Photographs & Photobook at Swann May 27

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American Icons Feature with Roy DeCarava, Dorothea Lange, Alma Lavenson, Robert Frank & more

Robert Frank, Covered Car, Long Beach, California, silver print, 1955–56, printed 1971. Estimate $50,000 to $70,000.
Robert Frank, Covered Car, Long Beach, California, silver print, 1955–56, printed 1971. Estimate $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 Thursday, May 27 covers twentieth-century masters, as well as contemporary practitioners and items from the visual vernacular: albums, archives, and individual objects. 

Significant chroniclers of the American scene include Robert Frank’s Covered Car, Long Beach, California, silver print, 1955–56, printed 1971, which leads the sale ($50,000-70,000); Roy DeCarava with Catsup Bottles, Table and Coat, New York, silver print, 1952, printed 1982 ($20,000-30,000); and O. Winston Link’s Hotshot Eastbound, Iaeger, West Virginia, silver print, 1957, printed 1988 ($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 ($12,000-18,000); Dorothea Lange’s Woman of the High Plains, Texas Panhandle, silver print, circa 1960, which comes to auction through a former student and darkroom assistant of Lange’s ($15,000-25,000); and Walker Evans’s Barber Shop, New Orleans, silver print, 1935, printed 1960s ($3,000-4,500). From Manuel Álvarez 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 ($20,000-30,000). Twentieth-century Europe is present with August Sander’s Handlanger [Bricklayer], silver print, 1928, printed 1970s, with Gunther Sander’s August Sander Lichtbildner hand stamp on the verso ($15,000-25,000); W. Eugene Smith’s Spinner, from Spanish Village, silver print, 1950, printed 1960s ($5,000-7,500); and a group of four Parisian scenes by Eugène Atget dated 1905 to 1926, and printed 1940s to 1960s ($4,000-6,000). 

Alma Lavenson, Pump and Trough, Hornitos, silver print, 1940. Estimate $10,000 to $15,000.
Alma Lavenson, Pump and Trough, Hornitos, silver print, 1940. Estimate $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 ($10,000-15,000). From Cunningham is Shell Collection 3, silver print, circa 1930 ($15,000-25,000), and Agave, silver print, 1920, printed 1970s ($7,000-10,000); and from Abbott is Bernice Abbott’s New York, a complete 1931–38, printed 1979, portfolio with 12 of Abbott’s iconic New York City views ($25,000-35,000), as well as Faces of the 20s, a complete portfolio with 12 of the photographers early portraits, printed in 1981 ($10,000-15,000).

Contemporary portraits feature Peter Hujar’s Portrait of Henry Lyon Young, silver print, 1981 ($8,000-12,000), offered alongside a pair of photographs of Gregory Hines from 1985 by Robert Mapplethorpe ($12,000-18,000). Color photography is included with Steve McCurry’s Afghan Girl (Sharbat Gula), chromogenic print, 1985 ($10,000-15,000); Michael Wolf’s Night #1, Hong Kong, chromogenic print, 2005 ($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 ($5,000-7,500); and Joel Meyerowitz’s Storm Over Corn Hill Beach, Truro, Cape Cod, chromogenic print, 1976, printed 1979 ($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.

Limited previewing (by appointment only) will be available through May 26, to be scheduled directly with a specialist in advance and conforming to strict safety guidelines. Swann Galleries staff will prepare condition reports and provide additional photographs of material on request. Advance order bids can be placed with a specialist for the sale or on Swann’s website, and phone bidding will be available. Live online bidding platforms will be the Swann Galleries App, Invaluable, and Live Auctioneers. The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at www.swanngalleries.com and on the Swann Galleries App.

Additional highlights can be found here.

Captions:

Lot 233: Robert Frank, Covered Car, Long Beach, California, silver print, 1955–56, printed 1971. Estimate $50,000 to $70,000.

Lot 22: Alma Lavenson, Pump and Trough, Hornitos, silver print, 1940. Estimate $10,000 to $15,000.

Auction date: Thursday, May 27, at 10:30 am 

Specialist: Deborah Rogal • [email protected] • 212-254-4710 x 55

CMO: Alexandra Nelson • [email protected] • 212-254-4710 x 19

Public Relations Associate: Kelsie Jankowski • [email protected] • 212-254-4710 x 23

Social media: @swanngalleries  

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PRINTED CATALOGUE & ADDL. DIGITAL IMAGES AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

Swann Auction Galleries is a third-generation family business as well as the world’s largest auction house for works on paper. In the last 75 years, Swann has repeatedly revolutionized the trade with such innovations as the first U.S. auction dedicated to photographs and the world’s only department of African-American Fine Art. More than 30 auctions and previews are held annually in Swann Galleries’ two-floor exhibition space in Midtown Manhattan, and online worldwide. Visit swanngalleries.com for more information.

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James Ardis
James Ardis
Senior Writer and Editor

James Ardis is a writer, editor, and content strategist focused on the auction industry. His company, James Ardis Writing, has partnered with auction houses, galleries, and many clients outside the art world.

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