Contemporary Photographs, Sotheby's Auction Results

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s annual fall auctions spanning centuries of important Photographs concluded in New York, with 100+ works selling for an overall total of $4 million. Emily Bierman, Head of Sotheby’s Photographs Department in New York, commented: “We are pleased with the results from our sales, which presented collectors with the opportunity to acquire museum-quality photographs from the beginning of the medium to today. There was tremendous strength for vintage masterworks, like the Rodchenko Girl with a Leica and Bragaglia’s Le Rose, both of which had been off the market for several decades and achieved new world record prices, as well as for the exceptional Moholy-Nagy. We saw strong competition for classic American images by Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, in addition to innovative fashion and celebrity photographs as seen with Irving Penn’s Caviar and iconic Herb Ritts images. It was a privilege to host a selling exhibition of works by visual artist and photographer Michael Dweck and establish a new auction record for him with Sonya, Poles (Montauk).

Auction Total: $1.3 Million
The Contemporary Photographs auction was led by Michael Dweck’s Sonya, Poles (Montuak), which sold for $168,750 – more than double its high estimate of $70,000, and marking a new world auction record for the artist. The image stems from the photographer’s major body of work celebrating the local fishing and surfing subculture of Montauk and served as the cover of his first monograph, The End: Montauk, N. Y.

The sale also saw competitive bidding for works by Catherine Opie, whose works Untitled #5 (Icehouses) and Untitled #6 (Icehouses) achieved $125,000 and $81,250 respectively, and for Wolfgang Tillmans’ ‘mental picture #65’ which sold above its high estimate for $81,250.

Auction Total: $2.8 Million
The Photographs auction was led by Aleksandr Rodchenko’s Girl with a Leica (Devushka S Leikoi), which soared to $519,000 after competition from six bidders (estimate $300/500,000) – a new world auction record for a photograph by the artist. An adventurous composition of rhythmic lines, abstract patterns, and extreme angles, Girl with a Leica embodies the rigorous photographic Modernism that Rodchenko pioneered and is one of the photographer’s most enduring images. Originally from the collection of the photographer and his wife Varvara Stepanova, it is believed that no other large early print of this image has been offered at auction.

Photographic Modernism and Construvism was represented further by László Moholy-Nagy’s dynamic Untitled (Photogram with Circular Shapes and Diagonal Line), which more than doubled its high estimate of $180,000 to achieve $447,000. This large, early photogram, with a rich reddish-brown tonality, was made in the early 1920’s, shortly after Moholy-Nagy began experimenting with the cameraless process and while he was associated with the Bauhaus in Weimar.

The auction also saw strong prices for fashion and celebrity photography – from Irving Penn’s 'Caviar, New York, Jan 18, 2001', a delectable bird’s-eye view of the luxury food that was commissioned originally for the March 2001 issue of Vogue, to Herb Ritt’s ‘Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi,' both of which fetched $125,000.

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