Strong Showing for Edward S. Curtis Photographs at Swann Galleries

34-Curtis copy.jpgNew York—On Thursday, April 20, Swann Galleries offered Images & Objects: Photographs & Photobooks, setting records for early and modern works alike. The sale performed well overall, with 71% of works offered finding buyers.

Swann Galleries consistently offers a varied selection of rare and iconic works by Edward S. Curtis, with nearly all of the offered lots selling above or within the estimate in this sale. Highlights included a striking portrait of Red Cloud, Oglala, 1905, which sold for $32,500*, a record for the work, above a high estimate of $9,000. The Scout, Apache, 1906, a dramatic orotone in the original frame depicting a Native American silhouetted on a horse, more than doubled its high estimate of $12,000 to sell for $27,500, a record for an orotone of the image; another orotone in its original frame, An Oasis in the Badlands, 1905, was purchased by a collector for $21,250, above a high estimate of $15,000.

Bastions of the art of photography performed well, with the highest price in the sale going to a group of 60 plates from Eadweard Muybridge’s seminal Animal Locomotion, 1887. Ansel Adams’s iconic Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941, printed circa 1976, went for $42,500. Five of the six works offered by New York-based vernacular photographer Weegee (née Arthur Fellig) found buyers, led by Coney Island, 1940, at $13,750.

The cover lot for the sale was an unusual version of Toni Frissell’s breathtaking A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1957—the image was printed in reverse, with the notation “This is backwards” on the verso ($12,500).

Works from the last 50 years performed exceptionally well, with high prices going to Robert Frank’s Sick of Goodby’s, Mabou, 1978, and Zuma #9, 1978, by John Divola ($32,500 and $10,000, respectively). Both offered works by Peter Hujar far surpassed their high estimates: a trio of portraits of Robert Wilson, Ann Wilson and Sheryl Sutton, 1975, reached $27,500, above a high estimate of $12,000, while the striking 1985 Shack, Queens, more than doubled its high estimate of $6,000 to sell to a collector for $13,750. A suite of five photographs by Duane Michals, titled Narcissus, 1985, soared past its high estimate of $9,000 to sell after rapid bidding for $26,000, a record for the work.

Daile Kaplan, Director of Photographs & Photobooks at Swann Galleries, said of the sale, “Visual icons of the photography market, including Ansel Adams' Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico and Eadweard Muybridge's Animal Locomotion plates, and remarkable objects like Edward Curtis' extraordinary orotones sold competitively. The response to contemporary works by Peter Hujar, Adam Fuss and Duane Michals was exciting. The mid-range market for images and objects continues to attract new and mature buyers.”

The next sale of Photographs & Photobooks at Swann Galleries will be held October 19, 2017. For more information or consign quality materials, contact Daile Kaplan at dkaplan@swanngalleries.com

Image: Lot 34 Edward S. Curtis, Red Cloud, Oglala, platinum print, 1905. Sold April 20, 2017 for $32,500, a record for the work. (Pre-sale estimate $6,000 to $9,000.)

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