American themes captured in Swann May 27 Photography sale

Robert Frank, ‘Covered Car, Long Beach, California,’ estimated at $50,000 to $70,000

Robert Frank, ‘Covered Car, Long Beach, California,’ estimated at $50,000 to $70,000

NEW YORK — Exploring the thematic and visual diversity of the photographic medium, Swann Galleries’s auction of Photographs & Photobooks on May 27 covers 20th-century masters, as well as contemporary practitioners and items from the visual vernacular: albums, archives, and individual objects. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

Significant chroniclers of the American scene include Robert Frank’s Covered Car, Long Beach, California, a silver print shot between 1955–56 and printed in 1971, which leads the sale with an estimate of $50,000-$70,000; Roy DeCarava with Catsup Bottles, Table and Coat, New York, a silver print from 1952, printed in 1982, estimated at $20,000-$30,000; and O. Winston Link’s Hotshot Eastbound, Iaeger, West Virginia, a silver print taken in 1957 and printed in 1988, estimated at $7,000-$10,000. Also of note are works by Diane Arbus, George A. Tice, Elliott Erwitt, and Garry Winogrand, among others.

Important social documentary images from Europe as well as the Americas feature. Early American and WPA-era photography includes a group of nine silver prints dating from 1908 to 1914 depicting young workers across America during the Second Industrial Revolution by Lewis W. Hine, estimated at $12,000-$18,000; Dorothea Lange’s Woman of the High Plains, Texas Panhandle, a circa 1960 silver print that comes to auction through a former student and darkroom assistant of Lange’s, and carries an estimate of $15,000-$25,000; and Walker Evans’s Barber Shop, New Orleans, a 1935 silver print printed in the 1960s, and estimated at $3,000-$4,500. From Manuel Alvarez Bravo is Fifteen Photographs, a 1929 to 1972 portfolio edited by Lee Friedlander, complete with numerous highlights from Bravo’s extraordinary career, and printed in 1974. It is estimated at $20,000-$30,000. Twentieth-century Europe is present with August Sander’s Handlanger [Bricklayer], a silver print from 1928, printed in the 1970s, with Gunther Sander’s August Sander Lichtbildner hand stamp on the verso, estimated at $15,000-$25,000; W. Eugene Smith’s Spinner, from Spanish Village, a 1950 silver print that was printed in the 1960s, estimated at $5,000-$7,500; and a group of four Parisian scenes by Eugene Atget dated 1905 to 1926, and printed between the 1940s and 1960s, estimated at $4,000-$6,000.

Alma Lavenson, ‘Pump and Trough, Hornitos,’ estimated at $10,000 to $15,000

Alma Lavenson, ‘Pump and Trough, Hornitos,’ estimated at $10,000 to $15,000

The sale will feature vintage and rare work by several important women practitioners, including Imogen Cunningham, Alma Lavensonand Berenice Abbott. Highlights include Lavenson’s Pump and Trough, Hornitos—with Lavenson having only printed from the negative of this image twice, it is a rare 1940 silver print, and comes to auction descendent from Lavenson’s estate. It carries an estimate of $10,000-$15,000. From Cunningham is Shell Collection 3, a circa 1930 silver print estimated at  $15,000-$25,000, and Agave, a silver print from 1920 that was printed in the 1970s, estimated at $7,000-$10,000; and from Abbott is Bernice Abbott’s New York, a complete portfolio from 1931–38, printed in 1979, with 12 of Abbott’s iconic New York City views, estimated at $25,000-$35,000, as well as Faces of the 20s, a complete portfolio with 12 of the photographer’s early portraits, printed in 1981 and estimated at $10,000-$15,000.

Contemporary portraits feature Peter Hujar’s Portrait of Henry Lyon Young, a 1981 silver print estimated at $8,000-$12,000, offered alongside a pair of photographs of Gregory Hines from 1985 by Robert Mapplethorpe, estimated at $12,000-$18,000. Color photography is included with Steve McCurry’s Afghan Girl (Sharbat Gula), a 1985 chromogenic print estimated at $10,000-$15,000; Michael Wolf’s Night #1, Hong Kong, a 2005 chromogenic print estimated at $5,000-$7,500; Eliot Porter’s In Wildness, a portfolio with 10 elegant dye-transfer prints of natural scenes from across the United States, estimated at $5,000-$7,500; and Joel Meyerowitz’s Storm Over Corn Hill Beach, Truro, Cape Cod, a chromogenic print taken in 1976 and printed in 1979, estimated at $3,000-$4,500.

The vernacular section will offer a Japanese album with nearly 50 hand-colored photographs showcasing life in the 1890s ($3,000-4,500); World’s Fair material from the 1904 fair in St. Louis, including official souvenir playing cards with vignette reproductions of photographs of the Louisiana Purchase exposition ($800-1,200); African Americana with images of influential leaders and photos of the Harlem bus boycott ($600-$900); and more.

 

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