Books Become Art at Swann Galleries' Art, Press & Illustrated Auction

159-Szyk copy.jpgNew York—Swann Galleries has announced highlights from their June 13 auction of Art, Press & Illustrated Books, which will feature premier examples of printing that elevate the humble book to a noble art form.

The sale is led by an inscribed limited first edition on vellum of Arthur Szyk’s Haggadah, 1939, with 14 jewel-like full-page color plates by the artist. The work was illustrated by Szyk in Poland in the mid-1930s, and has been called the most celebrated modern Haggadah; it carries an estimate of $15,000 to $25,000.

An outstanding selection of press books by Bernhardt Wall from the Natalie Williams Collection features a number of presentation copies, including the 85-volume magnum opus Following Abraham Lincoln 1809-1865, with over 900 signed etchings ($10,000 to $15,000), as well as the signed complete set of The Etcht Miniature Monthly Magazine, 1948, ($3,000 to $4,000). A selection of Wall’s personal sketchbooks from the 1920s offers a glimpse into the mind of the artist. Further editions by fine private presses of the twentieth century include works from Doves and Gemini to Granary, Limestone and the Limited Editions Club.

A collection of French livres d'artiste includes a signed limited first edition of Henri Matisse’s Cinquante Dessins, 1920, with 50 images of his work, valued at $3,000 to $4,000, as well as Amour, 1899, by Maurice Denis, a complete set of 13 color lithographs illustrating a poem by the author to his wife ($10,000 to $15,000). Also available are works by Jean Cocteau, Jean Dubuffet and Raoul Dufy.

There is a fine selection of art journals and magazines, most notably the complete set of 12 volumes of the Art Deco periodical Feuillets d'Art, 1919-22, estimated to sell between $3,000 and $4,000. Portfolios include Salvador Dalí's limited edition Le Quête du Graal, 1975, with 12 color drypoints ($12,000 to $18,000). Also by Dalí is a limited special edition of Dante’s La Divina Commedia, bound in sculptural copper covers and printed on paper salvaged from the flood of Florence in 1966, valued at $6,000 to $9,000.

Mexican surrealist Nahui Olin (pseudonym of Carmen Mondragón) was a muse of Diego Rivera and an accomplished artist in her own right. In collaboration with her lover, Dr. Atl (a pseudonym meaning the Aztec word for water), she produced Optica Cerebral: Poemas Dinámicos, 1922, here offered in the exceedingly rare first edition, signed and inscribed to publisher, writer and politician José Martinez Sotomayor ($6,000 to $9,000).

Three volumes of the influential French fashion magazine Gazette du Bon Ton, 1912-14, featuring several single- and double-page pochoir plates, as well as seven original watercolor vignettes by George Barbier, are together valued at $8,000 to $12,000.

Several nineteenth-century American manuscript folios will be available, including Miss Ann Postley's Album, 1828, with six illustrations by Charles A. Baudouine—considered the first “interior designer”— and Gathered Blossoms, 1853, a handmade book of poems and illustrations by Pennsylvanian Thomas Lloyd Bailey for his fiancé, Caroline A. Smith (each $1,000 to $2,000). A group of 13 drawings on vellum for a German calendar titled Das Jahr une siene Kinder (“The Year and Her Children”), 1880s, by Frau Allwine Schroedker, accompanies the published calendar; together they are valued between $4,000 and $6,000.

The contemporary selection will feature a May 1970 issue of Gay Power, the cover of which is illustrated by what is believed to be Robert Mapplethorpe's first published photograph, valued at $2,000 to $3,000, and a limited edition catalogue, encased in a briefcase with assorted accoutrements, released in celebration of the thirtieth anniversary exhibition at the Walker Art Center, titled In the Spirit of Fluxus, 1993 ($1,000 to $1,500). Another scarce exhibition catalogue makes an appearance: Masters of Abstract Art: An Exhibition for the Benefit of The American Red Cross, 1942, features essays by noted artists including Stuart Davis, Fernand Léger, Jacques Lipchitz, and Piet Mondrian. On offer is a copy of the catalogue, signed by several of the contributors and artists, expected to sell between $5,000 and $7,000.

A signed and inscribed limited first edition of Grapefruit, 1964, one of Yoko Ono’s scarce performative and conceptual “event scores”—written instructions or suggestions for acts for the “viewer” to recreate—is valued at $4,000 to $6,000.

The auction will be held Tuesday, June 13, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The auction preview will be open to the public Friday, June 9, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, June 10, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, June 12, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Tuesday, June 13, from 10 a.m. to noon.

An illustrated auction catalogue is available for $35 at www.swanngalleries.com.

For further information and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Christine von der Linn at 212-254-4710, extension 20, or via e-mail at cv@swanngalleries.com.

Image: Lot 159 Arthur Szyk, The Szyk Haggadah, number 22 of 125 copies on vellum, signed by Szyk and editor Cecil Roth, London, 1939. Estimate $15,000 to $25,000.

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