Prints and Photographs Bring More than $2.7-Million at Bonhams & Butterfields

. June 3, 2008

Offerings included photographs once owned by famous American motion picture critic, author and director Pare Lorentz

Prints and Photographs from estates, trusts, and private and institutional collections brought more than $2.7-million at Bonhams & Butterfields on May 20-21, 2008, during the two-day auction simulcast to salesrooms in both San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“Interest in the fine prints and fine photographs auctions was extremely strong with enthusiasm for Old Master works through to the contemporary, showing a robust market for this material,” said Judith Eurich, Director of Prints and Photographs at Bonhams & Butterfields.

osprey.jpgThe Prints auction on May 20 opened, as it traditionally does, with Old Master works followed by 19th century and Modern prints. Early on in the sale, an engraving after John James Audubon titled Fish Hawk or Osprey, Falco Haliaetus; Male (Pl. LXXXI), 1835, from the Havell edition of The Birds of America, sold for $60,000. A signed and numbered Marc Chagall lithograph titled Paris from My Window sold above estimate for $45,000, while Pablo Picasso’s Histoire Naturelle brought $44,000.

The marquee lot of the sale was Untitled (Head 1), 1970, a striking brass multiple with incised signature by Roy Lichtenstein, which sold for $126,000, more than doubling its high estimate. A second work by the artist titled Two Paintings: Dagwood, brought $51,000 after several rounds of competitive bidding.

Additional highlights from the contemporary section of the sale included Frank Stella’s Illustrations after El Lissitzky’s Had Gadya, which brought $90,000 and The Star, from Myths by Andy Warhol, which sold for $57,000.

The Photographs sale commenced on May 21, with property from key contemporary artists and masters of the 20th century. “Bidding was strong for important works by Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, Margaret Bourke-White, Walker Evans and select contemporary artists represented in a highly sought after portfolio entitled New California Views, 1964-1979,” said Eurich. “It was an energetic and highly competitive sale, with particular interest paid to high-caliber and fresh-to-market works.”

The session was highlighted by an iconic collection of Resettlement and Farm Security Administrative Images by Dorothea Lange. The grouping of 53 photographs was once owned by Pare Lorentz, the American motion picture critic, author and director of The Plow that Broke the Plains, a documentary film produced by the Resettlement and Farm Security Administration of the US. Lange and John Steinbeck were among Lorentz’s personal friends and strong supporters of his work. The collection sold well above its high estimate for $36,000.

Also on offer was a highly sought after expansive portfolio entitled New California Views, 1964-1979. Comprised of 20 signed and dated photographs from contemporary photographers such as John Divola, Richard Misrach, Stephen Shore, Henry Wessel, Jr. and Garry Winogrand, among others, the offered lot was one of an edition of 100 and sold for $16,800 during the May 21st sale.

Additional lots of note from the Photographs auction included: a pair of iconic wilderness images captured by Ansel Adams titled Aspens, Northern New Mexico (sold for: $30,000) and Nevada Fall, Yosemite National Park (sold for: $27,000); Margaret Bourke-White’s industrial Diamond-Toothed Rotor, Indiana Limestone Co. illustrated on the cover of the auction’s catalogue (sold for: $19,200) and a late work from 1970 titled Penny Picture Display, Savannah by Walker Evans brought $18,000, well above the estimate of $5/7,000.

The next auction of Prints and Photographs will be held at Bonhams & Butterfields in November 2008. The auctions will feature an assortment of important works on paper, photographs, prints and multiples by old masters and contemporary artists including: Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Ruth Bernhard, Marc Chagall, Walker Evans, Jasper Johns, Robert Mapplethorpe, Pablo Picasso, Alfred Stieglitz, Toulouse-Lautrec, Garry Winogrand and Andy Warhol, among others. Sale dates and preview locations for Fall sales are available online at www.bonhams.com/us.

The illustrated catalogs for May’s sales will remain online with prices realized at the auctioneer’s website.

Category: Auction News

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