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Phillips to offer the Michel and Sally Strauss Contemporary Photography Collection
Edward Burtynsky, Rice Terraces #2, Western Yunnan Province, China, 2012. Estimate: £10,000-15,000. Image courtesy of Phillips.


LONDON.- Phillips will offer the renowned contemporary photography collection of Michel and Sally Strauss on 18 May 2018 in London as part of the Photographs Day Sale. Assembled over the past two decades, and including important works by celebrated artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, the collection vividly captures the couple’s distinct, artistic eye. Comprising 50 lots, the collection features outstanding works by Edward Burtynsky, Candida Höfer, Nadav Kander, Clifford Ross and Michael Wolf, among others.

Genevieve Janvrin, Co-Head of Photographs, Europe, said: “We are thrilled to offer photographs from the Collection of Michel and Sally Strauss. This is a collection of exquisite quality and grandeur and presents clients with the unique opportunity to acquire works chosen by a collector with over 40 years’ experience in the art world.”

Michel and Sally Strauss’ passion for collecting contemporary photographs developed after their retirement from Sotheby’s in 2000, when the following year they travelled to New York for the Spring auctions. They spent the afternoon in Chelsea visiting galleries, where they saw the work of Candida Höfer and bought it immediately, at a time when the contemporary photography market was unfolding. Bibliotheca de la Real Acadedmie de la Lingua Madrid 1, 2000 (illustrated above) marked the beginning of their collecting journey.

Next came Elger Esser, followed by Clifford Ross and Simon Norfolk. These were later joined by contemporary image-makers, many of whom were little known at the time their work entered their collection. Mikhael Subotzky’s Cell E2 Section, Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison, made while the artist was still studying at university in 2005, is an example of this. Old Master references inform their collection, as seen in Nadav Kander’s Chongqing IV (Sunday Picnic), Chongqing Municipality, 2006 (illustrated below left) and Massimo Listri’s Musei Vaticani X, Galleria delle Statue, 2011 (illustrated below right).

Michel Strauss, said: “Sally and I were drawn to strong compositions, to both architecture and landscape, as represented in contemporary photography. These works resonated with Old Masters and Impressionist painting, providing a link between contemporary photographs and what I had been looking at my entire life. Having changed our collecting focus to Old Masters, we feel that it is time for us to find new homes for these exciting works from our collection.”

The illustrious career of Michel Strauss, one of the art world’s most influential figures, began when he joined Sotheby’s as a cataloguer in 1961. In 1965, Michel Strauss rose to become Head of the Impressionist and Modern department in London, a post he held for 35 years until his retirement in 2000. Throughout his career, Michel Strauss was known for his innovative approach to auction, which has now become common practice today, including telephone bidding and themed sales. His career gave shape to such important auctions as the Robert van Hirsch Collection in 1978, which at the time was the highest grossing single owner collection ever sold at auction, and the Impressionist and Modern section of the British Rail Pension fund in 1989, which totaled £34.9 million, roughly ten times the £3.4 million spent purchasing the works, as well as achieving artist records for Paul Cézanne, Salvador Dalí, Edgar Degas, and Georges Seurat, among others.

The featured works from the Michel and Sally Strauss Collection represent the culmination of two decades of collecting, presenting an incredible opportunity for collectors to acquire these beautiful photographs.





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