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Works by contemporary and classic masters lead Phillips' Photographs Auction
Sharon Core, Bakery Counter, 1962, 2004. Estimate: $50,000-70,000. Image courtesy of Phillips.


NEW YORK, NY.- Phillips announced highlights from the upcoming Photographs auction, taking place on Thursday, 4 October, in New York. Comprised of over 200 lots, the sale will include works by contemporary and twentieth century masters such as Wolfgang Tillmans, Cindy Sherman, Helmut Newton, Man Ray, and Robert Mapplethorpe, among others including Robert Frank, Walker Evans, and Paul Citroen.

“Our Photographs sale brings together a wonderful group of works that span the very best of the photographic medium,” said Sarah Krueger, Head of Department, Photographs, New York. “From Wolfgang Tillmans’ Freischwimmer 20 to Helmut Newton’s large-scale print of his iconic Saddle II, this sale pairs contemporary and classic prints to showcase the wide breadth of 20th and 21st century photography. This season we are also honored to be offering the private collection, A Constant Pursuit: Photographs from the Collection of Ed Cohen & Victoria Shaw, which will start our morning session.”

Serving as the cover lot is Wolfgang Tillmans’ Freischwimmer 20, an exquisite example from Tillmans’ most renowned series of cameraless abstractions. Like his predecessors Man Ray and László Moholy-Nagy, who famously experimented with cameraless photography as one aspect of their wildly diverse oeuvres, Tillmans reduces his practice to the most elementary components of the medium: light, paper and chemistry. These masterful abstractions both delight the eye and challenge the mind, reframing our contemporary notions of photography while incorporating the earliest of photographic techniques.

Leading the sale is Untitled #296, the definitive example from Cindy Sherman’s 1994 collaboration with Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons. In what could only be described as the most synergistic of partnerships between two successful women, Kawakubo gave Sherman full creative freedom, sending her the upcoming Fall 1994/ Winter 1995 collections to be photographed for marketing materials. The resulting photographs are an imaginative continuation of Sherman’s 1993 fashion work, and are as conceptually avant garde as Kawakubo’s designs, which create and conceal a woman’s identity in the same manner that Sherman’s artwork creates new personas while concealing her own. Property from the same Important East Coast Collector, is offered throughout the sale and includes works by Nan Goldin, Robert Mapplethorpe, Sally Mann, and Vik Muniz, among others.

The auction on 4 October will also include an impressive selection of works by Robert Mapplethorpe, including Skull, 1988, which served as the back cover illustration for The Perfect Moment, the catalogue accompanying the photographer’s final lifetime exhibition of the same name. With its carefully-modulated diagonal bands of light and shadow, and its precise rendering of detail in its principle subject, Skull acknowledges the inevitability of death, but also shows the possibility of beauty within death—a beauty that stands in defiance of mortality. While Mapplethorpe explored these themes throughout his career, they acquired a new eloquence following his own death due to complications from HIV/AIDS in March of 1989. Other works by Mapplethorpe include Calla Lily, 1987, at $50,000-70,000; Ken and Lydia, 1985 at $30,000-50,000; and Lisa Lyon, 1982, at $25,000-35,000.

Man Ray’s La Prière is arguably the signature image from the masterful series of nude studies Man Ray executed in the 1920s and early 1930s. In this work, the photographer poses his model provocatively, combining the uniquely descriptive capabilities of photography with his distinctive vision within an image that is at once realistic and dreamlike. As in the best of Man Ray’s photographs, conventional artistic subject matter is raised to the level of Surrealism. This Surreal tour de force and has lost none of its impact since its creation in 1930, and it is one of a few early works that Man Ray revisited later in his career. This print of La Prière was once held in the collection Pierre and Franca Belfond, who may have acquired it directly from the artist. The Belfond family founded the publishing house Éditions Belfond in 1963, and published two books on Man Ray: Alphabet pour Adultes (1970) and Bonsoir, Man Ray (1972).

Phillips will also offer a large-scale print of Helmut Newton’s iconic Saddle II, Paris, 1976. The work is impressive in size, measuring nearly 30 x 45 inches. Further, the print has been held in the same private collection since its purchase in 1979, and was included in an early exhibition at the Delahunty Gallery in Dallas, Texas that same year. Another print by Newton from a separate private collection, Hotel Room, Place de la République, Paris, 1976, bears the same, early provenance and is estimated for $25,000-35,000.

Additional highlights include Sharon Core’s delightful Bakery Counter, 1962, 2004, Vik Muniz’ masterful rendition of Starry Night, after Van Gogh from Pictures of Magazines 2, 2012, a stunning selection of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s seascapes, including Yellow Sea, Cheju, 1992, and Christian Boltanski’s poignant Portrait of Two Boys with Binoculars, 1991, all of which are on offer from private collections and contribute to the overall balance of exceptional material showcased within the sale.





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