We hope there will be already some spring breeze over NY within next week, when all the main  periodic Photography auctions will be held in NY. Here you have some can’t-miss highlights from Christie’s and Sotheby’s Sales.

Christie’s will be the first with its sale which will be held on April 6th, divided in 2 separate sections. The first part will be  dedicated to an important private collection which includes some of the greatest name of last century Photography  The Yamakawa Collection of Twentieth Century Photographs ( 11 am ) , with 44 lots total.

From this collection we’d firstly highlight lot 23,A box of ten photographs, 1970 by Diane Arbus a very rare Portfolio of ten gelatin silver prints, which comprise some of her most famous shoots. At the time of her death in 1971, Arbus had completed the printing of eight sets of the portfolio. Four of those were sold during her lifetime (two to Richard Avedon; one to her friend, art director Bea Feitler; and one to Jasper Johns), and the other four were set aside as artist’s proofs. The artist’s estate then commissioned the completion of Arbus’ intended edition of fifty, with prints by Neil Selkirk In 1969, Diane Arbus began working on a portfolio of her work, to be issued in an edition of fifty, and offered for sale. Other complete posthumous sets of A box of ten photographs reside in institutional collections including the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Princeton University Art Museum; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Yale University Art Gallery; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; the Minneapolis Institute of Arts; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin; the Denver Art Museum; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam;Complete sets of A box of ten photographs rarely come to auction; only four are noted in the past twenty years.- Estimate: USD 500,000 – USD 700,000  – Other Diane Arbus shoots on sales are also: Lot 21 Untitled, 1970–1971 ($8.0000/12.000) ; Lot 22 Nudist lady with swan sunglasse…($60.000/80.000) ; Lot 23 Tattooed man at a carnival ($10.000/15.000)

DIANE ARBUS (1923–1971)
A box of ten photographs
Estimate USD 500,000 – USD 700,000

Other highlight from this sales to mention are:

  •  “Parade – Hoboken,” New Jersey, 1955, one of the most iconic american-flag photo by Robert Frank estimate $100,000/150,000, strictly connected to the other shot from the series,at lot lot18 Political Rally Chicago, 1955 ($50.000/70.000) . 
    ROBERT FRANK (B. 1924), Parade – Hoboken, New Jersey, 1955 – Estimate USD 100,000 – USD 150,000


  • Then we have the  lyric landscapes of  Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941 e “Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine California,” 1944 by Ansel Adams, another great name of America Photography not from the documentary stream, but rather known for his more formal aesthetic the the landscapes which led him to a more sublime and completely idealistic view of it ($ 30,000 / 50,000 e $25,000 /35,000); 
  • Very famous is also  Alfred Stieglitz‘s shotThe Steerage,1907 , which we can  actually find also in Phillips catalogue for this month sale, butta with an higher estimate. This is one of the most celebrated photo by the artist, which went down in history also for his effective communicative message, as despite the photographer main formalistic  concern on the ” canvas of shapes” within the frame, it testimonies very clearly and explicitly right with this formal language, the class divisions on the boat steerage.($15,000 /25,000). 
ALFRED STIEGLITZ (1864–1946), The Steerage, 1907
Estimate USD 15,000 – USD 25,000


Christie’s sales will continue in the afternoon (2pm) with his official Photographs auction, and an other selection of  172 lots. Among those lots you can find an interesting selection of 5 photographs by the celebrated contemporary Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto, with his most known series as seaside views(North Pacific Ocean, Iwate, 1986, esteem $ 15,000 – 25,000) and theatre (Regency, San Francisco, 1992 , Cinema Rise, Tokyo, 1996 e Draken, Göteborg, 2001, all esteem $12,000 – 18,000).

HIROSHI SUGIMOTO (B. 1948), Draken, Göteborg, 2001 – Estimate USD 12,000 – USD 18,000

With a very captivating minimal elegance of white and black and his usual perfect compositions, we have a selection of 10 photos by   Robert Mapplethorphe. The highest estimate is Calla Lily, 1986 for  $ 80,000 /120,000, followed by  Roses con $40.000/60.000 concerning his sublimated flower series, while then we have also a 13 photos portfolio of artistic nudes, Z Portfolio, estimate $50,000 – 70,000.

ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE (1946–1989) Calla Lily, 1986 Estimate USD 80,000 – USD 120,000

However the very top lot of the sale with the highest estimate is  Richard Avedon’s  Dovima with Elephants, Evening Dress by Dior, Cirque d’Hiver, Paris, August 1955, a true monument in the history of fashion and advertising, which we will find also the following day under the Sotheby’s hammer. Both action houses estimate it for  $300/500,000.  – From the same photographer in Christie’s catalogue we can find also 2 very intensive portraits (lots 132 and 133) the first is a Truman Capote’s one ($5.000/7.000) the other is Buster Keaton ($8.000/12.000)

RICHARD AVEDON (1923–2004)
Dovima with Elephants, Evening Dress by Dior, Cirque d’Hiver, Paris, 1955
Estimate USD 300,000 – USD 500,000



On April 10 will be Sotheby’s turn for Photo bidding in NY. Here will be also presented first a special sale of a very important private collection, A Beautiful Life: Photographs from the Collection of Leland Hirsch (10 am) which contains some of the most recognizable images of the 20th and 21st centuries, including works by Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Man Ray and Diane Arbus, among others. Big Tycoon of the Beauty industry, Lelan Hirsch was a visionary thought-leader and industry innovator he revolutionized the haircolor industry with the development and introduction of Artec professional haircolor and color care products.He has an innate ability to interpret new ideas for editorials, and photography, and so, in the same way he was also a very looking-forward and sensitive collector, who used to define both his career and art collection by the search for “what should be that is not.”

Leland Hirsch commented: “When looking at photography as a collector, there is a personal connection between you as the collector, and the photograph. I am drawn to vibrant, exciting images that tell a special story.”

So, the exceptional collection he created reflects a unique and sophisticated vision that is sensitive to life’s beautiful contradictions, as  Arbus disquieting shots that here are presented by famous one as Child with a Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C. ( stima $70/100.000) e Identical Twins, Roselle, N.J. (stima $40/60,000).

Diane Arbus ‘IDENTICAL TWINS, ROSELLE, N. J.’ Stima 40,000 — 60,000 USD

But for the same attraction for the “unusual beauty” in this collection we can find also some very sophisticated experimental works by Man Ray, as his captivating abstract nude,  estimate $80/120,000.Although more commonly associated with sensuous or abstracted depictions of the female body, Man Ray made several photographs of male sitters in the early 1930’s.

MAN RAY, ‘BRAS’ (ARM), Estimate $80,000 — 120,000

However, also due to his business sector, Hirsch had a particular  affinity more for glossy, editorial images such as Irving Penn’s Issey Miyake Design with Black Fan (estimate $15/25,000), Herb Ritts’ iconic Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi, Hollywood (estimate $50/70,000) and Steven Meisel’s Madonna Hitching (estimate $5/7,000) Indeed, he developed this passion after decades working with amazing photographers, models and beauty editors from the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s such as Shirley Lord and Dorothy Schefer (Vogue), Felicia Milewicz (Mademoiselle and Glamour) and many others.

Herb Ritts
Estimate 50,000 — 70,000

Sotheby’s will continue his auction with the usual Photographs auction (11 am), and a large selection of  163 lots, which comprises wide selection of photographs tracing the very beginnings of the medium to innovations of the present day.

Highlights of early photography include some pioneers of Photography as William Henry Fox Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature, the first photographs publication comprising a series of “calotype”. This was also one of the first experimental use of positive/negative technology as well as a technique which allowed also some “artistic” solutions, both explored by Talbot. ($150.000/250.000).

talbot-pencil of nature
William Henry Fox Talbot, ‘THE PENCIL OF NATURE’ –  150,000 — 250,000 USD

The experimental 1920s and 1930s are well represented by rare works by Man Ray, including his striking, Surrealist Minotaur, as well as less known but very innovative artist of the medium as the  unique collage by Stefan Themerson, and La Cloche à Fromage by Pierre Dubreuil.

Man Ray, MINOTAUR – 150,000 — 250,000 USD

Important contemporary works include photographs by Brigid Berlin, David Wojnarowicz, Vito Acconci, Cindy Sherman, Sandy Skoglund, Katy Grannan, and Thomas Demand.

David Wojnarowicz
David Wojnarowicz, ‘RIMBAUD IN NEW YORK’ (IN DINER) – Stima 12,000 — 18,000 USD


  • 6 Aprile : Christie’sThe Yamakawa Collection of Twentieth Century Photographs (ore 11am) &  Photographs (ore 2pm)
  • 9 Aprile : PhillipsPhotographs & The Enduring Image: The Collection of Dr. Saul Unter – ore 10am & 2pm
  • 10 Aprile : Sotheby’s, A Beautiful Life: Photographs from the Collection of Leland Hirsch (ore 10am ) & Photographs  (ore 11am)

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