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Phillips to offer 'A Constant Pursuit: Photographs from the Collection of Ed Cohen and Victoria Shaw'
Stephen Shore, Horseshoe Bend Motel, Lovell, Wyoming, 1973. Fujicolor Crystal Archive print, printed 2003. 17 3/8 x 21 3/4 in. (44.1 x 55.2 cm). Estimate: $20,000-30,000. Image courtesy of Phillips.

NEW YORK, NY.- Phillips announces A Constant Pursuit: Photographs from the Collection of Ed Cohen and Victoria Shaw. The sale, featuring 83 lots, will take place on Thursday, 4 October, following public exhibitions in London from 28 August – 7 September and New York from 28 September – 3 October. Avid collectors of Contemporary Art and Photographs, Ed Cohen and Victoria Shaw have acquired an impressive collection of works by some of the most important artists of the 19th through 21st centuries. With a keen interest in the intersection of art and literature, and in works that speak to the essence of humanity, their collection reflects many ways of seeing the world as expressed in photographs by Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Robert Mapplethorpe, Francesca Woodman and Man Ray, among many others.

Vanessa Hallett, Deputy Chairman, Americas, and Worldwide Head of Photographs, said, “Renowned collectors, Ed Cohen and Victoria Shaw have acquired an extensive collection of 20th Century & Contemporary Art and Photographs. Their passionate approach to collecting is driven by intellect and intuition, resulting in a unique and endlessly fascinating personal collection.”

Ed Cohen said, “The photographs in the collection resonate with my intense relationships to literature, poetry, art and architecture. Human experience and the photographer’s eye, catching the moment where revelation occurs. Irving Penn’s Barnett Newman. I have lived with two Newmans, and Penn brings to life the minimal perfection that is in his paintings. Robert Mapplethorpe’s American Flag, makes us think about the nature of patriotism. Atget’s late photo, St. Cloud, 1926, has an ancient mystery about it. As Diane Arbus said, great photographs have a secret about them but also a revelation.”

The Collectors
New York-based collectors Ed Cohen and Victoria Shaw have been collecting art and photographs for thirty years. Their extensive collection of 20th Century & Contemporary Art includes works by Gerhard Richter, Cy Twombly, Lucien Freud, Joseph Beuys and Anselm Kiefer, many of whom are represented as subjects of the photographic portraits in their collection. They have devoted their lives to supporting the arts and establishing innovative non-profits. Most notable is their support of the Tate following Sir Nicholas Serota's appointment in 1988. Mr. Cohen and Ms. Shaw donated an important drawing by William Blake, A Vision: The Inspiration of the Poet (Elisha in the Chamber on the Wall), which was featured on the Tate's holiday card that year. They donated a room at the Tate Modern, Anish Kapoor’s seminal work, Adam, Joseph Beuys’ thirty-one piece large-scale installation, The End of the Twentieth Century, and gifted works by Anselm Kiefer, Antony Gormley, and Sarah Sze, amongst others. Their son, Dillon Cohen, currently sits on the North American Acquisitions Committee for the Tate Americas Foundation.

A Constant Pursuit
Leading the auction is an early print of Richard Avedon’s Marilyn Monroe, New York City, May 6, 1957. Among the most iconic photographs ever taken of the actress, this portrait uniquely captures a rare moment of vulnerability where she ceased playing the role of Hollywood star, having let her guard down to become Norma Jean once again.

Ed Cohen and Victoria Shaw have also acquired a strong selection of works by Diane Arbus, ten of which will be offered in the auction on 4 October, including five early prints made by Arbus herself. The selection includes Two Ladies Walking in Central Park, N.Y.C., 1963; Two boys smoking in Central Park, N.Y.C., 1963; and Young couple on a bench in Washington Square Park, N.Y.C., 1965, which highlight Arbus’ fascination with her home of New York City and her ability to capture all of humanity within its city limits. Three works by Francesca Woodman explore and expand the expressive range of self-portraiture.

Particularly drawn to portraits that embody their interdisciplinary interests, Mr. Cohen and Ms. Shaw’s collection includes stunning examples of the genre across the history of the medium. Julia Margaret Cameron’s Portrait of Julia Jackson, 1876, depicts Virginia Woolf’s mother and one of Cameron’s favorite sitters. Poetry, and the power of the written word, is reflected in Irving Penn’s Joseph Brodsky, New York, Jan. 7, 1980, and Richard Avedon’s W. H. Auden, poet, St. Mark’s Place, New York City, March 3, 1960. Their lifelong involvement in art and with artists is exemplified in Thomas Struth’s Gerhard Richter, 1993, and Rineke Dijkstra’s Thomas Struth, Düsseldorf, Germany, March 24, 2002. Man Ray’s Portrait of Lee Miller, Paris, 1929 celebrates the artist’s relationship with his muse, who would later become an esteemed photographer in her own right. The auction also includes Henri Cartier-Bresson’s 1961 study of architect Louis Kahn and portraits of such diverse luminaries as John F. Kennedy, Paul Verlaine, Abraham Lincoln, the Dalai Lama, and John Lennon, among many others.

In all, the works to be offered span over 150 years of photography. Charles Clifford’s Sevilla, El Alcazar, 1858, is an exceptional example from the medium’s early decades, and beautifully illustrates the relationship between architecture and light. A stellar selection of Eugène Atget photographs documents what Mr. Cohen calls “the elusive beauty of so many aspects of Paris.” Paul Outerbridge, Jr.’s Eggs and Bowl, 1922, is an extraordinary Modernist image from the first half of the 20th century, and demonstrates how the practiced eye of a photographer can change our way of seeing quotidian objects. Robert Frank’s U.S. 286, New Mexico, 1955-1956, Robert Mapplethorpe’s American Flag, 1987, and Stephen Shore’s Horseshoe Bend Motel, Lovell, Wyoming, 1973, offer three different, but equally compelling, ways of looking at America.

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