Phillips Odyssey of Collecting Auction

Phillips’ Odyssey of Collecting auction takes place this coming week (3rd October 2017) in New York. This, the second half of their Odyssey of Collecting auction will include 229 lots by the biggest names in photography: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brassai, Robert Frank, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Eugene Atget, Cecil Beaton, Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, Paul Strand, William Henry Fox Talbot, Gustave Le Gray, Roger Fenton, Julia Margaret Cameron, Hippolyte Bayard, Bernd and Hilla Becher, and Irving Penn.

Estimates range from $1,000 to $150,000 with bidding starting at 10am. Find out more about this auction, register to bid or view lots by clicking here.

Phillips released a statement ahead of the auction detailing some of the highlights of the auction:

Phillips is honored to announce highlights from the auction of The Odyssey of Collecting: Photographs from Joy of Giving Something Foundation on 3 October. Following the successful offering of works from the collection earlier this year, the fall sale will include 229 lots, spanning three centuries of photography. Assembled by JGS’s founder Howard Stein, this sale presents rare and unique works by true masters of the medium, such as Eugène Atget, Edward Steichen, Imogen Cunningham, Robert Frank, and László Moholy-Nagy, among many others.

Caroline Deck, Phillips’ Senior Specialist, Photographs, said, “We are thrilled to offer our second sale of The Odyssey of Collecting: Photographs from Joy of Giving Something Foundation this October. Our first sale of this renowned collection was hosted in April and it was met with a great deal of enthusiasm by photograph collectors around the globe. The demand for these extremely rare and significant works was a testament to the knowledge and passion with which Howard Stein built his collection and we are confident that the fall auction will be equally as compelling.”

László Moholy-Nagy’s Portrait of Ellen Frank is a wonderful example of an early 20th-century work from the collection. This photograph is from a series Moholy began in the late 1920s in which he pushed past conventions to create a new kind of portrait photography.

Also among the early 20th-century works is Rue Mouffetard by Eugène Atget, who documented the city of Paris with an objective clarity that remained consistent throughout his career. Rue Mouffetard, taken in 1925, portrays a distinctly modern street scene. With its lighted shop signs, delivery carts, and clothing displays, this photograph is exemplary of Atget’s unique ability to document a specific place and time. Yet, the photograph’s headless mannequins, garments that seem to float above the shop entrance, and ghostly blurred trails of passing shoppers are examples of the elements that made him so appealing to the Surrealists.

Among several examples of photographic books is a nearly complete set of Alfred Stieglitz’s Camera Work: A Photographic Quarterly. Produced between 1903 and 1917, Camera Work is one of the most ambitious publishing projects in the history of photographic literature. Within its 15-year lifespan it encompassed the shifting dominant modes of photography and traced the medium’s evolution from Pictorialism to Modernism. The production quality of the journal remained exceedingly high throughout its run, with many of its illustrations appearing in photogravure.

Imogen Cunningham’s Magnolia Blossom (Tower of Jewels), is a masterful close-up view of the pistils and stamens of the Magnolia grandiflora. It is one her most accomplished images and is an early example of the uniquely American mode of Modernist photography that would reach maturity in the 1920s. This photograph encapsulates Cunningham’s ability to create an image that combines scientific accuracy with aesthetic perfection. This image was an important one for Cunningham from the time of its making, yet a mounted and signed print, like the one offered here, is a true rarity.

André Kertész’s Distortion with Vase is among the rarest works in the auction with the only other early print of the image located in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Kertész began incorporating visual distortion into his images at the start of his career and continued to employ various distortion techniques in the following decades, often to subvert an otherwise conventional photographic genre such as the nude or the still life.

The sale includes many fine 19th-century photographs by makers whose names are synonymous with the medium’s early history. Early works by William Henry Fox Talbot and Southworth and Hawes demonstrate the creative energy of photography’s first decades. Large format prints by Gustave Le Gray, Carleton Watkins, and Julia Margaret Cameron are prime examples of these photographers’ work. An album of Felice Beato’s photographs of Japan shows how 19th-century photography often straddled the line between the documentary and the artistic.

The auction will also include an impressive selection of photographs by contemporary photographers, such as Robert Heinecken, Barry Frydlender, Bernd & Hilla Becher, Irving Penn, Idris Khan, and Shirin Neshat. Selected images from Are You Rea, a group of seven gelatin silver prints from 1966-1968 by Robert Heinecken, are among the sale’s highlights with one of the works serving as the cover lot for the auction catalogue.

Christopher Mahoney, Consultant, Photographs, said, “Working on the third sale of photographs from the Joy of Giving Something Foundation has reinforced for me how deep this collection delves into the very essence of photography. Whether he was collecting early photography, Pictorialism, Modernism, or Contemporary, Howard Stein was concerned foremost with photographic excellence, in terms of vision and quality. It is a remarkable exploration of photography’s vast expressive range.”


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