EDWARD WESTON "Shells,"
EDWARD WESTON "Shells," 1927;

Gelatin silver print mounted to buff-colored card, signed, dated, initialed, and editioned '18/50' in pencil on the mount, titled and dated in pencil on the reverse; Framed; 9 1/4 by 7 in. (23.5 by 17.8 cm.); Provenance: Collection of Zelda and William Holgers; Sotheby's, N.Y., 28 April 2004, Sale 7987, Lot 173; Howard Greenberg Gallery, N.Y., 2005; SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "The Inventive Eye: Photographs From a Private Collection," 1 April 2014; Lot 12; Pre-sale est.: $300,000-$500,000; Price realized: $905,000.


Spring 2014 Photography Auctions in New York

By Brian Appel

Stellar growth appears to have gone out of fashion in the photography auction sector in New York. After several years of soaring prices and profits, a sales slowdown in the wake of declining consumer enthusiasm is taking its toll on the bottom line.

This spring's auction total in New York amounted to a tepid $22,185,563 as compared to a year ago when the big three houses knocked down a bullish $30,855,193. Last spring's 2013 sales offered 877 lots of which a very respectable 815 sold. Of this spring's 748 lots offered, only 570 sold. A difference of 245 lots is huge and begs the question ... why aren't the houses attracting more images of higher quality and rarity to the auction block? All the available evidence shows an improving economy, a rising stock market, low inflation and stable short-term interest rates.

Making matters more irksome is that the post-war, contemporary art market is exploding and along with it, huge record-breaking prices in the millions of dollars for post-modernist photographers Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, Jeff Wall and Andreas Gursky who have all migrated over to these giant media-grabbing cultural extravaganzas.

It certainly isn't because trophy pictures aren't commanding big prices at auction. Edward Steichen's powerful 1924 portrait of Gloria Swanson's face covered with a black lace veil shot for "Vanity Fair" sold for a whopping $629,000 this spring at Sotheby's single owner sale. Another print from this same negative brought $153,600 in 2004.

Do the vagaries of the auction block cause collector trepidation? Is it because consignors are hesitating sending their works to a public auction for fear of it being "burnt" by not finding a buyer? Do collectors want the expertise, and as importantly, the discretion of a private dealer like a Howard Greenberg, Peter MacGill or Bruce Silverstein? But go to any important photography auction and you'll see these dealers near the front with their paddles at the ready.

Why don't the auction houses arrange guarantees from third parties where lots are presold at a secret price to reduce risk or waive the seller's commission like they do in the Post-War and Contemporary Art sector to secure top works? Trophy lots attract other trophy lots and build confidence in the outcome of a sale.

Caught in a scramble to outmaneuver their competitors for the top works and market share, the auction houses have to offer some kind of financial incentive to secure the images that new and the not-so-new collectors and dealers are clamoring for.

Solidifying the value of rare and important photographs is not the sole responsibility of the auction house, however. Value is also established by high profile museum exhibitions like the bravura shows like the William Eggleston retrospective at The Whitney Museum of Art in New York in 2008-2009 and the Garry Winogrand exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art hanging now. Scholarly research, provocative critical writing, photography fairs and private dealers hosting impressive solo-artist displays all play an important role.

Sotheby's

Edward Weston's erotically charged masterwork "Shells," was the top lot of the small but mighty Sotheby's "The Inventive Eye: Photographs From a Private Collection" sale and the number one lot of the entire spring photography auction season in New York. Realizing an impressive $905,000--an increase of 81% on the lot's conservative $500,000 high estimate--"Shells" is regarded as one of the great modernist masterworks of all time.

Weston's "Shells" were executed in 1927 with the print made in extreme close proximity to the initial exposure. This makes it a rare vintage print which carries in its 'DNA' the fingerprints of not only the artist's first true intensions (and sensibility) at the time of exposure, but also, as importantly, the technological underpinning of that time frame in history.

As print connoisseurs are acutely aware, the closer to the brilliance of the 'act' of execution--the alchemy of the grace and sharing of the original exposure--coupled with the use of the earlier photographic paper that contained a higher percentage of silver, created an 'original' work of art displaying a full range of tones with blacks that are inkier and whites that have more top end sparkle.

Weston (1886-1958) started his career believing that photography "rooted in reality" was not an appropriate medium. The lensman came to espouse the idea that the creative work of photography was no longer to be conducted in the darkroom but in the photographer's "pre-visualization" of the subject and its composition before exposing the negative in the camera. "Shells," in contrast to his earlier, self-consciously "artistic" soft focus style, is a succinct illustration of that new modernist aesthetic where photography, as an art-form, must develop along the lines defined by the actualities and limitations of the photographic medium.

Previously, the goal of Pictorialism--where the end product resembles a lithograph, an etching, a pastel or a charcoal drawing--was to 'free' photography from its documentary and technical stranglehold, and to use it as a means of artistic expression.

The Pictorialists--who thrived between the end of the nineteenth and the early twentieth century-- believed that photography was becoming an objective mechanical procedure rather than a subjective aesthetic labor of love where a limited number of prints were made from complex, time-consuming and meticulous processes in order to enhance the value and exclusivity of the work.

With "Shells," Weston's skillful use of natural light, tightly cropped composition, velvety dark background and closely positioned large-format camera, empathizing the varied textures of the three different crustaceans tucked into one another created a sculptural silhouette that resonates strongly to this day. One can recall the sculptures of the high modernists Constantin Brancusi, Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky and the Surrealists Joan Miro and Jean Arp.

EDWARD STEICHEN, "Gloria Swanson,"
EDWARD STEICHEN, "Gloria Swanson," 1924;
Gelatin silver print; the photographer's 'Photograph by Edward Steichen, 80 West 40th Street, New York' studio stamp and 'page 101, Steichen, New York, Gloria Swanson, courtesy Vanity Fair' and other notations in pencil and china marker on the reverse; Framed; 9 5/8 by 7 5/8 in. (24.4 by 19.3 cm.); Provenance: Arts et Metiers Graphiques, Paris; Private Collection, France; Yann Le Mouel, Paris, 23 May 2007, Lot #108; Howard Greenberg Gallery, N.Y.; SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "The Inventive Eye: Photographs From a Private Collection, 1 April, 2014; Lot 15; Pre-sale est.: $300,000-500,000; Price realized: $629,000.

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) came away with the second highest lot of this, the strongest single-owner sale of the season.

Like Weston, Steichen was an early advocate of the Pictorialist sensibility. Moving easily between the Boston-based pioneer in the field of Pictorial photography F. Holland Day (1864-1933), and New York's Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) Steichen's early claim to fame was his 1904 masterwork "The Pond-Moonlight." Hammered down for $2.9 million at Sotheby's, New York in February of 2006, the unique gum-bichromate print--which was meant to provoke aesthetic rather than literal responses--set a new world-wide auction record for classic pictorialist photography.

Many of the best-known celebrity portraits of the 1920s and 1930s were taken by Edward Steichen who joined magazine publishers Conde Nast as chief of photography in 1923.
Steichen's decision to work commercially with photography appalled Alfred Stieglitz, the high priest of photographic art for art's sake.

Steichen's advertising work for J. Walter Thompson, portrait commissions for "Vanity Fair," and fashion assignments for "Vogue" all deployed elements of his art practice, which disseminated avant-garde aesthetics--modernism's objective, cool, factual, "straight" work into more popular cultural forms.

Steichen's most acclaimed portrait for "Vanity Fair" is that of silent film star Gloria Swanson, the most bankable actress in Hollywood in the 1920s. A style icon, the actress had been widely photographed but Steichen created a completely novel image of her sporting a turban staring straight at the viewer, her wide eyes visible behind a veil-like lace as if she were in mourning. Swanson appears like an exotic animal peering through foliage--mysterious and alluring, elusive and wary.

The portrait is a haunting image of the Faustian nature of celebrity and secured the second highest lot of the Sotheby's single owner sale at a buoyant $629,000. Phillips de Pury and Company--under the careful stewardship of Rick Wester--sold another vintage print of this image back at the peak of the market in April 2007 as part of their "27 Exceptional Photographs" auction for $540,000.

ALVIN LANGDON COBURN, "Vortograph,"
ALVIN LANGDON COBURN, "Vortograph," 1917;
Gelatin silver print; Mounted to deckle-edged paper; Signed in pencil on the mount; mounted again to tan board; titled and dated in pencil on the reverse; Framed; Provenance: the photographer to Leonard Arundale; Private Collection, circa 1965; Thereafter, by agent to a private collection; Christie's, N.Y. 27 April 2004, Sale 1367, Lot 294; Private Collection, San Francisco; Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, 2008; SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "The Inventive Eye: Photographs From a Private Collection," 1 April 2014; Lot 3; Pre-sale est.: $250,000-$350,000; Price realized: $605,000.

Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882-1966) was another early 20th century photographer who became a key figure in the development of American Pictorialism.

When he was just sixteen, Coburn met his internationally known photographer cousin F. Holland Day who introduced him to photography and Stieglitz's inner circle including Frederick H. Evans, Edward Steichen and Gertrude Kasebier among others, all of whom would become members of Stieglitz's Photo-Secession in 1902.

Like Stieglitz, Coburn was fascinated by the space and pattern of Japanese aesthetics which he had discovered as a student of Arthur Wesley Dow (1857-1922) at Ipswich Summer School of Art in Massachusetts. Coburn incorporated Japanese techniques alongside the design ethics of the Arts and Crafts Movement, and much of his work at this time shows Dow's influence.

Besides being a master of capturing light, mood and self-expression, Coburn was adept at using the complex gum over platinum print process which resulted in subtly toned prints with greater luminosity and rich, velvety depths of black. This virtuosity led to him becoming a founding member of the Photo-Secession and a one-man show at the Royal Photographic Society. In 1910 he began a series of books illustrated with hand-pulled photogravures. He was also given not one but two one-man shows at Stieglitz's "Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession" in 1907 and again in 1909 at "291" the renamed Stieglitz gallery taken from its street address on Fifth Avenue.

In his mid-thirties, Coburn was strongly influenced by the Cubists and in an essay titled "The Future of Pictorial Photography" in the 1916 issue of "Photograms of the Year," the photographer challengingly and prophetically wrote, "Why should not the camera throw off the shackles of conventional representation and attempt something fresh and untried?"

He set out to do just that in 1916-17 when, briefly linked with the British Vorticist movement led by Wyndham Lewis and Ezra Pound, Coburn produced a series of "Vortographs"
which were abstract images of pieces of glass and wood photographed on a glass tabletop. Coburn pushed his camera lens through a triangular arrangement of mirrors to form a kaleidoscopic swirl of multiple reflections of abstract and geometric patterns.

His peers, including Stieglitz, found his experiments in abstraction incomprehensible and absurd. Yet Coburn was among the first to produce non-representational photography and when he exhibited them in 1917. They were widely celebrated as the first consciously created abstract photographs. Extremely rare, Coburn produced only 18 in a burst of creative energy over the course of one month at the end of 1916 and the beginning of 1917.

Sotheby's was able to lure a handful of sophisticated and seasoned collectors to this rare to auction lot and "Vortograph," the diminutive 10 3/4 by 8 1/8 in. silver print, ultimately sold for $605,000. It was the third highest lot at Sotheby's and fourth of the entire season.

"The Inventive Eye: Photographs From A Private Collection" brought $5.4 million, nicely topping its $4.5 million high pre-sale estimate. Of the 31 lots offered only four failed to find buyers. The per lot average was an astounding $200,546, a record for a single owner collection at auction.

Sotheby's various owner's sale came with a $6.4 million-$4.3 million high/low pre-sale estimate. It brought just over $4 million. [N.B.: Estimates do not include the buyer's premium which adds a 25% premium up to and including $100,000, and a 20% premium of any amount in excess of $100,000 up to and including $2,000,000.] 186 lots were offered of which only 130 found buyers. The per lot average was $31,021. Alfred Stieglitz's palladium print of his lover and muse Georgia O'Keeffe captured the top spot. It brought $365,000 with premium. Man Ray's "Champs Delicieux: Album De Photographies," a compendium of 12 tipped-in photographs of rayographs in an edition of 40 numbered copies and August Sander's portrait of the painter Heinrich Hoerle took the second and three slots with $281,000 and $173,000 respectively.

Christie's

Christie's had their own single-owner sale this season. "The Range of Light: Photographs by Ansel Adams" brought 25 "pure" or "straight" photographs to the rostrum which were really socially conscious, idealized lyrical love poems of landscapes from the west coast of the U.S.A. Only three lots failed to find buyers. Sales topped $2.1 million with a fierce per lot average of just under $100,000. The top three images from Christie's two auctions this season were all from this sale.

Adams (1902-1984) was instrumental in forming the f/64 group with six other west coast photographers including Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976); their east coast counterparts were Alfred Stieglitz, Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), Edward Steichen (1879-1973) and Paul Strand (1890-1976).

Adams was essential in giving the group its influential public profile. He was perhaps the most out-spoken advocate of "straight" photography producing a manifesto that championed a small lens aperture that provided a maximum of sharp focus [hence the name f/64] and large-format cameras which provided seemingly infinite detail and crisply delineated images.

Group f/64 believed that "photographic beauty was defined by beautiful prints produced by purely photographic means." The group also foreswore manipulation of the image beyond ordinary darkroom adjustments.

Adams was, to put it mildly, an ideologue. He once accused Edward Steichen of being "the anti-Christ of photography". Despite the fact that Adams's landscapes are devoid of people, "there is very much a person present in every square centimeter of his prints and that person being Mr. Adams."

Inspired by his interest in Eastern philosophy, Adams thinks of photographs as independent units of meaning, simulating the Buddhist Koan or riddle. Adams believed that contemplating an image at length opens up the viewer's abilities to see beyond surface realities and intuit the metaphoric and expressive mode in which it can operate. A crusader of the "Wilderness idea", Adams was "a mystique: a valid, intangible, non-materialistic experience."

ANSEL ADAMS, "Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, California,"ANSEL ADAMS, "Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, California," 1944;
Gelatin silver mural print; Flush-mounted on a layered wooden panel; Printed 1961; Image / sheet / flush-mount: 36 1/2 by 55 in. (92.7 by139.7 cm.); Provenance: from Ansel Adams; to Maynard Munger Jr., 1961; By bequest to the present owners; CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.: "The Range of Light: Photographs by Ansel Adams"; 3 April 2014; Lot 6; Pre-sale est.: $300,000-500,000; Price realized: $545,000.

"Winter Sunrise, Sierra from Lone Pine, California," 1944 (printed in 1961) brought $545,000. It was the top lot of all the photographs at Christie's and the 5th most expensive image of the entire spring session in New York.

ANSEL ADAMS, "Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite Valley,"
ANSEL ADAMS, "Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite Valley," c. 1939;

Gelatin silver mural print (printed in the 1970s); Signed in pencil (on the mount); Titled in ink and Carmel credit stamp (on the reverse of the mount); Image/sheet: 19 1/4 by 23 1/8 in. (48.8 by 58.7 cm.); Mount: 26 by 32 in. (66 by 81 cm.); Provenance: from the artist; with Photography West Gallery, Carmel; to a Private Collection; CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.: "The Range of Light: Photographs by Ansel Adams" 1 April 2014; Lot 8; Pre-sale est.: $200,000-$300,000; Price realized: $533,000.

"Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite Valley," circa 1939 (printed in the 1970s) was a close second at $533,000. It was number two at Christie's and number six of the season.

ANSEL ADAMS, "Clouds, Yosemite Valley,"ANSEL ADAMS, "Clouds, Yosemite Valley," 1945;
Gelatin silver mural print, printed 1970-1975; Title in ink and 'Carmel' credit stamp (on the reverse of the flush-mount); Carmel credit label affixed (on the frame backing); Image / flush-mount: 29 1/2 by 23 1/2 in. (75 by 60 cm.); CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.: "The Range of Light; Photographs by Ansel Adams," 3 April 2014; Lot 7; Pre-sale est.: $100,000-150,000; Price realized: $365,000.

"Clouds, Yosemite Valley," 1945 (printed 1970-1975) reached $365,000, number three at the house, number nine for the season.

"Winter Sunrise, Sierra from Lone Pine, California," is a prime example of why Adams has been compared to the landscape photographers of the nineteenth century--William Henry Jackson and Timothy O'Sullivan--as well as nineteenth century painters of the sublime landscape such as Thomas Moran and Albert Bierstadt. His idealized image of pristine wilderness with its stark white, jagged lines of the snow covered mountains standing out against the soft grey of the sky, the rolling hills below, and the deep shadow that Adams manipulated to remove the hideous and insulting whitewashed huge LP--the letters "L" and "P"--placed by the enterprising youth of the Lone Pine High School. This act of manipulating the landscape recalls Roger Fenton's rearranged cannonballs for aesthetic reasons during his photographic 'documenting' of the Crimean war. In both cases, Fenton and Adams were compelled to create a more perfect landscape by altering the scene to create a richer and more powerful photograph.

Adams' composition endures as a mystical and enchanting image of the wilderness that inspires the viewer to share in the beauty of nature. This photograph suggests a more agreeable past and may remind us that, with a revived dignity and reverence for the earth, more of the world might look like this again.

Phillips

Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto's "The Music Lesson" from 1999 was the top lot of the Phillips' various owners photograph sale realizing an unexpectedly robust $629,000. Garnering more than twice its high estimate, the 53 1/8 by 41 3/4 inch pigment print was Phillips' top lot and the second highest photograph of the entire spring photography season in New York.

HIROSHI SUGIMOTO, "The Music Lesson,"HIROSHI SUGIMOTO, "The Music Lesson," 1999;
Pigment print; 53 1/8 by 41 3/4 in. (134.9 by 106 cm.); Signed in ink, printed title, date and number 5/5 on an artist's label affixed to the rear of the frame; Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist; Yoshii Gallery, New York; Private Collection, New York; PHILLIPS, N/Y.: "Photographs," 1 April 2014; Lot 63; Pre-sale est.: $200,000-$250,000; Price realized: $692,000.

Sugimoto's picture faithfully describes not the original 28 7/8 by 25 3/8 inch oil painting (a.k.a. "Lady of the Virginals with a Gentleman") executed by Johannes Vermeer in 1662-1665, but a 3-D walk-in diorama at Madame Tussauds wax museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Shooting the life size facsimile of the painter's imaginary upscale 17th century Delft, Sugimoto takes over where Vermeer left off bringing another layer of life into the mix.

Sugimoto's photograph kindles a dialogue that has existed since photography's invention; the relationship between painting and the medium of mechanical reproduction.

By brilliantly positioning his camera so that his tripod replaced Vermeer's easel in the mirror's reflection and by employing lighting techniques similar to those that the painter might have used, Sugimoto further elaborates on the connection between painting and photography.

Vermeer, know to use a camera obscura to paint his domestic scenes with versimilitude, is here transformed into a photographer and Sugimoto into a painter. Twice removed from its original subject, Sugimoto's photograph is ripe with rich, almost candied colors as he recasts the Dutch painting tradition of Rembrandt, Jacques Louis David, Hans Holbein and Anthony Van Dyck in a decidedly contemporary mode.

Ultimately, Sugimoto's raison d'etre might be described as the search for the historical relationship between truth and photography and the belief in the camera as a recording instrument that never lies. The artist asks the viewer to contemplate the fundamental discrepancy between the world as it is represented and the relationship between artiface, representation, memory and reality.

NOBUYOSHI ARAKI, "From Close to Range,"NOBUYOSHI ARAKI, "From Close to Range," 1991;
Gelatin silver print diptych, printed 2008; Each: 49mby 39 1/8 in. (124.5 by 101.3 cm); Overall: 52 1/2 by 86 in. (133.4 by 218.4 cm.); Right panel signed in pencil on the verso; signed, dated in pencil, printed credit, title and date on a Certificate of Authenticity accompanying the work; Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist; Yoshii Gallery, New York; Private Collection, New York; PHILLIPS, N.Y.: "Photographs," 1 April 2014; Lot #174; Pre-sale est.: $80,000-120,000; Price realized: $191,000.

Infamously known for his darkly erotic portraits of women-- often bound with kinbaku, or Japanese bondage--Nobuyoshi Araki's (born 1940) black and white photograph of flowers from 1991 was Phillips' second highest lot.

Realizing $191,000, the 52 1/2 by 86 inch gelatin silver print diptych shows flowers in full bloom in the left panel and wilted in the right. Lush and velvety and melancholic all at once, the work is an enduring metaphor for the cyclical nature of life itself.

Executed a year after his beloved wife Yoko suffered a premature death in 1990, Araki's balcony became the photographer's quiet place where he could heal. Bursting with flowers and life, many of his photographs were shot here. Chiro, his soul-mate pet cat, brightened the space that would otherwise seem desolate and full of sadness.

"Because Chiro was there with me, the veranda became my personal paradise," Araki wrote. She could turn a space that had "turned to ruin [into] something resembling an Eden." Using his craft, Araki was able to bring he and his deceased wife together again in a place that they loved and shared, representing at once the perseverance, vibrance and fragility of life.

Although not vintage, only a few examples of this image exist in this specific size. and are considered very rare.

RICHARD AVEDON, "Nastassja Kinski and the Serpent"RICHARD AVEDON, "Nastassja Kinski and the Serpent", Los Angeles, California, June 14, 1981;
Gelatin silver print; 28 7/8 by 43 1/8 in. (73.3 by 109.5 cm.); Signed and numbered 29/200 in pencil on the mount; Provenance: Willem Photographic, Monterey; PHILLIPS, N.Y.: "Photographs," 1 April 2014; Pre-sale est.: $60,000-$80,000; Price realized: $155,000.

"Nastassja Kinski and the Serpent, Los Angeles, California, June 14, 1981," a Richard Avedon photograph that first appeared in "Vogue" magazine went on to become a best-selling poster with over two million copies sold. It was Phillips' third most expensive lot realizing $155,000. Another print from the same edition of 200 sold at Phillips de Pury & Company in the fall of 2009 for $80,500.

Taken at the peak of Kinski's fame, the 28 7/8 by 43 1/8 inch gelatin silver print of a Burmese python wrapped around the actresses naked body is arguably the photographer's most iconic image followed by his 1955 fashion breakout image "Dovima with Elephants, Cirque d'Hiver, Paris."

Sharing with Cartier-Bresson the ability to seize and record action at the "decisive moment," Avedon caught the serpent when it came within inches of Kinski's face. Extraordinarily sexual, seductive, special and rare, the lensman caught the snake at the exact moment when it almost languorously extended its fangs as if in a kiss, flicking its forked tongue touching her ear.

Using his large format camera with its ultra-high resolution ten by eight inch film stock along with a powerful strobe light Avedon's photograph captured the primal scene in sharp focus from top to bottom and side to side. With the camera and strobe positioned low, the viewer is presented with a viewpoint as if also lying on the floor with the actress.

The symbolic communication between serpent and star expanded the way we think of celebrity. Cameron Docherty from "The Independent" summed up the picture perfectly in a piece he penned in 1997: "...the snake is doing its manful best to embrace her; she wears the thing as insouciantly as if it were a feather boa."

Total Auction Sales / Spring 2014:
$22,185,563

Sotheby's / $9,447,501
"The Inventive Eye: Photographs From A Private Collection"
1 April 2014 / N09129 "Inventive" / lots offered: 31 / lots sold: 27 / low-high est.: $2,934,000-$4,492,000 / lots sold: 27 / realized: $5,414,750 / per lot average: $200,546

"Photographs" / 2 April 2014 / N09130 "Maypole" / lots offered: 186 / lots sold: 130 / low-high est.: $4,257,000-$6,434,000 / realized: $4,032,751 / per lot average: $31,021

Christie's / $6,375,562
"The Range of Light: Photographs By Ansel Adams" / 3 April 2014 / Yosemite-3457 / lots offered: 25 / lots sold: 22 / low-high est.: $1,246,000-$1,939,000 / realized: $2,144,875 / per lot average: $97,494

"Photographs" / 3 April 2014 / Brooks-2834 / lots offered: 237 / lots sold: 173 / low-high est.: $4,028,000-$6,029,500 / realized: $4,230,687 / per lot average: $36,853

Phillips / $6,362,500
"Photographs" / 1 April 2014 / NY040114 / lots offered: 269 / lots sold: 211 / low-high est.: $4,885,700-$7,029,300 / realized: $6,362,500 /per lot average: $30,154

 

Top 20 lots

1)
EDWARD WESTON (1886-1958)
"Shells," 1927
gelatin silver print
9 1/4 by 7 in. (23.5 by 17.8 cm.)
mounted to buff-colored card
signed, dated, initialed, and editioned '18/50'
in pencil on the mount; titled and dated
in pencil on the reverse, framed
Provenance: Collection of Zelda & William Holgers;
Sotheby's, N.Y., 28 April 2004, sale 7987. lot 173;
Howard Greenberg Gallery, N.Y., 2005
SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "The Inventive Eye: Photographs
From A Private Collection," 1 April 2014; lot 12;
pre-sale est.: $300,000-$500,000
price realized: $905,000

2)
HIROSHI SUGIMOTO (b. 1948)
"The Music Lesson," 1999
pigment print
53 1/8 by 41 3/4 in. (134.9 by 106 cm.)
signed in ink, printed title, date and number '5/5'
on an artist's label affixed to the reverse of the frame Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist; Yoshi Gallery, N.Y.; Private collection, N.Y.
PHILLIPS, N.Y.: "Photographs," 1 April 2014; lot 63;
pre-sale est.: $200,000-$250,000
price realized: $629,000

3)
EDWARD STEICHEN (1879-1973)
"Gloria Swanson," 1924
gelatin silver print
9 5/8 by 7 5/8 in. (24.4 by 19.3 cm.)
the photographer's 'Photograph by Edward Steichen, 80 West 40th Street, New York' studio stamp,
and 'page 101, Steichen, New York, Gloria Swanson, courtesy Vanity Fair' and other notations in pencil and
china marker on the reverse, framed
Provenance: Arts et Mettiers Graphiques, Paris; Private collection, France; Yann Le Mouel, Paris, 23 May 2007,
lot #108; Howard Greenberg Gallery, N.Y., 2007
SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "The Inventive Eye: Photographs From A Private Collection," 1 April 2014; lot 15;
pre-sale est.: $300,000-$500,000;
price realized: $629,000

4)
ALVIN LANGDON COBURN (1882-1966)
"Vortograph," 1917
gelatin silver print
10 3/4 by 8 1/8 in. (27.3 by 20.3 cm.)
mounted to double-edged paper;
signed in pencil on the mount; mounted again to tan board;
titled and dated in pencil on the reverse, framed;
Provenance: The photographer to Leonard Arundale;
Private collection circa 1965; Thereafter, by agent to a Private collection; Christie's, N.Y. 27 April 2004,
Sale 1367, lot 249; Private collection, San Francisco;
Howard Greenberg Gallery, N.Y., 2008
SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "The Inventive Eye: Photographs
From A Private Collection," 1 April 2014; lot #3;
pre-sale est.: $250,000-$350,000
price realized: $605,000

5)
ANSEL ADAMS (1902-1984)
"Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, California,"
1941; gelatin silver mural print; flush-mounted on a layered wooden panel, printed 1961; image/sheet/flush-mount:
36 1/2 by 55 in. (92.7 by 139.7 cm.);
Provenance: from Ansel Adams; to Maynard Munger Jr., 1961; by bequest to the present owners
CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.: "The Range of Light: Photographs by Ansel Adams," 3 April 2014; lot 6;
pre-sale est.: $300,000-$500,000
price realized: $545,000

6)
ANSEL ADAMS (1902-1984)
"Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite Valley," circa 1939
gelatin silver mural print, printed 1970s;
image/sheet: 19 1/4 by 23 1/8 in. (48.8 by 58.7 cm.);
mount: 26 by 32 in. (66 by 81.3 cm.);
Provenance: from the artist; with Photography
West Gallery, Carmel; to a Private Collection
CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.: "The Range of Light: Photographs by
Ansel Adams," 3 April 2014; lot 8;
pre-sale est.: $200,000-$300,000
price realized: $533,000

7)
MAN RAY (1890-1976)
"Rayograph (With Coil Handkerchief, and Chain)," 1924
photogram, a unique object on gelatin silver paper
11 1/4 by 9 in. (28.6 by 22.9 cm.)
signed by the photographer in pencil on the image, with reduction notations, in French, in an unidentified hand
in pencil on the reverse, tipped to a mount, the mount with the annotation 'Top' in an unidentified hand in pencil
on the reverse; framed;
Provenance: Collection of Jacob Bean, N.Y.; by descent to Bean's heir; Sotheby's, N.Y., 6 Oct. 1999, Sale 7348, lot 287; Edwynn Houk Gallery, N.Y.; Private collection, San Francisco; Howard Greenberg Gallery, N.Y., 2008
SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "The Inventive Eye: Photographs From A Private Collection," 1 April 2014; lot 19;
pre-sale est.: $400,000-$600,000
price realized: $485,000

8)
CHARLES SHEELER (1883-1965)
"Stairwell, Williamsburg," 1935
gelatin silver print; 9 1/4 by 6 in. (23.5 by 15 cm.)
mounted; signed in pencil on the mount; framed;
Provenance: Collection of Arnold Newman; Howard Greenberg Gallery, N.Y., 2006
SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "The Inventive Eye: Photographs From A Private Collection," 1 April 2014; lot 7;
pre-sale: $200,000-$300,000
price realized: $425,000

9)
ANSEL ADAMS (1902-1984)
"Clouds, Yosemite Valley," 1945
gelatin silver mural print, printed 1970-1975
image/flush-mount: 29 1/2 by 23 1/2 in. (75 by 60 cm.)
title in ink and 'Carmel' credit stamp (on the
reverse of the flush-mount; Carmel credit label
affixed (on the frame backing); Provenance: From
the artist; to a California collection; Christie's, N.Y., "Photographs by Ansel Adams from a California collection,"
11 April 2008; lot 1014
CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.: "The Range of Light: Photographs by Ansel Adams," 3 April 2014; lot #7;
pre-sale est.: $100,000-$150,000
price realized: $365,000

10)
ALFRED STIEGLITZ (1864-1946)
"Georgia O'Keeffe (Nude Study)," 1918-19
palladium print mounted to board;
9 1/2 by 7 5/8 in. (24.13 by 19 cm.)
Provenance: the photographer to Georgia O'Keeffe; Private collection, Santa Fe, 1986; acquired by the present owner from the above;
SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "Photographs," 2 April 2014; lot #106;
pre-sale est.: $300,000-$500,000
price realized: $365,000

11)
EDWARD WESTON (1886-1958)
"Pepper (NO.30)," 1930
gelatin silver print
9 1/2 by 7 1/2 in. (24.1 by 19.1 c.m.)
mounted, signed, dated and editioned '25-50' in pencil
on the mount, with partial signature by Weston in
pencil and annotation by Tullah Hanley in ink
on the reverse; framed; Provenance: the photographer
to T. Edward Hanley; by descent to his wife, Tullah Hanley, 1969; gift of Tullah to Allegheny College, 1974;
Christie's, N.Y., 27 April 2004, Sale 1367, lot 91;
Howard Greenberg Gallery, N.Y., 2006;
SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "The Inventive Eye: Photographs From a Private Collection," 1 April 2014; lot #24;
pre-sale est.: $150,000-$250,000
price realized: $341,000

12)
LASZLO MOHOLY-NAGY (1895-1946)
"Fotogramm 1922" (Photogram With Spiral Shape);
a unique object on printing-out paper, carte-postale;
5 3/8 by 3 1/2 in. (13.7 by 8.7 cm.); titled, dated '1922,'
and inscribed 'original!!' in red pencil and with the
photographer's 'moholy-nagy/berlin-chbg. 9/frederciastr. 27 atelier' studio stamp on the reverse; framed; Provenance:
an associate of the photographer, Institute of Design, Chicago; William Larson, 1973; Eugene and Dorothy Prakapas, 1980; Sotheby's, N.Y., 27 April 2005, "Photograms by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy from the Collection of Eugene and Dorothy Prakapas," Sale 8150, lot #81; Collection of Dana and James Tananbaum, San Francisco;
Howard Greenberg Gallery, N.Y., 2008;
SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "The Inventive Eye: Photographs From a Private Collection," 1 April 2014; lot #17;
pre-sale est.: $150,000-$250,000
price realized: $317,000

13)
MAN RAY (1890-1976)
"Champs Delicieux: Album De Photographies," 1922
(Paris: [Man Ray], an edition of 40 numbered copies), a volume containing 12 tipped-in gelatin silver photographs by
Man Ray; each approximately: 8 3/4 by 6 3/4 in. (22.2 by 17.2 cm.); with a printed 3-page preface by Tristan Tzara and colophon signed and numbered '34' by the photographer
in ink; Folio, original red wrappers with yellow printed label;
Provenance: Collection of James Gilvarry, N.Y.;
to a family member, 1984;
SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "Photographs," 2 April 2014; lot #108
pre-sale est.: $250,000-$350,000
price realized: $281,000

14)
LASZLO MOHOLY-NAGY (1895-1946)
"Fotogramm" (Photogram With Diagrammatic Square and Circles), 1925
photogram, a unique object on gelatin silver paper;
9 3/8 by 7 in. (23.7 by 17.7 cm.)
signed 'Moholy=Nagy,' titled, dated, inscribed 'ich bitte
das foto eiligst zuruck dessau, burgkuhnauer allee 2'
[crossed out with pencil]; and with the directional arrow and notation 'oben' by the photographer in ink and inscribed
with a directional arrow and 'kameraloses' by the
photographer in pencil and with his 'moholy=nagy'
stamp on the reverse; framed; Provenance: an associate
of the photographer, Institute of Design, Chicago;
William Larson, 1973; Eugene and Dorothy Prakapas, 1980; Sotheby's, N.Y., "Photographs by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy:
From the Collection of Eugene and Dorothy Prakapas," 27 April 2005, Sale 8150, lot #83; Private collection;
Howard Greenberg Gallery, N.Y., 2006;
SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "The Inventive Eye: Photographs From a private Collection," 1 April 2014; lot #20;
pre-sale est.: $100,000-$150,000
price realized: $221,000

15)
HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON (1908-2004)
"Seville," 1933
gelatin silver print; 6 1/2 by 9 3/4 in. (15.9 by 24.8 cm.)
signed in ink on the reverse; framed
Provenance: Estate of George Lynes, the photographer's nephew; Howard Greenberg Gallery, N.Y., 2005
SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "The Inventive Eye: Photographs From a Private Collection," 1 April 2014; lot #4;
pre-sale est.: $70,000-$100,000
price realized: $197,000

16)
NOBUYOSHI ARAKI (b. 1940)
"From Close to Range," 1991
gelatin silver print diptych, printed 2008
each: 49 by 39 7/8 in. (124.5 by 101.3 cm.)
overall: 52 1/2 by 86 in. (133.4 by 218.4 cm.)
right panel signed in pencil on the verso; signed, dated in pencil, printed credit, title and date on a Certificate of Authenticity accompanying the work; Provenance:
Acquired directly from the artist; Yoshii Gallery, N.Y.;
Private collection, N.Y.
PHILLIPS, N.Y.: "Photographs," 1 April 2014; lot #174;
pre-sale est.: $80,000-$120,000
price realized: $191,000

17)
IRVING PENN (1917-2009)
"Frozen Foods, New York," 1977
dye-transfer print, printed 1984
image/sheet: 23 3/8 by 18 1/4 in. (59.5 by 46.4 cm.)
mount: 26 by 21 in. (66.1 by 53.4 cm.)
signed, initialed, titled, dated, notation '14696' in ink;
Penn/Conte Nast copyright credit reproduction limitation stamp and stamped 'signed prints of this photograph not exceeding 33' (on the reverse of the mount);
CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.: "Photographs," 3 April 2014; lot #302;
pre-sale est.: $60,000-$80,000
price realized: $191,000

18)
ROBERT FRANK (b. 1924)
"Motorama, Los Angeles," 1956
gelatin silver print, possibly printed in the 1960s;
7 7/8 by 11 7/8 in. (20 by 30.2 cm.);
signed in ink in the margin, the photographer's 'Robert Frank Archive' stamp, with title and annotations in pencil,
on the reverse; framed; Provenance:
Howard Greenberg Gallery, N.Y.;
SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "The Inventive Eye: Photographs From a Private Collection," 1 April 2014; lot #30
pre-sale est.: $25,000-$35,000
price realized: $185,000

19)
IRVING PENN (1917-2009)
"Woman with Roses on Her Arm (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn)," 1950; platinum palladium print flush-mounted on aluminum,
printed August-September 1977; image: 21 1/2 by 14 5/8 in. (54.7 by 37.2 cm.); sheet/flush-mount: 25 by 22 in.
(63.6 by 56 cm.); signed, titled, dated, numbered '24/40',
notation '1391' in pencil, Penn/Conde Nast copyright credit reproduction limitation stamp and stamped 'In addition to
40 numbered prints of this image in platinum metals, unnumbered, but signed, silver prints not exceeding a total of 25 may exist' (on the reverse of the flush-mount);
CHRISTIE'S, N.Y.: "Photographs," 3 April 2014; lot #124
pre-sale est.: $150,000-$250,000
price realized: $185,000

20)
AUGUST SANDER (1876-1964)
"The Painter Heinrich Hoerle," 1931;
gelatin silver print; 11 by 8 in. (27.9 by 20.3 cm.);
mounted to grey paper, in a vellum overmat,
signed and dated by the photographer and annotated
'Der Maler Heinr. Hoerle Koln by Gunther Sander,
the photographer's son, in pencil on the overmat;
a 'Sander, "Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts"'
letterpress paper label on the reverse; framed;
SOTHEBY'S, N.Y.: "Photographs," 2 April 2014; lot #103
pre-sale est.: $150,000-$250,000
price realized: $173,000



 

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