An-My Lê - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 11, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Born in Saigon in 1960, An-My Lê and her family fled the country in 1975 during the final year of the Vietnam War. They resettled in California, where Lê eventually attended Stanford University before pursuing her MFA in Photography at Yale. Her childhood experiences with American foreign policy heavily influenced the central thematic concerns of her artistic practice. Image-making allows Lê to extricate meaning and partake in self-expression in a nuanced, non-didactic manner. 


    Manning the Rail, USS Tortuga, Java Sea, is from the series Events Ashore, which documents the US military’s global non-combat presence. Shot with a Deardorff large-format camera over nine years in over twenty countries, the pictures are transfixing in their composition and attention to color. Events Ashore was published as a monograph by Aperture in 2014. The book is divided into four distinct sections, of which the middle is primarily concerned with sprawling naval scenes. Of this image, writer and photography theorist Geoff Dyer writes: 


    “Maybe it’s because everything in the top quarter of this picture – the ships, the milky sea, the sky – seem to be sailing out of the art-historical past that it’s difficult to say from where exactly. The sailors in the foreground are my (our?) representatives: they can see it all, too, with or without binoculars. One of them seems to be turning to call out and share with his colleagues intel which is becoming clearer by the second as it steams towards us – while still remaining tantalizingly beyond recognition.”
    —Geoff Dyer, Events Ashore


    The artist’s oeuvre to-date will soon be showcased in an upcoming solo exhibition entitled An-My Lê: Between Two Rivers/Giữa hai giòng sông/Entre deux rivières at The Museum of Modern Art, opening on 5 November 2023.  Her work has previously been exhibited at Marian Goodman Gallery, Murray Guy, and MOMA PS1, amongst many others. The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitain Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art all feature Lê’s work in their collections.

    • Provenance

      Murray Guy, New York

    • Literature

      Aperture, Events Ashore, p. 33


Manning the Rail, USS Tortuga, Java Sea

Archival pigment print.
39 1/4 x 55 3/4 in. (99.7 x 141.6 cm)
Overall 40 1/2 x 56 3/4 in. (102.9 x 144.1 cm)

Printed credit, title, date and number 1/5 on a gallery label affixed to the reverse of the flush-mount.

Full Cataloguing

$15,000 - 25,000 

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs


Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 11 October 2023