Auctions | March 22, 2023

Ansel Adams, Paul Greenberg, and Beatles in America Photographs to Auction

Heritage Auctions

Ansel Adams, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941

Heritage will offer a selection of the late Dr. Paul Greenberg's extraordinary photograph collection in its Photographs Auction on April 4 plus wilderness and nature photography by Ansel Adams, naked Marilyns by Bert Stern, a collection of photographs by one of the top British photographers, Bill Brandt, and three ultra-rare early Beatles photographs by Mike Mitchell.

Greenberg's work is in the permanent collections of some of the most renowned institutions that collect photography and he gatheried about him the work of the most iconic photographers of the last century, including Lee Friedlander, Berenice Abbott, Robert Frank, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

"This auction offers the rare opportunity to collect photographs that have only ever been offered for sale once or twice before," says Nigel Russell, Heritage's Director of Photographs. "Dr. Paul A. Greenberg was a long-time Dallas resident and an accomplished photographer in his own right, who had a keen eye in acquiring some of the best examples of 20th century photography."

The Beatles on their first US concert tour
Heritage Auctions/Mike Mitchell

The Beatles on their first US concert tour

Lee Friedlander's 15 Photographs
Lee Friedlander/Heritage Auctions

Lee Friedlander's 15 Photographs

Harvey Edwards' Leg Warmers from 1978
Harvey Edwards/Heritage Auctions

Harvey Edwards' Leg Warmers from 1978

Christine Keeler portrait by Lewis Morely
Lewis Morely/Heritage Auctions

Christine Keeler portrait by Lewis Morely

The most notable offering from his collection includes the iconic Lee Friedlander 15 Photographs full portfolio, shot between 1962 and 1972, a tightly-conceived series of social landscape photographs shot primarily in cities and small towns that encompassed the chaos and community of America's evolution as a modern society. The portfolio lot comes with a colophon and an introduction by Walker Evans in a silver cloth-covered clamshell case with an embossed title.

Other selections from the Greenberg collection include works by Czech photographer Josef Koudelka; 1930s and ‘40s offerings by Henri-Cartier Bresson; portraits by Irving Penn; and a 75th anniversary portfolio by Aaron Siskind.

Elsewhere in this auction, the 14 Ansel Adams works  are a selection of his famed portraits of Yosemite and Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico (1941), one of his most famous photographs.

The three 1964 Beatles photographs offered are by a young Mike Mitchell who had a keen interest in photography as a teenager and by 18 was freelancing for two Washington, DC, publications. One of these publications managed to get him a press pass that allowed not only access to the press conference but unrestricted front-stage access to the Beatles first foray into the United States, including the band's famed concert at the Washington Coliseum. The image of John, Paul, George and Ringo, shot from behind in silhouette gives us an up-close and very personal view of four very young men facing an overwhelming audience and the engine of fame and adulation that was coming at them faster than they could process it.

Seven photographs by English photographer Bill Brandt take a special spot in this event. He studied under Man Ray in Paris and upon his return to London exemplified photographic modernism; these gritty-yet-elegant slices of English life before and after WWII include drinkers in a Limehouse pub from 1942 and a stunning deep-perspective portrait of rainswept terraced-house rooftops from 1933. Staying in England, there is also the portrait by Lewis Morley of model Christina Keeler, the woman at the heart of the Profumo Affair.

Finally, the poster versions of Harvey Edwards' Leg Warmers, from 1978, adorned countless New York City co-ops and teenage dancers' bedrooms. The close-up of a dancer's legs in fifth position plié is not of a ballerina but of a male dancer Bruce Wurl - the poster image sold 3.2 million copies in 86 countries, appeared in more than 256 movies, commercials, and print media, including Fame, Saturday Night Live, Friends, and Sex and the City. This oversized dye bleach print, printed in 1981 and offered by Heritage is the last Cibachrome print available from Edwards' official run of 50. A fire destroyed the original transparency; the only other original photograph of Leg Warmers to ever come to auction was a dye coupler print offered two years ago.