2016 Fall Auction Preview


Along with cooler weather, the annual Fall photography auction season is here, with sales hosted in New York by the three major auction houses, Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s.

Christie’s has scheduled an evening sale on 4 October followed by a day sale on 5 October.  The evening sale features some exceptional pieces by major photographers of the 20th Century.  Of the 27 lots to be offered, highlights include three works by Man Ray (lots 4 $250,000-$300,000, 5 $100,000-$150,000, and 20

$70,000-$90,000); Parade, Hoboken, New Jersey, 1958 by Robert Frank (lot 9, $100,000-$150,000); Dorothea Lange’s iconic White Angel Bread Line, San Francisco, 1933 (lot 11, $80,000-$120,000); and Edward Weston’s Shells, 6S, 1927 (lot 15, $400,000-$600,000).  Other lots feature artists such as Walker Evans, Alexander Rodchenko, Gilbert & George, and William Eggleston, to name a few.  The day sale (157 lots) features a broad selection of works including a 20-lot “spotlight” on Robert Mapplethorpe.  An interesting collection of work by Farm Security Administration photographers, such as Wright Morris, Evans, and Lange is to be offered during the morning session.  Other modernist photographers’ work to be auctioned includes Aaron Siskind, Harry Callahan, and Paul Strand.  A small group of 19th Century and early-20th Century material by Eugene Atget, Alvin Langdon Coburn, and Karl Strauss rounds out the modernist offerings.  The afternoon session focuses on post-modern and contemporary photography, albeit not exclusively.  Fashion photography by Irving Penn and Helmut Newton are included alongside conceptual works by Vik Muniz, Peter Beard, Adam Fuss, and Andy Warhol.  The lots are generally estimated at reasonable levels, with the majority offered for $50,000 and under and a large selection under $20,000.

Phillips will host an evening sale on 5 October and day sale on 6 October, with a total of 257 lots to be offered.  The evening sale is comprised of 29 lots focused on established photographers spanning the 20th Century, such as Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Adam Fuss, and Richard Misrach.  Highlights of the session include the Americans in Kodachrome portfolio (lot 4, $100,000-$150,000); Robert Frank’s City Fathers, Hoboken, New Jersey, c. 1955 (lot 5, $200,000-$300,000); Edward Weston’s Untitled (Tina on the Azotea, with Kimono), 1924 (lot 8, $80,000-$120,000); Gilbert & George’s Day, 1978 (lot 16, $600,000-$800,000); and Richard Avedon’s portrait of Brigitte Bardot (lot 20, $220,000-$280,000).  For the day sale, Phillips has compiled works by a varied group of photographers and styles, with an emphasis on modern and contemporary photography.  Artists featured include Brassaï, Josef Sudek, Horst P. Horst, and Eve Arnold.  Contemporary artists include Gregory Crewdson, Tina Barney, and Candida Höfer.  A select number of lots are groups of photographs by individual artists such as Walker Evans, Leonard Freed, and Aaron Siskind; all priced at reasonably low estimates.  The majority of the lots in the day sale are estimated at $60,000 and under, with many starting below $20,000.

Sotheby’s is hosting their day sale on 7 October with 178 lots to be offered.  Some highlights include a complete set of Camera Works: A Photographic Quarterly (lot 35, $150,000-$250,000); a Stieglitz portrait of Georgia O’Keeffe (lot 57, $300,000-$500,000); Edward Steichen’s Greta Garbo, 1928 (lot 61, $50,000-$70,000); Hans Bellmer’s book Les Jeux de la Poupee, 1949 (lot 91, $50,000-$70,000); two lots by Man Ray (lot 99, $100,000-$150,000 and lot 100, $80,000-$120,000); André Kertész’s Nature Morte II, c. 1928 (lot 105, $80,000-$120,000); and Robert Heinecken’s Polaroid portfolio Lessons in Posing Subjects (lot 142, $100,000-$200,000).  The sale also includes larger numbers of lots by certain masters of photography. For example, there are 19 lots by Ansel Adams, nine by Robert Frank, eight by Alfred Stieglitz, and seven by each Harry Callahan and Edward Weston.  These artists’ works, as well as those by other important figures in the medium, such as Francesca Woodman and Hiroshi Sugimoto, are staples at photography auctions and their work is often available at a variety price points.  Contemporary work in the sale includes photographs by Edward Burtynsky, Alec Soth, and Nan Goldin.  Similar to the other auction houses, estimates are quite reasonable, with the majority priced to sell under $30,000.

By Alison Riley