Tag Archive for: photography

Iconic fashion photos lead April 12 Gravures & Heliogravures sale

On Tuesday, April 12, starting at 4 pm Eastern time, Jasper52 will conduct an 81-lot sale of Gravures and Heliogravures. The lineup contains black-and-white or mildly tinted images from some of the greatest names in photography, including William Klein, Horst P. Horst, Helmut Newton, Man Ray, Sebastiao Salgado, Herb Ritts, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Robert Capa, Peter Lindbergh, Mario Giacomelli, Margaret Bourke-White, Diane Arbus, Lewis Carroll, Tina Modotti, Lewis Hine, Eadweard Muybridge, Nadar, Cecil Beaton and Erwin Blumenfeld.

Cecil Beaton, ‘Marlene Dietrich 1935,’ est. $100-$200

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Jasper52 sets focus on Exclusive Photography and Prints, March 19

Works by Ralph Eugene Meatyard, J. Walter Collinge and Aaron Siskind will likely earn top lot status in Jasper52’s Exclusive Photography and Prints auction, which will be conducted on Saturday, March 19 starting at 7 pm Eastern time. Other artists represented in the tightly-curated 50-lot sale include George Platt Lynes, Ruth Bernhard, Jose Alemany, William F. Simpson, Hector Cecchini, Rennie Weber, Mitchel Obremski, Nickolas Muray, the Harcourt Studio, William C. Odiorne, Petr Helbich, Ed Hayes, the A.N. Studio, Hortense Schulze, Kim Hanson, Edwin Avery Field, Norman Kulkin, Rovere Scott, Stanislav Dolezel, Don Longanecker, Maurice Goldberg, Martin Tarter, Norman Van Pelt, Sun Yee Lee, Jerry Stiles, Ray Hand, Trudy Jacobs, Jeri Lawson, and some whose names have been lost to history.

Ralph Eugene Meatyard, ‘Untitled (Figure with Wall),’ est. $2,500-$3,000

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Great images captured in Gravures & Heliogravures sale, Feb. 22

On Tuesday, February 22, starting at 11 am Eastern time, Jasper52 will present a sale of Gravures and Heliogravures. the auction consists of just 74 lots but includes some of the greatest names and images in photography. Several photographs by Diane Arbus are featured, among them a brooding night shot of Disneyland Castle in California; several by Henri Cartier-Bresson, including a compelling shot of a cell in a model prison in the United States; and photographs by Margaret Bourke-White, Tina Modotti, Cecil Beaton, Horst P. Horst, Eadweard Muybridge, Erwin Blumenfeld and Lewis Hine. The Man Ray offerings include his iconic 1924 work Le Violon d’Ingres (The Violin of Ingres); Helmut Newton is represented by his masterpiece Big Nude III, Henrietta, Paris, 1980; and Robert Doisneau’s contribution is his 1950 black-and-white Le Baiser de l’hotel de ville (The Kiss by the Hotel de Ville).

Diane Arbus, ‘A castle in Disneyland, California,’ est. $100-$120

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Snap up photo lithographs and gravures at Jasper52’s Feb. 16 sale

A 1988 Mary Ellen Mark image of a Black child seated and dreaming, a portrait of David Byrne taken in 1986 by Annie Leibovitz, and a 1947 John Gutmann photograph of a man working on the Golden Gate Bridge are among the top lots in Jasper52’s Photo Lithographs and Gravures auction. It will take place on Wednesday, February 16, starting at 4 pm Eastern time. Other artists represented in the 132-lot sale include Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, Yousuf Karsh, Dorothea Lange, Edward Weston, Man Ray, Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Bruce Weber, Edward Steichen, Linda McCartney, Bunny Yeager, Jock Sturges, Robert Mapplethorpe, Brassai and Ruth Bernhard, to name a few.

David Byrne portrait by Annie Leibovitz, est. $200-$250

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Cutting-edge contemporary artists defy tradition in Jan. 19 auction

On Wednesday, January 19, starting at 6 pm Eastern time, Jasper52 will present a tightly-curated sale of Cutting Edge Contemporary Art. Fewer than 80 lots were chosen for inclusion, and they include photographs, paintings, works on paper and other pieces by established and emerging artists such as Kwame Brathwaite, Elliott Erwitt, Lily van der Stokker, Hiroji Kubota, Inge Morath, Tina Barney, Burt Glinn, Gillian Laub, Richard Bosman, Yael Martinez, Jack Savitsky, Emin Ozmen, Klara Liden, Justine Kurland, Stephen Shore, Renee Green, Mary Ellen Mark, Laurie Simmons, Joel Meyerowitz, Vik Muniz, Richard Misrach, Sigmar Polke, Torbjorn Rodland, Herbert List, Carl de Keyzer, Steve McCurry, Lyle Ashton Harris, Andro Wekua, Antoine D’ Agata, Nick Relph, Matt Ducklo, Thomas Hoepker, Daido Moriyama, David Benjamin Sherry and Bob Gruen, among others.

Elliot Erwitt, ‘NYC USA,’ est. $300-$500

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Cyanotypes: Images Out of the Blue

A unique, signed 2008 cyanotype by Christian Marclay sold for $5,250 plus the buyer’s premium in November 2020. Image courtesy of Hess Fine Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.

Cyanotypes are almost as old as photography itself, but until now their use has been industrial, most often being seen in the form of architectural blueprints. Now they are starting to gain respect as an art form, as curators, contemporary artists and art collectors explore their history and potential.

Discovered in 1842 by Sir John Herschel, who also gave the process its name, the cyanotype might be the most widely used alternative photographic form in existence. Cyanotypes are cheap and easy to make; all the recipe calls for is paper, a mix of two chemicals (ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide), water, sunlight and time. That’s it. No darkroom or costly, cutting-edge professional camera equipment required – in fact, no camera is required at all. The odds are good that you, the reader, made a cyanotype in a school art class by placing an object on chemically-treated paper, exposing it to light, and waiting. Once you were happy with what you saw, you washed the image to “fix” it, allowed it to dry, and admired the result. Making a cyanotype might actually have been your first experience as a photographer, long before you received your first camera or smartphone.

Its very simplicity and ease of use doomed the cyanotype’s artistic reputation for centuries. The gatekeepers of fine art unsurprisingly looked down their collective noses on a process that almost anyone could master. Another strike against it was the hue imparted by its chemicals – the “cyan” of its name. Photography itself struggled to be taken seriously as a fine-art medium for more than a century. More so, a form of it that portrayed the world in a deep, strong, almost aggressive blue, rather than a sober black-and-white or civilized sepia tone, found few advocates. The 19th century writer P.H. Emerson went so far as to say, “No one but a vandal would print a landscape in red, or in cyanotype.”

A group of nine early 20th-century botanical cyanotypes by Bertha Jaques realized $4,600 plus the buyer’s premium in June 2020. Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries and LiveAuctioneers.

What changed? According to Nancy Burns, Stoddard associate curator of prints, drawings and photographs at the Worcester Art Museum (WAM) in Worcester, Massachusetts, cyanotypes won their chance to shine after technological changes prompted people to think anew. “When digital photography came around, the question ‘What is a photograph?’ was staring everyone right in the face,” she said. “As a result, some photographers embraced a new ‘post-film’ photographic landscape while others began to revisit various ‘extinct’ photographic processes like cyanotype, tintype, platinum, and daguerreotype. I think that’s the biggest reason you see a resurgence in the medium at the turn of the 20th to 21st century.”

Deborah Rogel, Director of the Photographs & Photobooks departments at Swann Auction Galleries, has witnessed the same phenomenon. “The so-called alternative processes [including cyanotypes] have become very interesting to artists and collectors,” she said. “For me what this really comes down to is an interest in the process itself from both the collector and the maker – the ways in which photographic images can be translated to and produced on paper. And, of course, cyanotypes are quite beautiful, so perhaps it was only a matter of time before collectors began to invest more interest in them.”

The best-known contemporary cyanotypes are probably those of Christian Marclay, the American-Swiss artist who explores aspects of sound and audio, and to a lesser extent, obsolete technology. Around 2008, he created a series of cyanotypes featuring cassette tapes, and he published a book of his cyanotypes in 2011. A 2008 cyanotype by Marclay showing a single clear cassette tape spooling ribbons of white onto a cobalt background sold for $5,250 plus the buyer’s premium in November 2020.

‘Jocob’s Ladder,’ one of two John Dugdale limited edition cyanotypes offered as a single lot in August 2020, realized $4,000 plus the buyer’s premium. Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries and LiveAuctioneers.

Another contemporary artist who has embraced the cyanotype is John Dugdale, an LGBT artist who in the early 1990s lost most of his vision to complications of AIDS. It has not stopped him from creating riveting works of art in cyanotype and other photographic processes. In August 2020, Swann offered as one lot a pair of framed Dugdale cyanotypes, Jocob’s Ladder and Cresent Moon, both dating to the 1990s. They realized $4,000 plus the buyer’s premium. “Dugdale’s power as a photographer is illustrated beautifully in this pair of cyanotypes,” said Rogel. “He uses the blue tones to render both atmosphere and mood, and draws out an unparalleled level of detail and lush dimensionality within what is essentially a range of light to very dark blue. His work is timeless and beautiful, and in this way the cyanotype is the perfect format for his work.”

When contemporary artists shine a light on an overlooked art medium, it stokes interest in the works of those who came before. Almost a decade after Marclay released his cyanotypes, Burns co-curated the first dedicated museum show about the medium held in the United States, and possibly the first such show mounted anywhere on the planet. She and her colleague Kristina Wilson, a professor of art history at Clark University, which is also in Worcester, Massachusetts, knew that WAM had an intriguing collection of cyanotypes and thought it could support a museum exhibition. But as the two dug deeper, they made a startling discovery.

A circa-1852 botanical cyanotype by Anna Atkins achieved $4,000 plus the buyer’s premium in May 2016. Image courtesy of Clars Auction Gallery and LiveAuctioneers.

“Kristina and I realized that we couldn’t find a single exhibition catalog that focused on cyanotypes aside from the work of Anna Atkins. We had stumbled into a genuinely new topic for scholarly exploration and museum display,” she said. “There was a bit of excitement and anxiety that came along with that realization, too. I remember thinking, ‘Is it even possible to do this in seven-ish months? Should we put this on a backburner for another time?’ But we were so enamored with the idea at that point, Kristina and I were going to figure out a way to make it work.” Their efforts culminated in the 2016 show Cyanotypes: Photography’s Blue Period, which received much media coverage and introduced thousands of museum-goers and countless online visitors to the medium.

Another possible reason behind the rising interest in cyanotypes is several early practitioners were women, and greater attention is being paid to women artists. Anna Atkins, who Butler mentions above, is credited with creating the very first photo book, in 1843, a year before the photographic pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot published The Pencil of Nature. She released the first volume of her work British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions in 1843 and released the other two volumes during the decade that followed, giving one of the dozen-or-so sets to Talbot. While Atkins’ rare book has yet to appear in a May 2016 sale conducted on LiveAuctioneers, a circa-1852 cyanotype by her, dubbed Peiris Grandifolia, achieved $4,000 plus the buyer’s premium.

Another image from the group of nine early 20th-century botanical cyanotypes by Bertha Jaques that realized $4,600 plus the buyer’s premium in June 2020. Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries and LiveAuctioneers.

In June 2020, Swann Auction Galleries handled a set of cyanotypes made circa 1900-1906 by Bertha Jaques, another lauded cyanotypist. As with the Atkins cyanotype sold in 2016, the set of nine images were photograms – a form of cyanotype created by laying an object, such as a flower or a branch, directly onto chemically-treated paper and then bathing everything in light. The lot notes described the set as “rich” phonograms. Rogel explains the term applied because “the images were quite a vivid blue, and many with crisp delineation of the forms throughout. They are just stunning – Jaques absolutely perfected the process … In her imagery, the specifics of the specimen are identifiable, but rendered in a way that heightens and accentuates the strangeness and beauty of their form.”

An Edward Curtis cyanotype, ‘With Her Proudly Decked Horse – Cayuse,’ sold for $3,600 in June 2021. Image courtesy of Santa Fe Art Auction and LiveAuctioneers.

Another notable, but not prolific, source of cyanotypes is Edward S. Curtis, creator of the epic early 20th century ethnographic work The North American Indian. Curtis probably did not invent the notion of using cyanotypes to check the quality of his photographs, but he was certainly motivated to do so. J.P. Morgan gave him $75,000 to pursue the project, which forced Curtis to travel to some of the most remote locations in the country to obtain the 40,000 to 50,000 negatives he is estimated to have produced. He absolutely needed a way to confirm on the spot, hundreds or thousands of miles from his darkroom, that what he shot that day was good or needed a retake. Cyanotypes let him do that.

“They were his version of a Polaroid – a good way to proof something, to see a negative of what he shot in the field,” said Peter Bernardy, studio manager of Christopher Cardozo Fine Art in St. Paul, Minnesota, which was founded by a leading collector of Curtis images. He explained that Curtis “…would tear a sheet from notebook, coat it with emulsion, and let dry maybe 30 minutes to an hour to create a piece of photographic paper. Then he would take a negative he created that day, place it in contact with sheet of paper, expose it to the sun, and develop it in water. It’s very easy to do anywhere, really. If he saw a problem [in the cyanotype,] he might try to recapture the image. The cyanotype was the first step in the editing process, a very early step.”

Curtis cyanotypes are not just beautiful; they also give a glimpse of the artist at work. “Cyanotypes are the closest you’ll ever get to Curtis’s hand in the moment. This is what he used if he wanted an immediate feel for what he just photographed,” said Gillian Blitch, President and CEO of Santa Fe Art Auction, which in late June 2021 conducted an auction of Cardozo’s collection of Curtis photographs.

More than a dozen Curtis cyanotypes were in that sale, including a 1910 example titled With Her Proudly Decked Horse – Cayuse, which realized $3,600. “I love that piece, it’s wonderful. The expression on her face, the dignity and the elegance of that piece are striking. It’s got an amazing charisma to it,” Blitch said, adding, “You are looking at it as Curtis looked at it in the field, in a tent in the middle of a location. It’s quite mesmerizing.”

A group of five Edward Curtis cyanotypes from 1911, picturing dancing members of the Cheyenne tribal community, sold for $4,800 in June 2021. Image courtesy of Santa Fe Art Auction and LiveAuctioneers.

Given that Curtis regarded cyanotypes merely as tools to check his work, it’s amazing that any of them survive. Bernardy says that Curtis routinely shared them with the sitters, and whatever he didn’t give away made it back to his studio, where he would file it. The few that manage to reach the market are prizes indeed.

With cyanotypes in the first blush of being collected as cyanotypes rather than as blueprints of homes by Frank Lloyd Wright or examples of early photography, the field is open for collectors seeking an exciting new niche. “I am hopeful that there is a lot of potential for growth in this area of collecting,” Rogel said. “Broadening the conversations around inclusivity of maker, format, and purpose under the very broad photographic umbrella is certainly a goal of mine, both as a specialist and an advocate for the medium. The more collectors are able to see and appreciate the numerous ways in which photography is used and can be understood, the more growth potential there is. Cyanotypes are often at an accessible price point for new collectors, and as I’ve mentioned, their unusual and appealing visual features make them a great entry point.”

“I feel like cyanotypes are a bug that you catch and never shake,” Butler said. “I’ll be the first to say that I have a very soft spot in my heart for them. I find the same is true with collectors. At least in my experience, people who collect cyanotypes really love them for their jewel-like sapphire glow and their peculiarity. Have I seen an uptick in collecting them? Yes. I think that can certainly be attributed to the fact that they are getting greater exposure and as a result more artists are trying their hand at the medium.”

Glimpse American lives in May 19 collectible photography auction

Today, we seem to know everything about everything when it comes to photography. Camera functions automatically date-stamp images as we take them. If we post photos online, we tag the people shown in the photo, and they often respond, confirming their identities. But printed, paper photos from the decades before digital aren’t so forthcoming. Unless someone bothered to write useful information on the back of the photo, what we see is mostly a mystery. We can guess at what’s going on, and come up with our own theories, but we can never know for sure.

On May 19, starting at noon Eastern time, Jasper52 will offer 102 lots of collectible photographs. Some of the images are well-documented, but others are less so. All are intriguing and worth a look.

Photo of a Cherokee woman displaying pottery and beadwork, for a 1951 photo album: The Cherokee Indian Reservation. Estimate $250-$350

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Top photographers represented in Jasper52 auction Jan. 20

Images created by some of the foremost photographers of the 20th century are offered by Jasper62 in affordable mediums: photogravures and lithographs. The photographers represented in the online auction on Wednesday, Jan. 20, range from Ansel Adams and Diane Arbus to Edward Weston and Francesca Woodman.

Steven Meisel, Untitled, photolithograph, 1999, Hong Kong, 8.6 x 6.9in. Estimate: $125-$175. Jasper52 image

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Walker Evans photography: modern yet timeless

NEW YORK – Gritty portraits of a disheveled dockworker in Havana or a tenant farmer in Alabama, who unflinchingly stares into the camera, speak volumes about life’s harsh realities. Images captured by documentary photographer Walker Evans (1903-1975) tell rich stories of American life in the early 20th century. The self-taught photographer became synonymous with the Great Depression. While definitely relating to the period they were taken, his photographs transcend their era, resonating with and speaking to viewers today as fresh as the day they were printed in a darkroom.

Demonstrating his keen appreciation of the vernacular is this Evans 1936 photo (printed 1960s) of an Atlanta auto parts shop. It made €5,500 ($6,147) + the buyer’s premium in June 2017 at Leitz Photographica Auction. Photo courtesy of Leitz Photographica Auction and LiveAuctioneers

Born in St. Louis, Evans studied in Paris, where he encountered the work of forward-thinking artists that inspired his early artistic direction. After returning to the United States in 1928, he borrowed a Leica camera and started taking dramatic shots of New York City’s architecture, These images are recognized for their abstracted and striking perspectives. Within a few years, however, he switched to shooting vernacular scenes of people and American culture.

A circa 1930 untitled photograph of a step-back building in New York City, earned $6,000 + the buyer’s premium in June 2020 at Wright. Photo courtesy of Wright and LiveAuctioneers

While working for the Farm Security Administration 1935-1937, Evans created many photographs that were used in the groundbreaking exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1938, which was the museum’s first single-person exhibit. It was also during his stint at the FSA that he took a sabbatical to photograph Alabama sharecropper tenant families, whose images immediately captured the public and are still fascinating today.

According to the International Center for Photography, Evans’ work paved the way for the American documentary movement that really took hold in the 1930s and for street photographers later on. “His precisely composed, intricately detailed, spare photographs insisted on their subject matter, and his impartial acceptance of his subjects made his work seem true and aesthetically pure – qualities that have been the goal of documentary photography ever since,” according to the center’s website.

‘Alabama Tenant Farmer’ (Floyd Burroughs) photographed by Walker Evans in 1936, gelatin silver print, 9 1/8 x 7¼in. Sold for £70,000 ($110,857) + the buyer’s premium at Phillips in London in May 2012. Photo courtesy of Phillips and LiveAuctioners

Not surprisingly, among the highest-selling images by Evans on LiveAuctioneers is his iconic portrait of Alabama cotton farmer Floyd Burroughs taken in 1936 that achieved £70,000 ($110,857) + the buyer’s premium at Phillips in London in May 2012.

“In the eyes of Floyd Burroughs is a fixed, intense integrity, his strength and unwavering determination magnified by the close crop of the frame, conveying almost a numbness to his current circumstances and a knowing willingness to survive,” according to the auction house.

Evans also took four portraits of Floyd’s wife, Allie Mae Burroughs, composing the shot starkly with her standing against the wall of the cabin they rented. The sharecropping family lived in a four-room cabin and did not own their land, nor even the farm implements. Of the four portraits he took of Allie Mae, “Although compositionally similar, they record distinct facial expressions ranging from bemused cooperation to brooding anger and resentment – moods conveyed by a slight tilt of the head, the furrows around the eyes, the angle of the pursed mouth,” according to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Nearly as iconic as Evans’ photograph of Floyd Burroughs were his four 1936 portraits of the sharecropper’s wife, Allie Mae, described as a Mona Lisa of sorts. This 9½-by-7½inch image sold for $26,000 + the buyer’s premium in October 3023. Photo courtesy of Phillips and LiveAuctioners

Evans was not only a photographer but reportedly an avid collector. In his travels, he acquired postcards, a passion for which he took to early on and lectured on later in his life; as well as tools, roadside signs and more. According to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which presented a major retrospective of the photographer’s work in 2017-18, photography was an extension of Evans’ penchant for collecting. Clément Chéroux, the museum’s senior curator of photography, who organized the exhibition, said in a museum blog that “photography became for him a convenient way to acquire things too big, too unwieldy, or too complex to physically remove from American roadsides to bring back to his home or studio.”

A 1931 photograph, ‘Saratoga Springs,’ printed in 1962, brought $9,000 + the buyer’s premium in December 2019 at Stair. Photo courtesy of Stair and LiveAuctioneers

Collecting and art were twin passions and the two shared a deep interplay with Evans often staging photographs of his collections, such as when he juxtaposed American farming tools with European tools to illustrate the difference in decoration between the two. He is said to have likened a hardware store to a museum of sorts. He found not only beauty in the objects he collected and photographed but a cataloging of American culture from its businesses to products to its people.

An early example of street photography, Walker Evans’ 1929 photograph, ‘Girl in Fulton Street, New York,’ printed 1962, sold for $10,000 + the buyer’s premium in December 2019 at Stair. Photo courtesy of Stair and LiveAuctioneers

And perhaps that is what lies at the heart of the appeal of Evan’s photography is his keen ability to capture the spirit of America in a single image.

Pioneering photography offered in Jasper52 auction July 15

Images from the early years of commercial photography are the focus of an online auction that will be conducted by Jasper52 on Wednesday, July 15. Thirty-two of the 51 lots are daguerreotypes, the first successful form of photography, named for Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre of France, who invented the technique in collaboration with Nicéphore Niépce in the 1830s. Also offered are ambrotypes and tintypes, which were photographic processes developed later in the 19th century.

Flutist 1/6th plate daguerreotype in full case, late 1950s, 2 5/8in x 3¼in. Estimate: $1,500-$3,000. Jasper52 image

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