Fine Photographs Auction at Bonhams & Butterfields in May

Works by International Masters, 20th Century Icons and an Academy Award® Winning Cinematographer on offer in Los Angeles

Bonhams & Butterfields, the West Coast’s leading fine arts auctioneers, is pleased to announce the Thursday, May 24, 2007 sale of Fine Photographs in Los Angeles (and simulcast to San Francisco). The auction will feature rare and fresh-to market works by Karl Struss, Ansel Adams, Dr. Dain L. Tasker and many others.

Following on the heals of a robust Fall 2006 auction which produced strong prices and new auction records for artists such as: Dorothea Lange, contemporary Chinese artist Zhang Huan, and Pierre Dubreuil, the Spring 2007 sale is expected to entice collectors and connoisseurs from around the globe. According to Morisa Rosenberg, Director, Works on Paper at Bonhams & Butterfields, “The photography market is strong and the medium’s collector base continues to expand. This spring we are pleased to offer a wide array of works from noted photographic artists.”

A New York native, Karl Struss established his reputation as a leading pictorialist during the International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography in 1910. Through the use of the Struss Pictorial Lens, his images depict a unique and creative approach to photography. His work garnered appreciation and approval amongst New York art circles as well as from photography great Alfred Stieglitz. The photographs’ ability to reveal the underlying beauty in the ordinary world, and Struss’ desire to reveal this, continued to serve as inspiration along his photographic journey. Struss’ commitment to pictorial beauty is evident in not only his photographic endeavors but his cinematography as well.

The photographer’s dreams of success did not come to fruition until his move to Hollywood and his involvement with the motion picture industry. He would experience his greatest cinematic achievement in 1927 – receiving the very first Academy Award® ever presented for “Best Cinematography” for his collaboration with Charles Rosher on the film Sunrise. Following Struss’ success in cinema and his work on other notable films such as Gone With the Wind (un-credited) and the Tarzan series, an appreciation for his early still photographic work continued to develop.

On offer in May is Karl Struss’s poignant City of Dreams (est. $30/40,000). The image portrays a young man looking back toward the New York City skyline. The photograph is inspired as Struss passes through New York along his journey to Europe. The ship travels along New York Harbor as Struss steps back from the ship’s edge, emphasizing a sense of longing, thus projecting an outsider’s perspective on what the artist refers to as the “City of Dreams,” a phrase that later came to be more commonly associated with Los Angeles.

Another interesting photographer featured in the upcoming auction is Dr. Dain L. Tasker (1872-1964) who was the chief radiologist at Wilshire Hospital in Los Angeles, and an amateur photographer. Circa 1930, he utilized the technology of radiation to create beautiful, diaphanous images of floral studies from his X-ray negatives. Little more is known about Tasker, other than that he knew several California photographers and that his work was published in U.S. Camera (October 1939) and Popular Photography (March 1942)…

The Lily-An X-Ray, 1929, by Dr. Tasker is, according to Bonhams specialists, one of the most impressive of the artist’s floral images. A gelatin silver print, the image is signed, titled, and dated on the mount. Estimated at $10,000-15,000, the photograph was a gift from the doctor to another noted photographer Johann Hagemeyer.

Other highlights from the May sale of Fine Photography include: Chicago River, Winter, 1912, a large-format gelatin silver print by Karl Struss (est: $30/40,000), and Ansel Adams’ Mt. McKinley and Wonder Lake, Alaska, 1947 (est. $20/30,000).

Additional sale highlights for the upcoming auction will be announced in the coming weeks.

The illustrated auction catalog will be online at in the weeks preceding the sale. Previews are set for May 11-13 in Los Angeles and May 20-22 in San Francisco.