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Fifteen Classic Prints by Eugène Atget and Weston/Modotti Mexico Ensemble at Sotheby's
Gustave Le Gray (1820-1884), Le Pont du Gard, 1850/1851. Estimate: 100 000 – 120 000€. Photo: Sotheby's.

PARIS.- On 19 November 2010, Sotheby’s Paris will offer for sale an exceptional ensemble of photographs by leading masters of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. This third photography sale in Paris, scheduled to coincide with the Paris Photo fair, demonstrates Sotheby’s committed presence on the Parisian, European and international market.

The sale includes a superb selection of 152 works covering the history of photography, from vintage to contemporary, beginning with an extraordinary salt-paper print by one of the most gifted photographers of the 19th century – Gustave Le Gray (1820-84). The photograph depicts the Pont du Gard (1850/51), evoking Le Gray's crucial role in the 1851 Mission Héliographique – the nationwide photographic survey of historic monuments commissioned by the state (estimate €100,000-120,000*).

Fifteen classic prints by Eugène Atget (1857-1927), the great chronicler of French civilization, pay tribute to early 20th century Paris. Highlights include views of Notre-Dame, 1923 (est. €40,000-60,000); the Parc de St-Cloud, 1904 (est. €20,000-30,000); and the Pont des Tuileries, 1911 (est. €15,000-25,000). Sotheby’s Paris set a new world record for Atget in November 2009, fetching €444,750 for his extraordinary photograph Femme (1925), trebling the previous Atget auction record (achieved at Sotheby’s New York in 2007).

Coinciding with the first major retrospective devoted to Heinrich Kühn (1866-1944) at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, Sotheby’s are offering five vintage photographs consigned by his heirs, including a 1906 Nu au Vase (est. €10,000-15,000) and two works dating from circa 1915: Wanderer (est. €12,000-15,000) and Im Winde (est. €10,000-15,000).

Sotheby’s are honoured to present a selection of important photographs by Edward Weston and Tina Modotti, who were professional and personal associates. The works date from the photographers’ three-year stay in Mexico (1923-26), when they were part of the country's artistic scene. They befriended amongst others Diego Rivera and his wife Guadalupe, as well as French artist Jean Charlot – who introduced Weston to a young Jewish girl called Anita Brenner. The 28 photographs and two letters have been consigned directly from Brenner's private collection. They include four very rare 1925 silver print Nudes portraying Brenner herself, which are regarded as masterpieces of American photography.

Another exceptional photograph from interwar Mexico is Retrato de lo Eterno (Portrait of the Eternal, 1935) by Manuel Alvarez Bravo, consigned from an Austrian private collection (est. €70,000-90,000).

Sotheby’s are also offering a vintage silver print of Rudolf Koppitz's Bewegungsstudie (Study of Movement, 1925), a legendary image influenced by the decorative, symbolist traditions of Viennese Jugendstil, which emphasises Koppitz's ability to play with forms, lines, light and shadow (est. €60,000-80,000).

1920s photography includes Man Ray's 1923 Portrait of Marcel Duchamp, bearing the first stamp used by Man Ray after he moved to Paris. The photograph has been consigned by the Duchamp family (est. €15,000-20,000).

Twelve vintage silver prints by German avant-garde photographer Heinz Hajek-Halke (1898-1983) capture the mood of 1930s Berlin – notably Schwarz-Weisser Akt (Black and-White Nude, 1930-36) and Erotik – Ganz Gross! (1928-32), with estimates of €15,000-25,000 and €8,000-10,000 respectively. Hajek-Halke explored innovative techniques (triple-montage, photograms, Lichtgrafiken) breaking new ground in creative photography.

In the experimental photography section, the pioneering Czech photographer Joseph Sudek is represented with three vintage pigment prints led by a 1952 Still Life Study (est. €18,000-23,000).

A superb selection of works by Irving Penn (1917-2009) features two mysterious portraits of Pablo Picasso, taken in Cannes in 1957, one of them an exquisite platinum palladium print (est. €40,000-60,000). Furthermore, his Theatre Accident (1947), offered at auction for the first time (est. €25,000-35,000); delicate, highly picturesque photographs of flowers; and a sensuous fashion photo, Corset (Karl Lagerfeld pour Chanel) dated 1994 (est. €20,000-30,000).

Masterpieces of fashion photography by artists such as Peter Lindbergh and Richard Avedon are also on offer. For example, Avedon’s 1948 Shoe Designed by Perugia – Place du Trocadéro, Paris (est. €18,000-23,000), and his provocative portrait of Stephanie Seymour taken in New York in 1992 (est. €100,000-150,000).

Contemporary photography includes a spectacular 1998 cibachrome print of Marina Abramovic's Balkan Baroque, taken from her Golden Lion-winning performance at the 1997 Venice Biennale (est. €8,000-12,000). Inspired by the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, it shows Abramovic – the daughter of a former Yugoslav general – sitting on a pile of cattle bones, cleaning them with a brush.

Outstanding photographs by Erwin Olaf, Candida Höfer, David LaChapelle, Elger Esser, Vik Muniz and Thomas Ruff conclude the sale.}

* estimates do not include buyer's premium

Sotheby's | Photography Sale | Joseph Sudek | Paris |

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