Brâncusi Breaks $100k at Swann Galleries' Photographs Auction

Lot 71-Bancusi-lg copy.jpgNew York - Swann Auction Galleries’ Thursday, October 18 sale of Photographs & Photobooks, which boasted historical and contemporary fine art photographers alongside stand out vernacular material, earned $1.6M.

The top lot of the sale was Constantin Brâncusi’s Vu d’atelier, a circa 1928 silver print of the artist’s studio, featuring four of his iconic sculptures, including Socrates which is part of MoMA’s collection. The image brought $125,000, over an estimate of $30,0000-45,000.

Roy DeCarava was a highlight of the sale with three auction records being made for the artist. The complete Roy DeCarava, with 12 hand-printed dust-grain photogravures, including many of his iconic images of Harlem, set the record for the portfolio and the artist with $100,000; while a late 1960s-early 70s printing of Hallway, circa 1953, earned $31,250, a record for the image.

Additional contemporary works included a suite of 25 photographs by Malick Sidibé, in the artist’s custom frames, which set the record for the artist at $55,000. A complete, comprehensive three-part portfolio of 30 prints from Herman Leonard’s Images of Jazz series, with photographs of Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole and Billie Holiday, set the record for the photographer with $30,000. Nick Brandt’s 2005 archival pigment prints, Giraffe Triptych, Maasai Mara, which showcases three giraffes in Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, brought $15,000.

Early photography found success in the sale: The Pyramids of Dashdoor, from the East, 1858, by Francis Frith, was won for $15,000, and an album containing 200 hand-colored cartes-de-visite, featuring people of Japan and China, by Felice Beato, John Thomson and F.W. Sutton, from 1863-69, sold for $35,000.

Vernacular works continue to shine at auction. R.J. Waters’ group of three panoramas depicting San Francisco before the 1906 earthquake, as well as during and after the devasting fire that followed, garnered $21,250. 

Other notable works included a late 1950s-early 60s printing of W. Eugene Smith’s The Walk to Paradise Garden, 1948, which sold for $47,500. The silver print features the artist’s children and has been employed in multiple ad campaigns. Ansel Adams’s Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, printed before 1977, earned $37,500.

Daile Kaplan, Vice President and Director of Photographs & Photobooks, noted of the sale, “The results saw robust prices for a range of photographs by contemporary, classical and vernacular photographers, demonstrating how the market is always changing and expanding. Great photographs by great artists are continually being discovered and newly appreciated by collectors of all stripes.”

The next auction of Photographs & Photobooks at Swann Galleries will be held in early 2019.

Additional highlights can be found here.

Image: Lot 71: Constantin Brâncusi, Vu d’atelier [The artist’s studio], silver print, circa 1928. Sold for $125,000.

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