Consuelo Kanaga - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 11, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Few photographers’ lives have threaded in and out of the history of 20th-century photography as did Consuelo Kanaga’s. Born in Oregon, she began her photographic career at the San Francisco Chronicle, and from there her work in the medium brought her into contact with a whole host of notables: from Albert Bender to Alfred Stieglitz, from photographers associated with Group f.64 to those of New York’s Photo League. A true individualist, she connected deeply with her colleagues in the field, but declined to become a member of any movement or devote herself to a single ideology. Her photographs were exhibited in Group f.64’s inaugural show in San Francisco in 1932 and at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, multiple times in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. In a career that spanned decades, her approach to photography was driven exclusively by an overriding sense of empathy for her subjects.

    Much of Kanaga’s work is focused on the Black experience. Her photographs avoided the cliché, the dramatized, or the sentimental, and focused instead on the dignity of the individuals who came before her camera. She was socially progressive in a segregated America and a passionate champion of those ill-treated or ignored by society. The photograph offered here was taken on a photographic trip to Tennessee in 1948, a trip that resulted in what many regard as some of Kanaga’s best work.

    • Provenance

      Acquired from the artist, 1970s

    • Literature

      Millstein and Lowe, Consuelo Kanaga: An American Photographer, cover and p. 100


Profile of a Young Girl from the Tennessee Series

Gelatin silver print, probably printed 1950s.
3 7/8 x 2 7/8 in. (9.8 x 7.3 cm)
Signed in pencil on the mount.

Full Cataloguing

$5,000 - 7,000 

Sold for $33,020

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs


Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 11 October 2023