On November 10th, Christies
will be holding its Photographs auction, focusing on 20th and 21st century photography. 130 works created by major figures of photography will be shown, such as August Sander, Constantin Brancusi, Man Ray, Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin and Richard Avedon.
The Photography department is pleased to present an ensemble of some of the most famous and emblematic images of the 20th century, including a magnificent portrait by Helmut Newton, Elsa Peretti as a Bunny, which will be one of the highlights of the sale (estimate 120,000 180,000). An icon of New York fashion, Elsa Peretti poses before the lens of the fashion photographer in 1975, in a suit designed by the designer Halston. Lascivious, she is captured on the terrace of her flat in an outfit suggesting intimacy, posing before the dizzying space of Manhattan.
The artist defines his signature style, loaded with erotism, halfway between seduction and provocation, translating the theme of voyeurism and overturning the codes of fashion photography. Helmut Newton, one of the most influential photographers of his time, symbolically sets his models in situations on the edge of glamour, sexuality, and feminine vigor.
A set of prints from another great master of photography, Irving Penn, will also be one of the highlights of the sale. In 1948, the photographer began one of his most celebrated projects, capturing what he called the Small Trades. This series, started in Paris for Vogue, was later extended for London and New York. Irving Penn brought the street into his studio for this project: like in the portraits Workman, Chimney Sweep, Lorry Washer or News Seller (estimate 60,000 80,000), subjects pose formally in front of a neutral background, with their work outfits and accessories as sole attributes. Deprived of any external artifice, these protagonists of everyday life occupy the center of attention, just like the countless models and celebrities immortalized by Irving Penn in the same studio. This set of iconic portraits marks Penns testimony in the history of the 20th century.
Among the images prized by collectors, this emblematic work by Richard Avedon, Dovima with Elephants, 1955 stands out (estimate 40,000-60,000). This famous print had already established a record for the artist in 2008 during a sale dedicated to Avedon at Christies, which was sold for 841,000. The pioneering spirit of Avedon audaciously manifests itself in his treatment of the subject, as is the case with another series, also part of the sale, that the photographer shot for the newspaper Egoïste: La Passante du Siècle (estimate 15,000 25,000). Wishing to free himself from the traditional limits imposed by fashion magazines, Richard Avedon captures Stéphanie Seymour under the changing features of the woman of the 20th century. By exploring the different forms of fashion and feminine identity through the decades, Richard Avedon sketches here a stylized history of women, with complete freedom of expression.
Each more outstanding than the next, the works proposed by the Photography department embrace the entire history of the discipline. Une vue de latelier, c.1925 by Constantin Brancusi (estimate 60,000 80,000) is one of the prints signed by the sculptor present in this sale. This one shows the main concern of the artist: the organization of shapes and shades between themselves, in their relationship to the void surrounding them.
Alongside these aesthetical searches from the turn of the century, seven pieces by Guy Bourdin, from the collection of Asmaa Khamlichi, will be on view at Christies from 6 to 9 November. At first fascinated by painting, Guy Bourdin made his way into fashion photography by chance, after his military service in Dakar in 1949. Full of promise, Bourdin combines his painting color palette with his photography, which takes on the appearance of films by David Lynch or Hitchcock. He freely celebrate yellows, reds, greens and blues, in ambiguous atmospheres heavy with eroticism, turning him into a new icon of fashion magazines, such as with the Charles Jourdan, Autumn 1977 print (estimate 30,000-40,000), which reflects Bourdins love for deafening riddles, interweaving glamour with threat.