NEW YORK — Swann Galleries is set to open the fall 2021 season with the sale of The Virginia Zabriskie Collection on Tuesday, September 21. The special single-owner sale is comprised of Zabriskie’s personal collection, built during a pioneering career spanning more than five decades, marked by audacity and innovation in a field that was seldom encouraging to professional women. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Zabriskie acquired her New York gallery in 1954; by the 1980s the gallery had expanded to three locations, including a space in Paris, which opened in 1977. The two New York spaces specialized in painting and sculpture, respectively, while the Paris location was a first of its kind — joining an exhibition space for photographic works with a bookstore devoted to selling photo-related literature. In her impressive 54 years of owning the gallery, Zabriskie was responsible for both launching the careers of artists and for bringing under-appreciated artists to light. She leaves a legacy that has transformed the industry, both visually and professionally, which will persist for generations to come.
Leading the sale is a selection of Man Ray and Duchamp’s ready-made objects and photographs. Zabriskie was keyed into the zeitgeist of the era and embraced the Dada Manifesto, presenting several exhibitions that explored these ideas and the artists behind them. Notable lots by Man Ray include Object Indestructible (Perpetual Motif), 1922–70, a metronome with holographic paper, estimated at $40,000-$60,000; a hollowed-out leather-bound book-jewelry box with a mirror from 1967, estimated at $25,000-$35,000; New York, 1920–65, a ready-made of a glass cylinder with steel balls and cotton placed inside and capped off with a wood stopper, estimated at $20,000-$30,000; and Boîte d’Allumettes, a matchbox with a black and white photograph attached to the top and felt rectangles included in the matchbox, estimated at $15,000-$20,000. Duchamp works on offer feature Phare de la Harpe, 1921–67, estimated at $20,000-$30,000, as well as Rotoreliefs, 1935–53, a set of 12 offset color lithographs printed on six double-sided cardboard discs, estimated at $7,000-$10,000.
An exceptional run of works by Abraham Walkowitz — who Zabriskie represented during the last six years of Walkowitz’s life — opens the auction, including a 1900 bronze sculpture Crouching Male Nude, estimated at $3,000-$5,000; a selection of smaller oil on canvas works, notably Park Scene, circa 1908, estimated at $3,000-$5,000; Anticoli Corrado, circa 1906-07, estimated at $3,000-$5,000; and a number of abstract city and landscape drawings. Also of note is Richard Stankiewicz’s 1960 welded steel sculpture Wind Gong, estimated at $40,000-$60,000, and George L. K. Morris’s Composition #9, a 1936 oil on canvas estimated at $30,000-$50,000.
Photography was an important part of Zabriskie’s curatorial vision and aesthetic. She carried the medium to the forefront at a time when it was still considered vanguard, bringing European photographers to America and American photography to Europe. The works Zabriskie collected and showcased encompassed a wide range of work from early-twentieth century Dada and Surrealist masters — like the prints, paintings and sculpture artists in our auction — to American photography icons. Highlights from the photography selection include Robert Frank’s Paris (Lovers on a Bench), a 1949 silver print estimated at $15,000-$20,000; Lee Friedlander’s Father Duffy, Times Square, New York City, a silver print from 1974, printed in the 1980s and estimated at $7,000-$10,000; Brassai’s Un Fiacre Devant la Café Le Dome, Montparnasse, silver print, 1931–32, estimated at $5,000-$8,000; and Eugene Atget’s St. Cloud (Cascade), a 1928 albumen print estimated at $5,000-$8,000. Images by Paul Strand, Bernice Abbott, Man Ray, Harry Callahan, William Klein and more also feature.
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