Two Centuries of Photographic Masterpieces at Swann Galleries’ Fall Sale

38-Julia-Margaret-Cameron copy.jpgNew York— On Tuesday, October 25, Swann Galleries will offer Art & Storytelling: Photographs & Photobooks, an auction featuring examples of the medium from its inception in the early nineteenth century through contemporary works.

Early masterpieces on offer include Julia Margaret Cameron’s luminous circular image of Kate Keown (No. 4 Series of 12 Life Sized Heads), 1866. This albumen print, estimated at $50,000 to $75,000, is one of the artist’s first in her series of life-sized portraits. From 1870 comes Vischer’s Pictorial of California, with 170 photographs, including 17 after works by Russell, Watkins, Muybridge and others; and compiled by Edward Vischer. This historic set, a deluxe presentation copy bound for a discerning client, is estimated at $15,000 to $25,000.

The top lot of the sale is Robert Frank’s emotive 1956 silver print, Political Rally, Chicago. The print, executed in the 1970s, is signed and dated by the artist and expected to bring $60,000 to $90,000. Frank, known for his captivating visual records of American life, is represented by a run of scarce works in this sale, including Bar, Gallup, New Mexico, silver print, 1956 ($30,000 to $40,000), as well as Detroit (Drugstore), 1955, and 1950’s Tulip, Paris, both estimated at $20,000 to $30,000. Also on offer is a signed first edition of arguably the most important photobook of the twentieth century: Robert Frank’s The Americans, published 1959 ($6,000 to $9,000).

Among further American photography is At the Time of the Louisville Flood, Kentucky, a silver print by Margaret Bourke-White first taken in 1936 and printed circa 1970 ($40,000 to $60,000). Dorothea Lange is well represented in the sale, led by her 1933 silver print White Angel Breadline, which shows destitute San Franciscans waiting for food, their faces obscured by their hats ($30,000 to $45,000).

Highlights continue with Yousuf Karsh’s elephant portfolio Karsh—Fifteen Portraits. The loose photographs, printed in 1983, are each marked by the artist with the edition number, 23/100. The set includes personal and luminous portraits of such notables as Muhammad Ali, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, Helen Keller and Pablo Picasso ($40,000 to $60,000).

A very special offering is the complete series of 291, the art and literary magazine edited by Alfred Stieglitz. The series of 12, published in nine issues, ran from 1915 to 1916. The extremely rare set includes the large-format edition of Stieglitz’s famous photogravure The Steerage, which Pablo Picasso once called “two photographs in one” and which Stieglitz himself described as his first Modernist photograph. Stieglitz destroyed most unsold copies of the magazine so complete sets are scarce; this set is in excellent condition with only minor wear, and is estimated at $30,000 to $40,000.

Contemporary works featured include Barbara Kasten’s Site 16: Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC, cibachrome print, 1987 ($6,000 to $9,000); Philip-Lorca DiCorcia’s Untitled (Strip Club), chromogenic print, 1980s ($5,000 to $7,500); Tracey Moffatt’s Beauty (In Wine), chromogenic print, 1994 ($5,000 to $7,500) and Adam Fuss’s Butterfly daguerreotype from the artist’s My Ghost series, 2000 ($10,000 to $15,000).

Vernacular examples from the sale include a remarkable suite of fifty unbound silver print photographs by Martin Chambi showing scenes of Peru in the 1920s. Subjects include pre-Columbian archaeological ruins and contemporary indigenous occupational scenes, and details of Machu Picchu. Each photograph is accompanied by a hand-written caption in Spanish ($20,000 to $30,000).

The auction will be held Tuesday, October 25, beginning at 1 p.m. The auction preview will be open to the public Thursday, October 20 through Saturday, October 22 from noon to 5 p.m.; Monday, October 24 from noon to 5 p.m.; and Tuesday, October 25 from 10 a.m. to noon. Also available by appointment.

An illustrated auction catalogue will be available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at www.swanngalleries.com.

For further information and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Daile Kaplan at 212-254-4710, extension 21, or via e-mail at dkaplan@swanngalleries.com.

Image: Lot 38 Julia Margaret Cameron, Portrait of Kate Keown, circular albumen print, 1866. Estimate $50,000 to $75,000.

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