Christie’s to Auction Selections from the Baio Collection of Photographs

Christie’s New York has announced the forthcoming sale of Selections from the Baio Collection of Photographs on April 15 at Rockefeller Center. The Baio Collection embraces many of the photographic techniques and methods used over the last 170 years, with a central theme running through its diverse imagery – children. One can follow the trajectory of this theme through the framework of the urban environment, starting with an early 1930s view of the shadowed walkways of Spain in Seville by Henri Cartier-Bresson, through Simpson Kalisher’s mid-century composition of vivacious young boys crowding the camera, to a quintessentially American suburban landscape by Garry Winogrand and Philip-Lorca DiCorcia’s contemporary portrayal of the crowded, fast-moving streets of Tokyo. Through these photographs and others in the sale by Eugène Atget, Lee Friedlander, Helen Levitt, Harry Callahan, Gregory Crewdson, Ralph Eugene Meatyard and Sally Mann, a fascinating tale of youth unfolds.

“The Baio Collection of Photographs has been built with incredible focus and depth, making it one of the most impressive and thoughtfully curated collections of photography in private hands,” explains Matthieu Humery, Head of Sale in New York. “The sheer number of canonic photographers, combined with the wide range of estimates, makes this selection attractive to both longtime collectors as well as those new to the field.”

Leading the collection is a masterwork by Eugène Atget (1857- 1927). One of Atget’s best-known works, Joueur d’Orgue (Organ Grinder) (estimate: $100,000-150,000), pictured left, belongs to his petits métiers series. This present lot belonged to the Dadaist poet and writer, Tristan Tzara, and is one of only a handful of prints from his negative to have survived that was printed by Atget himself.

Among the notable highlights is a work by Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), Mexican Family (estimate: $20,000-30,000). This photograph was taken in the early 1930s, when Cartier-Bresson deepened his relationship with the surrealists of the era. Philip-Lorca diCorcia (b. 1951) also has three works in the April 15th sale. Of these, Tokyo (estimate: $10,000-15,000) and Brian in the Kitchen (estimate: $12,000-18,000) are prime examples of the artist’s work and demonstrate diCorcia’s staged compositions in carefully planned, reallife situations.

The featured work The Water’s Edge (Hungarian Sea) (estimate: $15,000-25,000) by Lázsló Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946) belongs to the period directly after Moholy-Nagy left the Bauhaus School (Germany), but was still heavily entrenched in constructivism, especially focusing on the integration of technology and industry into the arts. The present photograph was originally in the collection of the MoMA, New York. Loretta Lux’s (b. 1969) works Paulin, 2002 and The Rose Garden, 2001 (estimate for each: $10,000-15,000) are highly saturated, color portraits of young girls. The work of Elliot Erwitt (b. 1928) is also featured in the sale with Maquette for a limited edition book, 1950s (estimate: $15,000-25,000). As an advertising and documentary photographer, Erwitt often tried to capture ironic and absurd situations, but within everyday backdrops. Maquette includes examples of the candid black and white shots for which Erwitt is so widely known. The maquette is only one of six realized.

Additional highlights include works by Massimo Vitali and William Klein. An artist involved in the use of large-format works, Massimo Vitali (b. 1944) captures high-resolution details over broad expanses of everyday scenes. The work Viareggio (estimate: $20,000-30,000) depicts a wide scene of a crowded beach. William Klein’s (b. 1926) Stickball Player, New York, 1954 (estimate: $10,000-15,000), is a dynamic portrayal of a stickball game in the artist’s neighborhood. Originally from the Seagram Collection, this image is extraordinarily rare.

Image: “The Water’s Edge” (Hungarian Sea), (estimate: $15,000-25,000) by Lázsló Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946). Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd., 2010