Swann Galleries to Hold First Vernacular Photography Auction

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On Thursday, April 17th, Swann Galleries will hold the first ever vernacular photography auction presented by a major house. The sale, entitled “The Vernacular Eye: Photographic Albums, Snapshots, and Objects,” commences at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, with 294 lots represented.

Swann was inspired to hold an auction dedicated to vernacular photography (described as “anything outside of the fine art realm”) after being surprised by the high prices realized by vernacular photography in previous auctions. For example, an album of 27 spiritualist photographs depicting seances in Winnipeg blew through its $4,000 estimate at Swann last December, realizing a startling $93,750. 

Daile Kaplan, Vice President and Director of Photographs & Photobooks at Swann compared the uniqueness of vernacular photographs to snowflakes.  Swann describes the collection offered for sale on Thursday as “pre-curated by a group of serious photo collectors,” with a wide variety of subject matters and price points.

In preparation for the sale, Swann hosted a talk by photography collector Peter Cohen on April 8th.  Cohen’s talk was recorded by Swann and was combined with snapshots from Cohen’s collection into a 30 minute video you can watch here.


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