Record prices achieved for photographic books, literature and photographs at Swann auction

New York—Swann Galleries’ May 15 auction of Photographic Literature & Photographs opened with an excellent selection of photo books, including very desirable Surrealist works. These included the auction’s top-selling lot, a numbered and signed copy of Hans Bellmer’s Les Jeux de la Poupée, one of 142, Paris, 1949, which brought $96,000. All prices include 20 percent buyer’s premium.

Other Surrealist highlights were Claude Cahun’s Aveux non Avenus, one of 500 numbered copies, Paris, 1930, $11,400; and Georges Hugnet’s La Septième Face du Dé, Poèmes-Découpages, inscribed twice by Hugnet, and accompanied by two prospectuses announcing the sale of the book, Paris, 1936, $16,800.

Daile Kaplan, Swann Galleries Vice President and Director of Photographs, said, “The results of our May 15th auction reflect Swann’s strength in the photobook market, with robust prices for artist’s books, photographer’s monographs, and issues of Camera Work. Furthermore, despite unremitting media focus on the performance of high-end artworks, the success of our Photographs session demonstrates the demand for quality pictures in the mid-market.”

Among a select assortment of titles by Robert Frank were the first French edition of the celebrated Les Américains, 1958, signed and inscribed, with an original photo, and the first American edition of the book, New York, 1959, $15,600 each.

Sought-after copies of the legendary journal Camera Work, published by Alfred Stieglitz, were Number 48, with Modernist plates by Paul Strand, New York, 1960, which sold for a record $24,000, and Number 49/50, the final issue, with 11 photogravures by Strand, in a box that was marked with Strand’s and Stieglitz’s handwritten notations, New York, 1917, $14,400.

Other photo lit highlights included Richard Prince’s Fish Story, first edition, 1976, signed and inscribed, $13,200; Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places, deluxe edition, one of 100 signed and numbered copies issued with a photograph, New York, 1982, $10,200; and several Japanese books, such as Shinzo Fukuhara’s Beautiful West Lake, first edition, one of 500 numbered copies, Tokyo, 1931, $2,880; Koishi Kiyoshi’s New Techniques for Shooting and Producing Photographs, signed first edition, Tokyo, 1936, $2,880; Nobuyoshi Araki’s Young Ladies in Bathing Suits, first edition, Tokyo, 1971, $3,360; and Eikoh Hosoe’s Ordeal by Roses Re-edited, revised edition, Tokyo, 1971, $3,840.

Japanese subjects were also among the highlights of the afternoon Photographs section of the sale. Two 19th-century albums filled with hand-colored albumen images sold for record prices. Baron Raimund Von Stillfried and Hermann Andersen’s album with 100 prints depicting views and costumes of Japan, circa 1879, sold for $45,600; and Kusakabe Kimbei’s album of 100 prints, circa 1889, sold for $22,800.

Other featured early photographic works were a sixth-plate daguerreotype of a woman nursing a baby—a rare subject for the Victorian era—late 1850s, $9,600; and Lewis Carroll’s Annie and Henry Rogers, albumen print, 1861, $33,600.

Highlights from the 1920s-1930s included Maurice Tabard’s experimental Montage (Femme), silver print, 1929, $15,600; Horst P. Horst’s Classical Greek Statue, Paris, platinum-palladium print, 1932, printed circa 1990, $12,250; a collection of 26 vintage stop-motion photographs by strobe-photography innovator Harold Edgerton, silver prints, circa 1937, $21,600; and Helen Levitt’s N.Y.C. (Boy with Mask), silver print, 1939, $11,400.

Among works by mid-century masters were Ansel Adams’s The Grand Tetons and the Snake River, silver print, 1942, printed 1970s, $55,200; Frederick Sommer’s Venus, Jupiter and Mars, silver print, 1949, printed 1950s, $14,400; and Ruth Bernhard’s Classic Torso, silver print, 1952, printed 1970s-early 1980s, $11,400.

Contemporary highlights included two record-setting works, John Divola’s The Zuma Series Portfolio 1, with 10 dye-transfer prints, 1977-78, printed 1982, $12,000, and Herb Ritts’s Fred with Tires, Hollywood, silver print, 1984, $20,400; as well as Flor Garduño’s Witnesses of Time, portfolio with 10 platinum-palladium prints, 1988-90, printed 1993, $14,400; Roy De Carava’s Roy De Carava, portfolio with 12 dust-grain photogravures, 1991, $52,800; and Sally Mann’s Vinland, silver print, 1992, $11,400.

For complete results, a two-volume illustrated auction catalogue with prices realized is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at www.swanngalleries.com.

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