Auctions | February 12, 2014

Photographs and Photobooks from the Library of Bill Diodato Coming Up at Swann Galleries


NEW YORK—On February 27, Swann Galleries will offer a two-part sale of Fine Photographs with a separate catalogue devoted to The Library of Bill Diodato, which comprises more than 250 lots of photobooks and fine art photographs by some of the most important artists of the last century, including Richard Avedon, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Claude Cahun, Sally Mann, Irving Penn, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol and others.

Diodato, an internationally renowned photographer, started collecting photobooks in 1990 as a way to educate himself about the aesthetics of photography. He quickly became enchanted with the idea of how beautifully the book presented an artist’s body of work. Soon, Diodato found himself building a comprehensive, 20th-century photo literature collection, which he complemented with remarkable fine art photographs by master photographers and artists in his library, several of which are also featured in the auction.


The books represent the finest examples of first editions, rare copies that have long been out-of-print and many that were signed or inscribed to Diodato, including Moments Preserved, 1960, by Irving Penn—the artist whom Diodato credits as his greatest influence (estimate: $1,500 to $2,000). Also among the most extraordinary signed editions are books by Sally Mann, which have been signed by Mann and by her children Emmett, Jessie and Virginia Mann, the well-known subjects of her photographs.

Other desirable signed copies are a group of 12 first edition conceptual photobooks by Ed Ruscha, of which three are signed by the artist ($18,000 to $22,000); William Klein’s Life is Good & Good for You in New York, 1956 ($3,000 to $4,500); Eikoh Hosoe’s Kamaitachi, 1969, signed by Hosoe in white ink ($3,500 to $4,500); Larry Clark’s Tulsa, 1971 ($600 to $900) and Teenage Lust, 1983 ($500 to $750); and several Richard Avedon works, including Nothing Personal, 1964, signed twice by Avedon and also signed by author James Baldwin.

Additional photobook highlights are Bernd and Hilla Becher, Anonyme Skulpturen, Eine Typologie technischer Bauten [A Typology of Technical Constructions], Düsseldorf, 1970 ($1,200 to $1,800); Brassaï, Paris de Nuit, Paris, 1933 ($3,000 to $4,500); Alexey Brodovitch, Ballet, New York, 1945 ($7,000 to $10,000); Claude Cahun, Aveux non Avenus, Paris, 1930 ($6,000 to $9,000); Robert Capa, Death in the Making, New York, 1938 ($1,200 to $1,800); Lewis W. Hine, Men at Work: Photographic Studies of Modern Men and Machines, New York, 1932 ($3,000 to $4,500); and Andy Warhol's Index (Book), in the original sealed wrapper, New York, 1967 ($2,500 to $3,500).

Along with the photobooks in Diodato’s collection are some exceptional photographic images, such as the Bechers’ monumental Industrial Facades, 1978, a suite of 12 silver print photographs ($100,000 to $150,000); two examples of Sally Mann’s photographs of her daughters, Vinland, 1992 ($14,000 to $18,000) and Jesse Bites, 1985 ($12,000-18,000); Irving Penn’s Fish, New York, platinum palladium print, 1939, printed 1983, of a fish made out of smaller fish ($20,000 to $30,000); three of Aaron Siskind’s riveting abstractions, among them Chicago 22, 1960 ($10,000 to $15,000) and photographs by O. Winston Link, Charles Hoff, Arno Minkkinen and others.

A fine selection of photographic images from other consignors features early travel albums by Felice Beato, Francis Frith and Wilhelm Hammerschmidt; 13 plates from William Henry Fox Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature, 1844-46 ($20,000 to $30,000); and albums with industrial views, Native Americans and the construction of the 1893 Columbia Exposition in Chicago.

From the early 20th century are André Kertész’s Paris rooftops, 1927, printed 1930s-50s ($7,000 to $10,000); Man Ray’s photo postcard Lampshade, with the Société Anonyme return address on the back, 1920 ($9,000 to $12,000); a suite of six remarkable circus photographs including detailed views of Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Combined and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, 1932-37 ($10,000 to $15,000); and striking images by Margaret Bourke White, Barbara Morgan and Helen Levitt.

There are iconic images by Ansel Adams, W. Eugene Smith’s Walk to Paradise Garden, 1946, printed 1950s ($30,000 to $40,000); and contemporary art by Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons, Mike and Doug Starn and Joel-Peter Witkin.

The auction will begin at 1:00 pm. on Thursday, February 27 with 90 lots of Fine Photographs, and continues at 3:00 p.m. with the Library of Bill Diodato.

The photographs and photobooks will be on public exhibition at Swann Galleries on Saturday, February 22, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, February 24 through Wednesday, February 26, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday, February 27, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

A two-volume illustrated catalogue is available for $40 in the U.S. and $50 internationally from Swann Galleries, 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, and may be viewed online at

For further information on photographs and photobooks in this sale, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Daile Kaplan at (212) 254-4710, extension 21, or via email at

Live online bidding is also available via

First image: Bernd and Hilla Becher, Industrial Facades, 1978, a suite of 12 silver print photographs (estimate:  $100,000 to $150,000).

Second image: Irving Penn, Moments Preserved, 1960 (estimate: $1,500 to $2,000).