Jindřich Štyrský - Photographs New York Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Jindřich Štyrský was one of the leading proponents of Surrealism in Prague in the 1920s and 1930s. A painter, collagist, and graphic artist, he joined the forward-looking Czech artists group Devěstil in 1923. Later in the 1920s, he lived in Paris, where he cemented his ties with the Surrealists. In 1934, Štyrský was a founding member of Surrealistická skupina v Českoclovensku, the leading group of group of Czech Surrealists.


    The photograph offered here is from the series of images Jindřich Štyrský called Na jehlách těchto dńi, or On the Needles of the These Days. Mysterious and unpeopled, and taken on the streets of Paris and Prague, the photographs comprised a disquieting metaphor for the uneasiness that permeated Europe leading up to the second World War. 


    Lots 283 through 303 in the present auction come from the collection of Rosa and Aaron Esman. The Esmans assembled an outstanding collection of Modern, Post-War, and Contemporary art and photography over the course of their seventy-year marriage. The collection’s highlights mirror that of Rosa’s career as a gallerist and art book publisher (which Aaron, a psychoanalyst, strongly supported), with interests in Modernism, Dada, Russian Constructivism, and American Pop Art taking center stage. Rosa got her start publishing artists’ books of prints in the 1960s, including the New York Ten Portfolio, 1965, and Ten for Leo Castelli, 1967, which featured works by rising contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg, and helped pioneer the field of artist’s editions and multiples. Her eponymous gallery exhibited in Manhattan for over twenty years, and she was a founding partner of Ubu Gallery, which is still in operation today.


    When asked about her wide artistic tastes in 2009, Rosa emphasized her love of drawing, ‘the quintessential bit of the art,’ which can be seen across her and Aaron’s collection, regardless of genre. The importance of her and Aaron’s relationship to Rosa’s development as a consummate supporter of the arts, too, was paramount. The pair bonded over gallery visits when dating in the late 1940s, and bought their first artwork, a drawing by Miró, together; these early experiences with Aaron, more than anything else, established Rosa’s love for art. In her gallery days, Aaron’s passion for art helped decide which works stayed with the couple, too. Rosa recalled: ‘sometimes we look at something, and I say, “Oh, isn’t that marvelous?”’ and Aaron would respond, ‘It’s for us.’ Founded on lifelong love, the Collection of Rosa and Aaron Esman gives a unique vision of the art movements of the 20th century that shaped New York’s art scene.

    • Provenance

      Ubu Gallery, New York

Property from the Collection of Rosa and Aaron Esman


From 'On the Needles of these Days'

Gelatin silver print, printed no later than 1941.
3 1/2 x 3 3/8 in. (8.9 x 8.6 cm)

Full Cataloguing

$3,000 - 5,000 

Sold for $2,286

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 4 April 2023