New York, 70 years ago, the Swann Galleries organized the first auction dedicated to photography in the United States. The 1952 auction was surprisingly early for a sale devoted to a medium that was only 113 years old and still finding its artistic place in the market. Seven decades later, however, the landscape of this diverse and innovative medium has expanded dramatically. At Thursday February 10Swann will proceed with a sale of Beautiful photographs marking this achievement. The specially curated sale will celebrate the history of the photography auction market while exploring the future of the medium.
Early works include Charles Marville Rue des Déchargeurs, Rue de Rivoli, circa 1865 ($6,000-9,000), Carleton Watkins’s The Pavilion on the Stump, Calaveras Grove, 1878–81 ($8,000–12,000) and that of Julia Margaret Cameron Baby Flower (Alice Keown), circa 1866 ($15,000-25,000). by Alfred Stieglitz Camera job number 361911 ($18,000-22,000) and Edward Curtis’s Three Chiefs, Blackfoot, Mountain1900 ($6,000 to $9,000), showcase two early masters of photography as well as the rise of the medium as an art form.
American Photography features a series of important civil rights images by Danny Lyonsincluding SNCC Staff Sit-In, Atlanta, John Lewis behind Mendy Samstein (+ the pastries), Stokely Carmichael standing right1963-64, with Movement, 1969 ($10,000-15,000), plus footage of Ole Miss, The March on Washington and James Baldwin in Selma, Alabama. Robert Fank is present with two first masterpieces: Cafe, Beaufort, South Carolina,1955 ($20,000 to $30,000) and Los Angeles, 1956 ($25,000-35,000), both from Americans (also available, at $1,500-2,500). Other documentary photographs include works by Gordon Parks, Dorothea Lange, Lewis W. Hine, and Walker Evans, among others.
Also noteworthy among American mid-century photographers Ansel Adams‘ Oak, Snowstorm, Yosemite Valley1948, a superb print apparently used as a master for his Portfolio I ($20,000 to $30,000) and Evening clouds, Sierra Nevada, 1936, printed 1963-70 ($12,000-18,000); as well as that of Robert Adams Entrance, Methodist Church, Calhan, Colorado1966, printed circa late 1960s ($10,000-15,000). A rare vintage example of Helen Levitt’s vibrant photography of boys playing on city streets New York (Foreign Legion), 1940; 1940s print ($25,000-35,000)—the cover image of his iconic A way of seeing), is offered alongside Diane Arbus Jewelry impersonator, NYCprinted and signed by Arbus 1958-60 ($25,000-35,000), and O. Winston Link’s Eastbound Hotshot, Iaeger, West Virginia, 1957, printed in 1987 ($7,000-10,000). The house will also feature works by Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, George A. Tice, Stephen Shore and Margaret Bourke-White.
Contemporary highlights are led by Sally Manit’s Untitled (self-portraits), a 2011 triptych consisting of three unique ambrotypes on black glass ($30,000-45,000). Also note that of Barbara Kasten Site 33, 1986, and Build LB/3 ($5,000-7,500 each); At Masahisa Fukase Nayorofrom The loneliness of crows, 1977, 1980s print ($10,000-15,000); and Carrie Mae Weems May flowers, 2002 ($6,000-9,000). Other contemporary work includes early work by Katy Grannen, color photography by Richard Misrach and Sandy Skoglund, self-portraits by Cindy Sherman and more.
Notable photo books and portfolios include Emmet Gowin’s first book with photographs, Concerning America and Alfred Stieglitz, and myself, 1963-64, printed 1965 ($8,000-12,000); a suite of 10 abstract expressionist photographs by Aaron Siskind from 1949-1980, printed circa 1980. ($10,000-15,000); by Berenice Abbott Berenice Abbott’s New York, a portfolio complete with 12 of Abbott’s iconic views of New York ($20,000-30,000); and Lisette Model’s Twelve Photographsa comprehensive portfolio from 1937-46 with 12 silver prints from an edition of 15 prints, printed in 1977 ($12,000-18,000).
Exhibit hours are 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays February 7-9. Swann Galleries staff will prepare condition reports and provide additional photographs of equipment upon request. Advance bids can be placed with a sales specialist or on the Swann website, and telephone bidding will be available. The live online auction platforms will be the Swann Galleries app, Invaluable and Live Auctioneers. The full catalog and auction information is available at www.swanngalleries.com and on the Swann Galleries app.