Ah, springtime. Warm wafting breezes, daffodils poking their merry petals through the wet earth, and the hammer coming down.
PDNonline has posted a nice update today about the Sotheby's Spring Auction that took place yesterday in New York City. They have a JPEG of the rare Man Ray that drew the auction's highest price of $410,500. The print of Untitled (Photomontage with Nude and Studio Light), 1933, is one of four—the other three are in museums—and "is the only one mounted, signed, and stamped by Man Ray."
Apropos our recent discussions about limited editions, the article has this to say about the Sotheby's auction:
Nearly all of the top sales were for unique or very rare prints. Even the Avedon portfolio, which was an edition of 75, had a unique provenance as it was a gift from Avedon to a close friend.
'When you really get into the nitty gritty of it and start trying to nail down the extant prints, you realize that in many instances they are unique or are close to unique,' [Sotheby’s photography department vice-president Christopher] Mahoney says of the vintage photographs, which were often printed in small quantities because the market was small in the early 20th century. 'That’s what people will step up for. That is what the sophisticated collectors are looking for.'
Collectors do understand and expect, however, 'that contemporary photographers edition their work,' he added.
The article notes that Christie’s will hold its spring photography sale tomorrow, and Phillips De Pury’s sale takes place on Saturday.
Meanwhile, in Vienna, the next Westlicht Auction—Number 19, scheduled for May 28th—features the earliest Nikon known: Nikon I, serial number 60924. It was made 63 years ago this month; Nikon started production in March of 1948 and made one camera that month and two cameras in April, of which this is the second. So this is the third Nikon ever made and the earliest one known to survive. The new Westlicht catalogue will be published online at the end of this month, in case you're eager to spend the €140,000 to €160,000 that Nikon No. 60924 is expected to fetch.
Finally, speaking of Westlicht and Vienna, some more really good news from there: it looks like the so-called "International Collection" of the old Polaroid Corporation will not have to be broken up after all. Randy Kennedy, writing in the Arts Beat blog at the New York Times, reports that Westlicht's Photo Gallery, which is connected in some unspecified way with the people behind The Impossible Project, has purchased the entire collection. No word on whether the collection of 4,500 pieces by 850 photographers will be kept intact for good. An exhibit of selections from the collection will open at the gallery on June 17th.
(Thanks to Ken Tanaka, Rob Atkins, and Oren Grad)
Note: Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site. More...
Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by robert e: "A.D. Coleman has been reporting exhaustively on the dissolution of Polaroid's collections for nearly two years. There's more detail about the sale of the International Collection in this post from February, along with his own insights. The buyer is WestLicht-Peter Coeln GmbH. '...This purchaser is an entity formed by former advertising photographer Peter Coeln, director of the the WestLicht Schauplatz Museum in Vienna, Austria. So these works will leave the Musée de L’Elysée and enter the WestLicht museum’s collection.' The sale price was $775,000. According to Coleman, the Musée de L’Elysée, which had conserved and exhibited the collection for 'nearly two decades,' will not be compensated."