Auction Preview: Important 19th & 20th Century Photographs, October 21, 2008 @Swann

Over the years, Swann Galleries has carved out its own special niche in the photography auction market. In contrast to Sotheby’s and Christie’s, Swann is the home of the lesser known, the quirky, and the eclectic (not to mention the lower priced). It is not afraid of unusual 19th century material, second tier images/later prints by major photographers, or first rate work by artists out of favor or under appreciated. As a result, we have always found it a terrific place to find surprising images with a limited audience and often the one venue where a true bargain (always in the eye of the beholder) can be found in the overheated auction market.

At 390 lots of photography, this is the largest single sale at Swann (not including photo books) that we can remember, and it has the signature Swann randomness throughout. With a total estimate of $2659900, this sale is full of lower priced material.

Here’s the breakdown:

Total Low lots (high estimate $10000 and below): 346
Total Low estimate (sum of high estimates of Low lots): $1732900

Total Mid lots (high estimate between $10000 and $50000): 43
Total Mid estimate: $867000

Total High lots (high estimate above $50000): 1
Total High estimate: $60000

We didn’t see too many stand outs in this sale, but as always, there are some unusual pictures that catch our eye. Here are a selection of images we find of interest:

  • Lot 33 Charles Jones, Posoqueria Longiflora, c1900
  • Lot 65 Edward Weston, Nude, 1925
  • Lot 93 Edward Weston, Nude, Fay Fuqua, 1933
  • Lot 156 Aaron Siskind, Gloucester 28, 1944/1960s
  • Lot 208 Weegee, Empire State Building Distortion, 1955
  • Lot 246 Irving Penn, Nude #8, 1949/1980

In these turbulent financial times, it will be interesting to see how well the lower half of the market holds up. If collectors vanish, you will likely see opportunistic dealers buying for inventory. This sale will be a good benchmark to watch.

Important 19th & 20th Century Photographs
October 21, 2008

Swann Galleries
104 East 25th Street
New York, NY 10010

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