Sotheby's Fall Photograph Sale to be Held October 14-15, 2008 Sotheby's fall Photographs sale in New York on October 14-15th will feature seminal photographs from both the 19th and 20th centuries, many extremely rare
The sale also features a large group of Pictorialist photographs, including Portrait of Edward Steichen (pictured, est.
$50/80,000) by the Austrian photographer Heinrich Kühn. One of the
foremost European members of the Photo-Secession, he found an ideal subject
in the charismatic Steichen. With its fine print quality and its moody and
dramatic portrayal of the sitter’s character, the image—like Clarence White’s
Portrait of Alfred Stieglitz (est. $60/90,000) and Steichen’s own Portrait of
Auguste Rodin (est. $150/250,000) and Portrait of G. F. Watts (est.
$100/150,000)—is an archetypal Pictorialist portrait. Also on offer is the
actual print of Alfred Stieglitz’s The Steerage sent to Vanity Fair by the
photographer for publication in that magazine’s August 1924 issue, including
the rear letterpress wrapper carrying the Vanity Fair use stamp and Stieglitz’s
careful manuscript instructions (est. $50/80,000). Another rare early Pictorialist work in large format is Baron Adolph
de Meyer’s The Cup (est. $25/35,000).
Classics of Modernism include a large, early print of Imogen Cunningham’s
False Hellebore (pictured, est. $150/250,000), one of a handful of
images responsible for the photographer’s modern reputation. The
photograph’s beautifully rendered textures and larger-than-life shapes
testify to Cunningham’s skill in elevating whole or parts of flowers to icon
status, producing images that are almost hypnotic in their power. Other
important photographs presented include a bravura early print of
Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, Ansel Adams’s most celebrated
image (est. $200/300,000). Adams is believed to have made only four
other prints of Moonrise before 1948, when he reprocessed the negative.
Acquired from the photographer by a friend in the 1940s, perhaps as early
as 1946 (based on the evidence of Adams’s 1946 letter to the original
owner) it is most likely one of these very few extant prints, and presents a very different interpretation of this famous
image. Also featured is a “keystone” print of Dorothea Lange’s White Angel Breadline, San Francisco (est.
$70/100,000) used by Edward Steichen in planning his 1955 landmark Family of Man exhibition; Tina Modotti’s
Bandolier, Corn and Guitar (est. $120/180,000), part of a series of still life studies of objects symbolizing the
Mexican revolution; a quintessential study of woodland New England, Growing Iris, Maine, by Paul Strand (est.
$100/150,000); and Marseille, one of a significant group of László Moholy-Nagy photographs and photograms that
came originally from the collection of Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, the photographer’s widow (est. $100/150,000). Rounding
out the Modernist offerings are a fine selection of Dorothea Lange’s moving FSA images, including a scarce early print
of Drought Refugees from Oklahoma (est. $60/90,000); Harry Callahan’s Detroit (est. $50/70,000), a rare
double-exposure made in his hometown early in his career; and a mounted exhibition print of Aaron Siskind’s Harlan,
Kentucky (est. $25/35,000), that came originally from the collection of pioneering New York City gallerist Charles
Leading the contemporary offerings is Cindy Sherman’s Film
Still #5, 1978 (pictured, est. $300/500,000), one of three
large-format prints made in 1980. It is one of the key images
from her best-known series, the Untitled Film Stills, taken