NEW YORK — Swann Galleries’ third annual auction dedicated to the art, material culture, and history of the LGBTQ+ community will be held on August 19, bringing to market both familiar artists as well as fresh, unusual and infrequently seen material. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Among the art highlights are several original works by Tom of Finland, including two preparatory drawings and a 1982 completed color pencil work, Home—Secured, estimated at $60,000-$90,000; four oil paintings by Hugh Steers are led by Gold Fringe from 1993, estimated at $30,000-$50,000; a run of works by Paul Cadmus including a 1979 Prisma-color crayon drawing, Male Nude (MN155), estimated at $20,000-$30,000; three drawings by Gerda Wegener, as well as material by Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and David Wojnarowicz.
A significant section of important fine photographs will feature works by the medium’s most significant practitioners. Diane Arbus is on offer with Girl in Her Circus Costume, MD, a 1970 silver print printed in 1972 and estimated at $8,000-$12,000, and Two Men Dancing at a Drag Ball, NYC, another 1970 silver print printed in 1972, estimated at $5,000-$7,500. Peter Hujar features with Man on Chair (Richard Weinroth), a 1979 silver print estimated at $12,000-$18,000. JEB (Joan E. Biren) is present with a selection of joyful images including Gloria and Charmaine a 1979 silver print estimated at $1,000-$1,500, and Darquita and Daughter, another 1979 silver print bearing the same estimate. Also crossing the block is Robert Mapplethorpe and George Platt Lynes as well as several studies of the male physique by Bruce of LA, and a pair of portraits of the iconic figure Francois “Feral” Benga, who served as a muse for artists during the Harlem Renaissance, including Richmond Barthe, whose bronze statue of Benga set a record for Barthe in our June 2020 sale of African American Art.
Early material features a very unusual group of historical Oscar Wilde advertising cards dating to his first tour around America in 1882, which carry an estimate of $1,000-$1,500. Twentieth-century material sees a group of 13 gay rights fliers issued in the weeks after Stonewall in 1969 by the Mattachine Society and others, estimated at $1,500-$2,500; two greeting cards issues by the short-lived Third World Gay Liberation Group (a splinter group of the Gay Liberation Front) from 1970, estimated at $500-$750, and an invitation to a Gay Independence Day Picnic thrown by the Madison Gay Liberation Front in 1973, estimated at $500-$750. Also on offer are a 1989 20th anniversary of Stonewall postcard with the “first ever gay-related U.S. Post Office cancellation,” estimated at $100-$150; vintage posters for the St. Marks Baths by Boris Vallejo, estimated at $2,000-$3,000; and a collection of posters by “fierce pussy,” estimated at $800-$1,200, represent material from the late 1980s.
Literature will include a 1932 signed copy of Lord Alfred Douglas’s My Friendship with Oscar Wilde, estimated at $100-$200; a select grouping of lesbian pulp fiction, estimated at $300-$500, each; as well as a group of lesbian studies and literature first editions from 1929 to 1984, estimated at $300-$500; and a group of five signed titles by Tennessee Williams, estimated at $500-$750.
As in years past, the house has chosen a nonprofit to donate to, and this year Swann has partnered with the American LGBTQ+ Museum, New York City’s first museum dedicated to LGBTQ+ history and culture. For this auction, Swann will match the donation amount for every consignor who donates 1% of their proceeds. The American LGBTQ+ Museum preserves, investigates, and celebrates the often-unseen contributions of LGBTQ+ people in American history and culture. Using exhibitions and programs, the museum seeks to advance LGBTQ+ representation and equality. The museum hosted its first public programs in June 2021, and it is slated to open its permanent galleries in 2024 in a new building on the campus of the New-York Historical Society. For more information about the museum, please visit thelgbtqplusmuseum.org.
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