Collection Spotlight: Evelyne Daitz, Trailblazing Photography Gallerist
Setting the Foundation for the Photography Market
We are honored to be offering numerous works from the estate of Evelyne Z. Daitz (pictured at left by photographer Evelyn Hofer) in our October 2020 Fine Photographs auction. Daitz, who was born in Switzerland, began working with the famed New York City gallerist Lee Witkin in 1976 after developing an interest in the medium from her husband, photography dealer Howard Daitz. Together, in the various iterations of the iconic Witkin Gallery, which is considered today to be the first commercially successful space for photography in New York, Witkin and Daitz helped to set the foundation for the market and pioneered the ways in which the medium is still considered and collected today.
A Desire to Look Deeply: Influence & Legacy
Daitz continued to run the gallery after Witkin’s death, finally closing the physical space in 1999 and continuing the gallery online through her death. Throughout her long and influential career, Daitz’s vision and dedication helped to shape the careers and reputations of numerous photographers. And as a woman in a field dominated by men, Daitz’s pioneering role made room for those who followed.
Daitz’s unique approach to installations and imaginative thematic shows encouraged legions of collectors. Fanciful and adventurous (perhaps not unrelated to her own elegant styling, exemplified by the dragonfly brooches she was known for wearing daily), Daitz’s legacy includes exhibitions titled “On the Elbow” and “Sur la Tête.” This desire to look deeply at content, to relish in the playful while deploying a deeply serious look at the landscape of both well-known and new practitioners, perhaps best epitomizes the legacy of Evelyne Daitz, and the long-lasting impression she has left and will continue to leave on the field.
Friendships with Artists & Establishing Precedents
One of Daitz’s closest relationships was to the hugely influential photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo, who she continued to represent after the gallery’s official closing. Our sale includes his Platinum Portfolio (1981), an elegant and richly beautiful interpretation of his Surrealist imagery that only rarely appears at auction. We also offer the Edward Weston Witkin-Berley portfolio (1971), a set that includes numerous iconic photographs printed by Cole Weston that typify the series of portfolios Witkin and his partner Daniel Berley published. These publications set a precedent for the portfolio as we know it today. We offer other rare and important examples of the format including Ruth Bernhard’s The Gift of the Commonplace from 1976, The First Apeiron Portfolio (1981), Brett Weston’s Alaska, Ralph Gibson’s mysterious and beautifulDays at Sea(1975), and Robert Doisneau’s set of 15 from 1979.
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