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'pierrot'

Platinum print, tipped to a large sheet of heavy buff paper, signed and titled by the photographer in pencil on the mount, matted, 1920 The photograph offered here, believed to be one of only two prints of the image extant, is included in a group of works that Mather authority Beth Gates Warren classifies among the photographer’s masterpieces.  Along with the photographer’s Moon Kwan studies and a double portrait of Edward Weston and Johan Hagemeyer, Warren cites the Pierrot pictures as the best examples of Mather’s prescient modernism.  As Warren observes, in her Margrethe Mather & Edward Weston: A Passionate Collaboration (Santa Barbara, 2001), to which this entry is indebted, Mather’s ‘ruthlessly reductive eye’ led her to a number of bold compositional choices that often preceded similar choices by her better-known lover Edward Weston.  Warren has identified the sitter in Pierrot as the Danish-born actor Otto Mathiesen, one of a group of theatre people in which Mather mingled, an extended circle that included the young Charles Chaplin, among many others.  Warren charts Mather’s involvement with the budding cinema communities around Burbank, Hollywood, and Edendale in the 1910s, and her portrait sittings with such stage luminaries as Lillian Gish, Nijinsky, and Leon Bakst.  The Pierrot figure is a time-honored subject in the visual arts, used by generations of painters as well as photographers in the decades, and even centuries, preceding Mather’s photograph.  With its elements of costume, clown make-up, and expressive lighting, the Pierrot follows in a long tradition of portraits of the sad clown, and like Weston’s Scene Shifter of Lot 17, has the theatre as its ostensible theme. In Mather’s Pierrot, however, as in paintings of Pierrot, from Watteau to Picasso, the work transcends its nominal subject. Within the Mather oeuvre, the Pierrot photographs comprise part of a group of pictures that work with shadows as a primary compositional device; the early work of Arthur Kales, Louis Fleckenstein, Johan Hagemeyer, Edward Weston (cf. the Scene Shifter of Lot 17), and others are a part of this tradition.  Although many of these photographs are now forgotten, reproduced only on the pages of the camera magazines of the time, they represent a crucial step in the transition from pictorialism to modernism for both Mather and Weston.   Warren posits Mather as one of the most innovative photographers working in this ‘high-key’ mode, as the light-and-shadow pictures were then described.  Other than the photographer’s own Moon Kwan pictures of circa 1918, Warren finds no compositional antecedents for Mather’s Pierrot series, which, like the Moon Kwan photographs, are fearless in their paring down of extraneous detail and their rigorous use of empty space. Beth Gates Warren has located only one other extant print of the image offered here, in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

  • USAUSA
  • 2006-02-15
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Campesinos Reading El Machete

On a double-mount, signed, dated, and annotated 'Mexico' on the secondary mount, numerical notations on the reverse, 1929 Campesinos Reading ‘El Machete’ represents a synthesis of Modotti’s formalist aesthetic with her passionately-held social and political concerns.  In this image, a group of Mexican workers are gathered in the harsh sun around the newspaper, El Machete.  They are graphically portrayed not as individuals, but as a collective of citizens in sombreros, their faces in shadow.  With its meticulous composition and masterful balance of the extreme values of sunlight and shadow, Modotti's image is both meaningful and aesthetically adventurous. The struggle for land that was emblematic of the revolution is spelled out in the newspaper’s headline:  ‘All the Land, not just Pieces of Land!’    El Machete was founded by the Syndicate of Revolutionary Mexican Painters, Sculptors and Engravers in 1924 to communicate to workers the revolutionary cultural, ideological, and political concerns of the day. Because most of the Mexican population at the time was illiterate, the conveyance of information relied primarily on graphic design and photography.  Its masthead slogan was ‘The machete is used to reap cane, to clear a path through underbrush, to kill snakes, end strife, and humble the pride of the impious rich.’  The paper became an official organ of the Communist Party in Mexico in 1925.  Modotti’s friends David Alfaro Siqueiros and Xavier Guerrero were on the editorial board, and dozens of Modotti’s photographs were published on the paper’s pages.  As a result, her work attracted the attention of art publications Creative Art, Mexican Folkways, and Forma. This image was among the 57 photographs included in Modotti’s only lifetime solo exhibition, at the Biblioteca Nacional, Mexico City, in December 1929. Siqueiros, who delivered a presentation on the final day of the show called it ‘the first revolutionary photographic exhibition in Mexico.’  Modotti authority Sarah Lowe characterizes the image as ‘provocative, if not seditious.’ Aware of Modotti’s photographs and her political leanings, the Mexican government pressured her to renounce her beliefs.  She refused, and two months later was expelled from Mexico (Tina Modotti & Edward Weston: The Mexico Years, p. 37). Prints of this image are scarce. At the time of this writing, no other print of this image is believed to have been offered at auction.

  • USAUSA
  • 2015-10-07
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Fotogramm (photogram with diagrammatic square and circles)

Photogram, a unique object, signed 'Moholy = Nagy,' titled, dated, inscribed 'ich bitte das foto eiligst zurück dessau, burgkühnauer 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, 1925 The instructions on the reverse of the photogram offered here read ‘ich bitte das foto eiligst zurück dessau, burgkühnauer allee 2’—‘please return this photo quickly to Dessau, Burgkühnauer allee 2’ (see overleaf).   Burgkühnauer allee 2 was the address of one of the Master’s Houses at the Dessau Bauhaus, where Moholy lived from the end of 1926 to the summer of 1928 (cf. the chronology of Moholy addresses, Heyne and Neusüss, p. 304).   The directional arrow and word ‘oben,’also on the reverse, may signal that this work was slated for reproduction at one time, although as of this writing, a corresponding reproduction has not been located. The circular, wheel-like object appears in three other Moholy photograms, one in the Centre Georges Pompidou (fgm 234); in a photogram (fgm 134) and its positive (fgm 134A) in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.; and in the photogram (fgm 236) whose corresponding positive version is offered in this catalogue as Lot 21.  The circle, triangle, and square could comprise a set of geometric toys or teaching aids, but the longer ribbed object is harder to characterize.  Its repetitive circular shapes, and the angle at which it is placed, create a sense of depth that is crucial to the composition.  Moholy’s careful structuring of the objects is balanced by the infinite space of the photogram’s dramatic black background. Like the early photogram in Lot 17, the photogram offered here has an outstanding provenance: from one of Moholy’s associates at the Institute of Design in Chicago to the photographer William Larson, then to Eugene and Dorothy Prakapas.   Along with Lot 17, it was featured in the important Rice and Steadman exhibition and catalogue, Photographs of Moholy-Nagy from the Collection of William Larson, and in the Prakapas sale of Moholy photograms in these rooms in 2005.  For more information, please see Lot 17.

  • USAUSA
  • 2014-03-31
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MAN RAY (Né Emmanuel Rudzitsky) (1890-1976) LA PRIÈRE – 1930

MAN RAY (Né Emmanuel Rudzitsky) (1890-1976) LA PRIÈRE – 1930 Tirage argentique sur toile sensibilisée, réalisé vers 1970 Signé « Man Ray » au crayon en bas à droite et dédicace au crayon en bas à gauche de l'image : « à G. San Lazzaro ». Dédicace au dos sur le châssis au crayon : « à G. San Lazzaro ». Étiquette Galerie Mony Calatchi, Paris. Un certificat de Madame Juliet Man Ray sera remis à l'acquéreur. h: 33 w: 24 cm Provenance : Galerie Mony Calatchi, Paris. Collection privée française. Bibliographie : Schwarz, Man Ray, The Rigour of Imagination (Rizzoli, New York, 1977), p. 90 Explosante-fixe. Photographie & Surréalisme (Centre Pompidou/Hazan, Paris, 1985), fig. 135 Scheide / Koetzle, 1000 Nudes (Taschen 1994), p.669 Man Ray, Rétrospective 1912-1976 (M.A.M.A.C, Nice, 1997), p.159 Ware, Man Ray, Photographs from The J. Paul Getty Museum (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 1998), p.60-61, pl.27 Bate, Photography and Surrealism, (I.B. Tauris, 2004), p.32 La subversion des images. Surréalisme, photographie, film (Centre Pompidou, 2009), p.238 Commentaire : GELATIN SILVER PRINT ON FABRIC, CIRCA 1970; SIGNED IN PENCIL IN LOWER RIGHT CORNER; DEDICACE IN PENCIL TO 'G. SAN LAZZARO' IN LOWER LEFT. DEDICATION AND GALERIE MONY CALATCHI LABEL ON VERSO; 12,87 x 9,36 in. Un certificat de Madame Juliet Man Ray sera remis à l'acquéreur. Estimation 20 000 - 30 000 € Sold for 194,000 €

  • FRAFrance
  • 2014-11-14
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'the first round'

Oil print, the photographer's monogram on the image, signed, titled, and annotated ‘Bruxelles,’ ‘Oil print,’ ‘London Salon,’ and ‘Member of London and Los Angeles Salons’ by the photographer in ink and with the Museum’s collection stamp, label, and accession number in an unidentified hand in red crayon on the reverse, circa 1932 It is believed that the photograph offered here is one of only two known prints of The First Round.   The other, also an oil print, was sold at Christie’s New York on 8 April 1998 (Sale 8884, Lot 250). Pierre Dubreuil was one of the most inventive photographers of his day: a technical master of the medium, and brilliant aesthetic innovator.  Like most of his photographic colleagues, Dubreuil had experimented with the full range of processes then available, including platinum, carbon, and gum bichromate.  In 1904, he discovered the Rawlins oil process, which allowed him a great deal of control over the final appearance of his photographs; the resulting prints had the added benefit of being permanent.  Dubreuil quickly mastered the intricacies of this difficult process, and used it throughout his career. Dubreuil’s complete mastery of his chosen medium allowed his imagination free reign.  In a career typified by novel imagery, The First Round is one of Dubreuil’s most surprising images.  The unlikely juxtaposition of a pair of boxing gloves with the delicate, youthful, and almost feminine face of the would-be pugilist is an arresting one.  The cleverly-balanced composition is anchored by the subject’s piercing gaze. The only other known print of The First Round was exhibited in the retrospective of Dubreuil’s work at the Royal Photographic Society, London, in 1935, as well as in the two major modern Dubreuil exhibitions: Pierre Dubreuil, Photographs 1896 – 1935 at the Musee d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, in 1987; and Pierre Dubreuil Rediscovered, at The Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, in 1988, and traveling to Alliance Française, New York, and The Detroit Institute of Arts, in 1989-90. While Dubreuil’s work was exhibited widely during his lifetime, there are exceedingly few surviving examples of his work.  On the eve of the second World War, experiencing financial difficulties and concerned for the safety of his life’s work, Dubreuil sold his negatives and many of his prints to the Gevaert photographic company in Belgium. The Gevaert factory was subsequently bombed during the war, and Dubreuil’s work was completely destroyed.

  • USAUSA
  • 2005-10-11
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'père ubu'

Mounted to modern board, the photographer's clipped signature and date affixed to the mount, matted, 1936 Dora Maar (born Henriette Theodora Markovitch) first began photographing in the late 1920s, at the age of 19.  She studied both photography and painting at Union Central des Arts Décoratifs, the Ecole de Photographie, and the Académie Julian in Paris, before setting up a photographic studio with Pierre Kéfer in the early 1930s.  At this time, she met the photographer Emmanuel Sougez (see Lots 80 and 81), who served as her mentor; she also became a close friend of Brassaï, with whom she shared a darkroom for a short time.  As Maar evolved as a photographer, she became increasingly involved in the artistic life of Paris which was, at the time, dominated by the Surrealists.  She became a vital participant in the inner circle of Surrealists that included André Breton, Paul Eluard, Man Ray (for whom she served as a model), Georges Bataille, and Georges Hugnet, the original owner of this photograph (cf. Caws, p. 66, for Maar’s portrait of Hugnet).  Maar is perhaps best known as Pablo Picasso’s lover, and as the model for many of his most significant works from the 1930s and early 1940s.  She was the only photographer allowed into Picasso's studio while he was painting the politically-charged Guernica, and her extensive photographs constitute the sole visual record of the development of this masterpiece. During the 1930s, Maar created a number of important Surrealist photographs, including the remarkable Père Ubu.  Unsettling and visceral, the photograph seems to emerge from some dark realm of the unconscious.  As such, it meshed perfectly with Surrealism’s concerns, adhering to André Breton’s declaration that ‘beauty must be convulsive or not be at all.’   Père Ubu became a Surrealist icon, and hung in the exhibition of Surrealist objects at Charles Ratton’s gallery in Paris, and in the International Surrealist Exhibition in London, both in 1936. In titling her photograph, Maar refers to the main character of Alfred Jarry’s proto-Absurdist play, Ubu Roi.  The play recounts the exploits of the monstrous and puerile Ubu in his quest for power.  First published in 1896, the play had its première in Paris later that year.  From the opening line – a slurred obscenity -- and throughout its raucous action, the play angered and confounded most of the audience, and caused a sensation such that a second attempt to stage it was not made until 1907.  For its unprecedented strangeness and complete rejection of conventional ideas of the theatre, Ubu Roi was embraced by the Surrealists.  For Picasso, Maar, and their circle, Jarry’s capricious and violent Ubu had added resonance in 1936 as a parallel of Franco’s brutal fascist rule in Spain.  Indeed, Jarry’s own illustrations for the original publication of Ubu Roi influenced Picasso’s harshly critical etching Dream and Lie of Franco (1937), as well as Maar’s Père Ubu.  While Maar refused to identify the subject of this photograph, it is almost certainly a fetal armadillo preserved in a specimen jar. A large-format variant print of this image is at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; a smaller-format variant is in a private American collection.  Only one print of this image, also a smaller-format variant, has appeared at auction in recent years, at PIASA, Paris (20 November 1998, Lot 125), in a sale of photographs from the photographer’s estate.

  • USAUSA
  • 2006-02-15
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Bananas

Mounted, signed, dated, and numbered '10/50' by the photographer in pencil on the mount, dated and numbered '1F' by him in pencil on the reverse, matted, 1930, no. 10 in a projected edition of 50 The photograph offered here is from a series of ten negatives Weston made of bananas in June of 1930.  Weston’s first banana pictures had been made in the spring of 1927, the year Weston began his transforming photographs of shells and vegetables.   ‘I was awake at 4,’ Weston wrote in his journal in April 1927, ‘with my mind full of banana forms! I have two new loves--bananas and shells.’  In his mind, Weston originally envisioned a vertical composition, one with ‘the columns of bananas filling the entire plate, curved at the top to a common focus’ (Daybooks, California, 4 – 10 April 1927, pp. 13-14).  The bananas he had planned to use, however, were eaten by his sons, and three years would pass before he undertook a vertical composition again. In June of 1930, Weston appears to have discovered the perfect bunch of bananas that would carry out his early plans. On June 19th, he wrote of that day’s trip to the grocery store, where he found fruits and vegetables that would keep him ‘going for days to come: bananas,--not new to my work; I had done two negatives in 1927, and then was sidetracked.  But how much better I can do them now!  And what exciting curves, forms, this bunch had.  I know from my thrill upon seeing them that something important is coming.’ On June 26th, regarding what is almost certainly the image offered here, he recorded: ‘The new banana negative is great!  A bunch of 5 standing on end, still joined at the top,---and how beautiful the fruit is at the point of radiation from the main stalk,--the concave side to the camera.  The three centre bananas are perfectly straight, the two outer ones swell out from the top, then almost straighten to cut diagonally across all but the centre fruit.  It is a classic composition and I am proud to have made it.’ And then, describing precisely what enabled these bananas to stand so beautifully on end, he adds, ‘I should have said that the front row of the bunch of five, for in the back several more are hidden . . .’ (Daybooks, California, pp. 169 -171). The present bananas image was included in Weston’s important 1930 one-man exhibition at the Delphic Studios gallery in New York.  In his negative log, now preserved at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Weston notes that of the projected edition of 50, he made only 10 prints from the negative (1F).  The print offered here, number 10 in the edition, belonged originally to Sonya Noskowiak (1900–1975), a young German-born woman who met Weston in 1929, became his darkroom assistant, and then, as with so many of Weston’s female friends and acquaintances, his lover.  A talented photographer herself, Noskowiak was one of the founding members of the Group f.64.   Her romance with Weston ended in 1935, when he became involved with Charis Wilson, later his second wife.  The bananas image was not the only Weston photograph Noskowiak acquired during their six-year relationship:  the Noskowiak Collection in the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson includes 58 original Weston prints. Another print of the bananas study offered here is in the Vernon Collection (number 9/50), Los Angeles, California.  In 2004, number 7/50 appeared at auction in New York (Christie’s, 27 April 2004, Sale 1367, Lot 303).

  • USAUSA
  • 2006-02-15
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'epilogue'

Warm-toned platinum print, on a large tan mount, signed, dated, and titled by the photographer in pencil on the mount, matted, framed, 1919 It is believed that this print of Epilogue is the only vintage print of the image in private hands.  Amy Conger locates three other vintage platinum or palladium prints, all in institutional collections:  the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson (formerly in the collection of the photographer Johan Hagemeyer); The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. The subject of Epilogue is Margrethe Mather, Weston’s fellow photographer, business partner, and lover.  Weston described Mather as ‘the first important person in my life,’ one who widened the scope of his experience and pushed him past the aesthetic confines of salon Pictorialism.  Epilogue relates to another photograph by Weston of Mather, entitled Prologue to a Sad Spring (Conger 52).  While both images use elements from the vocabulary of Pictorialism – soft focus and consciously deployed props, for instance – they look forward to the modernism that Weston would investigate thoroughly in the following decades.  Weston/Mather expert Beth Gates Warren writes, ‘Although probably taken first, Epilogue was the more modern of the two images, combining aspects of [Weston’s] experimental shadow pictures from the mid-teens with the geometric planes and massings that began to dominate his images in the early twenties’  (Margrethe Mather & Edward Weston: A Passionate Collaboration, p. 23). This print of Epilogue comes originally from the collection of photographer Arthur F. Kales (1882 – 1936), a member of the Camera Pictorialists of Los Angeles, of which Weston and Mather were founding members.  Kales studied law, and went on to a career as an advertising manager with pioneering radio broadcaster Earle C. Anthony in Los Angeles and San Francisco. From 1922 to 1936, Kales wrote regularly about Pictorial photography for Photograms of the Year.  In his own photographic work, Kales frequently used movie sets as backdrops, and costumed dancers and actresses as models. One Kales photograph (Pictorialism in California, p. 72) was taken on the ‘Babylonian’ set of D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance.  Kales was a master of the difficult bromoil transfer process, and this allowed him to heighten the sense of drama and atmosphere in his photographs.  In 1928, fifty of Kales’s photographs were exhibited in a retrospective of his work at the Smithsonian Institution. While outside Weston and Mather’s circle, and working in an entirely different photographic mode, Kales was an appreciator of Weston’s work.   It is easy to guess that he would have admired, in this print of Epilogue, Weston’s bravura technical control of photographic craft, and his evocative use of a stage-like setting.  Whereas Kales tended to seize upon any elements of drama in his own images, however, Weston skillfully underplays the drama in Epilogue.

  • USAUSA
  • 2005-10-10
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Withdrawal

'Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, California' (Winter Sunrise)

Mural-sized, mounted to Crescent illustration board, signed in ink on the mount, the photographer's Carmel studio stamps (BMFA 7 and 8), titled in ink, on the reverse, framed, 1944, probably printed between 1963 and 1970 This powerful mural-sized print of one of Adams's best-known images comes originally from the collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wallace Stegner (1909-1993).  Long referred to as the dean of Western Writers, Stegner often explored his passion for the American landscape in his novels and short stories.  He and Adams shared a steadfast commitment to environmental conservation and both were intimately involved with the Sierra Club.  Over the course of their decades-long friendship, Adams gave Wallace and his wife, Mary, several photographs.    Describing how Adamss passion for nature preservation influenced his photographs, Stegner wrote, The man who made unforgettable images out of grandeur and mystery of nature did so because he could not help doing so, because he loved what he saw.  The man who spent his energy defending nature against the careless and greedy also worked from love.  His environmentalism was not a side issue, something done with the left hand in spare time.  It sprang from the same source as his art, and involved him wholly (Letters and Images, p. ix). The present photograph has an impressive open tonality throughout, not typically associated with prints made in this era.  The 'L P' (for Lone Pine) is clearly visible in the dark hills at the left of the print.  These initials, which were actually cut into the mountainside, were often heavily retouched by Adams and, in 1976, removed from the negative altogether. Of this splendid snapshot, Stegner said, I have that print on my wall in an enlargement of about two by three feet, a size that better suggests the grand scale.  I have looked at it, studied it, innumerable time, and every time I do so it lifts me.  It is like hearing the choral movement of Beethovens Ninth.  Once again, darkness has been overtaken by light, as if an earth promise were being kept (Arizona Highways, January 1984).

  • USAUSA
  • 2017-04-05
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Withdrawal

St. Sebastian

Platinum print, a Library of Congress Fine Arts Division stamp and numerical notations in ink on the reverse, tipped to a paper mount, Library of Congress Fine Arts Division and Surplus Duplicates stamps and numerical notations in ink on the reverse, framed, circa 1906 In his career as a Pictorialist photographer, the aesthete Fred Holland Day produced some of the most memorable allegorical photographs of the turn of the last century, of which St. Sebastian is an indisputable masterpiece.  This arresting early platinum print, with a fine range of tones from cool creamy highlights to lush charcoal blacks, is a particularly nuanced rendering of the image, filled with evocative detail.  The genesis and execution of this photograph is well documented.  Its handsome subject was Nicola Giancola, an uneducated shoeshine boy that Day took under his wing and nurtured.  Nicola was a frequent and pliable sitter.  He served as the subject for several of Days most successful photographs from this period, including Pilat, Il Moro, and various portraits of St. Sebastian. Day scholarship has fully explored the complex issues involved in our modern interpretations of his photographs.  Scenes of the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, depicting the young mans body pierced by arrows and tied to a tree, had long been a popular subject in art and literature.  While Days depiction of the Saint is of a barely clothed and tragically beautiful young man, seemingly in rapture rather than agony, a homoerotic interpretation of this image is too simplistic.  In many of Days own articles on photography, he champions the photographers right to attempt any subject, even the sacred. There has never been, during the history of the world, any worthy period when these subjects were denied to the painter or the sculptor. . . There will always be narrow minds to question the rights of portraying sacred subjects in any medium: to them the less said the better; but to those who criticize only the photographers right to these subjects, I can but advise patience (Sacred Art and the Camera, from The Photogram, February 1899, quoted in Curtis & Van Nimmen, F. Holland Day: Selected texts and bibliography, pp. 62-3). Photographs by Day rarely appear at auction.  At the time of this writing, no other print of this image is believed to have been offered.  This photograph was deaccessioned by the Library of Congress which, along with the Royal Photographic Society, Bath, holds the largest collection of F. Holland Day photographs.  Four platinum prints of St. Sebastian, including a tondo, remain in The Louise Imogen Guiney Collection at the Library of Congress.

  • USAUSA
  • 2017-04-05
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Georgia O'Keeffe

Flush-mounted, mounted again to a larger card, annotated 'OK507A' by Georgia O'Keeffe in pencil on the reverse, 1918; accompanied by a white metal American Place frame (2) Of the many photographs that Alfred Stieglitz made of Georgia O’Keeffe from the 1910s to the 1930s, the image offered here is one of the few that shows the artist at work.  Taken at the Stieglitz family home in Lake George, New York, this study shows O’Keeffe seated outside and painting in watercolor, a medium that she had been working with intensively since 1916.  While many of Stieglitz’s remarkable early studies of O’Keeffe stem directly from their passion for one another and focus on O’Keeffe’s body, the present image catches her in the act of creation.  O’Keeffe’s observant eyes and skilled hands are the key focal points of this image, while the tools of her art lay close by. Stieglitz had first encountered O’Keeffe through her artwork in 1916, when Anita Pollitzer, a former classmate of O’Keeffe’s and a frequent visitor to Stieglitz’s 291 gallery, showed him a series of her drawings that deeply impressed him. Throughout the early days of their affair and marriage, Stieglitz was O’Keeffe’s greatest champion in the New York art world.  This image captures O’Keeffe in action, creating the work that captivated Stieglitz and would ultimately make her one of the most significant artists of the 20th century. This photograph has a distinguished provenance.  It was originally in the collection of O’Keeffe; numbering in her hand appears on the reverse of the mount.  It was given by O’Keeffe to her sister, Anita O’Keeffe Young, the well-known socialite and wife of railroad magnate Robert R. Young.  Anita was an enthusiastic collector of her sister’s art, which she hung in her homes in Newport, Palm Beach, and New York.  By means of purchase and gift, Anita Young acquired many of O’Keeffe’s most celebrated paintings and drawings, including Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 (now in the collection of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art).  The two sisters maintained a close relationship throughout their lives, with Young giving financial support when needed.  O’Keeffe, for her part, kept her sister supplied with loans of paintings and outright gifts, in addition to selling works to her directly, rather than through her dealer. The years 1916 through 1918 were especially productive ones for O’Keeffe and saw her focus intensively on the watercolor medium.  While she had previously concentrated on drawing in charcoal, 1916 marked a deepening exploration of the use of color in her work.  As O’Keeffe authority Judith C. Walsh notes, the immediacy of the watercolor medium, and ‘the emotional power and beauty of clear vibrant color,’ inspired O’Keeffe to experiment and evolve (O’Keeffe on Paper, National Gallery of Art, 2000, p. 58).  O’Keeffe pushed herself relentlessly to achieve perfection, and commented wryly to her sister Anita, ‘I’ve just come to the comforting conclusion that I’ll have to paint acres and acres of watercolor landscapes before I will look for a passibly [sic] fair one’ (ibid., p. 66). O’Keeffe’s watercolor explorations from this period provided a decisive step forward in the development of her work.  Stieglitz, in his role as a pioneering gallerist, was especially receptive to the medium.  In 1908, he had famously shown watercolors by Rodin at 291, an exhibition which was seen by O’Keeffe.  In addition to work in the medium by Cézanne and Picasso, watercolors by Stieglitz’s immediate stable of American artists, including Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Arthur Dove, and others, were frequently shown in his galleries.  Ralph E. Fine and Elizabeth Glassman suggest in their essay in O’Keeffe on Paper that ‘Stieglitz’s orientation to other artistic media was rooted in his sensitivity to the distinctive possibilities of drawings and other works on paper’ (p. 18).  As a photographer attuned to the artistic process, Stieglitz favored these works over oils and sculpture because they embodied the immediacy of the act of creation.  Stieglitz would go on to feature O’Keeffe’s watercolors in his exhibitions, and included 10 in her first one-woman show in 1917. Sarah Greenough, in Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set, locates prints of this image in the following five institutional collections: the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.; George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, New York; and The Baltimore Museum of Art.  Another print of this image was sold at auction in 2012.

  • USAUSA
  • 2015-10-07
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Marsden hartley

Flush-mounted, a Metropolitan Museum of Art collection stamp on the reverse, matted, in a modern white metal frame, 1916 Alfred Stieglitz’s portrait of Hartley is one of a series of portraits made of artists, photographers, writers, and others who gravitated around Stieglitz’s 291 gallery.  Having established himself as one of the foremost fine-art photographers in the early phase of his career, Stieglitz devoted much of his energies between the years of 1905 and 1917 to promoting modern art through a series of landmark exhibitions at the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession at 291 Fifth Avenue, later simply known as 291.  Stieglitz’s own work during this time is dominated by some of his most famous photographs of New York City, his sublime studies made from the back window of 291, and portraits of the members of his circle.  These included John Marin (see Lot 15), Arthur Dove, Charles Demuth, Abraham Walkowitz, Marius de Zayas, and Marsden Hartley (1877 - 1943), among others. Raised in rural Maine, and later in Cleveland, Ohio, Hartley’s artistic education began at the Cleveland School of Art.   In 1899, he studied at the Chase School in New York City, where he received weekly critiques from William Merritt Chase; he continued his studies the following year at the National Academy of Design.  Hartley was introduced to Stieglitz by the Irish poet Shaemas O’Sheel in 1909; Stieglitz was intrigued by the intense Hartley, and gave the artist his first formal exhibition at 291 in May of that year.  At 291, Hartley gained exposure not only to the latest European work by Cézanne and Picasso, among others that Stieglitz exhibited, but also thrived on the lively intellectual discourse that flourished at the gallery. Through Stieglitz’s financial help, Hartley was able to spend a significant span of years in Europe, first in Paris and then in Berlin; this was the most active and innovative phase in Hartley’s artistic development, and he quickly became an active participant in Europe’s various intersecting artistic circles.  He became friendly with Gertrude Stein, who purchased some of his paintings and became a loyal supporter.  He met Wassily Kandinsky, whose book, On the Spiritual in Art, resonated with the strong current of mysticism he felt in himself and which became visible in his work.  As William Innes Homer writes, ‘Hartley did not imitate Kandinsky’s style, nor did he subscribe to his intellectual theorizing, relying instead on the subjective inner core of his own personality, a mystical essence that he acknowledged as being distinctly American.  He proudly announced to Stieglitz that he had created his own style, which, for lack of a better name, the artist christened subliminal or cosmic Cubism’ (Alfred Stieglitz and the American Avant-Garde, Boston, 1977, p. 161). Stieglitz’s financial support of Hartley continued into the 1930s, and he showed Hartley’s work in no fewer than nine solo exhibitions at 291, The Intimate Gallery, and An American Place between 1909 and 1937.  The print offered here was given by Hartley himself to The Metropolitan Museum in 1938. In Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Photographs, Sarah Greenough locates 11 other prints of this image, all in institutional collections.  Doris Bry has pointed out that Stieglitz thought highly enough of this image to give a print of it to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1924.

  • USAUSA
  • 2006-02-15
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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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