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Phillips de Pury & Company announces highlights from its London photographs auction
Peter Beard, Hunting Cheetahs on the Taru Desert , Kenya , June, 1960. Estimate: £140,000–180,000. Image courtesy of Phillips de Pury & Company.

LONDON.- Phillips de Pury & Company launches its May Photographs sale on Thursday 17 May 2012. The London Photographs department, a leader in the European Market, will offer a diverse and exciting mix of vintage and Contemporary works by leading and notable artists of the 20th and 21st Centuries.

Lou Proud, Head of Photographs, London said, "We are delighted to offer a strong and exciting mix of excellent vintage material placed in amongst contemporary photographic greats of our day. The sale offers something for everyone in terms of price point, genre and movement. To have such a group of exquisite Josef Sudek works is personally one of the most thrilling components for me."

Vanessa Kramer, Worldwide Director Photographs said, "Due to the strength of the sale, we hope to maintain our leading position in the London photographs market. The desirable, high caliber works offered in the May auction should appeal and encourage competitive bidding from a broad collector base."

The auction includes a number of larger scale works by some of today’s most desirable artists. The top Lot in the May Photographs sale is an exceptional oversized print by Peter Beard whose work has become globally desired and collected. The sale brings to the auction market the largest ever work by Peter Beard to be sold in a Photographs sale; Hunting Cheetahs on the Taru Desert, Kenya, June, 1960, estimated at £140,000 -180,000 is an example of the prints Beard began creating in the 1990s, usually for specific exhibitions. It contains Beard’s distinctive trade-mark notations of blood, ink and African detritus and it is currently extremely rare to find these pieces for public sale.

Lot 146 depicts the giant human landscape, Deluge, 2006 estimated at £50,000 -70,000. This three panel work by David LaChapelle is a comment on today’s commercially obsessive society illustrated by a contemporary take on a biblical flood, its almost painterly iconography drawing to mind the nineteenth century painters such as Eugene Delacroix and Theodore Gericault.

Vera Lutter’s work; Palazzo Papadopoli Venice XIX: March 14, 2006 estimated at £40,000 – 60,000 is a large camera obscura print in the form of a diptych. The work has been produced by the artist’s transformation of a shipping container forming a modern day camera obscura to encapsulate an image over a period of anything between days and months, producing an enigmatic impression of the passing of time and anything that happens to move through its path.

This season’s sale also pays homage to iconic works from the earlier part of the 20th Century. Walker Evans patriarchal farmer in Lot 92, Alabama Tenant Farmer (Floyd Burroughs), 1936 estimated at £40,000 – 50,000 is a leading example. The early printing of this image adds to the stoic and majestic gaze of its sitter Floyd Burroughs who was photographed during the Farm Security Administration’s rehabilitation program by Evans.

Lot 75, The Runner in the City, c. 1926 estimated at £40,000 – 60,000, is another wonderful early piece depicting the way El Lissitzky worked with photography, piecing together images to create something extraordinary; in this work he uses The Runner as a metaphor for freedom of expression, man as machine and the importance of human development. Lot 76 again is a key piece of early photography, Silaum Silaus, 1920s by Karl Blossfeldt estimated at £35,000 – 45,000 is a beautiful example of how Blossfeldt almost scientifically documented these forms of nature presenting them as sculptural studies to his students.

Lots 78 to 91 show a unique and marvelous collection of works by Josef Sudek. The group comes from a long time friend and correspondent of Sudek, they communicated together through images, letters and their love of music. The group includes classic images produced in pigment and silver gelatin silver and also two first edition books signed and annotated by the photographer.

Other early printings from stellar 20th century names include Lot 17 Diane Arbus, A family one evening in a nudist camp, PA, 1965 estimate £45,000 – 55,000, Lot 35 Herbert List, Jean Cocteau I, Paris, 1948 estimate £2,500 – 3,500, Lot 74 Alexander Rodchenko, ‘La fille mal gardée’ Ballet, Bolshoi Theatre, 1937 estimate £5,000 – 7,000, Lot 126 Robert Frank, Mary and Pablo, c. 1953 estimate £8,000 – 12,000 among others.

As always there is a strong representation of fashion photography, kicking off with the seminal image in Lot 1 by Helmut Newton entitled Sie Kommen (Naked), Paris , 1981 estimated at £8,000 – 12,000 which exudes power and glamour in equal measure, a texture very much associated with fashion of the 1980s. Lot 3 is Hands, New York , 1941 by Horst P. Horst estimated at £5,000 – 7,000, an homage to surrealism and greatly admired by more contemporary admirers of classicism such as Robert Mapplethorpe. There are three strong works by Jeanloup Sieff seen in Lot 5 Harper’s Bazaar, Palm Beach, 1964 estimate £4,000 – 6,000, Lot 20 Portrait of a seated lady, c.1972 estimate £3,500 – 4,500 and Lot 21 Homage to Seurat, New York, 1965 estimated at £7,000 – 9,000.

Lot 9 represents a lesser seen body of work by David Bailey, entitled Amanda Johnson, Songwriter / Performer / Contortionist…, 2003 estimated at £5,000 – 7,000 is taken from the project he did in 2003 called ‘David Bailey’s Democracy’. The idea came to him whilst reading Plato’s Republic which inspired him to conjure his own cast of characters from the present day and photograph them in all their very own ‘naked’ glory.

A beautifully printed set of Dye Transfer prints of images by Hans Feurer can be seen in Lot 30. Lot 57 by Irving Penn is the timeless classic, Woman in Palace (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn) Marrakech, Morocco, 1951 estimated at £60,000 – 80,000 taken as part of the ‘Moroccan Handbook’ a travel story, published in American Vogue in 1952. The sale also offers works of this genre by Herb Ritts, Mario Testino, Guy Bourdin, Marilyn Minter and Peter Lindbergh.

The contemporary genre of photography always plays a defining and strong role in Phillips de Pury & Company’s photographic sales; the exciting juxtaposition of sturdy blue chip names such as Thomas Ruff whose Lots 50, Haus Nr.11 III, 1990 estimated at £15,000 – 20,000 and Lot 142 Nudes mn 12, 1999 estimated at £15,000 – 20,000 reflect two totally different stages in his substantial oeuvre as an artist, Elger Esser whose work in Lot 52 is lesser seen at auction, 75 Saint-Jean de Luz, 2004 estimated at £35,000 – 55,000 is an image inspired from his collection of turn of the 20th century postcards conjuring nostalgia and warm family holidays, the course-grain due to enlargement and manipulation by the artist calls to mind Seurat and the pointillist painters. Woven in between these pillars of Contemporary photography are the European rising stars such as Sonja Braas, Lot 44, Forces #8, 2002, estimate £5,000 – 7,000 Michael Reisch, Lot 46, Landschaft (Landscape) 10/005, 2010, estimate £10,000 – 15,000, Uta Barth, Lot 40, Ground #55, 1995 estimate £2,000 – 3,000 and the current British hot property of the moment Dan Holdsworth Lot 47, Untitled 08 from No Echo, 2003 estimated at £5,000 – 7,000.

The sale also contains works by Edward Weston, John Swannell, Erwin Olaf, Brassaï, Louis Faurer, Candida Hofer, Richard Prince, Alec Soth, William Eggleston, Sally Mann, Andy Warhol, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Will McBride and William Klein among others.

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