There is an exceptional photograph auction showcases in London, May, 15 pieces of the most celebrated names in photography from the 20th and 21st centuries. Coinciding with the international photography fair, Photo London, the auction offers the chance for established and first-time collectors to acquire works by some of the most renowned photographers.
The sale is comprised of images which explore a fresh and diverse variety of themes ranging from Nobuyoshi Araki’s provocative subject manner in Grand Diary of a Photo Maniac, to Irving Penn’s portraits documenting dying occupations in Small Trades, and stunning prints such as Woman Walking on Sidewalk, by colour photography pioneer, William Eggleston.
Another highlight and the top lot of our sale is Avedon/Paris by Richard Avedon, a portfolio of eleven images showcasing his pioneering execution, elevating fashion photography into a fine art standpoint. Other important highlights include works by Peter Beard, Helena Almeida, Andres Serrano, Diane Arbus and Helmut Newton.
Helmut Newton, ‘Saddle 1’, Paris, 1977 (from Private Property Suite III)
Helmut Newton’s controversial and provocative approach to fashion photography would change the medium forever. He brought taboo subjects into the spreads of the world’s most famous magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Iconic works from series such as Big Nudes and Naked and Dressed marked the pinnacle of his erotic-urban style, all underpinned with his heavily voyeuristic nature and technical prowess.
Richard Avedon, ‘Avedon/Paris, 1978’
This portfolio, Avedon/Paris, was assembled in 1978 to celebrate his retrospective exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The eleven images included, all taken in Paris between 1947 and 1957, are brilliant examples of the work the American photographer executed to elevate fashion photography into an art standpoint.
The women portrayed in these photographs showcase the effortless glamour and playfulness that Avedon imagined for his models. He gave them evidence of being human, the urban woman, constantly on the go in a luxurious and sophisticated environment. As stated in his obituary published by The New York Times, “his fashion and portrait photographs helped define America’s image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century”.
Irving Penn, ‘Deep Sea Diver, New York, 1951’
“I can get obsessed by anything if I look at it long enough. That’s the curse of being a photographer.” – Irving Penn
Nobuyoshi Araki, ‘Grand Diary of a Photo Maniac, 1994’
Nobuyoshi Araki’s style within photography has always been very provocative in dealing with private life. His work captures the essence of personal relationships in explicit contexts, dealing with themes such as sex, death and the transitory nature of life. Araki constantly challenges the limits of censorship and social mores in his native country of Japan. He accomplishes this through the use of traditional references in his imagery juxtaposed with contemporary elements, such as depicted in this photograph, Grand Diary of a Photo Maniac.
“Photography is about a single point of a moment. It’s like stopping time. As everything gets condensed in that forced instant. But if you keep creating these points, they form a line which reflects your life.” – Nobuyoshi Araki
Peter Beard, ‘Madison Square Garden, 1972’
This powerful shot by Peter Beard of Mick Jagger is part of a historical moment in the music industry. The Rolling Stones had their first American tour in June and July of 1972 which as critic Dave Marsh puts it, “the tour was part of Rock and Roll legend, a benchmark of an era”. It was much-publicised and written about, with people like Truman Capote, Lee Radziwill and Beard travelling with the band and documenting the concerts.
This particular photograph was taken in Madison Square Garden, New York City. The band ended the tour with four shows over three consecutive nights in said venue. The last concert on the 26th of July, Jagger’s birthday, had balloons and confetti falling from the ceiling and even a pie fight between the Rolling Stones and the audience.
William Eggleston, ‘Untitled’ (woman walking on sidewalk), Las Vegas NV (from Dust Bells II), circa 1965-98
This image, Woman Walking on Sidewalk, from his ‘Dust Bells, Volume II’ portfolio is a clear example of how Eggleston found his subject matter in his native everyday environment. Behind the apparent banality of moment, the image reveals a strong and instinctive sense of colour and form in its composition.
Eggleston portrayed the American south through his snapshot aesthetic, elevating quotidian activities to a status of high art. Along with other photographers such as Lee Friedlander or Gary Winogrand, Eggleston forms part of a generation of post-war photographers whose work liberated the medium from the conservative rules and conventions of the time.
Saul Leiter, Phone Call, 1957
Saul Leiter was an early pioneer of colour photography, embracing the medium two decades before other photographers such as Stephen Shore or William Eggleston. His Kodachrome slides framed the busy streets of New York in an abstract and poetic manner. His photography is heavily influenced by painting, a discipline he also excelled at. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Letter was interested in the emphasis on surface, spatial ambiguity and visual layering.
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