Aaron Siskind - Photographs New York Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | Phillips
  • “Siskind's was a pictorial achievement that helped shape a distinctly late-modernist American photographic style; one that is characterized by a rigorous adherence to the essential qualities of the medium and by the making of a poetic image that is the subject re-presented as metaphor, in a specific abstract form, in order to express the inner self--the subconscious common to all men and women.” 
    —Peter C. Bunnell

    The remarkable selection of photographs offered in this auction as lots 203 through 240 comes from the collection of Peter C. Bunnell (1937-2021), the pioneering curator, teacher, and photographic historian. All of the sale’s proceeds will be distributed to six institutions with whom Bunnell was associated — Rochester Institute of Technology, Ohio University, Yale University, The George Eastman Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, and Princeton University Art Museum — to establish endowments to support the study of photographic history.


    Bunnell began his long career in photography as a student of Minor White’s at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the 1950s, and was recruited by White to work on the seminal periodical of artistic photography, Aperture. He joined the staff of The Museum of Modern Art in 1966 as a collection cataloguer, becoming Associate Curator and then Curator of Photography. At MoMA he curated the noteworthy exhibitions Photography as Printmaking (1968), Photography into Sculpture (1970), and the first retrospective of the work of Clarence H. White (1971). In 1972, he was hired as the inaugural David Hunter McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art at Princeton University. 


    Bunnell served as Director of the Princeton University Art Museum from 1973 to 1978, and as Acting Director from 1998 to 2000, while also being the Museum’s Curator of Photography throughout the entirety of his tenure. Bunnell built a broad-ranging collection of photographs at the Museum, the firsthand examination of which became a central element of the student experience in his classes and seminars. Bunnell also assembled a personal collection of photography over the course of his long career that reflects his vast and deep understanding of the medium. Begun in the 1950s, before photography galleries and dealers were commonplace, Bunnell’s collection is a deeply personal one, put together with a sense of joy and curiosity that includes both icons and lesser-known gems spanning the history of photography.


    • Provenance

      Collection of Peter C. Bunnell, Princeton, New Jersey

    • Literature

      Phaidon, Aaron Siskind: Photo Phaidon 55 Series, p. 25, 32-33, 50-51, 112-113
      powerHouse Books, Aaron Siskind 100 / photographs by Aaron Siskind, cover, n.p.
      Each citation for various prints within the portfolio

    • Catalogue Essay

      The photographs included in this lot are as follows:

      Savoy Dancers, Harlem Document, circa 1936
      Glouchester 1h, 1944
      Jerome, Arizona 21, 1949
      Chicago 30, 1950
      Martha's Vineyard 108, 1954
      St. Louis 9, 1955
      Feet 102, 1957
      Chicago Facade 7, 1960
      Rome: Arch of Constantine 10, 1963
      Jalapa 24 (Homage to Franz Kline), 1973
      Louise 30, 1974
      New York 78, 1976

A Reverence for Beauty: The Peter C. Bunnell Collection, Part 2


Lot offered with No Reserve

75th Anniversary Portfolio

circa 1936-1976
New York: LIGHT Gallery, 1979. Twelve gelatin silver prints.
Varying sizes from 10 x 9 3/8 in. (25.4 x 23.8 cm) to 17 1/4 x 14 in. (43.8 x 35.6 cm) or the reverse
Each signed, titled, and dated in ink in the margin. Accompanied by printed title, introduction by Peter C. Bunnell, plate list, and colophon, in triplicate, two signed in ink. Letterpress paper folios. Enclosed within a red linen portfolio case with ties. Artist's proof number 4 from an edition of 50 plus 7 artist's proofs.

Full Cataloguing

$7,000 - 9,000 

Sold for $5,715

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 4 April 2023