Three important auctions of photographs are to be held at Christies New York

Three important auctions of photographs are to be held at Christie’s New York in the month of April. Two significant single-owner sales have dedicated individual catalogues, Horst: Photographs from the Collection of Gert Elfering and Modernist Photographs from a European Collection, and both take place on the evening of Monday, April 23. The first session of the various-owner Photographs sale will conclude the evening session and the sale will continue Tuesday, April 24.

In their entirety, these three sales offer over 440 lots and the total for the Spring 2007 Photographs week is expected to realize in excess of $8 million. The presentation to the market of these auctions, with carefully-crafted and curated catalogues, illustrates Christie’s continued commitment to the further development and appreciation of the international photographs market.

Horst: Photographs from the Collection of Gert Elfering
On the evening of April 23, an evening sale will focus solely on the work of Horst P. Horst, the key Conde Nast photographer of the 1930s and post-war years. The first ever auction devoted to his work, the sale includes over 50 prints that encompass all of Horst’s classic imagery – from fashion and beauty, to still life, nudes and flowers. Estimates range from $4,000 to $150,000.

With a new focus on the great fashion and related photographers, the sale will pay homage to a central figure whose career spanned the elegance of the 1930s all the way through to the era of Robert Mapplethorpe in the 1980s. Sourced from the respected collector Gert Elfering, who had a major sale of photographs at Christie’s in the fall of 2005, the auction will further consolidate the field of editorial fashion photography as a major force in the international market. In February of this year, Christie’s New York held the $4.3 million fashion-led Solley Collection sale that sold for over 150% of its pre-sale high estimate.

The prints, beautiful objects in their own right, are all in excellent condition, and the group includes a number of the rare and exquisite platinum prints on canvas which are regarded as the finest expression of the photographer’s aesthetic. Highlights include: the iconic Mainbocher Corset, Paris, 1939 (estimate: $100,000-150,000); Calla Aethiopica, 1945 (estimate: $80,000-120,000) and Classical Still Life, 1937 (estimate: $60,000-80,000).

Modernist Photographs from a European Collection
This sale, to immediately follow the Horst sale on Monday evening, offers important modernist photographs from the collection of James Hyman, British cultural lecturer, broadcaster, writer and curator. As an art historian, Hyman was fascinated with the modernism of early and mid-20th century photography and its due place alongside other traditional media of the modernist movement.

The photographs in the collection therefore illustrate rigorous modernist preoccupations with formal structure: striking contrasts of black and white, flattened planes; and with expression: lyrical celebration, symbols, metaphors and philosophical concepts. The carefully-curated sale catalogue underscores the theme that regardless of medium, there was a shared enterprise of artistic investigation by the modernist avant-garde.

Examples of modernist cross-connections in the catalogue include Aaron Siskind’s Chicago 8, 1948 (estimate: $20,000-30,000) related to a William de Kooning 1949 abstract work; Harry Callahan’s Telephone Wires #50, c. 1955 (estimate: $20,000-30,000) referenced with a Lucio Fontana spatial concept canvas; and László Moholy-Nagy’s Rothenburg, 1926-28 (estimate: $80,000-120,000) compared to a Suprematist work by Kasimir Malevich.

This sale spans the history of modern photography featuring works by important photographers from Eadweard Muybridge to Ansel Adams and contemporary artists such as Jeff Wall and Helmut Newton.

Auctions: Horst: Photographs from the Collection of Gert Elfering April 23 at 5pm

Modernist Photographs from a European Collection April 23 at 5.30pm

Photographs April 23 at 6pm
April 24 at 10am & 2pm

Viewing: Christie’s Galleries at Rockefeller Center April 20 – 23