Photography News and Archive
Current News             Issue Archive             Article Archive E-Photo Newsletter   Issue 149   10/9/2008

Phillips De Pury & Co. Announces Partnership With Mercury Group

Phillips de Pury & Co. has entered into a strategic partnership with a leading Russian luxury company, the Mercury Group. The Mercury Group will acquire control of the company from the partners of Phillips de Pury & Co. and Simon de Pury will remain as chairman and "an important shareholder in the company", according to the company's press release on the matter.

Preliminary discussions between Phillips de Pury & Co. and the Mercury Group began in July 2007 and concluded just over a year later, with a comprehensive agreement to further the scope of the business.

In its press release, Phillips de Pury & Co. claims to have had 80% growth from half year 2007/2008 in sales volume in contemporary art auctions alone, although the percentage for other areas of the company went unreported and were suspected to be much lower or even negative. Profits (if any) went unreported. Phillips de Pury & Company operates across four selling platforms: auctions, private treaty sales, selling exhibitions and building private collections in the collecting categories of contemporary art, photographs, design, editions and jewelry. Its entrance as a direct competitor to photography galleries has created some ill feelings in the trade, as well as its rotating-door approach for its photography department heads.

Mercury Group is Russia's largest luxury retail company whose holdings include The Tretyakov Projezd, the Barvikha Luxury Village and TSUM department store, high-end retail properties in the Moscow area that house fashion and jewelry brands such as Gucci, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Rolex and Graff, as well as showrooms for Ferrari, Maserati and Bentley. It is not the first time a luxury company has entered the auction field.

Israel Museum Receives One of World's Most Important Private Photography Collections

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem recently announced that long-time patrons Harriette and Noel Levine have gifted their extensive photography collection to the museum, encompassing 125 photographs that span over 160 years of the history of the medium. Their collection, considered one of the finest such collections in private hands, comprises works ranging from 19th-century British calotypes to modernist masterpieces to recent examples of contemporary work. This gift builds on the museum's 40-year history of collecting photography, further distinguishing it as one of the world's premier photography holdings.

In addition to the gift of the collection, the Israel Museum received new gifts totaling $2 million in endowment support for the museum's photography department--$1 million from the Levines themselves and $1 million from Patricia Gerber, sister of Harriette Levine, in honor of the Levines. These generous contributions add to the $12 million gift committed by the Levines in 2005 to endow the Museum's photography department, creating a total of $14 million in endowed funds for the department (see E-Photo Newsletter #96 for further details). In 1994, the Levines also donated a collection of 80 signed works by noted American photographer and photojournalist André Kertész (1894-1985).

Noel and Harriette Levine built their photography collection over the course of 30 years. Embracing a wide range of periods and styles, the collection features notable examples of vintage 19th-century photography, including iconic calotypes by the British practitioners William Henry Fox Talbot, and David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson; images by American masters of early landscape photography, among them William H. Jackson and Carleton E. Watkins; and work by French masters such as Gustave Le Gray and Nadar. The collection also encompasses signature examples of Pictorialism by such important figures as Julia Margaret Cameron, Oscar Gustav Rejlander, Karl Struss and Hans Watzek.

The Levines also hold an exemplary representation of early 20th-century works of American and international modernism by some if its greatest masters--Paul Outerbridge, Man Ray, Charles Sheeler, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston--and an extensive holding of images by André Kertész. The collection also includes key images by contemporary photographers, including David Hockney, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman, and William Wegman.

"It is with pride and pleasure that Harriette and I pay tribute to the Israel Museum--and enrich its holdings in photography--with the gift of our collection on the occasion of the state of Israel's 60th anniversary," said Noel Levine.

Swann Holds Major Auction On Oct. 21; Previews Run Oct. 16-21 in New York City

Swann Galleries' October 21st auction of "Important 19th & 20th Century Photographs" offers vintage and contemporary works by a host of American, European and Asian masters.

Photographs of exotic lands and people include 75 rare Japanese landscapes, street scenes and views of temples by Felice Beato, the first photographer to devote himself entirely to photographing Asia, circa 1870 (est. $25,000-35,000); and a remarkable album containing 68 photographs of Brazil by Marc Ferrez, late 1880s-early 1890s, ($25,000-35,000).

Early images include a sixth-plate ruby glass ambrotype of abolitionist John Brown, circa 1859 ($7,000-10,000); Charles Nègre's photograph of the Charles-Antoine Coysevox statue "Flore", albumen print, 1859 ($18,000-22,000); Julia Margaret Cameron's "Shepherds Keeping Watch by Night", a rare (only two known) albumen print, 1865-1866 ($9,000-12,000); Timothy O'Sullivan's "Ancient Ruins in the Canyon de Chelle, N.M.", an albumen print from his geological survey of the U.S., 1873 ($15,000-25,000); and an 1840s salt print from a paper negative of Lady Georgina Ryder by the early Scottish art photographers Hill & Adamson $3,000-4,500).

Highlights from the early 20th century include Edward S. Curtis' luminous orotone, "The Vanishing Race", in an original Curtis frame, 1904 ($10,000-15,000); Edward Steichen's painterly "Mrs. Steichen and the Steichen Children", silver print, circa 1910 ($15,000-25,000); Edward Weston and Margrethe Mather's elegant view of "The Marion Morgan Dancers", platinum-palladium print, circa 1921 ($40,000-60,000); Tina Modotti's "Maria Marin de Orozco", platinum print, 1925 ($12,000-18,000); Edward Weston's Nude [Miriam Lerner: Hands and Torso], silver print, 1925 ($30,000-45,000); Dorothea Lange's "Ex-slave with a Long Memory, AL", silver print, 1937, printed 1950s ($15,000-25,000); Paul Outerbridge, Jr.'s large modernist color carbro print of the 1937c "Christmas Tree Ornament" ($9,000-12,000); and a portfolio titled "The Vanishing World", with 12 photographs depicting Polish Jews during the late 1930s by Roman Vishniac, silver prints, 1936-38, printed 1977 ($25,000-35,000).

Classic mid-century works include Ansel Adams' "Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada, from Lone Pine, CA", silver print, 1944, printed 1978 ($25,000 to $35,000); W. Eugene Smith's "Spanish Spinner", from his famous Spanish Village series, silver print, 1950, printed 1970-71 ($7,000-10,000); Ruth Orkin's "The Cardplayers, The Family of Man", 1947, a series of six silver print photographs of three young children deeply engrossed in their game of cards, printed 1955 ($20,000-25,000); O. Winston Link's "Hot Shot Eastbound at the Iaeger Drive-In, WV", silver print, 1956, printed 1998 ($9,000-12,000); and works by Helen Levitt, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Robert Doisneau and Weegee.

Some of the desirable portfolios in the auction are George Tice's "The Amish", with 12 sentimental photographs of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, silver prints, 1961-66, printed 1968 ($6,000-9,000); Minor White's "Juniper", with 12 silver prints, one of 100, 1947-71, printed 1975 ($14,000-18,000); Paul Caponigro's Portfolio II, with eight refined photographs of nature, silver prints, 1957-70, printed 1973 ($9,000-12,000); Danny Lyon's "The Southern Civil Rights Movement", with 28 photographs, one of only 10 sets, plus an artist's proof, 1962-64, printed 1996-98 ($35,000-45,000); Bert Stern's "The Last Sitting", with 10 chromogenic photographs of Marilyn Monroe taken just before her death, 1962 ($12,000-18,000); and a deluxe edition of Lee Friedlander's "Photographs", one of 150 copies issued with two original photographs, New York, 1978 ($12,000-18,000).

Noteworthy contemporary examples include William Eggleston's Untitled (Confederate flag), dye-transfer print, 1973, printed 1996 ($10,000-15,000); Francesca Woodman's Untitled (skull), silver print, 1977-1978 ($14,000-18,000); Tina Barney's ode to a weekly tradition, "Sunday New York Times", color coupler print, 1982 ($7,000-10,000); Robert Mapplethorpe's "Ken Moody", silver print, 1984 ($8,000-12,000); Joel Sternfeld's "Acquedutto Claudio, Rome", Chromogenic print, 1989 ($6,000-9,000); William Wegman's portfolio, "Letters, Numbers, Punctuation", with 44 photographs of his model Weimaraners, NY, 1993 ($20,000-30,000); and Chuck Close's portrait of "Ross", Polaroid print mounted to aluminum, 1993 ($6,000-9,000).

The auction will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 21st.

The photographs will be on public exhibition at Swann Galleries on Wednesday, October 15, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, October 16, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, October 17, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, October 18, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Monday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Tuesday, October 21, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Illustrated catalogues are available for $35 from Swann Galleries, 104 East 25th St., New York, NY 10010, and may be viewed online at http://www.swanngalleries.com .

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Daile Kaplan at 1-212-254-4710, extension 21, or via email at dkaplan@swanngalleries.com .

Be-hold Online and Catalogue Photo Auction to Be Held On Oct. 30th At 2 Pm

The 52nd Be-hold catalog/internet auction of photographs will take place on Thursday, October 30th, starting at 2 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).

There is a large series of photographs dealing with 20th-century wars. Some of the material is frankly disturbing, yet these are powerful and revealing photographs that show how art and documentation are closely entwined.

A major group of offerings deals with Vietnam. These are grouped almost year by year--from the end of the French involvement up to the aftermath in Cambodia. They are mostly period press photographs with the original "slugs" attached that provide important context for the images. The photographers are often credited. Photographs by some of the major war photographers, such as Sean Flynn, Kyoichi Sawada, Philip Jones Griffith and Don McCullin, are offered individually.

The WWII photographs include a series of late war reconnaissance photographs used for bombing raids over targets in Japan. Groups of original German press photographs deal with ventures in Africa. They also show Germany's connections with her future ally Japan. The group includes interesting aviation-related photographs, and scenes from the Russian front. A fascinating photo album is offered that was made from a wing section of a downed German fighter plane by a U.S. bomber squadron. There are also photographs from the Spanish Civil War and grotesque images of Chinese beheadings, as well as unique photographs showing atrocities from the Japanese war in China before and during WWII.

From an earlier historical period there are a number of photographs dealing with American Indian culture during the period of Western expansion, with some fine portraits of prominent chiefs from the late 19th century. These include a beautiful hand-colored portrait of Geronimo by Erwin, several by F. A. Rinehart, and a fine tissue gravure by E. S. Curtis.

American 19th-century and early 20th-century photographs include interesting Adirondack scenes by S. R. Stoddard and lovely large albumen photographs of scenes in Saratoga, NY. There is a Yosemite scene on boudoir mount by Carleton Watkins published by Taber, as well as a very rare important albumen print on a boudoir mount by Taber showing Chinese coolies embarking from a ship at San Francisco. A good selection of Northwest logging scenes by Darius Kinsey is also on offer.

Other early 19th-century photography includes a select group of daguerreotypes (New Orleans portrait, Doctor with Bitters Bottle, etc.) and other early images, including a rare "ivorytype" by Germon of Philadelphia. A rare stereo ambrotype by William Dilworth Crewdson of a posed genre scene ("Woman Nursing an Invalid") is included in the sale, as well as, an important group of cartes-de-visite is of Count Olympe Aguado and his family. Aguado was the amateur photographer who first made small format photographs to be used as calling cards. The portraits are by Disderi, who commercially exploited that format. There are early salted paper prints by James Robertson and Robert MacPherson.

Other 20th-century images include nude and fashion photographs by Germaine Krull, P. H. Oelman, Horst (and a related self-portrait by Dr. Agha), a touching portrait of Marilyn by Halsman (more personal than those more commonly offered and not a portfolio print). Other photographs include recent nude and fashion images by Irina Ionesco and Jock Sturges and a striking "one of kind" Fresson print by Sheila Metzner. One of the principle offerings is a rare portfolio by Albert Watson (12 nude photographs of fashion models made in 1977 in an edition of 12 for Watson's favored clients).

Be-hold will also present interesting photographs by major photographers with works by Atget, Leonard Misonne, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Andre Kertesz, Robert Doisneau, Leni Riefenstahl and others. There are portraits by Jesse Tarbox Beals, James Van Der Zee, Barbara Morgan, and a series of 1969-1970 portraits of California photographers including Ansel Adams, Brett Weston, Wynn Bullock and Imogen Cunningham by Joan Murray.

The catalog and web absentee auction will take place on Thursday, October 30th at 2 p.m. (EST). Subscription forms for the print catalog, color scans, condition reports, the actual catalogue on line, and further information can be found on the be-hold web site at http://www.be-hold.com , by calling Larry Gottheim at 1-914-423-5806 or emailing him at behold@be-hold.com .

All those interested are invited to look over the material in person in New York City on Friday, October 24th, from 2 p.m.-9 p.m., on Saturday October 25th, 9 a.m.-9 p.m., and Sunday October 26th, 9 a.m.-noon. The NYC preview will take place at the Affinia 50 Hotel, 50th Street at 3d Avenue, with a reception on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Doina Popescu Named First Director of New Ryerson Photo Gallery and Research Centre

Prominent cultural leader Doina Popescu has been named the inaugural director of the Ryerson Photography Gallery and Research Centre effective October 27, 2008.

The new facility, which will house the world-renowned Black Star Historical Black & White Photography Collection, is currently under construction and scheduled to open in 2010. It will become a national center for Canada and will place Ryerson among the top international centers for the study, teaching, research and exhibit of photography and other visual media.

Popescu is currently deputy director of the Goethe-Institut Toronto, the highest position a Canadian can achieve within the international organization. For more than ten years she managed the Goethe-Institut Gallery and Kinowelt Hall, where she curated important exhibitions and installations involving renowned Canadian and international artists, architects and thinkers.

Auction Guidance and Bidding Help Available

I will be previewing the New York City auctions next Friday through Monday (October 10-13) and attending the auctions themselves the rest of the week. If you wish me to preview any work for you, please call my associate at 1-215-822-5662 or email us at info@vintageworks.net , or just call my mobile while I am in New York at 1-215-518-6962 (do not use my mobile for other calls, because I only use it while traveling).

My normal terms are 5% of the hammer price, which excludes the Buyer's premium. Please remember though when bidding that the Buyer's premium has been raised by Sotheby's and Christie's to 25% (from the previous 20%) on the first $25,000 and then 20% up to $1,000,000 (from the previous $500,000).

My services include a condition report, consultation on pricing and evaluation of the item and, when necessary, bidding on it for you.

You need to notify the auction house that I, through my company Vintage Works, Ltd. will be bidding for you, usually by fax.

You should also note that Sotheby's, Christie's and Phillips have all increased their buyer's premiums, which are added to your bid (or hammer) price. It is now 25% on the first $50,000 and then 20% on the next $1 million. The 12% rate now only kicks in above that mark. It had previously been 12% above the $500,000 mark for these houses. Swann only charges a 20% premium. Bloomsbury's new auction in New York City only charges 20% on the first $300,000 and then 10% thereafter.

Carnegie Museum of Art Creates New Photo Department and Hires New Curator

Carnegie Museum of Art has created a new curatorial department of photography and has appointed its first head, Linda Benedict-Jones. Benedict-Jones has been the executive director of Silver Eye Center for Photography on Pittsburgh’s south side since 1999 and will assume her position at Carnegie Museum of Art on December 15, 2008.

"We are committed to the photographic medium," said William E. Hunt, the museum's board chairman. "The establishment of the department of photography is a historic moment for Carnegie Museum of Art."

In her new position, Benedict-Jones will oversee the museum's collection of approximately 4,500 photographs and plan the department's exhibitions and acquisitions. Her first exhibition is scheduled to open in summer 2009.