What kind of photography do you collect?
Gregory Gooding: ‘Mostly 20th century, black and white landscapes, both rural and more industrial. In recent years, I have most actively collected work from the 1970s, but my collection as a whole ranges from the late-19th century to the past couple of years.’
How did your love of photography begin?
‘I took a studio art course in photography in the early 1980s. The most interesting part was the lectures, which by the end of the year had covered practically the entire history of photography. Whatever the theme of the week, the first thing we would do was look at work, and that exposed me to a broad range.’
How do you display the photographs?
‘I hang pictures on walls, although I have a loft, so there aren’t that many. I try to rotate works every year or so and hang things together that seem happy together. There’s usually some theme, although sometimes it’s subtle enough for only me to see it.’
You have hundreds of prints in storage. Do you have any that never leave your walls?
‘One picture has been on the wall since I bought my apartment about 15 years ago. It is a mural-sized enlargement of a Walker Evans print [Torn Movie Poster (1930)] that was made for a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1971. About 25 years later, I saw some of [those prints] in a gallery in New York. I bought one because it seemed to fit perfectly on one very large wall. It’s 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide, mounted on Masonite and screwed into the wall.’
‘There are a lot of pictures that I like — but none is individually holy’
Is there a Holy Grail photograph that’s eluded you?
‘No, I don’t think so. If there was, I’d be done once I had it. There are a lot of pictures that I like — that if I were to come across, I would want to have. But none is individually holy.’
Do you have a favourite photographer?
‘Those I have collected most deeply include Lewis Baltz, [Albert] Renger-Patzsch, Walker Evans, Henry Wessel and John Divola. There are other photographers whose work I like equally or almost equally well, but the collection just isn’t as deep for reasons of availability or chance. Among contemporary photographers, but still in the same vein, I like Mark Ruwedel’s work quite a lot.’
Any advice for photography collectors who are just starting out?
‘Learn about the history of the medium. Whether you are buying work that’s 50 or 100 years old, or very contemporary work, it’s important to know what it’s been influenced by. With older work, it’s good to know what has been influenced by that work or by that photographer. That deepens your understanding of the artist and makes the work more interesting.’
Photography by James Mollison