Magazine Home  |  News  |  Features  |  Reviews  |  Books  |  People  |  Horoscope  
Art Market Watch

The auction season is upon us in force this week as New York's auction houses all mount their big October sales of photographs. In advance, the offerings look fairly standard, and seem unlikely to generate much heat. However, everyone's favorite underdog, Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg -- subject of a gossipy profile by Vicky Ward in the November issue of Vanity Fair -- who goes first with a daytime sale on Oct. 16 of the Joshua P. Smith Collection of Photographs, has a plan to get bidders' blood coursing. For the Smith collection, which carries a presale total estimate of $1.5 million-$2.1 million, is being sold without reserve. Numbering around 260 lots, it features 20th-century and contemporary photographs from Europe, Latin America and the U.S.

Phillips continues with its mixed-owner sale on the evening of Oct. 17 (and with Part II and III during the following day). Perhaps the highlight of the evening sale is a pristine copy of Diane Arbus' Box of 10, a portfolio of her signature images issued in an edition of 50 before her death in 1971, that carries a presale estimate of $90,000-$120,000. Five other vintage Arbus prints from 1963-65 are also included in the sale.

Other property at Phillips includes Alfred Stieglitz's Georgia Englehard (1920) (est. $150,000-$200,000), a vintage color print of Willam Eggleston's monumental tricycle from ca. 1970, Memphis (est. $90,000-$120,000) and a lot of eight Francesca Woodman photos, including three of her highly valued self-portraits (est. $100,000-$150,000). A two-paneled camera obscura photograph of Rockefeller Center by Vera Lutter is estimated at $30,000-$40,000.

Sotheby's is also holding its photography sale on Oct. 17, but during the day -- making it a long and busy stretch for photo fans. The sale includes an early state of Edward Weston's classic Two Shells from 1927 (est. $200,000-$300,000) from the collection of the late James J. Rochlis, head of the Chris-Craft corporation. Among the sale's ca. 300 lots is an oval paper print Portrait of Lincoln by Christopher S. German that carries a presale estimate of $6,000-$9,000.

Things then cool down till Oct. 20 when Christie's holds its photo sale in the afternoon. Among the ca. 270 lots is a casual portrait by Patrick Demarchelier of a glowing Princess Diana in pearls and a tiara (est. $3,000-$5,000) and a nice portrait of the late downtown diva Cookie Mueller at Tin Pan Alley by Nan Goldin (est. $4,000-$6,000).

Swann Auction Galleries on East 25th Street holds its sale of 19th and 20th-century photos on Oct. 21, 2003.

Sotheby's sale of Old Master, Modern & Contemporary Prints in London on Oct. 6, 2003, found buyers for 209 of 300 lots offered, or almost 70 percent, for a total of 1,095,672 ($1,817,939). The sale notched several new records for works by top Pop artists in various sub-categories. Andy Warhol's A portfolio of Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century sold for 67,200 (est. 30,000-40,000), and his Myths: Shadow went for 18,000 (est. 4,000-6,000), both new auction records for works from those series. David Hockney's illustrations for Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm sold for 32,400 (est. 18,000-22,000), a record for the series at auction. And Roy Lichtenstein's Two Nudes sold for 18,000 (est. 8,000-10,000), also a new auction record for the subject.