Photographs Sale – Christie’s, April 5

At the April 5th Christie’s sale of Photographs, nineteen out of 348 featured images of black people or of Latin America.  Several of the images were taken by such noted photographers of the 20th century as Manual Alvarez Bravo, Robert Frank, Irving Penn, and W. Eugene Smith, among others.  Lot 264 by Robert Frank sold for $ 434,500, Trolley – New Orleans, 1955 , a photograph featured in Frank’s famous book, The Americans, depicting a segregated trolley car.  Equally noteworthy is Frank’s Charleston, South Carolina 1955 photograph selling for over three times its high estimate ($182,500).  The total sale yielded $ 6,880,450 with buyer’s premium.

Here are the lots you should review.

#60: Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Diego Rivera painting the River Lerma Well, 1951.  Sold for $ 9,375; Estimate $ 3,000-5,000.

#98: W. Eugene Smith, Nurse MidWife, 1952. Sold for $6,875;  Estimate $7,000 – $9,000.

#147: Irving Penn, Pila Pila Sisters, Dahomey, 1967.  Sold for $13,750;  Estimate $ 10,000 – 15,000.

#206: Irving Penn, Three Asaro Mudmen (New Guinea), 1970Sold for $92,500; Estimate: $40,000 – $60,000

Charleston, South Carolina, 1955

(Above) #263: Robert Frank, Charleston, South Carolina, 1955

Sold for $182,500; Estimate: $30,000 – $50,000

#269: Robert Mapplethorpe, Thomas, 1987

Sold for $8,750; Estimate: $5,000 – $7,000

#272: Robert Mapplethorpe, Grace Jones (Painted by Keith Haring), 1984

Sold for $27,500; Estimate: $10,000 – $15,000

#278: Irving Penn, New Guinea Man with Painted-On Glasses, 1970

Sold for $26,250; Estimate: $20,000 – $30,000

#279: Irving Penn, Tambul Warrior (New Guinea), 1970

Sold for $74,500; Estimate: $30,000 – $50,000

#283: Irving Penn, Nude 58, 1949-1950

Sold for $43,750; Estimate: $30,000 – $50,000

#314: Walker Evans, Street Portrait, Chicago, 1946

Sold for $30,000; Estimate: $30,000 – $50,000

La Buena Fama Durmiendo, 1930

(Above) #319: Manuel Alvarez Bravo, La Buena Fama Durmiendo, 1930

Sold for $8,125; Estimate: $5,000 – $7,000

#321: Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Frida con Globo, Coyoacan, Mexico, 1938

Sold for $9,375; Estimate: $6,000 – $8,000

(Below) #332: Weegee, Easter Sunday, Harlem, 1940.  Sold for $3,750; Estimate: $4,000 – $6,000

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Some New York Photography Auctions – October

Christie’s Photographs sale held October 6-7 in New York yielded 5,571,537 USD including buyer’s premium.
IRVING PENN (1917-2009) photograph, The Palm of Miles Davis (New York), 1986, sold for 146,500 USD, nearly three times its high estimate (30,000 – 50,000 USD). This lot was the second highest sale price of all the Penn lots, and the third highest seller in the entire auction of 263 lots.
Irving Penn, The Palm of Miles Davis, 1986
ASA C. PARTRIDGE photograph, Portrait of a slave woman and her young charge, 1840, a half-plate daguerreotype with hand coloring, sold for 1,250 USD, well below its estimate of  7,000-9,000 USD. 

Asa C. Partridge, Portrait of A Slave Women and Her Young Charge, 1840s

At the Sotheby’s Photographs sale, held October 6,  works by  Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) SELECTED STUDIES sold for 8,750 USD, just below its low estimate: 10,000—15,000 USD. The sale, held in New York, yielded 4,970,754  USD including buyer’s premium.

New York Auction House Photography Sales – March 30 and 31, 2009

There are some noteworthy examples of photographs that feature Black subjects in the Monday, March 30th and Tuesday, March 31st sales of Photographs at Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction house in New York.

At Sotheby’s Robert Mapplethorpe’s “Selected Images of Ajitto” feature two silver gelatin prints available for an auction estimate of $15,000 – $25,000. The property is from the art collection of the Bank of America. At Christie’s “Ajitto” 1981 offers four silver gelatin prints estimated for sale at $ 120,000 – $ 180,000.

ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE (1946 - 1989) Selected Images of Ajitto
ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE (1946 - 1989) Selected Images of Ajitto - for sale at Sotheby's, March 30, 2009
Sothbey’s also offers James Van Der Zee’s work in a portfolio of eighteen photographs focusing on various themes such as family, religion, education, and leisure time. The photographs are dated 1905-1938 and were printed in 1974 by Graphics International, Ltd. based in Washington, D.C. The portfolio is estimated to sell at $ 15,000 to $ 25,000.
Couple, Harlem, 1932
JAMES VAN DER ZEE ( 1886 - 1983) Couple, Harlem, 1932
At Christie’s, a Bruce Davidson (b. 1933) gelatin silver print of a young woman and child sitting on a bed, naked, from his “East 100th Street, New York, 1966-1968” book is estimated to sell at $ 7,000 – $ 9,000. It will be interesting to see whether Davidson’s work fetches within the estimate or exceeds it. “East 100th Street, New York” is a riveting portrayal of the black and latino community living in what is also known as “Spanish Harlem” or El Barrio.

Untitled (from "East 100th Street, New York, 1966-1968)
Untitled (from "East 100th Street, New York, 1966-1968)