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National Junior Interstate Dance Champions of 1963, Yonkers, N. Y.

Signed and dedicated 'for Jean . . .' in ink in the margin, 1963, printed no later than 1967 The photograph offered here was given by Diane Arbus to the present owner who, in 1967, worked at Paraphernalia, the trend-setting boutique on Madison Avenue at 67th Street.  It was given by Arbus in thanks for doing her make-up for the opening reception of New Documents at The Museum of Modern Art.  The event was an important one for Arbus and proved to be the only significant exhibition of her work during her lifetime. Paraphernalia was opened in late 1965 by British entrepreneur Paul Young and clothing manufacturer Carl Rosen, and was based on the London boutiques of Mary Quant.  Convinced that America's mod youth were being underserved, the partners created a unique shopping experience and design workshop with affordable psychedelic and Op-and-Pop-influenced clothing that was often disposable.  Innovative young designers, including Betsey Johnson, Joel Schumacher (later a filmmaker), and Deanna Littell created limited-edition clothing and pioneered the use of new materials such as vinyl, Day-Glo gels, PVC, foil, and paper.  Sleekly and minimally designed by Ulrich Franzen, Paraphernalia was more club than dress shop, with its blasting music, video displays, and stage for dancers. It was a necessary destination for anyone who considered themselves hip and fashion-conscious and who wanted to be part of the scene.  With her interest in American subcultures—and her experience as a fashion photographer—Paraphernalia was just the sort of place to which Arbus would have been attracted. The present owner of this photograph was one of the sales staff who embodied the Paraphernalia ideal.  Slim, boyish, and above all, thoroughly au courant, they were essential to the store’s success. Playwright Wendy Wasserstein said that she thought that they ‘were the most sophisticated people in the world.  I thought that just by working there, they were practically sleeping with Mick Jagger.’ Andy Warhol wrote, ‘Paraphernalia sometimes stayed open till two in the morning.  You’d go in and try on things and ‘Get Off My Cloud’ would be playing—and you’d be buying the clothes in the same atmosphere you’d probably be wearing them in.  And the sales people in the little boutiques were always so hip and relaxed, as if the stores were just another room in their apartment—they’d sit around, read magazines, watch TV, smoke dope’ (Popism: The Warhol Sixties, p. 116). This signed and personally-inscribed print of Junior Interstate Ballroom Dance Champions is one of only a few extant lifetime prints of the image.  In addition to the present print, only two other lifetime examples signed by the photographer are believed to have been offered at auction: in these rooms, in December 2014 and October 1990.

  • USAUSA
  • 2015-10-07
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La vague brisée, mer méditerranée nº 15 (the breaking wave)

Albumen print, the photographer's red facsimile signature stamp in the lower right corner of the image, mounted, the photographer's blindstamp on the mount, 1857 The Breaking Wave illustrates the intensity of emotion and the dramatic contrast between light and dark that Le Gray was capable of evoking in his seascapes.  After years of photographing in the studio, or for the architectural survey of Mission Héliographique, Le Gray turned in 1855 and 1856 to more personal subject matter with his photographs of the Normandy and Mediterranean coasts.  In April 1857, Le Gray made The Breaking Wave and several other seascapes from Sète, a seaside port in the South of France.  This photograph was immediately popular in England and France, and it was one of only three images that Le Gray filed for copyright with the Ministry of the Interior. The photograph offered here comes originally from the collection of the enigmatic William Craven, Second Earl of Craven.  Eton and Oxford educated, Craven was a capable amateur photographer and an enthusiastic member of the Royal Photographic Society.  Two of his photographs were included in the Photographic Society’s second annual exhibition in 1855, and at the Edinburgh Photographic Society the following year.  Throughout the 1850s, Craven, traveling with his mobile darkroom, photographed the grounds and statuary of Ashdown House, his family estate on the Berkshire Downs 70 miles west of London; the Craven family and children; and floral and fowl still life.  Craven’s interests extended beyond his own photography, and his wealth allowed him to collect the work of his contemporaries Roger Fenton, Charles Marville, and Gustave Le Gray. Craven’s collection, and his own early photographic work, was rediscovered in two historic auctions in 2000 and 2001.

  • USAUSA
  • 2014-12-12
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Hudson river pier

Platinum print, annotated 'T-25' by Hazel Strand, the photographer's widow, in pencil on the reverse, matted, a typed collection label and a Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition label on the reverse, circa 1914 Paul Strand's work from the 1910s is an outstanding example of how American photography became modern in the early years of the 20th century.  The large platinum print of Hudson River Pier offered here, believed to be unique, shows how readily Strand absorbed the visionary aspects of the artistic movements of his day, especially Cubism. Strand's career as a Pictorialist was relatively brief.  In 1907, as a young man of 17, he was able to visit '291' and De Zayas's Modern Gallery, where progressive art of the time was on display.  In 1913, the year before Hudson River Pier was taken, he saw the paintings of Picasso, Braque, and others at the infamous Armory Show, which, as he recalled it in later years, was transformative.  The year 1913 also marks his personal association with Stieglitz, who saw in Strand's work a path toward photography's future. The present photograph's calculated shapes of light and dark, the subtle rendering of textures, the arrangement of space into rectangles that approach abstraction, but in a real setting—even the fragments of lettering as a compositional device—all suggest the influence of Cubism.  This 'abstracting' of a real landscape would reach its apotheosis in Strand's work with his White Fence of 1916, and in Sheeler's photographs with such images as The White Barn of the same year. According to Strand authority Anthony Montoya, Strand took this photograph with his 3¼-by-4¼-inch English Ensign Reflex camera.  The small glass plate negative was contact printed to another sensitized plate to produce a glass plate positive.  This plate was then enlarged to produce an 11-by-14-inch glass plate negative from which the present contact print was made.   An early collection label that accompanies this photograph indicates that it may have one time belonged to the American art dealer Franklin Riehlman (1953-2014). The print offered here was included in The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Paul Strand, Circa 1916, the definitive exhibition of Strand's work from this pivotal period in his career.

  • USAUSA
  • 2014-12-12
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'fotogramm' (hand)

The photographer's 'foto moholy-nagy' credit stamp and titled and annotated '2/6' by Lucia Moholy, the photographer's first wife, and 'fgm 186' by Hattula Moholy-Nagy, the photographer's daughter, in pencil on the reverse, 1925-26, printed 1926-29 This image comes from a defining series of photograms Moholy executed in 1925 and 1926 in which his hands are the principle subject.  Like the prehistoric cave painter who placed a hand on the tabula rasa of a rock wall and sprayed it with pigment, Moholy placed his hand on photographic paper and exposed it to light.  Hands are a recurring motif in Moholy’s work, from the playful self-portrait in which he holds his palm toward the camera, to the sophisticated photograms and hybrid photogram/photo-collages of the 1920s and 30s.  In the present image, Moholy has manipulated the light in his characteristically masterful way, and the fingers appear to be separated by shadowy hand-like shapes.    The location of the original photogram upon which this image is based is not definitively known.  Another print of the image, reproduced in the Catalogue Raisonné, is in the collection of Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts, but it is uncertain if the MFA’s version is the original photogram or a copy made from the original, like the print offered here.  No other versions of the single image have been located as of this writing, although the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography has in its collection an early print of the diptych. Moholy paired this image with another hand photogram (FGM 185), creating an enlarged diptych that he exhibited both in the historic 1927 Film und Foto exhibition in Stuttgart and his one-man 1930 exhibition at the Künstlerhaus Brno.  An installation view of the Brno exhibition shows the diptych hanging directly over an enlarged version of Moholy’s fotoplastik, A Chick Remains a Chick (Moholy-Nagy: The Photograms: Catalogue Raisonné, pp. 224-25). Moholy’s extensive and adventurous experimentation with the photogram demonstrated the creative potential inherent in photographic materials.  The photogram process, in which objects are placed directly onto photographic paper and exposed to light, allowed the artist to work directly with light, and to guide its delineation of the selected objects.  The photogram was, for Moholy, the essence of creative photography: if one could learn to successfully manipulate light, Moholy reasoned, camera photography could be easily mastered.  Moholy made photograms for the entirety of his artistic career, and his oeuvre shows the full range of expression of which the medium is capable.

  • USAUSA
  • 2013-10-02
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Winter - Fifth Avenue, 1893

Carbon print, flush-mounted on thin board, This photograph was made at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 35th Street, near the headquarters of the Society of Amateur Photographers, of which Stieglitz was a member.  The photographer took as his tool the hand camera, regarded by many at the time as unworthy of the 'serious worker', and waited for three hours in a fierce snowstorm on 22nd February 1893.  He later recalled how 'upon having the negative I showed it to some of my colleagues. They smiled and advised me to throw away such rot. "Why it isn't even sharp and he wants to use it for enlargement!"' ("The Hand Camera - Its Present Importance", in The American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Alamanc for 1897, New York 1896).  Stieglitz argued that his hand camera negatives were made expressly for enlargement and that only rarely was more than part of an original shot used. The original negative of this image was in landscape format.  As a positive print it appears in a number of different formats and croppings, both portrait and landscape.  The print offered here is unsually large in size, and in this as well as in its cropping resembles most closely the carbon print in the collection of the National Gallery of Art Washington (ref 1949.3.94 [124D]).  The Gallery's catalogue entry for this observes that the railroad ties, visible in the lower left corner in previous printings of the image, are no longer seen.  It is believed that the original negative was retouched at some point between the publication of Picturesque Bits of New York and Other Studies (1897), and the publication of Scribner's Magazine (November 1899), when the image first appeared without the railroad ties.  The present print is believed to date from the late 1890s. The many transformations of Winter - Fifth Avenue demonstrate Stieglitz's intention to draw out the aesthetic potentials of photography.  Through his attempts to push photographic technique beyond its accepted limits, he sought to educate the camera clubs and societies of America into a 'European' passion for and belief in the art of photography.

  • GBRUnited Kingdom
  • 2007-05-29
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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.