November 28, 2012

Classic NYC Images at Swann Galleries Auction of Photographs & Photobooks

New York—On Tuesday, December 11 Swann Galleries will conduct an auction of Fine Photographs & Photobooks that ranges from early issues of Camera Work and views of New York City to glamour girl portraits and police mug-shot albums, to edgy examples by contemporary artists.

The sale opens with a selection of albums documenting The Holy Land, Egypt, China and Japan from the mid and late 19th century, as well as poignant views of Native Americans by Edward S. Curtis; Pierre P. Pullis’s scarce images of the construction of New York City’s subway system; Wilson A. Bentley’s studies of snow crystals; and a suite of 20 photographs of Edwin Hale Lincoln’s Wildflowers of New England, platinum prints, 1910-1914 (estimate: $8,000 to $12,000).
Featured photographic literature from that era includes individual issues of Alfred Stieglitz’s Camera Work and Alvin Langdon Coburn’s The Cloud, with the poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, signed and numbered by Coburn, Los Angeles, 1912 ($25,000 to $35,000).

Among vernacular examples are albums of U.S. Navy flight school students, blank billboards and trolleys, a group of 11 circus panoramas, 1933-38 ($8,000 to $12,000) and a San Francisco police department album containing approximately 720 mug shots on six pages, with notations on their crimes, 1923 ($10,000 to $15,000).

Decidedly more glamorous are George Hurrell’s Hollywood studio portraits of Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth and others ($7,000 to $10,000); André Kertész’s Satiric Dancer, oversized silver print of Hungarian dancer and cabaret performer Magda Förstner, 1926, printed 1970s ($15,000 to $25,000); Alfred Eisenstaedt’s Nathan Milstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Gregor Pitiagorsky relax after having played a Beethoven trio, Berlin, 1932, printed 1970s-80s ($2,500 to $3,500); and Allan Grant’s Marilyn Monroe, 1962, printed 1984 ($2,500 to $3,500).

Color images of celebrity subjects include Jim Marshall’s dye-transfer photo of Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival, 1967, printed 1990 ($4,000 to $6,000); Ansel Adams’s portraits of President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale, dye-transfers from large-format Polaroid Polacolor prints, 1979 ($3,000 to $4,000); and Lee Friedlander’s Aretha Franklin, oversize Iris print, 1958, printed 1997 ($4,000 to $6,000).

Photographs with a more documentary viewpoint are Margaret Bourke-White’s East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, 1936, printed 1950s ($5,000 to $7,500); Dmitri Baltermants’s Grief (Ditch of Kertsch), oversized ferrotyped silver print, 1942, printed 1960s-70s ($9,000 to $12,000); Eisenstaedt’s famous V-J Day Kiss, Times Square, New York City, 1945, printed 1980s ($5,000 to $7,500); and Helen Levitt’s New York (boys playing over doorway), circa 1942, printed 1980 ($6,000 to $9,000).

From the late 20th century come Jack Smith’s The Beautiful Book, with 19 original photographs of Warhol superstars and other avant-garde performers, from an intended edition of 200 copies that appears to have only realized 60, New York, 1960-62 ($14,000 to $18,000); Danny Lyon’s Prison Rodeo, circa 1968, printed 1980s ($3,000 to $4,000); Larry Clark’s Dead 1970 (from the Tulsa series, Billy Mann), 1968, printed 1980s ($3,000 to $4,500); Sally Mann’s Easter Dress, 1986 and Tobacco Spit, 1987 ($8,000 to $12,000 and $6,000 to $9,000 respectively); and John Coplans’s A Body of Work: Self-Portraits, limited edition of 10, signed and numbered, 1987 ($7,000 to $10,000).

More recent works include Sebastiao Salgado’s Antarctica, 2005 ($10,000 to $15,000); John Dugdale’s Moon Just Tinged with Blue, cyanotype, offered with two other photographs ($4,000 to $6,000); Bruce Bernard’s Leigh Bowery posing for Lucian Freud’s painting, chromogenic print, 1994 ($3,000 to $5,000); and a selection of 21st Editions platinum edition books, among them Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison’s The Book of Life, 2005, issued with a platinum print ($10,000 to $15,000).

The auction will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 11.

The photographs and books will be on public exhibition at Swann Galleries Thursday, December 6 and Friday, December 7, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, December 8, from noon to 5 p.m.; Monday, December 10, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Tuesday, December 11, from 10 a.m. to noon.

An illustrated catalogue with information on bidding by mail or fax, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Daile Kaplan at (212) 254-4710, extension 21, or via e-mail at 

Live online bidding is also available via

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