CHRISTIE'S SOLLEY AUCTION BRINGS IN $4,328,460 WITH 79% OF LOTS SOLD; AIPAD'S NY PHOTO SHOW SCHEDULED
APRIL 12-15 AT NEW YORK 7TH ARMORY; CARTIER-BRESSON COLLECTION OF GANDI ASSASSINATION AND AFTERMATH SOLD; ICP ANNOUNCES INFINITY AWARD WINNERS; ON EXHIBIT: AN INTIMATE VIEW OF 19TH-CENTURY ITALY AT NYC'S AMERICAN ACADEMY IN ROME; NEW PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS; LEARNING ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHY RESOURCES ON I PHOTO CENTRAL
CHRISTIE'S SOLLEY AUCTION BRINGS
IN $4,328,460 WITH 79% OF LOTS SOLD
After the Feb. 14th Swann photography auction, a group of us slogged over to Christie's by taxi. The first sale here was the auction of material from Indiana collector Thomas Solley's estate. Under Solley's guidance as director, the University of Indiana's Art Museum greatly expanded its collections and moved into a new I.M. Pei-designed building in 1982.
Christie's did reasonably well here, selling 79% of the lots for a $4,328,460 total--all the more impressive considering there were only five lots which poked into six-figure territory. This individual sale clearly outshone Christie's regular multi-owner sale the next day.
The "crowds" at all of these February sales were tiny. The phones, commission bids and even the internet played more important roles here on most lots, although there were a few very important exceptions where the "room" made its voice heard. As you will see, the estimates on many lots in this sale were mere come-ons, as I have repeated so often in my recent newsletters.
Because of the quantity of lots, I will generally focus only on those above $30,000. The prices will include the 20% buyer's premium (auction house commission). At Christie's, as at Sotheby's, the charges at 20% have all moved up now to $500,000 from $200,000. Previously, you would pay 20% on the first $200,000, then only 12% on the rest. One more hike by the auctions as prices escalate. Perhaps the fable of the goose that lays the golden eggs has not yet been heard by auction management. And, it is odd how one auction house (in this case Sotheby's) announces an increase in rates, and the "competition" is so "fierce" that the other auctions just fall in line the very next week with that increase. Even the money-hungry airlines haven't been able to get away with that.
Irving Penn's "Summer Sleep, NY" (lot 5), an attractive dye transfer color image of a sleeping woman with fan behind a fly-laden screen, was estimated at a come-on price of $25,000-35,000, but sold to a phone bidder for $72,000. I am not positive, but I think Penn's dealer Peter MacGill underbid. Dealer Robert Klein was just under these two.
Lot 8, Eugene Atget's "Chatillon, Glycine" (Wisteria), was a beautiful print and image, actually presenting better than in the catalogue. The print was subdued in its sheen and very rich in its color, and the best Atget in this round of auctions. The estimate, as so many in this sale, was set very low ($12,000-18,000) to produce action. And action is what it produced. Although there were other bidders in the fray, at the final dual it came down to Boston dealer and AIPAD president Robert Klein versus curator Keith Davis. Davis took home the prize at a whopping $50,400.
One of the surprises of the auction came on lot 16, a large late-printed Horst of "Lisa with Harp" in platinum-palladium (18 x 13-1/4 in.), which had been estimated at an admittedly too low $6,000-8,000. The prints had been selling at galleries for $18,000-25,000 before the sale in this size in this medium--when you could find them (the edition is only ten, although there are plenty of other editions of the same image in other sizes and mediums). The phones were all over this one. One finally topped the rest at $50,400. That's a lot of money for a late-printed Horst of a "B" image. If it were Swann's publicity person, I am sure that they would say: "a new world auction record for a late-printed Horst."
Paul Outerbridge's color carbro of "Nude with head Sculpture" (lot 19) got San Francisco dealer Paul Hertzmann's paddle up, but he couldn't outlast a persistent phone bidder, who finally took the lot for the high estimate plus premium of $42,000. Personally, while I liked the image, I didn't care for the condition of this print with its many blotchy color areas. Carbro can be a tricky process.
Condition was also a factor largely ignored on lot 24, Henri Cartier-Bresson's "Italy, 1933", an early print of his surrealist image of friends Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues and Leonor Fini. It had been estimated at a ridiculously low $40,000-60,000. Retouch work in several places, heavy silvering on the edges and an area of slight sun burn probably from an overmat were apparently meaningless here, and they were indeed relatively minor on such a print. Collector Michael Mattis took the early lead until $120,000, but he succumbed to the duo, which ultimately battled it out over the print. New York dealer Howard Greenberg and a phone bidder continued the dance upward, until Greenberg finally won out at $204,000. The price was a new world auction record for the artist and the third highest priced lot in this auction. Cartier-Bresson is hot, hot, hot.
Lot 31, Paul Outerbridge's platinum print "Musical Semi-Abstraction, 1924", was bid up by the phones to just under the high estimate at $33,600. Outerbridge's Self Portrait (lot 34), which was believed to be a unique silver print, also sold for nearly the high estimate, this time to collector Michael Mattis in the room for $66,000. Again, condition was not by any means perfect, something for collectors to understand about such rare early prints. When something is truly rare, you can't wait for a "perfect" print, because they simply do not exist in many photographs prior to 1950 or even 1960. Their minor flaws, as those of our own loved ones, may even be treasured as a part of their overall character. The last similar (but a vertical variant) photograph from this series that sold at Christie's in October 2000 went for a whopping $226,000.
I really wanted to go after lot 39, Margaret Watkins' lovely platinum print "Domestic Tranquility". It was estimated at a mere $5,000-7,000. I foolishly thought that I might have a chance at a $25,000 hammer bid. Let's see, I think there were dealers Charles Isaacs, Robert Miller, Tom Gitterman, Howard Greenberg and a lot of phones bidding away, so you can imagine the result. Greenberg finally beat one of the phones for a total of $57,600 for the piece. Then he took the next lot, "Design Curves", another Watkins (but not so pretty), for $22,800 over Charles Isaacs.
But the real shocker of the day for at least the Christie's staff (although you did have to wonder, given the write-up and full page devoted to the item) was the result on Morton Schamberg's "God, 1918", "a dead-pan study of a cast-iron plumbing trap on a mitre box", as the Christie's staff described it. Estimated at $5,000-7,000, the result for this early American "Dadaist" work would rock even those in-the-know on this one. Before the bidding, Keith Davis had whispered to me that it would easily go into six figures. And indeed it did. The only question was how high in six figures. Davis actually took the early lead, fending off phones; and then dealers Robert Klein and Charles Isaacs joined in the fray. But as the price climbed ever upward many of the early bidders had to retire from the field. Ultimately even the phones were silenced as the action fell to the room and two bidders: New York dealer Peter MacGill and Gabriel Catone, who had a cell phone glued to his ear. Catone used to work with mega art consultant Thea Westrich, but recently formed a partnership with another former Westrich employee, Andrew Ruth. He was reportedly on the phone with collector John Pritzker. At $320,000 it was Peter MacGill, but Catone bid by only a $1,000 increment over MacGill (and it was accepted!). Finally MacGill bid the next level and the next, until with premium MacGill's winning bid was $390,000 (including the 20% premium that now applied to the entire amount, not just the first $200,000). That was, of course, a world auction record for the artist and the highest priced lot in this sale.
But several questions remain: What price would this item have gone for had it been placed more appropriately in an art sale of Dadaist or Modernist work? And: Why would a respected auction house or an auctioneer of the very high caliber and intelligence of Philippe Garner take measly and annoying (I am sure even more annoying to Peter MacGill) $1,000 incremental bids at the $320,000 level? And this is certainly not the only occasion where I have seen such behavior from auctioneers at all the houses. Can I suggest that such auctioneers start treating bidders and the people who come to bid with some modicum of respect and stop trying to milk every last dollar or pound sterling from a lot? It is not an effective strategy in the long term, nor does it substantially change the immediate totals to the house or consignor. Indeed, it may even reduce those in many if not most instances. Would Catone have gone to $325,000 if forced? Would MacGill have overbid to $330,000 hammer? Very possibly.
The next lot, Paul Strand's Lathe, produced some controversy about the date of the printing. Christie's had it as the image date: 1923. In a conversation during the preview, Chicago dealer Stephen Daiter said he felt it could be as late as 1950s, although I and others thought 1930s might be closer. I think we settled on "probably" 1940s, showing that there can still be considerable controversy in dating a print among experts in the absence of objective criteria to the contrary. It was a varnished print, typical of those that Strand did throughout his long career. In any case, it sold to a commission bidder for the low estimate at $48,000.
A few lots later and another surprise: Lot 46, El Lissitzky's tiny photograph of "Long Distance Runner" (shouldn't that title have been "Hurdler"?), which had been estimated at $5,000-7,000, sold for $90,000 to a European collector on the phone over other phone bidders. It was identified as "printed later", although exactly when was somewhat a question. Did the bidders think it was a vintage print? They did seem to bid like that. The price put the lot into a three-way tie for seventh place in this auction's top ten lots. Again, this was a print that was difficult to date authoritatively, but my own feeling was that it was probably after rather than before Lissitzky died in 1941.
Helmut Newton's small print of "Mannequins, Quai d'Orsay, Paris" (lot 52) sold for more than double the low estimate at $42,000 to an order bidder. A larger 14-1/4 x 9-1/2 in. print of his "A Woman into a Man, Paris" (lot 53) sold to a phone bidder for over the high estimate at $32,400. His "Charlotte Rampling, Arles" (lot 54), in a 12-1/4 x 8-1/4 print, sold to another order bidder for more than double the low estimate at $38,400.
I often feel that reporting on all these high prices is a bit misleading. There are so many good opportunities at much lower prices--often on better and rarer images. New York dealer Tom Gitterman, for instance, scooped up a real bargain on lot 58, a vintage print of Sabine Weiss' most famous image of a man running down a street at night in Paris. When I first looked at the catalogue, I thought that the listing must be a mistake and that it was one of the later-printed versions floating around on the market. Weiss' vintage prints are extremely rare (reportedly she only made three sets and one set was stolen years ago), and I have never seen a vintage print of this image, although plenty of later prints have been available. While Gitterman had to bid twice the high estimate at $7,200, it was still a very excellent bargain, easily worth triple that price. In fact Weiss' later prints of this image sell for more than what Gitterman paid for this vintage print. Compare this lot to the late-printed Horst that came up earlier in this auction, for example, that sold for more than seven times the price of the Weiss and was considerably less rare. I know which I would rather have won.
There are still plenty of wonderful rare vintage prints well under $10,000 on the market. For that matter, there are great images below $1,000. And, if you are going to spend over $50,000, why not buy a true museum masterwork, rather than a fancy "poster" type print made in combined editions in the hundreds (sometimes thousands) of prints?
Another example of what I am talking about came on the next lot (59), a late-print of William Klein's fashion-oriented "Piazza di Spagna, Rome", which sold to an Internet bidder (why am I not surprised) for nearly double the high estimate at $48,000. Christie's put it on the cover and the bidders bit.
The Internet bidders actually captured more than a few lots in this sale, pushing auctions more and more into the virtual. Could eBay and other Internet auctions be the competitive beneficiaries, as the larger auction houses take steps--inadvertent as they may be--that make their auctions more and more aimed at a virtual community of Internet, phone and commission bidders? EBay live is already playing an important role is this transition. Are auction houses using this service and, by doing so, planting the seeds of their own destruction? Hmmm.
Lot 64, another fashion-oriented photograph by Richard Avedon of "Sunny Harnett, Model. Dress by Gres. Casino, Le Touquet." in an edition of 75 in an 18 x 14-1/4 in. silver print apparently sold to the same high-rolling Internet bidder as the Klein for $57,600--quadruple the high estimate. I trust they realize that retracting a bid at Christie's is not the same as doing it to some mom & pop shop on eBay.
A small 8 x 10 in. Richard Avedon print of "Dovima with Elephants" (lot 66) in an edition of 100 sold to a phone bidder for $45,600--just over the high estimate. I believe this is the highest price paid for one in this size. One wonders if we haven't hit the top edge of the bubble on many of these late prints in these very large (and even multiple) editions that are currently selling for so many tens of thousands. Too many of these copies are around--and I don't just mean Avedon's Dovima. With a little fiscal backpedaling in the economy, I think selling such photographs will be problematic.
Meanwhile most vintage print prices look relatively more and more tempting--especially on quality 19th-century master work, of which there is very little to be had--and virtually none at auction. I do not think you will generally see a dip in pricing on vintage photographs, but I would be very worried indeed for the resale value (or lack thereof) for these overly inflated later-printed images with large editions and multiple editions (of the same image in many different sizes and media). Yes, I do understand the concept of supply and demand, but the demand side is the one susceptible to major change under economic pressures.
Lot 71, Herbert Ritts' "Versace Dress, Back View, El Mirage" (edition of 25), sold to a phone bidder for a little more than 1-1/2 x the high estimate at $33,600.
Henri Cartier-Bresson's "On the Banks of the Marne" (lot 81) was supposed to be a 1960s print, but looked to me and others to be a late 1970s portfolio print, edition number (21/50) and all. It wasn't a perfect print by any means, but it still got to the mid-range with a $33,600 price paid by New York dealer Edwynn Houk. Considering that two circa 1950 prints of this classic 1938 image recently sold for $132,000 and $96,000 respectively, this was still a bargain--later printing and all.
Like with Robert Frank a few years ago, it is dealers and very knowledgeable collectors that are leading the way on Cartier-Bresson. I would definitely watch C-B's prices, which have already gone up on many available prints--even the later printed ones. It is now difficult to buy a later printing in a 16 x 20 in. size of any of his major images for less than $16,000-20,000 from galleries (or auction). And vintage prints will largely be in six figures for similar images. Near-vintage prints (1950s-early 1960s for 1930s images) will go for about half of what a vintage print would sell for, given that there is a dearth of vintage prints available.
So what would a vintage print of the "Banks of the Marne", arguably his most important image, sell for today if it were available? Everything is relative, but certainly a true vintage one without problems would be well over $300,000. As with Robert Frank, appraisers will have to keep on their toes with Cartier-Bresson.
Albert Renger-Patzsch's "Das Baumchen, 1929", but printed in the 1950s, was bid up by a multitude of phones. After the phone banks quieted down, lot 82, which had been estimated at $6,000-8,000, sold to one of those phone bidders for $60,000.
Lot 93, a very late (probably 1980s) print by Robert Frank of a New York City street's white middle line (and signed in the white stripe at the bottom of the image), had a fold and some crackling along the bottom and side, but that didn't stop the phones from destroying the estimate range of $15,000-25,000. When it was all over, one of those Ma Bell bidders had to pay $78,000 for this one. At $35,000 it would have been a bargain.
Two circa 1933 experimental Edward Steichen images of "View into 40th Str. To West from Steichen's Studio" (lot 95) were estimated way too low at $40,000-60,000. Former Steichen dealer Howard Greenberg knew a pair of bargains when he saw them and scooped up the lot for $96,000. Collector Michael Mattis underbid this one. This lot was perhaps the best buy of this auction and good enough for sixth place in the sale's top ten.
Lot 114, Richard Avedon's printed-later "Lauren Hutton, Great Exhuma, the Bahamas", editioned 17/50, sold to a European dealer on the phone for a whopping $90,000, over an estimate of $20,000-30,000. That price tied for seventh place here and was about triple the price of the same image just three and half years ago.
Lot 122, Irving Penn's "Vogue, Fashion Photograph (Café in Lima), Peru", edition of 25, also sold to the same European dealer on the phone for over four times the high estimate at $132,000. That put the lot into fifth place in this sale's top ten.
The ever popular (19 times at auction for an edition of only 25 in silver and 45 in platinum) Irving Penn of "Woman with Roses" (this one a silver print) sold to a European dealer again for $90,000, which was good enough for a tie for seventh place.
An interesting vintage fashion photo by William Klein (lot 148) made it over the high estimate with the help of a phone and an internet bidder. The phone bidder finally took it for $33,600.
Robert Frank keeps chugging along. Lot 149, his photograph of the back of a car (entitled "Chicago") sold to New York dealer Deborah Bell. It appeared to be a late 1960s print with a 'Study Collection' at MoMA notation on the verso. It was clearly later than the print that sold to Peter MacGill at the October 2005 Christie's sale for $57,600 over my underbid. Estimated at $30,000-50,000, this print sold to Bell for $48,000.
Richard Avedon's "Place du Trocadero, Paris" (lot 164), estimated at a too low $8,000-12,000 sold for, perhaps, a too high $60,000 to a phone bidder.
Boston dealer Robert Klein bought lot 167, a vintage Robert Frank of "Chairs, Tuileries, Paris" for just over the high estimate at $38,400.
Another relative surprise was the price reached for the 1960s print of Edward Steichen's Flatiron Building. Estimated at $40,000-60,000, the bidding soared to $144,000. It sold to collector Kathryn McCarver Root in the room at the fourth highest price for a lot at this auction. Yes, a true vintage print of the image would bring probably bring well over $3 million in today's market, but I just felt this later silver print couldn't really express the qualities of those wonderful vintage ones sitting there at the New York Metropolitan Museum.
Helmut Newton was back with an early print of lot 200, "Self Portrait with Wife and Models, Paris". Estimated at $15,000-25,000, it sold to art consultant Turid Meeker in the room for $36,000.
Lot 211, a very early print of Bill Brandt's Elbow (titled here "London, 1952"), nearly doubled its high estimate when phone and internet bidders got into it. The phone picked up the prize at $72,000. The print had a few tiny inconsequential condition issues. I originally thought that while it was printed very early, it may have been made as much as ten or 11 years after it was taken. I now think the print was made very close to the image date due to a number of factors, including provenance information, lack of glow under black light, Rapho stamp, etc. It is the earliest print of this image that I have seen on the market in nearly two decades. It was a definite bargain compared to one that sold in Paris for $19,000 more and reportedly glowed heavily.
A small and relatively unattractive Robert Frank (lot 214, "London, 1952") sold to a phone bidder for double its high estimate at $36,000.
After this, it was "slim pickins". Cartier-Bresson's Seville (lot 270), probably printed in the early 1950s instead of the 1960s as the catalogue said, sold to New York dealer Edwynn Houk for a very bargain price of $45,600 over the underbid of fellow New York dealer Charles Isaacs.
Finally the controversy over dating and the Lissitzky prints in this sale continued with lot 283, "Portrait of Kurt Schwitters", which was dated 1924 in the catalogue but which appeared to be about the same vintage as the earlier Lissitzky photograph of the "Runner" in this auction. It went to a European dealer on the phone for $252,000, which was a world auction record for this artist. Many who saw the print felt it might be as late as the 1940-50s, which would mean that the artist did not print it, because Lissitzky died in 1941.
AIPAD'S NYC PHOTO SHOW SCHEDULED
APRIL 12-15 AT NEW YORK 7TH ARMORY
The Association of International Photography Art Dealers' (AIPAD) Photography Show '07 will be held Thursday, April 12 through Sunday, April 15, 2007. The show is now in its 27th year--the oldest and largest photography exposition in the United States. The Photography Show '07 is considered to be the world's premiere exposition of fine art photography, including both contemporary and vintage works. This will be the second year the Photography Show is held at the New York 7th Regiment Armory, a significant historic venue in the art world.
The Photography Show '07 features more than 90 fine art photography exhibitors from around the world and attracts thousands of visitors each year. Special events at the show include a preview benefit for Henry Buhl's foundation, the Association of Community Employment Programs (A.C.E.) for the homeless and its initiatives, the SoHo & TriBeCa Partnerships; a special invitational preview party the evening before the fair opens to the public; lectures, guided tours and other events connected with the event. The Benefit Preview will be held on Wednesday, April 11 from 7-10 p.m. Tickets are $75 each for the benefit. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be served.
The show is open to the public Thursday, April 12, 2-7 p.m.; Friday, April 13, and Saturday, April 14, 12-8 p.m.; and Sunday, April 15, 12-6 p.m. Tickets are available at the door and are $20 per person for a one-day pass, $30 for three days or $40 for four days. The Photography Show '07 will be held at the 7th Regiment Armory, located at Park Avenue and 67th Street, New York, N.Y. For additional information, go to AIPAD's website at http://www.aipad.com
or call 1-202-986-0105.
CARTIER-BRESSON COLLECTION OF GANDI
ASSASSINATION AND AFTERMATH SOLD
According to today's Art Newspaper, Neville Tuli, owner of Osians auction house in Mumbai, India has bought a collection of 45 vintage silver print photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson taken before and just after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Cartier-Bresson was introduced to Gandhi on January 30, 1948 and was with him just before he was shot. He then photographed the aftermath of the assassination, including Nehrus announcement to shocked crowds.
Tuli reportedly paid £80,000 for the photographs from an unnamed London dealer, paying an additional 17.5% duty to bring them into India. This is believed to be the highest price ever paid for a collection of 20th-century photographs by an Indian buyer.
The Gandhi collection, including these photographs, will be exhibited in the Osianama, a new arts centre that Tuli plans to open in the historic Minerva Cinema in Mumbai next January. In the article he describes it as "an integrated institution for cinema, the fine arts, pop culture, architecture, literature and philosophy, which will house the auction house, film archive, post-production facilities, permanent exhibition spaces and two or three screens."
ICP ANNOUNCES INFINITY AWARD WINNERS
The International Center of Photography has announced the winners its 23rd Infinity Awards for Photography. The 2007 awards will be presented at a gala on May 14 at Chelsea Piers, Pier Sixty, New York City.
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to William Klein; the Cornell Capa Award to Milton Rogovin; the ICP Trustees Award to Karl Lagerfeld; the Young Photographer Award to Ryan McGinley; the Writing Award to David Levi Strauss; the Publication Award to "Sommes-Nous?", Tendance Floue; the Art Award to Tracey Moffatt; the Photojournalism Award to Christopher Morris for "My America"; and the Applied/Fashion/Advertising Photography Award to the Gap.
ON EXHIBIT: AN INTIMATE VIEW OF 19TH-CENTURY
ITALY AT NYC'S AMERICAN ACADEMY IN ROME
By Mack Lee
"Steps Off the Beaten Path: Nineteenth-Century Photographs of Rome and its Environs" at the American Academy in Rome, New York Office, 7 East 60th Street, New York.
"Steps off the Beaten Path: Nineteenth-Century Photographs of Rome and its Environs" is a pioneering departure from the traditional views of great monuments and writes a new chapter in the history of photography. Unlike the grand photographs by renowned photographers Anderson, Alinari, and MacPherson, these images are of carefully chosen intimate portraits of Rome.
The exhibit debuts works by Simelli, Chauffourier, and de Bonis. These photographers have intentionally chosen not only what we, the viewers, see but how we see it as well. They leave us no choice but to admire and respect the details of the ancient, hand-carved stone of archways, doorways, and fountains as well as the people living in and around them.
Eugene Atget made this intimate style of photography famous 30 years later in Paris. Here, for the first time, we see the photographs of Atget's stylistic predecessors and see a new context for viewing Atget's work. This show brings to life the intricacies of 19th-century Rome in a way that MacPherson, Alinari and Anderson did not capture in their grand views of ancient monuments. This show is a new and important look at an old and beautiful subject.
Images from the collection of Dee and Bruce Lundberg, which is curated by Dr. Bruce Lundberg and Professor John Pinto, will be open to the public through May 15, 2007.
Please call the American Academy in Rome at 1-212-751-7200 for more information.
The show can also be viewed on the web at http://www.aarome.org
NEW PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS
By Matt Damsker
NEW YORKERS--AS SEEN BY MAGNUM PHOTOGRAPHERS.
Edited by Max Kozloff. Published in the U.S. by Powerhouse Books, 174 pages; approximately 160 plates. ISBN No. 1-57687-185-1. Information: Powerhouse Books, 68 Charlton St., New York, NY 10014-4601; phone: 1-212 604 9074; fax: 1-212 366 5247; email: newyorkers@powerHouseBooks.com
. Web site: http://www.powerHouseBooks.com
First published in 2003, this classic collection of New York images from the great Magnum photo agency is street photography of the highest order, with such luminaries as Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Inge Morath, Bruce Davidson, and many others among its pages. Cartier-Bresson's contribution, in fact, is wonderfully emblematic of the whole New York theme, as a busy bank manager sits at his desk, surrounded by the vaults and machinery of banking, while a large painting of Manhattan being purchased from the Indians, entitled "The Romance of Manhattan," looms ironically in the background.
Beyond that, there is less irony than sheer visual information at play here, and it sweeps gorgeously, grotesquely and often picaresquely all around the town. Bruce Davidson's shot of a young boy attempting to fly a kite from a rooftop on East 100th street is a vision of urban grime and grit aspiring heavenward, just as his shot of an elderly couple eating at an east side cafeteria--their faces rubbery and virtually identical--is a hymn to sheer Gothamite persistence. Indeed, these photos are good enough to convey the very smell of the streets, glimpsing everything from early morning deliveries in the rainy gloom of the garment district to a gray dawn in Times Square--and, always, there are the denizens of the five boroughs: Elliot Erwitt's fish mongers at the Fulton street market; Susan Meiselas's neighborhood girls on a corner in Little Italy, their faces mingling hope with vulnerability; Bruce Gilden's family outside of Nathan's Hot Dogs on Coney Island, in all their immigrant vitality.
Magnum's photographers and, perhaps more importantly, its photo editors are adept not only in delivering great documentary photography, but in capturing photography's democratic spirit amidst so much of New York. Thus, Erwitt's 1954 portrait of playwright Arthur Miller, with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background, carries much the same weight of personality as Bruce Gilden's 1995 shot of an anonymous fat man with a cigarette on Fifth Avenue. Their worlds may be different, but the tough spirit of the city is etched comparably in their faces. And Eve Arnold's 1961 shot of a black-hatted Malcolm X at a Harlem mosque is a superb portrait, in profile, that conveys the civil rights legend's glamour and humanity where he seems most at home.
And the streets of New York are home to the infinite variety of life lived, grabbed, and ground down--from lovers kissing on subway platforms to blind beggars on street corners, Samoan strippers ogled by servicemen at a dive on 52nd Street, taxi drivers and tumbling children. As critic Max Kozloff points out, Magnum was founded in 1947 as a cooperative of photographers committed to independent media and social democracy, and its peer-selected membership holds on to those ideals. Magnum's cameras seem to catch everything and everyone, affording dignity and comprehension in the unkind, chaotic metropolis.
Matt Damsker is an author and critic, who has written about photography and the arts for the Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, Philadelphia Bulletin, Rolling Stone magazine and other publications. His book, "Rock Voices", was published in 1981 by St. Martin's Press. His essay in the book, "Marcus Doyle: Night Vision" was published in November 2005.
(Book publishers, authors and photography galleries/dealers may send review copies to us at: I Photo Central, 258 Inverness Circle, Chalfont, PA 18914. We do not guarantee that we will review all books or catalogues that we receive.)
LEARNING ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHY
RESOURCES ON I PHOTO CENTRAL
Just a reminder that the I Photo Central website at http://www.iphotocentral.com
offers some of the most extensive information for photography collectors anywhere on the Internet.
You can search all 121 E-Photo newsletters online at http://www.iphotocentral.com/news/news.php
. Since the newsletter covers most of the photography auctions' main action, you can not only find out how much something sold for at auction, but sometimes even who it sold to. Whether it is a market study, a conservation issue or a book review that you missed, just search for it with the key word search. And remember to sign up and tell your friends to receive the newsletter by email. It is still free and the best bargain in photography.
I Photo Central's Special Exhibits section not only has great images on display (and for sale!) by theme or photographer, but the 89 current exhibits are often accompanied by some of the most detailed research available on certain subjects and photographers. Extensive biographies and a discussions of their work can be found in the Special Exhibits on Laure Albin-Guillot, Andre Kertesz, the Auradon brothers, Eugene Atget, Geza Vandor, Jan Bulhak, Louis De Clercq, Robert Doisneau, W. Eugene Smith, Josef Sudek, Arthur Tress, Hill & Adamson, Dorothy Norman, Lisa Holden, Krzysztof Pruszkowski, Maurice Georges Chanu, Ted Jones, Marcel Marien, Joel D. Levinson, Marcus Doyle, Charlie Schreiner, Stanko Abadzic, Susan McCartney, Mario Giacomelli, Gianni Berengo Giardin, Dale Smith, Fritz Henle, Gayle Goodrich and William F. Simpson.
A number of these special exhibits are devoted to contemporary art photography. Other major articles focus on the history of photography, including the history of stereo views, the autochrome and early color processes, the photography of the Crimean War, the paper negative, salt prints, cyanotypes, ethnographic photography, architectural and landscape photography, dance photography, 20th-century Czech photography and the Japanese ambrotype. They are all available to you at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase.php
, plus many other topics of interest.
The dealers of I Photo Central are constantly updating, changing and adding new exhibits, so return often. Extensive biographical information on photographers can also often be found in the individual listings of photographs for sale. Nearly 2,000 photographers are listed.
On the Calendar of Events page you will find the most complete international calendar of photography collecting-related events available and it is conveniently broken up by specific type of event (auctions, museums, galleries, seminars, book-signings, etc.). And it is also sortable by city, state, country, etc. You can access it by clicking on: http://www.iphotocentral.com/calendar/calendar.php
. Never miss another event, no matter where you go.
One of the best resources for even experienced collectors, dealers and curators is the I Photo Central section on Collecting Issues and Resources. This is a series of lengthy, detailed and practical articles on the following topics:
On Connoisseurship and Print Values: A Discussion
Photography Price Gyrations: Le Gray, a Case Study
The Insider's Guide to Buying Photographs
The Insider's Guide to Selling Photographs
Risk Management and Insurance for Private Collectors, Dealers, Gallery Owners and Museums
Certificates of Insurance and Why You Need to Get Them When You Loan Out Work
Sample Photography Collector's Vintage & Contemporary Fine Art Insurance Policy
Sample Photography Dealer's Vintage & Contemporary Fine Art Insurance Policy
Determining the Vintage of a Print
Vintage Character and Dating Prints after 1950
Responses to Our Question on the Vintage Issue after 1950
The Ins And Outs of Photography Appraisals
Basic Core Photography Collecting Books and Other Media by Category
Contemporary Photography: Truth & the Burden of Reality
Photography Book Reviews (all 70 of them!)
And even a list of Paris restaurants that we can recommend.
We are constantly updating and adding to these articles, which can all be found at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/collecting/collecting.php
And remember that we now have incorporated a "Printer Friendly" version of each page. Just click on that indication at the upper right of each web page to pull up a page ready for your printer without color and properly spaced.
Of course, the core of the site is the well over 6,000 photographs for sale that can be accessed through one of the easiest-to-use search pages on the Internet. Just go to http://www.iphotocentral.com/search/search.php
to find a range of interesting images that you can purchase from I Photo Central's dealers. If you want to look at our list of nearly 2,000 photographers whose images are currently for sale, just go to: http://www.iphotocentral.com/search/photographer_list.php
We also have a detailed list of websites and blogs that we regard as particularly useful for photography collectors and curators. These links are listed at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/links/links.php
All in all, please come and explore I Photo Central with its tens of thousands of web pages of information--all on photography collecting--and its nearly 7,000 images for sale. Maybe that is why both Google and Yahoo list this website as #1 when searching for "photography collecting", or why Black & White magazine's recent March 2007 issue called I Photo Central the "Ultimate Internet Resource for Collectors." The magazine went on to say that the "website represents some of the best opportunities the Web has to offer for dealers and serious collectors, as well as curators of fine art photography."