Phillips Photographs Auction

This week sees two photography auctions from Phillips New York, the first (due 3rd October 2017) involves prints from a range of internationally lauded photographers including Peter Beard, William Eggleston, Robert Frank, Robert Mapplethorpe, Man Ray, Irving Penn, Candida Hofer and Ray Metzker. Estimates start at $2,000 and reach $350,000.
Browse through the vast selection of prints available by viewing the online catalogue here.

Phillips released a press statement ahead of this auction, detailing some of the lots available:

Featured on the catalogue cover is Christian Marclay’s unique print, Untitled (Luciano Pavarotti, Halo and Four Mix Tapes II), 2008. The subject of audio cassettes and their unfurling tape elevates this largely outdated recording method through the use of an equally historical photographic process – the cyanotype – a camera-less process widely associated with the 19th century. This combination of subject matter and process forms a conceptually rich and dynamic pairing that further mirrors Marclay’s expansive talents as a visual artist and composer. Unique cyanotypes by the artist are highly coveted, with other examples located in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Predating Christian Marclay’s unique cyanotype by nearly 90 years is Man Ray’s Rayograph, 1922, which leads the auction at an estimate of $250,000-350,000. Showcasing the artist’s then radical use of camera-less photography, his rayographs provided a foundation for contemporary experimentations with the medium, such as Marclay’s, that follow. This unique print is from Man Ray’s creatively active period in Paris, and is reflective of his early experimentations with the photogram technique, which stand at the forefront of Modernism. Also showing an exceptional experimentation with the medium of photography is Ray K. Metzker’s Blind Man’s Bluff, 1966. Estimated at $20,000-30,000 this composite is one of only five examples in existence, as the intended edition of 10 was never fully realized.

Additionally among the auction’s top lots is William Eggleston’s Untitled, 1971-1974. From the photographer’s 1970s series of acclaim, Los Alamos, this specific print is a contemporary reinterpretation of the original negative, printed in a stunning oversized format that further emphasizes Eggleston’s famed use of saturated color that is held in universal regard. In this print, the bold colors, shapes, and planes intersect and repeat, creating a Kandinsky-like Modernist composition, which was captured through Eggleston’s lens on the legendary roadway of the American highway.

Another oversized print, Helmut Newton’s distinctive, provocative, and daring Big Nude VII, Nancy La Scala, Monte-Carlo, 1990, is among the auction highlights and is expected to bring $200,000-300,000. Newton’s photographs of women, such as Nancy La Scala, marked a seismic shift in the representation of the female form in 20th century fashion photography and pushed forward the image of the modern woman: powerful, independent and free from all social conventions and restrictions. In similar fashion, Newton’s timeless Saddle I, Paris, 1976, which has remained in a single private collection since the 1970s, will be offered at $50,000-70,000. Both prints, in the formats on offer, are exceptionally rare-to-the-market.

Further, a suite of three iconic photographs from Robert Frank’s The Americans is included in the auction. In 1986, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, sought to acquire 27 prints from this important series for their permanent collection. To generate the funds needed for such a significant acquisition, The Met’s Department of Photographs approached a small group of donors for assistance, who were later offered three prints from Robert Frank as a gift for their generous support. The three lots on offer – Trolley, New Orleans, 1955, Chicago-Political Rally, 1956, and US 285, New Mexico, 1956 (the latter two each estimated for $70,000-90,000) – come directly from one of the private collectors who helped to make this important museum acquisition possible.

Additional classic highlights include Lewis Wickes Hine’s iconic Mechanic at Steam Pump in Electric Power House, circa 1921, expected to bring $15,000-20,000; a charming portrait of Charis taken by Edward Weston in 1934, which is estimated for $20,000-30,000; and Ansel Adams’ complete Portfolio Four: What Majestic Word. In Memory of Russell Varian, priced at $50,000-70,000. Also included is a strong selection of photographs by Irving Penn which showcase his brilliance as a printmaker including a platinum palladium print of Butchers, Paris, 1950 from Small Trades and a vivid dye destruction print, Still Life with Triangle and Red Eraser, New York, January 23, 1985, estimated for $40,000-60,000 and $20,000-30,000, respectively. These works are all further balanced by additional contemporary material, including Thomas Struth’s Pergamon Museum IV, Berlin, 2001 at $100,000-150,000; Pieter Hugo’s Mummy Ahmadu and Mallam Mantari Lamal with Mainasara, Abuja, Nigeria, 2005, at $20,000-30,000; as well as works by Louise Lawler, Richard Pettibone, Christopher Williams, Vik Muniz, and others.


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