okay. Isn't that funny?

MARY PANZER:  Wait, wait. So how did you—were you in Providence—it must have been here.

JANET BORDEN:  No, I must have been here. No, it was here. They were just around every where.

MARY PANZER:  See that's—

JANET BORDEN:  They weren't that old. I mean, they were—

MARY PANZER:  Old but not—

JANET BORDEN:  – older but they weren't—they would go to parties and they would, you know, I mean.

MARY PANZER:  Well, did you feel like the photo world was kind of—

JANET BORDEN:  More convivial, more congenial.

MARY PANZER:  No, I don't know. More coherent, cohesive. I don't see how these people could be cohesive about anything.

JANET BORDEN:  No.

MARY PANZER:  I mean, they're too disorganized—

JANET BORDEN:  But yeah.

MARY PANZER:  —and angry and too many—

JANET BORDEN:  More money had come in. I don't know, yeah.

MARY PANZER:  Yeah, maybe.

JANET BORDEN:  I don't know. Let's see, I'm trying to think. Oh, I don't know. Sometimes you go to an opening at the Modern and it's awfully cute and convivial and lots of artists sometimes.

MARY PANZER:  Right. Right. And people are all happy to be there.

JANET BORDEN:  Happy to see each other. I think ICP was like that the other night—

MARY PANZER:  Yeah.

JANET BORDEN:  —up to a point. Well, I mean, they were doing fundraising so—

MARY PANZER:  Right.

JANET BORDEN:  —they were trying to—

MARY PANZER:  Right. But, no, it was kind of nice to be out there—

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  —and see people you liked.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah, I mean, you know, there would have been more artists. That's a high ticket. That's an expensive ticket so, I mean, if it had just been an opening I might have—I think people still do that. They must just like it.

MARY PANZER:  Right. Right.

JANET BORDEN:  And they would be with their friends. I don't know.

MARY PANZER:  I was sorry that I hadn't seen it. There were people there I didn't even see.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah, I'm sure. Me too.

MARY PANZER:  I mean, it was so large.

JANET BORDEN:  God it was big. But now we know where to have our next bar mitzvah. [Laughs.]

MARY PANZER:  No kidding. Statue of Liberty, I was so moved. I was so moved.

JANET BORDEN:  I'm so spoiled. I can go out of my house and see it. I'm spoiled. [Laughs.] My house is only two stories so I have to go outside.

MARY PANZER:  Oh.

JANET BORDEN:  I can't see it from inside.

MARY PANZER:  Do you live on west—

JANET BORDEN:  I live in Brooklyn Heights.

MARY PANZER:  Oh, you live in Brooklyn—oh.

JANET BORDEN:  [Laughs.]

MARY PANZER:  Wait, so you do Bellocq because of—you represent E.J. Bellocq because of Friedlander?

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah, it just comes with Friedlander. He owns the negatives so they're his. I don't know if he is printing anywhere. I think he might have quit.

MARY PANZER:  So who is the newest person on this list?

JANET BORDEN:  Hanno, probably Hanno—

MARY PANZER:  Hanno Otten, based in Cologne [Germany].

JANET BORDEN:  Oh, I love Hanno. He is great. He did that, you know, that—

MARY PANZER:  Oh, these.

JANET BORDEN:  There are photograms. They're so cool. And he's just interested in color and everything he does is only about color. And it's—he's cool.

MARY PANZER:  Well, I mean, Neil is kind of abstract.

JANET BORDEN:  No, Neil is the opposite abstract.

[They laugh.]

MARY PANZER:  Concrete orange orange.

JANET BORDEN:  He is just orange. There's no metaphor in Neil's—ever. And this stuff is just so fab because there is—they're photograms and they just insist on being sort of architectural or sometimes landscapey and they're so wonderful.

MARY PANZER:  So does that mean they're one of a kind?

JANET BORDEN:  Absolutely, yeah. At one point he kept—he was making an inter-negative and making prints and I kept saying, but that's stupid. [Laughs.] We don't want that. Nobody wants to see that; don't do that. That's just dopey.

It's so funny because this guy had—he has this little notebook and it's got the little sketches and stuff and we—it was right when digital cameras came out—and we said, oh, well, we'll make you some pictures. We'll give them to you. We'll give you them. And he's German so we always think—we always think he doesn't understand a word we're saying—

MARY PANZER:  Right.

JANET BORDEN:  I said, well, we'll just take you some nice pictures here. I make drawings first. [Laughs.] He thought we're stupid. So he really knows what—

MARY PANZER:  These are all—

JANET BORDEN:  Planned out. He says, there is a little bit of serendipity in some of the overlap color. You don't know exactly what is going to happen but who knows. They're really cool. He's fun.

MARY PANZER:  Well, how did you find him? Was he here? Is he based here?

JANET BORDEN:  That's through Lee Allister [ph]. I want to say Alex [ph] —I don't know. He's just he cutest thing in the world. He is so sweet.

MARY PANZER:  Did he come in here though? You met him—

JANET BORDEN:  He came in, yeah.

MARY PANZER:  —in New York.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah, no. He came to show me his pictures. And they weren't these; they were before these. I just thought he is terrific. And again at what—it's sort of about the way people are thinking about—

I mean, that's how we decide to get together with people. Now we're pretty full. We don't really look for new artists. But it's really much more about somebody's approach to the world. It's very hard to explain but—

MARY PANZER:  Yeah.

JANET BORDEN:  —it's not hard to explain to you—

MARY PANZER:  Well.

JANET BORDEN:  —but like to artists because they're so tied to their work. It's why I don't like to critique people's work. I don't give a shit—or they don't give a shit what I think, really.

MARY PANZER:  Right. Right.

JANET BORDEN:  Unless I want to work with them. We call it a "show and a book." So unless you're going to give them a show and a book they don't really care what you think about their work. They're only interested in what you want as a show and a book.

MARY PANZER:  Right. Right.

JANET BORDEN:  But it's about the way people think, to me. And that's how I can go on and on with artists because—

MARY PANZER:  Because you like—

JANET BORDEN:  —I like the way they think and so I tend to like all their projects. John Pfahl will never forgive me because I never wanted to show the compost pictures [The Very Rich Hours of a Compost Pile, 1992].

MARY PANZER:  Oh.

JANET BORDEN:  Which I think are now very beautiful and he was right and I was wrong. But at the time, oh, God, I don't want to show your trash. [Laughs.] You know what I mean? It was just, oh, I'm sorry but I like it when they're doing stuff I like too. We like that.

MARY PANZER:  But all these guys also seem—

JANET BORDEN:  —and gals.

MARY PANZER:   And gals—keep moving.

JANET BORDEN:  Well, that's living artists.

MARY PANZER:  So have you always represented Larry Sultan? Did you represent Pictures From Home [New York:  Abrams, 1992]? That is—

JANET BORDEN:  Before it was a book.

MARY PANZER:  That is—

JANET BORDEN:  It's the best. It's just so massive.

 

MARY PANZER:  It's a real landmark.

JANET BORDEN:  It's unbelievable. Well, he's so smart. Larry is, I mean—you got Evidence [Larry Sultan, Mike Mandel. Greenbrae, CA:  Clatworthy Colorvues, 1977]; I mean, all the stuff he did with Mike Mandel. He's just amazing. If you ever have to—if you ever get a chance to hear him talk it's like Dean Martin. It's like a lounge act it's like—ah. It just takes the top of your head off it's so good. It's just amazing.

MARY PANZER:  But he must have been really young when you started representing him?

JANET BORDEN:  He's older than I am. [Laughs.]

MARY PANZER:  I know. But anyway, he was at the very beginning of his career, no or?

JANET BORDEN:  No. Because Pictures from Home was—he worked on it from '82 to '89, so that's not the beginning of his career. He did those swim works, which I never really—no, I kind of like them, the underwater thing that idea that people move differently underwater. But then Pictures from Home was just an unbelievable body of work. Evidence changed my life. I know that.

MARY PANZER:  Why?

JANET BORDEN:  Evidence absolutely changed my life. I'll never forget seeing that book.

MARY PANZER:  Now—

JANET BORDEN:  That just had to do—because it was truly the first time that I had seen photographs pulled out of context and represented in another way.

MARY PANZER:  Just that idea alone.

JANET BORDEN:  Absolutely. That was it. That was it for me. It completely changed the way I think about photographs forever. And I remember that was the stuff.

MARY PANZER:  So meaning how important context was or how context shifted it or what changed?

JANET BORDEN:  I think it began that dialogue about how photographs aren't particularly real, that they can be documents of something that doesn't exist. Because that's the implication is that it's some sort of—that they're there having some life that was not what they were intended for. And I know that was to me a huge revelation, just huge.

And I think that in a timeline, for me, that was probably before I saw Baldessari and people that were more conceptual. It might have been after, but in any case it was so rooted in the photograph as opposed to the document that it was so cool to me. I just loved it, and so I think Larry is just a genius.

MARY PANZER:  To be able to take a doc—

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah, I mean—

MARY PANZER:  To be able to lift the—

JANET BORDEN:  Just to represent it, to lift it out of one context and put it in another. It sounds so obvious but I remember it was not something I had ever thought of and—

MARY PANZER:  Because you had been working with these artists, I mean, who work to be artists—

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  —and show their work as art—

JANET BORDEN:  Maybe—

MARY PANZER:  —and so that contrast was very consistent.

JANET BORDEN:  I knew there was journalism and I knew there was—there were other applications but just it never occurred to me—[laughs]—to pull it out. I mean, I just love that book. Ah, still—I mean I think it's top 10, baby.

[They laugh.]

JANET BORDEN:  Top 10. That and Friedlander's.

MARY PANZER:  What, the monuments?

JANET BORDEN:  Monuments book. [Lee Friedlander. The American Monument. New York:  Eakins, 1976.] That's a book that Sobieszek, I remember, just came up to me and said, I mean—I just kept saying you got to see, this is the best thing ever, blah, blah, blah, it's the greatest. And he would say, okay, it's better than [Edouard] Baldus. [Laughs.] I never forgot it. But I said, yes! Yes. Twentieth century. So that's amazing.

MARY PANZER:  So that puts you—but then—all right.

JANET BORDEN:  Isn't that funny?

MARY PANZER:  So this puts you, kind of—well, I don't know. Maybe your eye was very well educated so you didn't have any reason to doubt it. But here you are working with 20th century when a lot of the photo dealers were—

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  —sticking with—

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  —the classics—

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  Then you're working with color when color was the most forbidden thing ever. It couldn't be art; it was color.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  Although—

JANET BORDEN:  Well, that's Stephen. Stephen Shore was the—that's a little later than that.

MARY PANZER:  You think?

JANET BORDEN:  Absolutely. I mean, [William] Eggleston, too. I mean, Eggleston is the institutional. Shore was Met; Eggleston was Modern. Institutional—

MARY PANZER:  Right.

JANET BORDEN:  —we switch.

MARY PANZER:  And then

JANET BORDEN:  Those were the switch.

MARY PANZER:  [Joel] Meyerowitz. Meyerowitz and Shore were about the same time.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah, probably, yeah. I mean, I'm sure Meyerowitz thinks he's earlier, but he's not as good of an artist so I think that doesn't—

MARY PANZER:  Not as interesting.

JANET BORDEN:  He's not as interesting and not—

MARY PANZER:  And then you're—you were showing Neil Winokur and Larry Sultan—

JANET BORDEN:  It's later. It's all later than that. That's early. That's just like a little chunk early. Jan's very early. We call her—Jan is one of the—

MARY PANZER:  That's right.

JANET BORDEN:  —earlier—they're a little almost next generation. Yeah. So they're a little later.

MARY PANZER:  So it didn't feel like you were breaking any new frontier by taking this on, even though—

JANET BORDEN:  I don't think that way. Yeah, it's not the nature of the way I—I just don't think that. I telling you, I don't have an overview.

MARY PANZER:  It just seemed right. No, that it just seemed completely logically for it to do—what—John Pfahl landscapes and—

JANET BORDEN:  Because again –

MARY PANZER:  Neil's objects.

JANET BORDEN:   —it's what I like is the artist and the way they think. It's what they're doing; it's not what I'm thinking. It's not what I'm looking, you know, so.

MARY PANZER:  You're looking to—

JANET BORDEN:  Like I love Ray Mortenson, and it's black and white.

MARY PANZER:  That's right.

JANET BORDEN:  Ray says, oh, you're going to drop me because I'm not modern.

MARY PANZER:  Wait—no, but he was one of the first people that you showed, right?

JANET BORDEN:  Mm-hmm. [Affirmative.]

MARY PANZER:  Now did you know him for Rochester?

JANET BORDEN:  No, I knew him from Freidus. He used to show us his work. I just liked it. I mean, it's—

MARY PANZER:  Well, if you—I don't know. Well—

JANET BORDEN:  What?

MARY PANZER:  I mean, if I was a historian, which I am—

JANET BORDEN:  yeah.

MARY PANZER:  —and I was putting things together—

JANET BORDEN:  Well, yeah.

MARY PANZER:  —I would think Mortenson, Friedlander. They're formal—

JANET BORDEN:   Yeah, there is a formal. I do like—I mean, I think you like where you come in. We always call it where you come in. And I think I came in during formalism so that's what I like. What was it I saw that I thought I could quit? Was it Josephson's show at the Whitney ["Kenneth Josephson:  A Retrospective," Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, 2001]?

MARY PANZER:  Right.

JANET BORDEN:  But then I thought, okay, I've seen this. I can come out now. I can get out of the business now. It's coming around the second time, I'm done.

MARY PANZER:  It's coming around again.

JANET BORDEN:  But I think you do like what you come in. It's just what's in your little heart.

MARY PANZER:  Well, but it seems to me like, I mean—

JANET BORDEN:  I'm a—

MARY PANZER:  I wouldn't walk in and say, oh, 1979—

JANET BORDEN:  Right. Right. No, I tired that, yeah.

MARY PANZER:  —her mind shut down.

JANET BORDEN:  No. I try not to.

MARY PANZER:  It's very hard though isn't it? I mean, it's really hard to—

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah, because I—

MARY PANZER:  —keep seeing new stuff. Because I feel myself —

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  —saying—

JANET BORDEN:  I don't want to fossilize but I also don't want to be like a big dope and just go for something new—

MARY PANZER:  New—it's pretty.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah, because it's—

MARY PANZER:  And—wait—

JANET BORDEN:  I like new.

MARY PANZER:  Yeah. All right. There is another question I'm going to ask you.

JANET BORDEN:  Okay.

MS. PANZOR:  Are there anybody who is writing that you're interested in? Or criticism written by artists?

JANET BORDEN:  By artists?

MARY PANZER:  Are there any critics you care about?

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah. Oh, yeah, I know. I mean, I think in New York, Peter Schjeldahl. I just—

MARY PANZER:  He's a good writer.

JANET BORDEN:  I think he just writes beautifully and is very thoughtful.

MARY PANZER:  And educated.

JANET BORDEN:  Educated, yeah. I mean, I think he is the best writer in New York. I mean, I admire Jerry Saltz because I think he is just out there thinking and saying stuff, whatever. I like that. I think the [New York] Times is really, just doesn't give a shit anymore. [Laughs.] I think there must not be enough advertising for them because they're just not putting their hearts in it. And I don't know.

MARY PANZER:  I've heard other people say that too.

JANET BORDEN:  I mean, it's just—

MARY PANZER:  It's not like that movies that generate so many ads so of course you have all these critics and all this.

JANET BORDEN:  I mean, I don't know that journalists, I mean—journalists are not the same as critics, which—

MARY PANZER:  Right.

JANET BORDEN:  You know what magazine I really like is that Modern Painters. Do you read it?

MARY PANZER:  No I haven't read that.

JANET BORDEN:  Very good. It's English, and it's good. I mean, I think it's good and I think they're writing in a thoughtful way about—I mean, that's all I wanted to do. [Inaudible.]

MARY PANZER:  So there is Art in America, there is ARTnews, there is Artforum, there is—

JANET BORDEN:  I mean, we've got all that stuff but that's—but I'll give you—I must have one in there.

MARY PANZER:  Who else? What else?

JANET BORDEN:  England writes, I mean—I think they have a better tradition of literate writing. I mean, I just—I don't know. People aren't happy here unless it's a fight or something.

MARY PANZER:  I mean, I liked—I think that what you said about Jerry Saltz is that he can come out and say something which is—

JANET BORDEN:  Vince Aletti writes haiku. He's just beautiful.

MARY PANZER:  Is it?

JANET BORDEN:  He writes a beautiful little haiku. I mean, I would like him to have a—

MARY PANZER:  More space.

JANET BORDEN:  —a bigger venue.

MARY PANZER:  He's a wonderful writer.

JANET BORDEN:  He's just a wonderful writer. But those things are just—they're brilliant but they're tiny.

MARY PANZER:  Right.

JANET BORDEN:  I don't know. The PR [public relations] is star making machinery so that—well, I mean—that is sort of what you were talking about in The New Yorker. That's what that is. That Tobias Meyer has a PR agent. Don't worry about it.

MARY PANZER:  And—[cross talk]–

JANET BORDEN:  That's what the stuff reads like. I mean, that's—

MARY PANZER:  Right. And so PR is not art criticism or it's not even interesting.

JANET BORDEN:  Yes, published about somebody but—

MARY PANZER:  Well—

JANET BORDEN:  No, but, I mean, that's—

MARY PANZER:  Yeah, I guess.

JANET BORDEN:  I can see a little more.

MARY PANZER:  I mean I thinking—I guess I'm thinking also—I mean—they gave us the question, like, historically somebody—

JANET BORDEN:  Right.

MARY PANZER:  —is going to come and say, oh, they were reading Vince Aletti—

JANET BORDEN:  Right. Go look for Modern Painters because it's actually just beautifully written.

MARY PANZER:  And they cover photography or?

JANET BORDEN:  They cover everything. I mean, it is art.

MARY PANZER:  Or what about—

JANET BORDEN:  It's in England.

MARY PANZER:  What about—

JANET BORDEN:  That's why I like it. I think it's funny that it's called painters and they—

MARY PANZER:  Yeah, because that's after [John] Ruskin.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah. So isn't that good?

MARY PANZER:  It's very good.

JANET BORDEN:  I mean, I think—because I used to sit around and read the British Journal of Photography, I mean, in the olden days. I don't know why. I mean—

MARY PANZER:  Well, because that's all there was, Creative Camera

JANET BORDEN:  Yes, that's right. Because you also didn't have the—what—it's going to be amazing the people post-Internet, computer stuff, that you literally had to go read through this shit to find—[laughs]—

MARY PANZER:  That's fine.

JANET BORDEN:  —to find any sightings of, you know—I don't know.

MARY PANZER:  Well, this is very funny because the next question on the list was how do you think the Internet has affected the way you do business and the gallery world at large.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  But partly it has to do with sharing information. I mean, yeah, you can look things up or get this kind of criticism and before you had to go to the library.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  And I think the good thing about going to the library is that you find stuff you weren't expecting.

JANET BORDEN:  Other stuff that you weren't looking for, which—I mean, you still do in this but it's not—because that used to be just a fabulous thing. I was, that was—

MARY PANZER:  So when you came here, I mean, where have you seen the—is there a place in New York that you've seen shows that you thought were really good or are there New York shows that you remember as being especially important?

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah, I mean, I think the museums do a pretty good job. I really do. I got, you know—even if I'm not interested in a certain thing, I mean, they're doing the best they can. [Laughs.] I don't know.

MARY PANZER:  Yeah. Yeah.

JANET BORDEN:  I mean, we're lucky that—that's sort of a part of why you live in New York, right—

MARY PANZER:  Yeah.

JANET BORDEN:  —is the five museums of one—you got five or six places that are showing photographs right now and that is kind of fabulous.

MARY PANZER:  It is. And, I mean, well, that's a difference.

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:   I mean, that's a big difference. It used to be a lot harder—

JANET BORDEN:  Yeah.

MARY PANZER:  —to find photographs to look at, period.

JANET BORDEN:  No, I never felt that was hard.

MARY PANZER:  No? Well—

JANET BORDEN:  Because one thing for a little you could go and look in those—the options are always funny. We used to tell students to go down at the auction previews because you could actually touch stuff.

MARY PANZER:  Yeah, I love that. I love that. That's my favorite thing to do.

JANET BORDEN:  Of course, as the buyer who would like fewer people to touch that before I'm going to get it. [Laughs.]

MARY PANZER:  Keep your paws off.

JANET BORDEN:  Don't touch that.

MARY PANZER:  Have you done any commissioning?

JANET BORDEN:  I'm not sure what that means.

MARY PANZER:  I mean did you commission something? Did you say—have you paid for artwork to get made?

JANET BORDEN:  Did I pay for—I try not to pay for production costs. I don't like to because then it might be mine.

[They laugh.]

I keep that really clean. It's not my art. Every once and a while Martin used to try to make me—

MARY PANZER:  Go partners.

JANET BORDEN:  —send me the digital file to go have it printed. And it's less—first of all I don't want to pay for it, but mostly I'm not—if I wanted to make the decisions about what photographs look like then I would be the artist.

[They laugh.]

I used to just say, Martin, I'm not the artist. I don't want to know.

[END OF INTERVIEW.]

Transcript is available on the Archives of American Art's website.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Janet Borden, 2006 May 18. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.