Swann to Offer Deluxe & Complete Edward S. Curtis Set on October 18
New York— On Thursday, October 18, Swann Galleries will offer the auction Artists & Amateurs: Photographs & Photobooks. A million-dollar lot leads the wide-ranging and high-value sale, which features historical and contemporary fine art photographers alongside standout vernacular material.
The sale is led by Edward S. Curtis’s The North American Indian. Complete with 20 text volumes, in original deluxe Levant binding, and corresponding portfolios, this set, #11, was among those reserved for J.P. Morgan, who later gifted it to the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. It is one of the earliest editions of Curtis’s magnum opus to be offered at public auction.
Curtis traveled extensively throughout the continental U.S. and Alaska and lived among Native peoples, which allowed him special access to document rituals and objects that inhabited this expansive region. In 1906 he secured a meeting with Morgan, who provided financial support for the monumental project. The North American Indian, 1907-30, is an unprecedented visual record, with thousands of beautiful images depicting the majesty of Native American culture. The set is expected to bring $1,000,000 to $1,500,000.
Earlier photographs documenting cultures include an album containing 200 hand-colored cartes-de-viste from Japan and China, including occupationals, military men, tattooed subjects, civic figures, criminals, aristocrats and tradeswomen, 1863-69. Artists in the album include Felice Beato, John Thomson and Frederick Sutton (estimate: $30,000-45,000).
Superlative vintage prints include Constantin Brâncusi’s Vu d’atelier, a circa 1928 silver print, featuring four of the artist’s iconic sculptures, is expected to bring $30,000 to $45,000.
From fine art and ethnography to exquisite amateur photographs: vernacular works include the album Bohemia Mid-Summer Junks, with 22 photographs of an exclusive male campground for the rich and famous, secreted in the California redwoods, and a binder containing 30 photographs of mafioso’s wives, mothers and gal pals including the infamous Bonnie (with Clyde), “Machine Gun” Kelly and a companion, and the glamorous Mrs. Al Capone ($2,000-3,000 and $1,000-1,500, respectively).
More contemporary fine art features a suite of 25 photographs by Malick Sidibé, in the artist’s custom frames and depicting the people of Bamako, Mali. Collectively the images convey the celebratory nature of “community” ($20,000-30,000).
A 1991 portfolio, with 12 Roy DeCarava’s hand-printed dust-grain photogravures, which include the artist’s iconic images of Harlem, is being offered at $50,000 to $75,000. While abstract works by Aaron Siskind are led by a suite of 50 original silver prints ($40,000-60,000). Further recent works by Zoe Leonard, Sally Mann, Marilyn Minter and Sandy Skoglund are also present in the sale.
Beyond the Curtis set, highlights among phtoobooks include contemporary Japanese artists. Highlights include Yasuhiro Ishimoto’s Aruhi Arutokor [Someday, Somewhere], Tokyo, 1958, comprised of black-and-white and color reproductions of Ishimoto’s compelling photographs of Tokyo and Chicago ($2,500-3,500); Eikoh Hosoe’s Embrace, Tokyo, 1971, boasts beautifully illustrated reproductions of Hosoe’s photos of the human body ($500-750); and Kazuo Kenmochi’s Narcotic Photographic Document, Tokyo, 1963, showcases images of Japan’s drug culture from the late 1950s to early 1960s ($800-1,200).
Also included are first editions of Richard Prince’s three books: Menthol Pictures, Menthol Wars, War Pictures, New York, 1980. The works are Prince’s first and rarest publication; they are offered together for $7,000 to $10,000.