Todd Webb - Photographs New York Thursday, April 8, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Houk Friedman Gallery, New York, 1992

  • Literature

    Thames & Hudson, I See at City: Todd Webb's New York, cover, detail

  • Catalogue Essay

    Todd Webb’s masterful panoramic view of Sixth Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets is rendered here in a special large format, one of only three ever realized by Webb in this impressive size. This multi-part image was a remarkable photographic achievement in its day and was chosen by the State Department to be exhibited at Expo 58, also known as the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. By today’s standards it is no less impressive, and with the passing of each year the significance of its historical record becomes more profound.

    Creating this remarkable portrait of a heavily trafficked New York City block required considerable planning, innovation, and trial-and-error to live up to Webb’s exacting standards for detail and print quality. Because such an image could not be taken in a single exposure, Webb plotted out where to place his large-format camera for each shot, marking the position in chalk on the sidewalk along the opposite side of the avenue. Webb had to work quickly to ensure consistent light in each exposure. In his journal, Webb catalogued other difficulties he encountered, noting ‘It was surprisingly hard to do because of the cars and trucks that just park for a few minutes. Also the cars that come whizzing by from both directions that you must shoot between. You can’t use part of a car in one section. You must have all of it or nothing.’

    Ultimately, Webb made eight perfectly exposed photographs which he painstakingly joined to create the continuous scene offered here. Each panel offers up a seemingly inexhaustible level of detail: storefronts and their signs, the features and clothing of passersby, tantalizing glimpses of 2nd-floor apartments – all the myriad visual facts of the scene clearly delineated by the bright afternoon sunlight of a March day in 1948.

    Other examples of this panorama in smaller formats are in the permanent collections of Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Minneapolis Institute of Art; the International Center of Photography, New York; and the Museum of the City of New York.


Sixth Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets, New York

Panorama of eight gelatin silver prints, printed no later than 1992.
15 x 123 1/2 in. (38.1 x 313.7 cm).
Overall 24 1/2 x 133 in. (62.2 x 337.8 cm)

One of three known panoramas of the image in this size.

$25,000 - 35,000 

Sold for $37,800

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairman, Americas



New York Auction 8 April 2021