Ken Ohara - Inside the Photograph: Further Selections from the Peter C. Bunnell Collection New York Tuesday, October 10, 2023 | Phillips

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  • The remarkable selection of photographs offered in this online auction comes from the collection of Peter C. Bunnell (1937-2021), the pioneering curator, teacher, and photographic historian. Nearly all lots are sold with No Reserve and the 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.


    Cover of The City: American Experience, co-written by Peter C. Bunnell. 
    Spread inside The City: American Experience displaying two of the prints on offer. 

    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, and was also 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

      Gift of the photographer
      Collection of Peter C. Bunnell, Princeton, New Jersey

    • Literature

      Ohara, One, n.p.
      Bunnell, et. al, The City: American Experience, pp. 527-528
      Each citation for various prints within the group

    • Catalogue Essay

      The photographs included in this lot are as follows:

      #865, 10:34 am - 11:34 am, 1998
      New York (Section V, #13), 1969
      New York (Section V, #14), 1969

Inside the Photograph: Further Selections from the Peter C. Bunnell Collection


Lot offered with No Reserve

Three Selected Images

1969, 1998
Three gelatin silver prints.
Two 9 7/8 x 6 7/8 in. (25.1 x 17.5 cm); one 11 3/4 x 9 1/2 in. (29.8 x 24.1 cm)
Two signed, annotated '224 Thompson St. New York City' in ink and typed publishing information labels on the reverse of the mount; the other signed and titled in pencil in the margin; signed, titled, dated, and inscribed 'For Mr. Peter Bunnell' in pencil on the verso.

Full Cataloguing

$1,000 - 2,000 

Sold for $3,556

Contact Specialist

Christopher Mahoney
Senior International Specialist

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairwoman

Inside the Photograph: Further Selections from the Peter C. Bunnell Collection

10 - 17 October 2023