NEW YORK — Swann Galleries opened their fall 2021 season with the single-owner sale of The Virginia Zabriskie Collection on September 21. The success of the auction was the result of a multi-department effort from the house’s prints and drawings and photography departments. Original works, prints, photographs and more were on offer from the gallerist’s personal collection, which was built during a pioneering career that spanned more than five decades.
The sale brought $1,297,867, about $100,000 more than the pre-sale high estimate, with 85% of the lots on offer finding buyers, many achieving records for artists and mediums alike.
Reflecting on the sale, prints and drawings director Todd Weyman noted, “The Virginia Zabriskie Collection at Swann revealed that the audacious artist roster put together by this pioneering New York gallerist was still very much fresh and desirable to collectors today.”
Man Ray ready-mades led the auction with six works landing in the top 20 lots of the sale and four of the six earning records, including the top lot of the auction: Perpetual Motif, a circa 1922-33 metronome with a lenticular printed eye, at $161,000.
Additional records for Man Ray ready-mades featured Enough Rope II, a rope and wooden baton conceived in 1962 and executed in 1973, at $27,500; Levres d’Or, a 1967 hollowed out leather-bound book/jewelry box, at $25,000; and Matchbox (Boite d’Allumettes), a matchbox with a photograph adhered to the top with various color felt samples inside, executed circa 1955-65, at $20,000.
Sculptures proved to be popular among collectors with Constantino Nivola earning a record with a painted and sand cast sculpture that sold for $45,000. Also of note were sculptures by Kenneth Snelson, Alexander Archipenko and George Rickey.
Of the photography offerings, photographs director, Deborah Rogal, noted, “…strong results across the spectrum — from Alfred Stieglitz photogravures to Man Ray surrealist works to European and American street photography — the Virginia Zabriskie auction reflected the important legacy of her groundbreaking photography program and the continued influence of her exhibitions and artists in today’s marketplace. I am thrilled to see her influence and worldview embraced by collectors today.”
Photo highlights included Paul Strand’s Lupin, the Garden Orgeval, a 1959 silver print that brought a record for the image at $25,000; Robert Frank’s Paris (Lovers on a Bench), a 1949 silver print, earned $12,500; and Alfred Stieglitz’s Reflections: Night – New York, and The Glow of Night – New York, two 1897 photogravures from the portfolio Picturesque Bits of New York And Other Studies, sold together for $5,250. In addition to the ready-mades, Man Ray’s photography also proved to be successful, including the Surrealist photo Venus Restauree, a 1936 silver print, at $11,875.
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