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    9 269 For sale

    112 268 Sold

  • 0—192 000 000 USD
  • 30 Oct 1989—10 Oct 2017

'shells'

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, 1927 This bravura print from Edward Weston’s series of photographs of shells is rendered with clarity and nuance.  The varied textures of three different shells—from the iridescence of the nautilus shell at the top, to the rough exterior of the abalone shell at the bottom—gleam with three-dimensionality on the semi-glossy paper.  On a large, buff-colored mount, with Weston’s signature in the lower right corner, the Shells print offered here is the ideal presentation of the image.   The significance of Weston’s shell photographs to his oeuvre and to the history of twentieth-century art cannot be overstated.   His photographs of shells arranged before plain, dark backgrounds exemplify his achievement as an artist.  These deceptively simple compositions belie the complexity of their conception, the years of evolution in Weston’s vision, and countless trials with objects before his camera.  The shell photographs resonate as strongly today as when they were made, almost a century ago.  Weston was keenly attuned to the very special nature of the shell.  ‘I am not blind to the sensuous quality in shells,’ he wrote in his daybook in July of 1927, ‘with which they combine the deepest spiritual significance. ‘ The print offered here comes originally from the collection of Weston’s friends Zelda and William Holgers of California.  William Holgers, an amateur photographer, was part of the Bay Area’s thriving Camera Club scene before the Second World War and enrolled in the Yosemite photography workshop conducted by Ansel Adams and Weston in 1940.  A building contractor by trade, Holgers made improvements to Weston’s house and garage at Wildcat Hill, sometimes in exchange for photographs.  Over the years he acquired a small collection of prints by Weston and his circle, one a gift from Weston to celebrate Bill and Zelda’s marriage in 1942.  Holgers is perhaps best known in the Weston literature as the photographer of the fine dual portrait of Weston and Charis Wilson that appears on the dust jacket of Wilson’s 1998 memoir, Through Another Lens: My Years with Edward Weston. Early prints of Shells (7S) are surprisingly scarce.  Weston’s negative log in the Center for Creative Photography, Tuscon, records prints numbered 12 through 18, with print 14 and print 15 described later in the log as ‘destroyed.’  Conger locates six prints in institutions, at least three of which are Project Prints.   A print of the image was exhibited in Weston’s 1928 show at the East/West Gallery in San Francisco and may have been in the Film und Foto show in Stuttgart in 1929.  It was included in his retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art in 1946.   But few early prints have appeared at auction.   The beautiful state of this particular print, combined with the Holgers provenance, make this an exceptional example of the series.

  • USAUSA
  • 2014-03-31
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The little screens

A suite of 38 photographs, each signed, titled, dated, and numbered in pencil and with the photographer's '52 South Mountain Rd., New City, New York 10956' studio, copyright, and reproduction rights stamp on the reverse, 1961-70, printed later (38) Witty, ironic, and perceptive, Lee Friedlander’s Little Screens photographs capture the growing ubiquity of television in post-war America and offer deadpan comic commentary on the vacuity of popular culture.  Taken between 1961 and 1970, in locales ranging from Galax, Virginia, to Washington State, each photograph includes within its frame a television set illuminated with flickering moments of entertainment, advertising, or politics.  Like the best of Friedlander’s photographs, the Little Screens images initially appear off-hand and casual.  Examined more closely—and seen together as a series—they reveal a depth of sophistication. As Hilton Kramer wrote in 1972, Friedlander ‘has wrested from the accidents of experience some remarkable images—a kind of workaday surrealism that is ingenious in the incongruous forms it brings together, yet always faithful to a straight documentary surface.  The little group of pictures showing television screens functioning in bleak, uninhabited rooms is unforgettable’ (New York Times, 25 November, 1972, p. 23). Images from Friedlander’s series were first published, along with text by his friend and mentor Walker Evans, in the February 1963 issue of Harper’s Bazaar in a feature entitled ‘The Little Screens: A Photographic Essay by Lee Friedlander with a Comment by Walker Evans.’  The images’ unlikely debut in Harper’s Bazaar was the direct result of art director Marvin Israel’s effort in the early 1960s to replace traditional magazine imagery with edgier work by Friedlander, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, and Andy Warhol, among others.  Friedlander and Israel also worked together at Atlantic Records, where Israel was an art director and Friedlander provided photographs of musicians for albums and liner notes. The importance of The Little Screens was acknowledged early on.  John Szarkowski included one in his encyclopedic 1964 exhibition The Photographer’s Eye at the Museum of Modern Art.  Szarkowski also included the work in the seminal 1967 New Documents exhibition.  After Bazaar’s publication of Little Screens, Friedlander received a letter requesting to purchase Philadelphia (1961) from the series.  Surprised that anyone would want to pay him $25 for a photograph, Friedlander met with the buyer: the artist Jim Dine.  The two became friends and would later collaborate on the 1969 Photographs & Etchings portfolio. The group of Little Screens images offered here is the largest and most complete to appear at auction.  These are the very prints Friedlander used in the creation of the 2001 book, Lee Friedlander: The Little Screens, published by Fraenkel Gallery.  All of the 34 images illustrated in the book are present here, as well as 4 additional images that do not appear in the book.  Like the complete set of Nicholas Nixon’s The Brown Sisters offered here as Lot 113, these photographs come from the pioneering photography collectors Mary Robinson and her late husband C. David Robinson.

  • USAUSA
  • 2015-04-01
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'white angel bread line'

Flush-mounted, signed and dated ‘1933’ by the photographer in ink on the image, signed, titled, and annotated ‘2706 Virginia St, Berkeley, California’ by the photographer in ink and titled in an unidentified hand in pencil and with the Museum’s label and accession number in an unidentified hand in blue pencil on the reverse, 1933, printed no later than May 1936 This demonstrably vintage print of Dorothea Lange’s ‘White Angel Breadline’ was given to the Museum of Science and Industry by Lange herself in 1936.   In addition to soliciting photographs from the 1933 Century of Progress exhibition, the Museum also expanded its collection by surveying photographic annuals, choosing a range of pictures, and then contacting the photographers of those images for possible donation.  Among the annuals surveyed was Tom Maloney’s widely popular U. S. Camera. Museum records indicate that a number of photographs reproduced in the 1935 U. S. Camera held particular interest for the Museum, including Lange’s ‘White Angel Breadline.’  Lange was contacted, and although we do not have the specifics of her visit, we know that she personally brought a print of ‘White Angel Breadline’ to the Museum.  Museum files contain a copy of a letter to Lange from Museum director, O. T. Kreusser, dated 18 May 1936, which reads in part: ‘Dear Miss Lange: ‘On my return to Chicago, I learned with regret that I had missed your visit to the Museum.  It would have been a pleasure to have had the opportunity to show you, in more detail, how this new project in public education is being carried on.  However, Mr. Mayford tells me that he did what he could to make your visit interesting in the short time at your disposal. . . . ‘Your print, “White Angel Breadline,” has now been duly registered in the Museum’s rapidly growing collection of fine photographs.  Your generous cooperation is cordially appreciated.' In choosing Lange’s ‘White Angel Breadline’ for its collection, the Museum demonstrated remarkable foresight. Taken in 1933, during San Francisco’s depression years, the photograph depicts the dignity and isolation of poverty, as one man turns away from a breadline sponsored by a widow known in the community as ‘the White Angel.’  In 1935, when it was reproduced in U. S. Camera, the photograph, as well as the photographer, had not taken on the significant status they now both enjoy.  Indeed, Lange’s ‘Migrant Mother’ had been made only a few months before she visited the Museum in 1936, and was far from the world-famous icon it would later become. In 1934 and 1935, Lange was relatively little-known, working with Paul Schuster Taylor at the California Rural Rehabilitation Administration, and later with Roy Stryker at the F. S. A.   It was not the photographer’s reputation, but the undeniable impact of ‘White Angel Breadline’ that spoke to the readers of the 1935 U. S. Camera annual, including Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.  By contacting Lange soon after the photograph appeared in U. S. Camera, the Museum was able to acquire at a very early date a superb print of one of Lange’s best and most important images.

  • USAUSA
  • 2005-10-11
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'the breast'

Warm-toned platinum print, tipped to a large buff-colored mount, signed, titled, and dated by the photographer in pencil on the mount, signed, inscribed ‘For Jack – remembering a gay party at Ito’s’ and dated ‘1923’ by the photographer in pencil on the reverse, matted framed, 1921   The subject of this rare, early nude study is the young Italian actress and photographer, Tina Modotti, who would later become Weston’s lover and partner during the photographer’s sojourn in Mexico in the 1920s. At the time of this writing, there are believed to be only three other prints of this image extant: in a private collection in California; one sold in these rooms on 16 October 1990 (Sale 6073, Lot 427); and one in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C., donated by Weston himself in 1923.  Two of these prints, in the private California collection, and in the Smithsonian, are alternatively titled ‘The Source.’  A print of this image, bearing the title ‘The Breast’ was exhibited in the Camera Pictorialists of Los Angeles salon in 1921-22.  A print was also exhibited in 1923 at the Art Center in New York. When Weston visited Alfred Stieglitz in New York City in 1922, he showed the elder photographer a number of his prints, The Breast included.  According to a letter Weston sent to his friend, the photographer Johan Hagemeyer, Stieglitz was impressed by the image and said, ‘If I was still publishing Camera Work I would ask for The Source (Tina’s Breast)’ (Edward Weston on Photography, p. 37). This print offered here was originally given by Edward Weston to the painter John Taylor (1897 – 1983).  Taylor sold advertising for the Los Angeles Times, and studied under Stanton MacDonald Wright.  He moved to New York City around 1922 and married the painter Andrée Ruellan.  Taylor’s sister, Maude Emily Taylor, was a friend of Margrethe Mather and appears as the subject of a number of her photographs (cf. Beth Gates Warren, Margrethe Mather & Edward Weston: A Passionate Collaboration, pp. 45, 46, 51, and 52). Weston personalized the print offered here with a warm inscription on the reverse of the mount. While it is unknown who ‘Ito’ is, it is possible that the inscription refers to Michio Ito, a Japanese-born dancer who toured with Adolf Bohm’s dance company in the late 1910s and early 1920s.  Ito worked both in New York and Hollywood and was friends with Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, and other members of the bohemian Los Angeles circle in which Weston, Mather, and Taylor were included. Sotheby’s wishes to thank Beth Gates Warren for sharing her information on John Taylor and this photograph.

  • USAUSA
  • 2005-10-10
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Photogram with pinwheel and other shapes

Photogram, a unique object, signed and dated in ink on the reverse, 1929 This unique photogram comes from an especially animated trio of images Moholy-Nagy created in 1929 (fgm 279-81) that utilize the pinwheel shape.  Moholy had moved to Berlin in 1928 and began to create photograms with a new group of objects there, on a larger-format paper.  In the present image, Moholy’s deft handling of the pinwheel, a paperclip, and what appears to be a wire basket have resulted in a nuanced and lively abstract composition.  Rendered on matte-surface photographic paper with deep blacks and cream-white highlights, this photogram possesses the ideal object quality for Moholy’s work of this period.    There are endless variations of the photogram process, and Moholy continually experimented with ways to expand its capabilities.  In the present image, the three-dimensional shape of the pinwheel creates a modulation of tonality where light has crept under its lifted edges.  The basket-like wire shape is rendered here in intense gray tones, indicating that it was suspended over the paper, and not resting directly upon it.  The doubled impression of the paperclip suggests that Moholy moved it during the exposure. This pinwheel photogram was one of a number of superb Moholy photograms offered in these rooms in 1988 and 1989.  The cover image for the Sotheby’s April 1989 catalogue, it set a record at that time for a Moholy photographic work at auction, far in excess of what any Moholy photogram or photograph had sold for in earlier years. For Moholy-Nagy, the photogram was the essence of photographic image-making.  He wrote: ‘The photogram, or cameraless record of forms produced by light, which embodies the unique nature of the process, is the real key to photography’ (A New Instrument of Vision, 1933).

  • USAUSA
  • 2014-12-12
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'handlanger'

The photographer’s ‘Köln-Lindenthal’ blindstamp on the image, mounted to paper, in the original vellum overmat, signed, dated, and annotated ‘Coln 1927’ in pencil and the number ‘23’ in ink on the overmat, the photographer’s oval ‘Aug. Sander, Köln-Lindenthal, Dürenstr. 201’ studio label and title in pencil on the reverse, 1927 August Sander’s Handlanger is one of the photographer’s definitive images from his epic series, Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts (Men of the Twentieth Century).  Sander also selected this image for publication in Antlitz der Zeit, his seminal 1929 book of portraits of the German people.  Although very much of-a-piece with the portraits in this book, Handlanger stands out for the intensity of its subject’s gaze and for Sander’s strongly symmetrical composition.  The photograph is an archetypal portrait of the working man, emanating capability and strength.    Titled simply Handlanger (hod-carrier, or handyman), this image took its place in Antlitz der Zeit (Face of Our Time) alongside portraits of farmers, bureaucrats, students, political radicals, artists, and others, most identified only by their occupation or type.   Sander’s purpose was to create a collective portrait of the German populace that was thoroughly objective, unsentimental, and unprejudiced.  His stated goal was nothing less than ‘. . . to be honest and tell the truth about our age and its people.’   Sander’s project and its inclusive scope, however, brought him to the attention of the German authorities. In 1934, the Reich Chamber of Arts ordered the destruction of the printing plates for Antlitz der Zeit and the seizure of all copies, effectively halting Sander’s picture-making. This photograph has the classic presentation for an early print by Sander: its paper mount, vellum overmat, penciled signature, and printed studio label are all signs of its early date.  The print, too, with its profusion of rich gray tones and minute detail, is wholly characteristic of Sander's prints from the 1920s.  Sander’s  home studio in Cologne was destroyed in a 1944 air raid, and surviving prints from the 1920s or 1930s are scarce.

  • USAUSA
  • 2014-12-12
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Photography

This category includes all manner of photographs and prints, from early photographs and historical images to iconic shoots, portraits, and contemporary photographic art. The lots here span the development of both photographic technology, and of photography as an art form, from their invention to the present day.

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