Ansel Adams, Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park, California, 1944. Estimate $40,000 - 60,000. Photographs New York.
When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence – Ansel Adams, 'An Autobiography'
Phillips is pleased to present Transcendence: Photography and the Sublime, on offer as lots 145-204 of the October 14 Photographs New York auction. It is a collection premised upon the belief that photography can transcend mere documentation to reveal a richer and deeper understanding of both the visible world and the human spirit. The photographs in this collection prove that the medium is both rooted in the material world yet is an instrument of the eye, mind, and imagination of the photographer. While these images take the material world as subject matter, each is fully a product of the person behind the camera.
Wynn Bullock, Let There Be Light, 1954. Estimate $5,000 - 7,000. Photographs New York.
At the center of this collection is Ansel Adams. Adams redefined landscape photography for the twentieth century just as he redefined photography as a tool for personal expression, becoming a mentor and example for subsequent generations of photographers. All the photographers in this group share a keen visual intelligence, a devotion to the craft of the medium, and a dedication to the fine art of making a perfect photographic print. All of this is the direct legacy of Adams, who was a colleague or a mentor to most of the artists represented here.
Ansel Adams, Moon and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, Ca., circa 1960. Estimate $15,000 - 25,000. Photographs New York.
Yet each artist in this selection approaches the medium in his or her own distinct way. Transcendence showcases Imogen Cunningham’s elegant and precise botanical work, Minor White’s unique brand of photographic metaphysics, the poetic musings of Wynn Bullock, Brett Weston’s bravura landscapes, Sebastião Salgado’s deep investigations of the forms and fauna of the natural world, Paul Caponigro’s inspired evocations of sun and shadow, and so much more.
Brett Weston, Holland Canal, 1971. Estimate $15,000 - 20,000. Photographs New York.
The photographs in Transcendence were assembled with care and discernment by gallerist and collector Peter Fetterman when he found himself increasingly gravitating towards images of nature and pure beauty. He writes, “I started to discover, or more truthfully, rediscover the work of many of the great photographers I had not previously concentrated on. Their work enriched my spirit. From this journey, in an era of intense concern for the environment and climate change, these works have become even more powerful to me in terms of what is at stake for all of us and future generations.”
Sebastião Salgado, Eastern Part of the Brooks Range, Alaska, USA, 2009. Estimate $12,000 - 16,000. Photographs New York.