Over the last three years, sales of Photography at Sothebys
Paris have become not-to-be-missed events for connoisseurs from around the world. This year some 1500 visitors, private collectors and international dealers came to view the exceptional array of works offered by Sothebys at the Galerie Charpentier. Then, in a packed saleroom accompanied by frenzied phone bidding, the auction totalled 2.7 million, with 101 lots sold.
In the words of Simone Klein, Head of Photography at Sothebys: «The renewed success of our exhibition and the outstanding results obtained today reward the strategy of our house/company, which offered for the third time a sale at the same time as Paris Photos. We are in particular pleased in particular by the records achieved by Josef Sudek and Manuel Alvarez Bravo and we are proud that the emblematic work by the German avant-garde photographer Heinz Hajek-Halke is now acknowledged by the international photography market. Prices achieved for vintage works confirm the ever-strong market for pieces of that era on an international level. »
Collectors' enthusiasm for German avant-garde photographer Heinz Hajek-Halke (1898-1983) saw eleven of his twelve prints find takers. Highlights included his Schwarz-Weisser Akt (Black & White Nude) (1930-36) at 17,500 and his Erotik Ganz Gross! (Monumental Eroticism, 1928-32) at 34,350, triple the high estimate. Hajek-Halkes varied technical approach involving triple-montages, photograms and Lichtgrafik was revolutionary for the time, opening up new fields of creative expression.
The sale's top two prices went to prints by the pioneering Czech photographer Josef Sudek: his 1952 Still Life Study, reproduced on the cover of the catalogue, set an all-time high for Sudek of 300,750; while his Untitled (Vase & Dead Rose) flew to 228,750 against a top estimate of 18,000.*
Photographs from the 1920s/30s proved especially popular. Two major works by Edward Weston from the private collection of Anita Brenner, dating from his years in Mexico, aroused keen interest: Tres Ollas (1926) fetched 60,750 against an estimate of 25,000-35,000, and Galvan Shooting (1924) doubled top estimate on 51,150.
Another photograph taken in Mexico during the interwar period, Manuel Alvarez Bravo's Retrato de la Eterna (Portrait of the Eternal), claimed 228,750 to post the sale's second world record price. This 1935 print hailed from a private Austrian collection.
Rudolf Koppitz's legendary Bewegungsstudie (Movement Study) from 1925, a perennial favourite among connoisseurs, sold for 102,750 against an estimate of 60,000-80,000. This iconic image reflects Koppitzs genius at exploiting line, form and the surface interplay between shadow and light.
The sale opened with a superb selection of 19th century photographs and fifteen classic prints by Eugène Atget (1857-1927), led by a 1923 view of Notre-Dame in Paris that soared to 168,750 against an estimate of 40,000-60,000.
The sale's most successful contemporary photographer was the much- admired Irving Penn (1917-2009), whose two enigmatic portraits of Pablo Picasso, taken in Cannes in 1957, brought 54,750 and 36,750.