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A record for Malick Sidibé in Swann Photo Sale
Malick Sidibé, 38 silver prints highlighting West African Culture, in custom frames, 1964-2001. Sold for $87,500, a record for the artist.


NEW YORK, NY.- Photographs: Art & Visual Culture on February 21 at Swann Galleries, a curated sale celebrating photographs as physical objects, saw success across the board with contemporary, twentieth-century and vernacular photography taking the spotlight.

Malick Sidibé led the sale with a grouping of 38 silver prints presented in custom frames by the artist, 1964-2001. The images highlighted the breadth West African Culture and sold for $87,500, a new record for the artist, breaking the previous top price for the Sidibé ($55,000, Swann October 2018). Additional fine art photography of note included Roy DeCarava’s Dancers (Harlem), 1955, printed 1982, a masterpiece of light and shadow that earned $52,500, a record for a single image by the artist; a suite of 18 silver prints from Flor Garduño’s Witness of Time series with a record $23,750; Leg–Paul H., 1979, by Peter Hujar brought $22,500; and Fan Ho’s Cleaning, 1950, reached $21,250.

Engaging vernacular albums exploring the people and industrial landscape of nineteenth-century India came across the block with great fanfare. An album of 105 images of scenes in Bombay, Delhi and Agra from the 1870s set a record with $30,000, and Shivshanker Narayen made his auction debut with an album of 80 photographs including six panoramas of civic engineering projects throughout the country which garnered $23,750.

A run of works by Ansel Adams proved successful, including a limited first edition of his first book–Taos Pueblo, 1930. The scarce publication, featuring 12 silver bromide prints from the photographer when he was just 28, and text by nature writer Mary Hunter Austin brought $32,500. Adam’s Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, California, 1944, printed early 1960s, a black and white silver print of the mountains, garnered $25,000.

Early- and mid-twentieth-century photography included an archive of 49 vintage photographs by Dorothy Norman & Alfred Stieglitz (47 of which are by Norman), setting a record for the artists with $18,200. Also of note were poignant silver prints documenting the Great Depression by Dorothea Lange: White Angel Breadline, 1933, printed 1960s, ($12,500), and Street demonstration, San Francisco, 1934-38, printed circa 1970, ($17,500); as well as Robert Frank’s Yom Kippur, East River, New York City, 1955, printed 1970, which sold for $15,000. Shop, Le Bacares, Pyrénées, Orientales, France (with black cat), 1951, printed 1960s, by Paul Strand garnered $12,500.

Daile Kaplan, Director of Photographs & Photobooks and Vice President, expressed her pleasure with the sale and the market’s expanding tastes, “The excitement associated with photographs and how they continue to immeasurably enrich our lives was writ large in Swann’s auction dedicated to photography and visual culture, which set several records for fine art and vernacular photographs. Today there’s a broad appreciation for the range of photographic expression, which reflects historical and contemporary, fine art and vernacular, and local and global expressions. I was delighted to see competitive bidding for nineteenth-century Indian photography, and new collectors bidding on sub-genres of vernacular photographs–35mm color slides, women's work and fashion, and quirky examples of Americana.”

The next auction of Photographs & Photobooks will be held on April 18 with Classic & Contemporary Photographs.





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