Auctions | September 8, 2021

Virginia Zabriskie Collection at Swann September 21

Courtesy of Swann Galleries

Robert Frank, Paris (Lovers on a Bench), silver print, 1949. Estimate $15,000-20,000

New York — Swann Galleries is set to open the fall 2021 season with the sale of the Virginia Zabriskie Collection on Tuesday, September 21. The special single-owner sale is comprised of Zabriskie’s personal collection, built during a pioneering career spanning more than five decades, marked by audacity and innovation in a field that was seldom encouraging to professional women.
Zabriskie acquired her New York gallery in 1954; by the 1980s the gallery had expanded to three locations, including a space in Paris which opened in 1977. The two New York spaces specialized in painting and sculpture, respectively, while the Paris location was a first of its kind—joining an exhibition space for photographic works with a bookstore devoted to selling photo-related literature. In her impressive 54 years of owning the gallery, Zabriskie was responsible for both launching the careers of artists and for bringing forgotten, underappreciated artists to light. She leaves a legacy that has transformed the industry, both visually and professionally, which will persist for generations to come. 
Leading the sale is a selection of Man Ray and Duchamp’s ready-made objects and photographs. Zabriskie was keyed into the zeitgeist of the era and embraced the Dada Manifesto, presenting several exhibitions that explored these ideas and the artists behind them. Notable lots by Man Ray include Object Indestructible (Perpetual Motif), 1922–70, a metronome with holographic paper ($40,000-60,000); a hollowed-out leather-bound book-jewelry box with a mirror from 1967 ($25,000-35,000); New York, 1920–65, a ready-made of a glass cylinder with steel balls and cotton placed inside and capped off with a wood stopper ($20,000-30,000); and Boîte d’Allumettes, a matchbox with a black and white photograph attached to the top and felt rectangles included in the matchbox ($15,000-20,000). Duchamp works on offer feature Phare de la Harpe, 1921–67, an iron with chrome finish ($20,000-30,000), as well as Rotoreliefs, 1935–53, a set of 12 offset color lithographs printed on six double-sided cardboard discs ($7,000-10,000).

An exceptional run of works by Abraham Walkowitz—who Zabriskie represented during the last six years of Walkowitz’s life—opens the auction, including a 1900 bronze sculpture Crouching Male Nude ($3,000-5,000); a selection of smaller oil on canvas works, notably Park Scene, circa 1908 ($3,000-5,000) and Anticoli Corrado, circa 1906-07 ($3,000-5,000); and a number of abstract city and landscape drawings. Also of note is Richard Stankiewicz’s 1960 welded steel sculpture Wind Gong ($40,000-60,000); George L. K. Morris’s Composition #9, oil on canvas, 1936 ($30,000-50,000); and Alexander Archipenko.

Photography was an important part of Zabriskie’s curatorial vision and aesthetic. She brought the medium to the forefront at a time when it was still considered vanguard, bringing European photographers to America and American photography to Europe. The works Zabriskie collected and showcased encompassed a wide range of work from early-twentieth century Dada and Surrealist masters—like the prints, paintings and sculpture artists in our auction—to American photography icons. Highlights from the photography selection include Robert Frank’s Paris (Lovers on a Bench), silver print, 1949 ($15,000-20,000); Lee Friedlander’s Father Duffy, Times Square, New York City, silver print, 1974, printed 1980s ($7,000-10,000); Brassaï’s Un Fiacre Devant la Café Le Dome, Montparnasse, silver print, 1931–32 ($5,000-8,000); and Eugène Atget’s St. Cloud (Cascade), albumen print, 1928 ($5,000-8,000). Images by Paul Strand, Bernice Abbott, Man Ray, Harry Callahan, William Klein and more also feature.

Limited open exhibition hours will be available from September 15 through September 20. Appointments are strongly encouraged and can be scheduled directly with a specialist. Swann Galleries staff will prepare condition reports and provide additional photographs of material on request. Advance order bids can be placed with a specialist for the sale or on Swann’s website, and phone bidding will be available. Live online bidding platforms will be the Swann Galleries App, Invaluable, and Live Auctioneers. The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at and on the Swann Galleries App.

Additional highlights can be found here.