Walker Evans - Photographs New York Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | Phillips

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  • The partial Museum of Modern Art label on the reverse of this print indicates that it was used by the museum in conjunction with the 1956 group exhibition Diogenes with a Camera III, the third in a series of exhibitions curated by Edward Steichen and named for the Greek philosopher known for his quest for truth. In addition to Evans’ photographs, Diogenes with a Camera III showcased the work of Manuel Álvarez Bravo, August Sander, and Paul Strand, and included a print of the image offered here. Although shown in concert, importantly, each practitioner's work was installed as if it was a one-person show and accompanied by a written statement. Subsequently, each artist’s particular approach to rendering the quotidian elements of life became readily apparent. As mentioned in the exhibition press release, Evans's grouping highlighted 'the sensitivity of his eye and hand to select and record his own version of the essential significant detail of an ordinary scene or person.' 


    The remarkable selection of photographs offered in this auction as lots 203 through 240 comes from the collection of Peter C. Bunnell (1937-2021), the pioneering curator, teacher, and photographic historian. All of the sale’s 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.


    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, while also being 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

      Collection of Peter C. Bunnell, Princeton, New Jersey

    • Literature

      Evans, American Photographs, Part One, pl. 40
      Walker Evans: First and Last, pl. 60
      Keller, Walker Evans: The Getty Museum Collection, p. 48, pl. 169 (for stamp)
      Hambourg and Rosenheim, Walker Evans, pl. 23

A Reverence for Beauty: The Peter C. Bunnell Collection, Part 2


Posed Portraits, New York

Gelatin silver print, likely an early print.
8 3/8 x 6 3/8 in. (21.3 x 16.2 cm)
Credit stamp (Keller stamp A), Museum of Modern Art Publicity Department stamp, and remnant of 'Diogenes with a Camera' exhibition label affixed to the verso.

Full Cataloguing

$15,000 - 25,000 

Sold for $19,050

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 4 April 2023