Maquette for Contemporary Photographer

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  • Condition Report

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  • Provenance

    Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto

  • Literature

    Contemporary Photographer, Winter 1964, Volume V, No. 1, pp. 12-35, for all
    Heath, A Dialogue with Solitude, front cover, frontispiece
    Davis, Multitude, Solitude: The Photographs of Dave Heath, p. 125

  • Catalogue Essay

    The twenty-one mounted photographs in this lot comprise a unique maquette provided by Dave Heath to Contemporary Photographer magazine in which they were published, exactly as prescribed by Heath, in the Winter 1964 issue. Heath’s layout of the photographs on twelve mounts is meticulous, as is his sequencing. He indicated full bleeds (illustrations extending to the edges of a page) for four images, and partial bleeds for several others; he intentionally inserted blank pages into the sequence; and the size and position of each image on a spread was precisely calibrated. While the maquette was designed for reproduction, the original objects give insight into Heath’s talents, not only as a photographer and printer, but as an editor and designer.

    In 1963, Heath received a Guggenheim Fellowship—another would follow in 1964—which freed him to pursue his photographic work. This maquette of images all made in 1963 is a direct result of this, as indicated by the printed label on the first spread of the layout which reads, From ‘The Human Condition,’ A Guggenheim Fellowship Project. This was also the title of a limited edition portfolio Heath produced during this period which includes a nearly identical selection of images.

    Editing and sequencing had been Heath’s practice since his earliest involvement with photography in the 1950s. Inspired by the layouts he saw in LIFE and other picture magazines of the day, Heath produced several sophisticated maquettes in book form. In the suite offered here, he creates a poetic non-linear photographic narrative including a number of his well-known images as well as his portrait of teacher and mentor W. Eugene Smith. The photograph on the maquette’s final spread is paired with a printed quote by James Agee. This maquette, and its appearance in Contemporary Photographer, predates Heath’s seminal first book, A Dialogue With Solitude, published in 1965.

    Contemporary Photographer magazine, published in Oberlin, Ohio, from 1960 to 1970, showcased the work of photographers as varied as Robert Capa, Ray K. Metzker, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Duane Michals, Carl Chiarenza, and Jerry Uelsmann, among many others. That the magazine would surrender layout control to a young and relatively unknown photographer such as Heath is remarkable. Heath’s note to the magazine’s art director, Margaret Powell, outlines his precise instructions: ‘Margaret: Mechanical is based on an 8 3/8” by 7” page. This is allowing for trim on an 8 1/2” cover width. A 1/8” excess is allowed on all bleed sides based on the 8 3/8” measurement. Please base your mechanical on these measurements for all lateral placements. Thanks, Dave.’ The magazine’s published layout adheres precisely to these details, preserving all the nuance, rhythm, and poetry of Heath’s conception.

139

World View: Property from a Private Collection

Maquette for Contemporary Photographer

1963
Twenty-one gelatin silver prints on twelve mounts, printed no later than 1964.
Varying dimensions from approximately 3 1/2 x 5 3/8 in. (9 x 13.5 cm) to 7 1/2 x 8 5/8 in. (19 x 22 cm) or the reverse.
Each mount: 10 1/8 x 20 1/8 in. (25.8 x 51 cm)

'483 Columbus Avenue' credit stamp on the reverse of each mount; numbered consecutively in pencil on the mounts; manuscript note by Heath in ink and printed 'From "The Human Condition," A Guggenheim Fellowship Project' label on the first mount; printed James Agee quote on the final mount; accompanied by Heath's hand drawn layout guide and an issue of Contemporary Photographer, Winter, 1964, Vol. V, No. 1. Enclosed within a custom blue linen clamshell portfolio case with gilt title.

Estimate
$50,000 - 70,000 

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Sarah Krueger
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Vanessa Hallett
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Photographs

New York Auction 1 October 2019