Issue #63  10/7/2003
American Classics Headline Christie's Fall Sale of Photographs

Classic American images lead Christie's fall sale of Photographs on Monday, October 20 at 2 pm at Rockefeller Center. The photographs will be on view from October 16-20.

"This fall's sale demonstrates the strength and vigor of works by American photographers," said Leila Buckjune, Head of Christie's Photographs department. "The earliest days of photography, the Farm Security Administration era, the Camelot years, and our contemporary world have all been captured in unforgettable images."

Europeans photographers are well represented in the sale as well, most notably by an exceptional print of Rudolf Koppitz's Bewegungsstudie, 1925, (estimate: $70,000-90,000), an iconic image made during the Viennese Secessionist movement that shows the influence of Gustav Klimt, one of Koppitz's contemporaries. Man Ray is represented in the sale by a still-life composition from the series A l'Heure de l'Observatoire, les Amoureux and Jean Cocteau with Self-portrait Wire Sculpture. Of special note is a set of 10 gelatin silver prints by Bernd and Hilla Becher of their 1968 "anonymous sculpture" images of winding towers, silos, gas tanks, and lime kilns, each taken in their now-familiar stark documentary style.

In 1924 Paul Outerbridge, Jr. produced the striking image of Standing Nude with Chair, which is Christie's front cover image for this catalogue.

A decade later, in the mid-1930s, Walker Evans was hired by the Farm Security Administration to document the plight of tenant farmers in the South, whose livelihood had been nearly wiped out during the Great Depression. A group of Evans photographs--acquired by the current consignor from the artist himself--includes the dual portraits Alabama Tenant Farmer and Alabama Tenant Farmer Wife, as well as the equally compelling Alabama Tenant Farmer Family, all from 1936. In the classic Penny Picture Display, Savannah, GA, 1936 (estimate: $100,000- $150,000), the artist captured the faces of young women, servicemen, professionals, couples, children, sisters and families whose portraits filled the window of a local photo shop.

More than 20 years later, Mark Shaw began an association with the John F. Kennedy family when he photographed Jacqueline Kennedy for LIFE magazine in 1959. For the next four years Shaw traveled extensively with the young Kennedy family, recording both their public and personal lives throughout a victorious presidential campaign, daily life in the White House and the tragic assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. In 1964 the series was published in The John F. Kennedys--A Family Album, which appeared just a few weeks after President Kennedy's assassination. Christie's will offer one of only five albums of 18 photographs from this absorbing series of images known to exist.

Earlier American images in the auction include Mathew Brady's daguerreotype portrait of the Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole, and Ansel Adams' The Tetons and the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, WY.

Further significant works include a fine group of rarely seen prints by Ilse Bing, a selection of works by Robert Frank from the 1950s and 60s, a Fifteen Photographs portfolio by Manuel Álvarez Bravo, 484 prints of Ireland by the relatively unknown Irish photographer Robert French and an album of snapshot-like portraits of the painter John Singer Sargent.

Also featured are a strong selection of classic works by Richard Avedon, Brassaï, Harry Callahan, Edward S. Curtis, Robert Doisneau, Andreas Feininger, Seydou Keïta, André Kertész, Robert Mapplethorpe, Irving Penn and Hiroshi Sugimoto.

More contemporarily, the sale will offer Garry Winogrand's Women Are Beautiful, a portfolio of 85 gelatin silver prints, and Adam Fuss's Untitled from the series My Ghost.

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid during the auction, please contact Leila Buckjune, Laura Paterson or Lisa Newlin at 1-212-636-2330, or Leila via e-mail at lbuckjune@christies.com .

An illustrated catalogue, with information on bidding by mail, phone or fax, is available online at: http://www.christies.com/promos/oct03/1287/overview.asp .