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A Show Of Hands: Sotheby's announces sale of photographs from The Collection of Henry Buhl
Alfred Stieglitz, Hands with Thimble, 1919. Est. $800,000/1.2 million. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- On 12 & 13 December 2012 Sotheby’s will present one of the world’s most significant privately owned photograph collections with the auction A Show Of Hands: Photographs From The Collection of Henry Buhl. The single owner sale explores the theme of the human hand, encompassing works from the art form’s early 19th century pioneers to the masters of 20th century photography and beyond. It was assembled over a period of 20 years by the visionary philanthropist and collector Henry M. Buhl and was the subject of the critically-acclaimed exhibition Speaking With Hands: Photographs from the Buhl Collection at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York in 2004. It has since been featured in many of the world’s most renowned institutions, from Moscow to Macau. The sale is led by Alfred Stieglitz’s Hands with Thimble from 1919 (est. $800,000/1.2 million), a study of the painter Georgia O’Keeffe’s expressive hands. The Buhl print is the only print of this iconic image not in the collection of a museum or institution and is one of the most important 20th-century photographs in private hands today. Overall, the auction will comprise approximately 437 lots and is estimated to bring $8/12 million, with 70% of the proceeds benefiting The Buhl Foundation.

Henry M. Buhl commented: “After ten years of collecting, ten major museum shows, and pre-sale exhibitions in cities throughout the US and Europe, the journey of the Buhl Collection is coming to an end. I have been thrilled to see so many collectors share my passion for this unique cross-section of the history of photography. The majority of the sale proceeds will go to the Buhl Foundation, which supports homeless men and women currently living in shelters throughout New York City, through A.C.E.—The Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless. I hope these photographs bring as much pleasure to their new owners as they did to me.”

Denise Bethel, Director of Sotheby’s Photographs Department said: “The sale of photographs from the Buhl Collection will rightly take its place alongside the greatest auctions ever held in our field, including Photographs from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Including works from the Gilman Paper Company Collection; Photographs from The Museum of Modern Art; Photographs from the Private Collection of Margaret W. Weston, and Photographs from the Polaroid Collection. Henry Buhl’s singular focus and passion for the theme of the hand was equaled by the superb quality of the images he selected. The sale will offer collectors a wonderful opportunity to acquire everything from intriguing anonymous photographs to acclaimed masterworks. Henry's collection is a real template for the best of collecting---an inspiration to seasoned collectors and beginners alike."

As Mr. Buhl recalled in his preface to the Guggenheim exhibition catalogue, the collection was born in 1993 with his purchase of Hands with Thimble by Alfred Stieglitz. It soon grew to comprise a veritable history of the entire photographic medium through the theme of hands. Among its many treasures are the unique, original photo-collage of Herbert Bayer’s seminal Lonely Metropolitan (est. $300/500,000); a unique Man Ray Rayograph of a hand and egg (est. $250/350,000), Andreas Gursky’s ecstatic sea of hands in May Day II (est. $500/700,000), and exceptional works by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Edward Weston, El Lissitzky, Gilbert and George, Jeff Wall, and Cindy Sherman, among many, many others. The Buhl Foundation was founded in 1992 by Henry Buhl to enhance the quality of life of underprivileged individuals by supporting education, the homeless, and the arts. The Foundation supports a number of not-forprofit organizations and programs, including the Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless (A.C.E.) that works to enable New York City's homeless men and women to re-enter the workforce and achieve long-term economic self-sufficiency.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium

Sotheby's | A Show Of Hands | Henry Buhl | New York |

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