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Classic Images, Desirable Portraits, Contemporary Art Among Top Lots at Swann Galleries' Auction
Brett Weston, Twenty Photographs 1970-1977, portfolio of silver prints, from an edition of 35, 1970-77, printed 1978, $33,600.

NEW YORK, NY.- On December 9, Swann Galleries conducted an auction devoted to Important Photographs & Photobooks, and top prices were achieved for classic photos by well-known artists, early examples of the emerging art form, and cutting-edge contemporary works.

The sale’s top lot was the Brett Weston portfolio Twenty Photographs 1970-1977, silver prints, 1970-77, printed 1978, one of an edition of 35, which sold for $33,600*. Also by Weston was the transcendent Mendenhall Glacier, silver print, 1973, $10,200, and a lot of three project prints by Edward and Brett Weston, which were featured in a 1960s television show called “The Art of Seeing,” $7,800.

Other celebrated portfolios were Berenice Abbott’s New York II, with 12 silver prints that document the Big Apple from 1930 through 1950, from an edition of 65, printed 1979, $21,600; and The Southwest, portfolio containing 29 photogravures of Apache, Hopi, Navaho and other tribes by Edward S. Curtis, circa 1975, $9,000.

Also by Curtis was a dashing Self portrait, photogravure on an oversize Van Gelder sheet, 1899, $9,000. Other photogravure highlights included The Hand of Man, Alfred Stieglitz’s image of a train barreling toward the viewer, circa 1902, $26,400.

Portraits of well-known subjects included Edward Steichen and Rolf Petersen’s striking Gloria Swanson, New York (for “Vanity Fair”), silver print, 1924, printed 1960s-1971, $26,400; Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Henri Matisse, Vence, France, silver print, 1944, printed early 1970s, $8,400; and Richard Avedon’s triptych of aged Igor Stravinsky, Composer, silver print, 1962; printed 1975, $9,225.

More experimental were Man Ray’s off-kilter view of Serge Lifar in “Romeo and Juliet,” silver print, 1926, $16,800; and Claude Cahun’s Self-portrait with Roger Roussot in “Barbe-Bleue,” silver print, 1929, $15,600.

Classic silver prints from the mid-20th century included several Ansel Adams landscapes, Cartier-Bresson’s beloved On the Banks of the Marne, 1938, printed 1970s, $19,200, and Rue Mouffetard, 1954, printed 1980s, $15,600; and Robert Frank’s image of an African-American baby nurse holding her white charge in Charleston, South Carolina, 1955, printed 1970s, $14,400.

Bidders competed for images by Duane Michals, such as his A Letter from My Father, silver print, 1975, $7,800, and I Dream the Perfect Day in New York City, photo-sequence consisting of 12 silver prints, 1977, $8,400.

Other works by contemporary artists included The First Apeiron Portfolio, with 18 original silver prints, including works by Emmet Gowin, Aaron Siskind, Minor White, and more, 1951-1973, printed 1975, $10,800; and Shirin Neshat’s I am its Secret, chromogenic print, 1993, $12,000.

From the Photobooks section of the sale were early periodicals dedicated to photography, such as Camera Work, Number 11, with 11 photogravures by artists including Hill and Adamson, Steichen, Demachy and Hinton, New York, 1905, $4,080; and Art in Photography, consecutive run of six issues, Boston, 1905, $4,080.

Japanese books that performed well were Eikoh Hosoe, Ba-Ra-Kei (Killed by Roses), one of 1500 copies signed by Hosoe and model Yokio Mishima, Tokyo, 1963, $3,120; Nobuyoshi Araki, Senchimentaru na Tabi [Sentimental Journey], first edition, Tokyo, 1971, $5,040; and Yutaka Takanashi, Toshi-e [Towards the City], two volumes, first edition, Tokyo, 1974, $4,080.

Also featured were Ansel Adams, Sierra Nevada, The John Muir Trail, first edition, one of 500 copies signed by Adams, Berkeley, 1938, $4,080; Robert Capa, Death in the Making, first edition, signed and inscribed by Capa, New York, 1938, $3,360; Robert Frank, The Lines of My Hand, first edition, Tokyo, 1972, $4,800; Andy Warhol, America, first edition, signed by Warhol on the dust jacket and on the contents page, New York, 1985, $4,080; and Mario Testino and Martin Amis, Coincidence of the Arts, limited edition of 60 copies, 1998, $4,080.

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