Phillips to Offer Iconic Works by Masters of Photography, Including William Eggleston, Richard Avedon, André Kertész, Robert Frank, and Diane Arbus
New York Sale on 8 April to be Led by A Complete Portfolio of
William Eggleston’s Graceland
Auction to Also Feature A Group of Important Photographs by Robert Frank from Celebrated Cinematographer Robert Richardson and Writer Monona Wali
Five Works on Offer from the Former Owners of New York’s
Gotham Bar & Grill, including Hiroshi Sugimoto’s World Trade Center
William Eggleston’s Graceland, 1983
Estimate: $180,000 - $280,000
Two prints from the complete portfolio of eleven illustrated
NEW YORK – 16 MARCH 2021 – On 8 April, Phillips’ Photographs auction will bring together over 250 lots by some of the most influential photographers of the past century. The sale, which will be livestreamed from the New York saleroom, will offer collectors the chance to acquire rare-to-market photographs from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.
Sarah Krueger, Head of Photographs, New York, said, “Over the past year, the demand for exceptional photographs has increased, and Phillips’ April auction will provide our enthusiastic international collecting community with the opportunity to bid on a diverse group of works that span over 150 years of the medium – from Martin Lawrence’s Self-Portrait daguerreotype of the 1850s to remarkable works from the present century.”
William Eggleston’s Graceland, the dynamic suite of eleven photographs of Elvis Presley’s famous mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, leads the sale. The images were made in 1983 after the musician’s estate invited Eggleston to photograph the property. While Eggleston’s highly-personal, anti-monumental approach to photography made him a counterintuitive choice for the estate, his status as a native Memphian, his deep connections to the Memphis music scene, and his explorations of the American South made him ideally suited to the project. The resulting images, masterfully rendered in the saturated colors of the dye transfer process, show Eggleston working at the peak of his talents and present a remarkable document of this shrine to an American icon. Intact portfolios of Eggleston’s Graceland rarely come to auction; one was last offered in 2013. Additional dye transfer works by Eggleston to be offered in the April sale include Near Jackson Mississippi and Sumner, Mississippi, both circa 1970.
A large print of Richard Avedon’s Dovima with elephants, Evening dress by Dior, Cirque d’Hiver, Paris, August is among the top lots of the auction. Presented here in the 20 by 24 in. format, this image has become one of the most iconic from Avedon’s oeuvre. From the inception of his career, first at Harper's Bazaar and later at Vogue, Avedon challenged the norms for editorial photography and his fashion work gained recognition for its seemingly effortless energy. Avedon viewed the making and production of photographs as a performance, creating images that are simultaneously intensely clear, yet deeply mysterious. Of Dovima with elephants, Avedon said, “I saw the elephants under an enormous skylight and in a second I knew. I then had to find the right dress and I knew there was a potential here for a kind of dream image.”
A rare, early print of André Kertész’s Nature Morte, Chez Mondrian will also be on offer. This work figured importantly in Kertész’s early career and has since become a signature image within his body of work. Its deceptively simple composition belies Kertész’s placement of found objects precisely placed within the frame, his deft use of negative space, and his unique ability to imbue quotidian objects with poetic mystery. It is one of several remarkable domestic still-lifes and studio views by Kertész that collectively create a portrait of the Dutch painter, Piet Mondrian. Other Modernist works include an Alfred Stieglitz Equivalent and several photographs by Man Ray.
Robert Frank’s Trolley – New Orleans is the definitive work from his seminal series, The Americans. Beginning in 1955, Frank made several cross-country trips funded by a succession of modest Guggenheim grants to photograph America. What Frank saw on his travels was a country enjoying post-war prosperity but deeply riven by racial and class divisions. Nowhere in Frank’s work are these divisions more apparent than in Trolley—New Orleans, which was chosen as the cover illustration for the first American edition of The Americans in 1959. The print offered here is distinguished by its large format, high level of detail, and for its direct line of provenance, having been acquired from Frank by the present owner around 1980.
Phillips is pleased to offer a select group of seminal Robert Frank photographs from the collection of cinematographer Robert Richardson and writer, filmmaker, and teacher Monona Wali. Among works from the collection are Political Rally – Chicago; Parade – Hoboken, New Jersey; and U. S. 90, En Route to Del Rio, Texas, a poignant image of Frank’s wife Mary and their two small children, Andrea and Pablo, parked alongside a lonesome stretch of Texas highway. Richardson, a three-time Academy Award winner who has worked with such acclaimed directors as Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Oliver Stone, and Errol Morris, says that Frank was a crucial influence: “He taught me with his precise vision how to look upon an America that others could not, would not, or were unable to see. Many call him a documentary photographer; I see that perspective, but I also see vastly more. I see and feel the subjective point of view of a master; in my mind, the master.”
Another notable collection includes property from the former owners of the Michelin-star-recipient Gotham Bar & Grill in Manhattan. The five works on offer, including Hiroshi Sugimoto’s, World Trade Center, 1997, were all on display in the dining room up until the restaurant’s closing in 2020.
An early, signed lifetime print by Diane Arbus, Peaches Palmer, Stripper in Dressing Room. Atlantic City, N.J., 1963, will be included in the sale. Additionally on offer are seven notable later prints, printed by Neil Selkirk, including Woman with a veil on Fifth Avenue, N.Y.C., 1968.
A strong selection of postwar and contemporary photography will also be on offer, including Andy Warhol’s Holly Solomon, a strip of photobooth images of the legendary gallerist and collector that documents the collaboration of two seminal figures in 20th century art. Warhol’s starting point for his large-scale canvases in the early 1960s was a photobooth portrait, and he and Solomon met at an arcade on 47th Street and Broadway to lay the groundwork for such a work. Once the ideal booth had been selected, Warhol left Solomon alone to perform for the camera as she saw fit. Solomon had studied with legendary acting teacher Lee Strasberg and she used this training to summon a vast array of expressions, poses, and characters for the mechanically operated camera which took four exposures per strip. Each of the strip’s images synthesizes Solomon’s exuberant intelligence and Warhol’s adventurous embrace of populist media, creating a tour-de-force of art, process, and personality.
The contemporary section of the April Photographs auction will proudly place 20th century masters alongside artists whose secondary markets are still emerging. Among the contemporary highlights of the auction are two of Gerhard Richter’s overpainted photographs, including 12.9.94, three oversized photogravures of flowers from Robert Mapplethorpe, large and small format prints from Sally Mann’s Immediate Family series, Alec Soth’s Charles, Vasa, Minnesota, Hank Willis Thomas’ Your Skin Has The Power To Protect You, and Kudzanai Chiurai’s Revelations V from State of the Nation. Richard Misrach’s Untitled #704-03 is from his On the Beach series which features spectacular aerial views of the sea and beach that convey the vulnerability and preciousness of life.
The cover of the printed catalogue features Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Lightning Fields, 236, 2009. Inspired by the achievements of scientists such as Benjamin Franklin, Michael Faraday, and William Henry Fox Talbot, Sugimoto recreated and adapted their experiments by applying electricity directly to unexposed film. The photograph is distinctly elemental in both process and visual impact, resembling trees, rivers, and other natural forms. This is complimented by Robert Adams’s Blanca Colorado, 1967, on the back cover. Adams has famously documented the urban sprawl of the American West over his decades-long career, and this is a seminal example. In addition to the cover, the auction includes 7 other works by Sugimoto, showcasing a depth of work from his series Dioramas, Seascapes, Architecture, and the aforementioned Lightning Fields.
Auction: 8 April 2021
Auction viewing: 31 March – 7 April
Location: 450 Park Avenue, New York
Click here for more information: https://www.phillips.com/auctions/auction/NY040121
Credit for Andy Warhol’s Holly Solomon: © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
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*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium; prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer’s premium.
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