Chronology : 1924
Please note that the date in the subtitles below is the date of the print, when known
1904 The Pond by Steichen
2006 SOLD for $ 2.9M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
Eduard 'Edward' Steichen meets Stieglitz in New York City in 1900. He is 21 years old. They collaborate closely, and Steichen deepens his research aimed at making photography recognized as an art in its own right.
The success of a photographic image depends on the quality of the entire chain, from the shooting to the processing in the laboratory. Steichen practices the process with gum bichromate, recommended by Demachy. This process makes it possible to reproduce an illusion of colors, in a more subtle way than a simple watercoloring.
Steichen does not shy away from difficulties. One of his favorite themes is moonlight, with its subtle colors. He is a painter and observes these scenes imagining which pigments he can use. In 1904 he takes the plunge. His photograph of a pond in New York is an opportunity to experiment with an ambience effect by applying the gum bichromate in multiple layers.
The task is long and difficult. Steichen achieves three prints of his photo, each time with a different configuration of chemicals and layers. This interesting nocturnal effect, subtitled Moonlight or Moonrise, reveals the moon twice : on the horizon through a sparse wood and by the pale light it brings to the surface of the pond.
One of the prints was donated by Stieglitz in 1933 to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and another by Steichen in 1967 to the Museum of Modern Art. The third print was in a collection which was acquired as a whole by the Met in 2005. Considered as a duplicate in the Met collection, it was put back on the market by the museum.
The Pond - Moonlight, multiple gum bichromate print over platinum 40 x 50 cm, was sold for $ 2.9M including premium by Sotheby's on February 14, 2006 over a lower estimate of $ 700K, lot 6.
1904-1942 The Photographic Archive of Baseball
2016 SOLD for $ 1.8M including premium
Until 1942 Conlon is the anonymous author of the most important photographs of baseball, published and re-published in magazines, guides and sports cards. All the top players in Major League are displayed in his work.
Conlon shoots all his views on the field. He observes the differentiation of actions depending of the player, their method to hold the ball or the bat. His early negatives are made on glass plates 5 x 7 ". The improvement of the techniques then allows the photographer to use the format 4 x 5" on glass and later on acetate.
The increase of sensitivity now makes possible the view of a speedy movement in close up. His image freezing a spectacular action by Ty Cobb on July 23, 1910 is a masterpiece of instant photography.
The 7,462 original negatives taken by Conlon during the 38 years of his photographic career are housed in 85 boxes, each one around shoebox size. They are sold together at lot 80082 by Heritage in Dallas on August 27 with a guide value of $ 1M.
This complete archive is unique, sensational and irreplaceable in the history of baseball throughout its period. The sale includes only the photographs and in no way the intellectual property rights. Please watch the video shared by Heritage.
1907-1930 The North American Indian by Curtis
2012 SOLD for $ 2.9M by Christie's
When Curtis began to visit the western America, the tribal populations had declined dramatically, and many of them were snapped up by other forms of civilization. This is the end of an era.
When Curtis began recording thousands of photographs, this technique was already fully mastered. The photographer is no more a chemist or an experimenter, he can concentrate on his subject. This is the beginning of another era.
Compare dates: the first issue of Camera Work is published by Stieglitz in 1903. The first delivery of The North American Indian by Curtis, sold by subscription, in 1907.
Tirelessly, Curtis visited the 80 most authentic tribes. His friendship with some chiefs was facilitated by his application to use their own language, opening to him the path for the other communities.
When the publishing venture of The North American Indian ends in 1930 because of financial difficulties, Curtis had managed the most extraordinary and unsurpassed photographic documentary of all time : 2,200 selected photographs distributed among twenty volumes of text and twenty portfolios.
The copy for sale by Christie's on April 10, 2012 is complete. Kept in excellent condition, it is certainly the finest surviving example of this unusual work. It was sold for $ 2.9M from a lower estimate of $ 1M, lot 38.
Started with enthusiasm in 1907 during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, the project had lasted too long. When it was finally completed in 1930, with its twenty portfolios of large size photogravures 58 x 24 cm and twenty volumes of text 31 x 24 cm also illustrated with photographs, it was already a failure. With 222 subscribers, Curtis was far from achieving the target of 500 copies given to him by his sponsor, the banker Morgan.
The fabulous editing material of Curtis was purchased in 1935 by a dealer of rare books based in Boston, Charles E. Lauriat, who appreciated the importance of this work. Lauriat became the owner of few unsold complete copies, of all the original copper plates and of 285,000 prints.
With these elements, Lauriat assembled additional complete copies, by reprinting as necessary from the original plates the pages that had been outprinted, bringing the grand total to 291. Lauriat's death in 1937 put an end to the most outstanding photographic edition of all time. The Curtis-Lauriat material, rediscovered in the early 1970s, has not been dispersed.
On October 4, 2012, Swann sold for $ 1.44M a full set of The North American Indian, in which text volumes printed by Lauriat are completing the portfolios prepared by Curtis. This copy has a rare feature : all images of three portfolios including number I are signed by Curtis. Please watch the video shared by Swann.
1911 Autographed Photo of Joe Jackson
2021 SOLD for $ 1.47M by Christie's and Hunt
Smith was indeed a fan of the local MLB club, the Cleveland Naps. He joined the Naps in March 1911 in Alexandria, Virginia, where they had some training. The album was featuring the players and managers of the Naps during that session and was completed later in that year by similar views of the New York Giants taken in Chicago. The format was mostly 8 x 10 inches in size for the Naps and 5 x 8 inches for the rest of it.
Three stars of the baseball were included. Nap Lajoie was the Cleveland team's namesake since 1903 and Joe Jackson had just been hired by them. Christy Mathewson was with the Giants. Their photos were offered as separate lots and the rest of it was sold for $ 13K. Christy fetched $ 93K and Nap $ 16.7K.
The athletic prodigy Shoeless Joe, aged 24, was the highlight of the collection. He was reputed to be an illiterate and indeed his writing is clumsy. I guess that he would not refuse an autograph to Smith while the rest of the team was doing it. It is the only known photo autographed by Joe Jackson in his 13 year MLB career. It has been authenticated by PSA/DNA. The location and date have been added by Smith below the signature of the illiterate.
This photo was sold for $ 180K by Heritage on February 21, 2015, lot 80051 and for $ 1.47M by Christie's and Hunt on October 7, 2021, lot 58. In the same 2021 sale, Christy's 5 " x 8 " photo from the Smith album was sold for $ 138K, lot 55.
An #auctionrecord for any signed sports photograph was set for an exceedingly scarce and important 1911 "Shoeless" Joe Jackson-autographed photo by Frank W. Smith which sold for $1,470,000, far exceeding the estimate of $200,000-400,000. @HuntAuctions https://t.co/MF5ay34oiU pic.twitter.com/pePqvupClf— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) October 7, 2021
1924 Le Violon d'Ingres by Man Ray
2022 SOLD for $ 12.4M by Christie's
It features his model and lover Kiki de Montparnasse seated from the back. The head turned to her left is wearing a Turkish turban and an ear pendant. The voluptuous body in strong contrast with the black background is naked down to the draped hips.
Kiki is here performing the nude Grande Baigneuse by Ingres, later a central figure in le Bain Turc. The title of Man Ray's photo refers to the skill of Ingres for playing the violin, that became a French expression equivalent to the English 'hobby'.
The comparison of the female shape with a violin is reinforced by the fact that the arms are hidden and by the f-holes impressed on her back by reprocessing the original state with Man Ray's own rayograph technique.
The original print finished with the f-holes is a unique gelatin silver print 48.5 x 37.5 cm ink signed and dated 1924 by Man Ray. After being kept for half a century in the collection of its late owners, it was sold for $ 12.4M from a lower estimate of $ 5M by Christie's on May 14, 2022, lot 615.
For further prints the artist rephotographed the original rayogramme with a 5 x 7 inch camera. One of them was used by André Breton to illustrate his dada oriented Littérature magazine in 1924. A silver copy 31 x 25 cm that belonged to Breton was purchased in 1993 by Centre Pompidou.
It was to participate to the tattoo craze when young women had applied Man Ray's f-holes on their back.
1925 Nude by Weston
2008 SOLD for $ 1.6M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2013 before the sale of another photo by Christie's (see below)
In 1925, attracted by Miriam Lerner, he leaves his residence in Mexico for a short romantic break in California. The naked body of his friend inspires him. The study of curves is totally artistic, and photography escapes from its naturalist and documentary shackles.
A platinum print of Miriam's torso with crossed arms, 24 x 19 cm, was sold for $ 313K including premium by Sotheby's on 15 October 2007. On April 4, 2013, Christie's sold for $ 480K including premium a 15 x 17 cm palladium print of the same image.
Made at the same place and in the same year, a photograph of a laying female back, 13 x 23 cm on matte silver paper, was sold for $ 1.6M including premium by Sotheby's on April 7, 2008 from a lower estimate of $ 600K, lot 19. This minimalist body can not be formally identified but is quite probably Miriam's.
This series opens up the fascinating comparison by Weston between female body and nature. The beauty of curves is the unsettling common point between the nude, shells, peppers and sand dunes.
1925 Fotogramm (Hand) by Moholy-Nagy
2012 SOLD for $ 1.48M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2013 before the sale of another Fotogramm by Christie's (see below)
After the first world war, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, a young teacher at the Bauhaus, passionate about Suprematism and Constructivism, reuses that technique in his research on the expression of light, independently of similar work by Man Ray.
When the object thus printed on the sensitive paper, in one or more poses, is not recognizable, the result is an abstract photography, on black background, with beautiful flashes of light and subtle gradations of gray, with alternatively sharp and blurred sides. Helped by his wife Lucia, Laszlo realized afterwards some enlargements for the purpose of exhibitions or for preparing portfolios.
One of these abstract Fotogramms was designed between 1923 and 1925, probably with a folded paper somehow crumpled. An enlarged copy 37 x 27 cm made by Lucia in 1929 was sold for $ 510K including premium by Christie's on April 4, 2013.
The Fotogramm of the hand, to which the shadows bring a surreal vision, was realized in 1925 on 24 x 18 cm size. This photograph was sold for $ 1.48M including premium by Sotheby's on 12 December 2012 from an estimate of $ 300K, lot 20.
1926 Africa in Paris
2017 SOLD for € 2.7M including premium
The Demoiselles d'Avignon whose heads resemble masks appears from then as a precursor of modern art. On the advice of André Breton, Jacques Doucet bought this painting from Picasso in December 1924. Picasso denied an African influence on that seminal example of his own primitive art.
Man Ray is much at ease in this intellectual bustle. In 1924 he takes a photo titled Black and white for which he juxtaposes an African mask with a nude statuette from the German Renaissance.
Another photograph by the same artist appears in May 1926 in the French edition of Vogue magazine. Titled Visage de nacre et masque d'ébène (Face in mother-of-pearl and ebony mask), it displays Kiki de Montparnasse with a Baule mask. With her eyes closed, Man Ray's muse has her head resting on a table on which the African object is held upright by her hand.
This image which is simply composed of two perfect ovals opens a vision of the opposites in the best surrealist tradition : white and black, Europe and Africa, horizontal and vertical, living and object. Its title became Noire et Blanche in 1928 without the agreement of the author.
The very first silver print of this photograph, 21 x 28 cm, was carefully prepared by the artist including many reworks to meet his ideal of perfection. Immediately acquired by Doucet, it makes Noire et Blanche appear as a response by Man Ray to the Demoiselles d'Avignon. This print is estimated € 1M for sale by Christie's in Paris on November 9, lot 8.
Always keen to his own promotion, Picasso no longer neglects the African trend. He highlights a posteriori the Demoiselles d'Avignon as the cornerstone of Cubism and looks for a young blonde muse with a flat nose. She will be Marie-Thérèse.
1932 The Eye was in the City
2012 SOLD 1.48 M$ including premium
Freeing himself from the influence of Moholy-Nagy, he sees photography as a medium for an expressive composition and not as a technical feat. Far ahead of his time, he appreciates that the most disturbing images shall have the biggest impact. By this trend, we might be tempted to link his art, wrongly, to surrealism.
Executed in 1932, Lonely Metropolitan is a photomontage composed of photographic collages accentuated by black and white gouaches.
In the courtyard of a building, two hands are raised alongside. They are stopped at the top of the sleeve. Each palm is centered with the photograph of an eye, with the eyebrow superseding the upper horizontal line of the hand. The position of both eyes simulates a gaze.
The original photomontage or Fotoplastik, 41 x 30 cm, is estimated $ 300K, for sale by Sotheby's in New York on December 12.
Bayer edited this image from 1936 onwards.
I invite you to play the video shared by the auction house.
POST SALE COMMENT
Forget the estimate. This photomontage is rare and important, not only for understanding the artistic process of Bayer, but especially to mark the essential contribution of the Bauhaus in the construction of the modern world. It was sold $ 1.48 million including premium.
In the same sale, the photo of a hand by Moholy-Nagy was sold at the same price, $ 1.48 million including premium.
1936 Tearful Woman by Man Ray
2017 SOLD for $ 2.17M including premium by Christie's
narrated later in 2017 before the sale of another print by Sotheby's (see below)
The artist reserves the painting for the dream images and preferentially uses photography for the compositions based on reality. This champion of eroticism regrets the lack of colors in art photography. The autochrome and the dufaycolor are only available in small size. Man Ray tries the best trichrome process but abandons immediately because the technical difficulty slows down the creativity.
Man Ray then tries the colored pencils over black and white prints. At the very beginning of photography, the miniaturists converted their business into photography by watercoloring the edition photos, bringing an illusion of realism that appealed to customers. The experiment by Man Ray is a rare application in his time of a similar practice in large format.
On October 19, 2017, Sotheby's sold for € 750K including premiumTearful Woman, a silver print 23 x 18 cm realized and hand colored by Man Ray and dated 1935.
The colors are varied and charming. The facial skin is smooth and pink. Under the carefully made up eyebrows, the eyes look upward, filled to the wet just before the tears drop. The deep red mouth is half open, showing that the gaze expresses emotion and not grief. The identity of the model is unknown.
Only one other print is extant. Dated 1936 and of the same format, it had belonged to Robert Mapplethorpe. It was sold by Christie's on May 17, 2017 for $ 2.17M including premium over a lower estimate of $ 400K, lot 7 B.
This attempt was a one off in two copies. The technical progress of color photography brings more direct processes. The Kodachrome for slides in cinema format is released in 1935 and the negative Kodacolor film in 1942.