SWANN PHOTO AUCTION SELLS NEARLY $1.56 MILLION, WITH 73% OF LOTS SOLD; BASSENGE HOLDS TWO PHOTOGRAPHY SALES ON DECEMBER 3RD IN BERLIN, INCLUDING SOVIET WAR PHOTOGRAPHS; VAN HAM HOLDS PHOTO AUCTION IN COLOGNE ON DECEMBER 5TH; HOLIDAY SALES ON VIEW ON I PHOTO CENTRAL WEBSITE UNTIL DEC. 19TH; AUCTION GUIDANCE AND BIDDING HELP AVAILABLE; OTHER UPCOMING AUCTION REMINDERS; WHITE HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER STOUGHTON, WHO TOOK FAMED PHOTO OF SWEARING IN OF L.B.J. WITH JACKIE KENNEDY, PASSES AWAY; TWO SNAPSHOT COMPILATIONS: A DICHOTOMY OF DAILY LIFE; PHOTO NEWS BRIEFS
SWANN PHOTO AUCTION SELLS NEARLY
$1.56 MILLION, WITH 73% OF LOTS SOLD
By Alex Novak
Since I had given my readers an overview and analysis of the Fall auctions (see: http://www.iphotocentral.com/news/article_view.php/159/150/893
) with the exception of Swann, which was held the week after that report, I thought I would give you the details of that latter sale. Swann's results weren't a lot different than most of this house's previous sales. The auction brought in a total of $1,558,921, and Swann sold 283 lots or 72.6% of the lots in the sale (although Swann's own P.R. department incorrectly put total sales at only $1,486,440 and put the percentage of sales at only 67.4%!).
How Swann got to that figure though was a bit different than in past auctions where one or two high priced lots boosted them over the top. This time out the material was more evenly priced, but the consistent mid-level material did well enough to garner nearly identical financial results, which meant that Swann probably made out better on the bottom line due to higher seller premiums. Consignors of very high-priced items at auction rarely get charged seller premiums and, even if they do, those charges are usually well under the percentage cost for more modest lots. The level of work here was also notably more consistent and of higher quality than in many past sales (and certainly better than at least two of its competitors), which again puts to rest the notion that only the highest priced items sell and lower priced item don't. When material is interesting and well priced, it tends to sell at every level.
The one thing that seemed pretty clear though was that instead of many multiple bidders, many items were receiving only bids from one or two people, who often bid against just the reserves (the price that the seller sets as their lowest acceptable price). There were certainly plenty of exceptions, but this was a general change that was quite noticeable here (as it was at several of the earlier auctions this Fall).
I will largely keep my lot reports limited to those that went for $14,400 or above (including buyer's premiums; here they are 20%), which meant that with ties these were the lots in Swann's Top Ten.
Lot 20, Timothy O'Sullivan's "Ancient Ruins in the Canyon de Chelle, NM", was one of the exceptions to my rule of multiple bidders. Several phones and private photo dealer Charles Isaacs competed fiercely, but one collector on the phone prevailed at $24,000 against an estimate of $15,000-25,000. That made it a tie for fifth place in this sale.
Lot 24, Felix Beato's group of 75 rare Japanese landscapes, sold to a collector for $24,000, again a tie for fifth place. This was a very nice group and might have gotten much more at auction in previous seasons. Instead it looked like it just made its reserve.
A collector on the phone beat out a commission bidder on lot 31, Marc Ferrez's album containing 68 original photographs of Brazil, although the stubborn phone bidder needed to go to $48,000 (against an estimate of $25,000-35,000) to win this lot. That made the lot the highest priced item in the sale.
Except for a commission bidder (and one internet bidder), most of the Edward Curtis images that sold went to one phone bidder, who was a dealer and who picked up lots 35-40 and 42. Lot 37 was a great Orotone of "Chief of the Desert, Navajo", which had several phones working as it climbed well past its high estimate, ultimately selling to the dealer on the phone at a still very reasonable $16,800, which put the lot into eighth place overall.
Lot 57, an Edward Weston/Margrethe Mather platinum-palladium print of "The Marion Morgan Dancers", from about 1921, sold to a dealer who left a commission bid versus one bidder in the room. It hammered for well under its estimate range of ($40,000-60,000), although--with premium--it brought a total of $43,200, which put it into second place here at Swann. Oddly this was a print that went unsold almost exactly three years ago at Sotheby's New York, when it was bought in at $34,000. In other words, the reserve price was the same here at Swann in a tougher market, but this time the photograph made just a bit over that reserve. Frankly, it is a beautiful image and print, even though Edward Weston's pictorialist work is out of favor at the moment. Fourteen years ago the photograph sold at Christie's for $41,400.
Two Tina Modotti lots of platinum prints went for $14,400 each to a commission bidder, who turned out to be dealer Spencer Throckmorton. Lot 60, Modotti's "Maria Marin de Orozco", went for the low estimate, which appeared to be the actual reserve! Likewise, Lot 63, the late-printed Tina Modotti/Ava Vargas group of four photographs from the "Tina Modotti" portfolio, sold for its low estimate, which again appeared to be the reserve. Both were part of a six-way tie for tenth place in this auction.
One of Swann's disappoints was lot 65, Edward Weston's "Nude (Miriam Lerner: Hands and Torso)", which bought in at $24,000, against an estimate of $30,000-45,000. There were lots of condition problems with this print though, even if the reserve price was very tempting as these kinds of vintage Weston images go.
A collector at the back of the room outbid the phone bank on lot 79, Walker Evans's "Sidewalk in Vicksburg, MI", as the later-printed photo soared well over its high estimate to $18,000, which pushed the lot into eighth place here.
Lot 88, Dorothea Lange's "Ex-Slave with a Long Memory, AL", 1937, reportedly printed in the 1950s, went for $19,200 to a commission bid from a collector. The price was just over the low estimate and pushed the lot into a tie for sixth place.
Ten lots later, Roman Vishniac's "The Vanished World" portfolio set a new auction record for the portfolio of $38,400. It went to a commission bidder who was a collector, and it was the third highest price in the auction.
The phone and commission bids that were left with Swann scooped up Walker Evans's Havana images. Lot 109, Walker Evans's Produce Trucks in a Market in Havana, went to a commission bidder for $12,000 (right at the low estimate). Lot 110, a late-printed "Coal Stevedore, Havana (Dockworker, Havana)", sold to a collector on the phone for $14,400, which was twice the mid-range of the estimate and put the lot into a tie for tenth place. And lot 111, another late-printed "Dock Workers, Havana", sold to a commission bidder for $9,600.
A dealer bought lot 117, Horst P. Horst's "Mainbocher Corset, Paris" in a larger print for $15,600, which put the item into a tie for ninth place.
Lot 137, Margaret Bourke-White's posthumous print of "DC-4 Flying over New York City" flew right over its high estimate and sold to a collector for $15,600, which put it in a tie for ninth place. This was the highest price this print has gone for at auction.
Ansel Adams's Moonrise (lot 153) was withdrawn from the sale. Lot 154, Ansel Adams's "Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada, from Lone Pine, CA", sold to a dealer by commission bid for $31,200--just over its low estimate but enough to put the lot into fourth place overall in the sale.
Lot 219, Ruth Orkin's cute series of six photographs of children in "The Cardplayers, the Family of Man", sold to a dealer by commission bid for the low estimate at $24,000, which appeared to also be the reserve. The price put the lot into a tie for fifth place.
Minor White did very well here. Dealer Howard Greenberg, who recently had a major show of White's work at his New York City gallery, went after the best two lots, White's Jupiter portfolio (lot 255), which he picked up for a mid-range estimate bid of $19,200, and lot 256, White's "Snow on Garage Door, Rochester, N Y", which was a great vintage print, for $14,400, or double the low estimate. He did have to battle off the phones to get these two though. The first lot's price put it in a tie for sixth place and the second lot's price put it in a tie for tenth place in the sale.
Lot 308, Ansel Adams's "Sonoma County Hills", circa 1955, was sold by commission bid to a collector for the high estimate at $14,400, which put the lot into a tie for tenth place.
Lot 321, Horst P. Horst's, "Round the Clock I, NY", sold to a collector in the room for $13,200.
Lot 353, Francesca Woodman's Untitled (Skull), sold to a collector on the phone for the reserve at $14,400, which also put the lot into a tie for tenth highest lot.
William Eggleston's Untitled (Confederate flag), (lot 359) sold to a dealer by commission bid for $13,200, just over the low estimate.
Daile Kaplan, photographs specialist and Vice-President of Swann Galleries, interestingly enough indicated that Swann's sale "saw a record number of first-time buyers." She also said, "I'm pleased with the overall performance of Swann's Photographs auction, as well as competitive prices for classical works by both 19th & 20th-century master photographers."
BASSENGE HOLDS TWO PHOTOGRAPHY
SALES ON DECEMBER 3RD IN BERLIN,
INCLUDING SOVIET WAR PHOTOGRAPHS
Bassenge Photography Auctions is holding two sales on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008 in Berlin at Erdenerstr. 5a, offering over 500 photographs and about 140 photography book lots. The previews will be held at Rankestr. 24, Berlin from Nov. 24-Dec. 2.
The first sale consists of a private collection of Soviet War Photography 1941-1945 and includes rare vintage prints that are often signed and annotated, as well as prints made in the 1960s by Dimitri Baltermants, Jewgeni Chaldej, Boris Kudojarow, Galina Sanko, Georgi Selma, Ivan Shagin, Victor Tjomin, Michail Trachman and other noted Russians. There are many large-format prints, and many were acquired directly from the photographers.
The regular photography sale offers a wide selection of quality 19th-century material. Especially of note is a fine selection of Berlin albumen views from the 1850s by Leopold Ahrendts, showing the main sites of 19th-century Berlin. Several large-format Alinari Italian views, both albumen and rare salt prints, from the 1850s are also being offered.
Other 19th-century items include: selected ethnographic studies of natives of Papua New Guinea by and attributed to Woodbury & Page; early images of New Orleans from the 1860s by Theodore Lilienthal (1800-2500 euro), showing steamboats in the port as well as architecture of the city; an early hand-colored salt print by Roger Fenton from 1854 showing participants of the Crimean War (3500 euro); several albumen prints by William Henry Jackson (each about 1000 euro); several groups of hand-colored Japanese albumen prints (between 500-2000 euro); and several very strong salt prints (some lightly albumenized) by James Robertson, circa 1854, of mosques and people in Constantinople.
Other 19th-century photographers include: Joseph Albert, Auguste Belloc, Samuel Bourne, Giacomo Caneva, Maxime Du Camp, Peter Henry Emerson, Wilhelm von Gloeden, Dimitrios Konstantinou, Hermann Krone, Eadweard Muybridge, Carlo Naya, Guglielmo Plüschow, August Sachtler, Anton Schranz, J. Pascal Sebah Giorgio Sommer, and Wiele & Klein.
Highlights of the 20th century section include: several Ilse Bing prints, including her important "Champ de Mars, vu de la tour Eiffel" (each 4000 euro); several vintage prints by Brassai from the 1930s "Secret Paris" series (each circa 5000 – 4000 Euro), two vintage prints by Peter Hujar: "Joe L.", 1978 (6000 euro) and "Paul's Leg", 1979 (9000 euro), which is one of the photographer's most iconic images; a 1950s print of Dorothea Lange's iconic "General Strike" (10,000 euro), as well as her "Homeless Family" (7000 euro); and a unique gelatin silver print by Dieter Appelt, worked over with ink and paint (4000 euro).
Other 20th-century photographers include: Richard Avedon, Eve Arnold, Wilfried Bauer, Sibylle Bergemann, Bill Brandt, Josef Breitenbach, Elliott Erwitt, Louis Faurer, Andreas Feininger, Franz Fiedler, Larry Fink, Leonard Freed, Horst P. Horst, George Hurrell, Graciela Iturbide, Peter Keetman, André Kertész, Herbert List, George Platt Lynes, Man Ray, Leonard Misonne, Inge Morath, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Leni Riefenstahl, August Sander,Toni Schneiders, Stephen Shore, Louis Stettner, Alex Stöcker, Sasha Stone, Wolf Strache, Antanus Sutkus, Karin Székessy, Herbert Tobias, Bruce Weber and Weegee.
Among the contemporary photographers in the auction are: Dieter Appelt, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Flor Garduño, Nan Goldin, Candida Höfer, Daniel Kane, Heinrich Riebesehl,Thomas Ruff, Heidi Schneekloth, Wim Wenders and Ulrich Wüst, Harf Zimmermann.
A large collection of photography books is also being offered, mostly consisting of grouped lots with various works, among them such famous books as William Eggleston's Guide by John Szarkowski, a signed copy of Larry Clark's "Tulsa" and Franz Roh and Jan Tschichold's "Foto auge, oeil et photo photo-eye"; as well as an attractive group of books on Josef Sudek.
The two auctions are being held on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008. "The Russian War Photography 1941-1945" auction begins at 2 p.m. and the "19th-Century to Contemporary Photographs and Photography Books" sale begins at 3 p.m. Both auctions will be held at Bassenge Photoauktionen, Erdenerstr. 5a, 14193 Berlin, tel.: +49 30 893 80 29 0. The auction Previews will be held at Bassenge Photoauktionen, Rankestr. 24, 10789 Berlin, tel.: +49 30 219 97 277 from Nov. 24-Dec. 1, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m, and on Dec. 2, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., as well as by appointment. Previewing of photography books by appointment only.
Jennifer Augustyniak is the Photographs Specialist. She can be reached at phone: +49 (0)30 21 99 72 77; mobile: +49 (0)173 625 39 33; and fax: +49 (0)30 21 99 71 05; or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
. You can view the online version of the catalogue at: http://www.bassenge.com/Bassenge/engl/Auktion.asp?SID=85740585
; just scroll down to the two photograph auctions.
VAN HAM HOLDS PHOTO AUCTION
IN COLOGNE ON DECEMBER 5TH
Van Ham Fine Art Auctions of Cologne, Germany will hold its Fall Photography sale on December 5, 2008 on Schönhauser Str. 10-16, 50968 Cologne.
In 1995 "Batman Forever" came out in the U.S. and this year the much-longed-for "The Dark Knight" hit the screens. Van Ham wants to keep the Batman them alive, so one of the top lots of this year's autumn sale is the large-format Batman photograph by Daniel and Geo Fuchs from their series "Toygiants", accurately named like the book, which was published in 2007. This sought-after work from 2005 is estimated at 20000-24000 euro (lot 1142).
Also in this auction are works by Bernd and Hilla Becher. One of the key works offered is their portfolio "Industriebauten", which is comprised of 14 original gelatin silver prints from the years 1961 to 1973. This edition, of an originally projected 50 portfolios, was published in 1975 by Schirmer/Mosel Verlag and actually sold in an edition of 30. The portfolio has never come to auction in complete form before, and it provides an exemplary cross-section of the early œvre of Bernd and Hilla Becher and is estimated at 40000-50000 euro (lot 1054). The large-format vintage print titled "Getreidesilo, Canton, OH, USA" made by the Düsseldorf photographer couple in 1977 (lot 1055, estimate: 15000 euro) is also spectacular.
Among the American photographs are two impressive works by Diane Arbus: "Transvestite at a Drag Ball, NYC", which is estimated at 20000 euro (lot 1039) and "Mae West in a Chair at Home, Santa Monica, CA", which is estimated at 8000 euro (lot 1040). There are also two original prints by Richard Avedon, which are estimated at 4500-4800 euro (lots 1044 and 1045).
There are a number of highlights from the 1920s and 1930s. On offer are special high-quality works by Albert Renger-Patzsch, who has become a star at auction after a range of outstanding sale results at Van Ham during the last few years. Particularly of note is the large-format exhibition print "Das Bäumchen". Renger-Patzsch often photographed this motif, which he himself counted to be among his most important photographs, in 1929 (lot 1279, 12000 euro). Two autographs by Renger-Patzsch are offered at 300 euro and 2000 euro (lot 1013-1014). A bibliophilic rarity, the variant of his book "Die Welt ist schön" from 1928, comprising only 72 plates, is on offer (lot 1016, 4000 euro). A photograph by Hugo Erfurth that portrays Renger-Patzsch on the other side of the camera will also be in the auction (lot 1122, 3600 euro).
Original prints by the Cologne photographer Hannes Maria Flach are very rare on the auction market, but Van Ham presents a self portrait from 1933 (lot 1132, 2000 euro) and four architecture photographs of the Cologne Cathedral from the years 1925 to 1929 (lot 1133, 6000 euro). The Cologne photographer August Sander is represented with a number of works providing a profound insight into his diversified œuvre (lots 1309-1318, 900-2400 euro). A rare original print by the photographer Tina Modotti, which originated between 1925 and 1929 in Mexico, is estimated at 6500 euro (lot 1252).
The auction features several artist portraits from the 1940s-1950s. The images include a vintage print by Florence Henri, depicting the writer Ernst Jünger (Lot 1175, 900 euro), and two original gelatin silver prints by Florence Homolka portraying Thomas Mann (Lot 1190, 2400 euro) and fellow photographer Brassai (lot 1191, 1200 euro). Max Baur's vintage photograph depicting lime tree leaves, which is taken in the same period, should spark interest (lot 1052, 4000 euro).
As is usual, German photographers of the 1950s through 1970s are well represented in the auction. Prints by Chargesheimer (lots 1094-1100, 600-1000 euro), Peter Keetman (lots 1199-1205, 1800-2600 euro), Toni Schneiders (lots 1332-1339, 1000-2000 euro) and Ludwig Windstosser (lots 1395-1398, 1600-1800 euro), as well as the famous image "Schillerslage (Hannover)" from October 1978 by Heinrich Riebesehl (lot 1290, 3500 euro) are in the sale.
The large-format color print "Pool, Fort Lauderdale" by the New York-based artist Joel Meyerowitz (lot 1250, 8000 euro) stands out among the contemporary art photography offerings. An attractive cross-section of the early œvre of the "Düsseldorfer Schule" is represented with the "Düsseldorfer Fotomappe" from 1989, comprising works by Andreas Gursky, Axel Hütte, Thomas Ruff and Thomas Struth (lot 1243, 12000 euro). Candida Höfer's photograph "U-Bahnstation Theaterplatz Oslo I 2000" in a large-format C-print is estimated at 12000 euro (lot 1181). Two large-format works by Matthias Hoch will be offered for 4800 and 7000 euro (lots 1178 and 1179). An atmospheric seascape by Lynn Davis from 1993 is estimated at 10000 euro (lot 1110). And a print dating from 1996 of the famous photograph of "Mathilde" on the Eiffel tower taken by Peter Lindbergh in 1989 is expected to realize a minimum of 4000 euro (lot 1237).
The auction can be previewed from Nov.27-Dec.1, 2008 from Monday to Friday, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Sunday, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at Schönhauser Str. 10-16, 50968 Cologne, Germany.
The completely illustrated English catalogue is available on the Van Ham homepage (http://www.van-ham.com
). Catalogues and further information can be requested at Van Ham Fine Art Auctions, Schönhauser Str. 10-16, 50968 Cologne; phone +49 (0)221-92 58 62-0, fax +49 (0)221-92 58 62-4; http://www.van-ham.com
. To reach the photography experts on this sale, contact either Anne Gantefuehrer-Trier by email at email@example.com
, or by phone at +49 (0)221-92 58 62–28; or Marie-Katrin Schnermann by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
, or by phone at +49 (0)221-92 58 62–80.
HOLIDAY SALES NOW ON VIEW ON I PHOTO
CENTRAL WEBSITE UNTIL DEC. 19TH
Newsletter readers can see our Annual End-of-the-Year Holiday sale on I Photo Central, which is brought to you by all of the website's photography dealers. For those of you who were trying to connect to the web links below earlier, they are now functional. These items are available at special sale prices (from 20 to over 60% off the regular list price) from today until December 19th. On December 20th they all go back to their original prices, so take advantage while you can. Many of the items' regular list prices were reduced earlier, so the actual net reductions may be well over 40% to 80% in many instances. These are all final prices, so no other discounts apply. Shipping/insurance will also be added, plus you will be responsible for any applicable taxes or customs fees.
There are some great deals, so check them out soon at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/sale/sale.php
If you want to do further sorts on the sale list, you can go to the Search Images page at http://www.iphotocentral.com/search/search.php
and put HolidaySale1 into the key word field. Then you can also use the other search fields, such as price range, country, date range, etc. When you have all your choices made, simply hit the Search button (not the Show All Images button). When you put in the key word, you must have the capital letters in properly and no space between the words or the number "1". Also make sure you do not have any extra space after the key word. This way if you are bargain hunting, you can put in a range from $1 to $500, or if you want to focus on the top end, just put in a range from $1000 (or $5000) to No Limit.
We are also running a special Holiday Book Sale offer on most of the books posted up on line at a 20% discount price during this same time period. You will also save shipping costs if you order $250 or more per dealer. There are many very low priced photography books listed on the site that can fill in your library or make great holiday presents. And many more books will be added to the list over the next month (and beyond), so keep checking back.
The Book Sale can also be found at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/sale/sale.php
While the books can be searched on the regular Search pages with the drop-down menu on media (just select "books"), we expect to soon have an entirely separate photography bookstore--the first such multi-dealer version on the web.
OTHER UPCOMING AUCTION REMINDERS
BLOOMSBURY HOLDS AUCTION NOV. 20TH IN LONDON
Bloomsbury Auctions, London will hold a two-part auction of photographs at 2 pm on November 20, 2008. The first half of the auction will be dedicated to a selection of remarkable photographs of London, taken by established international photographers. The second part will offer a fine selection of contemporary, 20th- and 19th-century photographs. The sale will start at 2 pm on Thursday November 20th. Previews will be held in London, from November 15-20, and by appointment. The specialist in charge is Zoe Bingham who can be reached by email at zoe.Bingham@bloomsburyauctions.com
and by phone at +44 (0) 20 7495 9494. The auction catalogue can be ordered from the auction house or can soon be found online at: http://www.bloomsburyauctions.com
, and clicking through to upcoming Sale Calendar and Catalogues at the menu in the upper left.
VILLA GRISEBACH AUCTION ON NOV. 27TH
On November 27 at 3 pm, Villa Grisebach Auktionen will hold its fall auction in modern and contemporary photography in Berlin with around 250 lots for sale. A printed catalogue is available from the auction house, and it can also be viewed on their website a few weeks before the actual auction. A preview exhibition of selected works from the collection will be held at Villa Grisebach Auktionen GmbH, Fasanenstraße 73, 10719 Berlin from November 22–26, Sat.-Tues. 10am-6:30pm, Wed., 10am-5pm. For details, see https://www.villa-grisebach.de/en/catalogues/listview/ . For more information, contact Franziska Schmidt (head of the photography department), phone: +49 30-885 915-0, extension -27; fax: +49 30-885915-4627 (from the U.S. dial 011 then the number); or email: email@example.com
HERITAGE HOLDS FIRST ART PHOTOGRAPHY AUCTION ON DEC. 12
Heritage Auction Galleries will offer a broad selection of both classical and contemporary photographs in its first-ever art photography auction. On-line bidding begins November 14th and ends at 10 pm (CST) the evening before the physical auction. Floor and web-cam bidding begins Friday, December 12th at 10 am (CST). The final session begins at 2 pm (CST). Please request a free printed catalogue at http://www.HA.com
. You can also view the catalogue online at: http://fineart.ha.com/common/auction/catalog.php?SaleNo=5015
. For more information on the sale, condition reports, etc., contact Lorraine Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org
, or by phone at 1-214-409-1714 or 1-800-872-6467, ext. 1714.
AUCTION GUIDANCE AND BIDDING HELP AVAILABLE
I will be previewing the Paris auctions next week (Nov.12-15), and attending the auctions themselves that week. If you wish me to preview any work for you, please call my associate at 1-215-822-5662 or email us at email@example.com
, or just call my mobile while I am in Paris at 011-33-661-033-387 (do not use my mobile for other calls, because I only use it while traveling in Paris).
My normal terms are 5% of the hammer price, which excludes the Buyer's premium. There is a minimum charge of $250, whether or not you are successful. Please remember though when bidding that the Buyer's premium has been raised by Sotheby's to 25% (from the previous 20%) on the first $25,000 and then 20% up to $1,000,000 (from the previous $500,000). Other Paris auctions vary so you should check their catalogues or websites for details.
My services include a condition report, consultation on pricing and evaluation of the item and, when necessary, bidding on it for you.
You need to notify the auction house by fax that I, through my company Vintage Works, Ltd., will be bidding for you.
WHITE HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER STOUGHTON,
WHO TOOK FAMED PHOTO OF SWEARING IN
OF L.B.J. WITH JACKIE KENNEDY, PASSES AWAY
Cecil Stoughton, a White House photographer who shot the iconic image of Lyndon Johnson taking the oath of office after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, passed away on November 3rd. Oddly enough, I had viewed the rebroadcast of his Antiques Road Show television appearance with photo expert Wes Cowan just about an hour after he had died.
Stoughton died at his home on Merritt Island, FL. He was 88.
The photo he took of the swearing-in ceremony aboard Air Force One, Johnson with his hand raised and a strickened Jacqueline Kennedy looking on, became the most famous in his five years, 1961-65, as White House photographer.
Accompanying Kennedy to Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, Stoughton was in the fifth car in the motorcade and heard the shots that fatally wounded the president. He was at Parkland Hospital, where Kennedy died, when he learned he had to go photograph the swearing-in before Air Force One left for Washington D.C.
''He took about 20 pictures but the first one almost didn't happen because his Hasselblad -- the Rolls-Royce of cameras -- malfunctioned,'' his son said.
''He was under tremendous pressure. If his camera had failed, who knows what would have happened? It was the only proof that Johnson had been sworn in.''
Stoughton shot about 12,000 negatives during the Kennedy years, which are now archived at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.
Cecil Stoughton later worked as a National Park Service photographer. In 1973 he published a book, ''The Memories -- JFK, 1961-1963."
PHOTO BOOK REVIEWS: TWO SNAPSHOT
COMPILATIONS--A DICHOTOMY OF DAILY LIFE
By Matt Damsker
WHO WE WERE: A SNAPSHOT HISTORY OF AMERICA.
Compiled by Michael Williams, Richard Cahan and Nicholas Osborne. 2008, CityFiles Press, Chicago, IL; hardcover, $45; approximately 200 black-and-white and color images. ISBN No. 0-9785450-1-x; ISBN -13 No. 978-0-9785450-1-7. Information: http://www.cityfilespress.com
; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ALBUM OF THE DAMNED: SNAPSHOTS FROM THE THIRD REICH.
Compiled by Paul Garson. 2008, Academy Chicago Publishers, Chicago, IL; hardcover $50; 426 pages; approximately 400 black-and-white plates. Information: http://www.academychicago.com
; phone: +1-800-248-7323.
Now that we're deep into--or perhaps beyond--photography's postmodern era, there's an increasing scholarly interest in the rummage-sale aspects of the medium. More than ever, compilations of "found" photos--anonymous snapshots, photobooth images, or the workmanlike output of small-town portraitists such as the legendary Disfarmer--clamor for collectors' attention and offer a fair amount of analysis. And whether they truly merit so much focus is a fair question: from Susan Sontag onward, photography's elevation of the quotidian to the iconic has been hashed over, while its status as the most democratically accessible art form has been affirmed in countless ways.
These two volumes are the latest to collect snapshots in the form of a cultural overview, positioning their amateur images as potent reflections of the times that spawned them. "Who We Were: A Snapshot History of America" has been culled from thousands of possibilities by its three authors, and they have managed to deliver a compelling chronology of the 20th-century experience, opting for solidly composed and well-exposed examples that suggest the instinctive artistry of the snapshooters. Paul Garson's "Album of the Damned," on the other hand, has more sturm-und-drang going for it--an exploration of the Nazi experience, mostly from the casual, everyday perspective of German soldiers snapshooting each other and the sights of the long war.
Garson's project underscores Hannah Arendt's famous Nazi-inspired conception, "the banality of evil"--the tendency of ordinary people to obey orders and conform to mass opinion without critically thinking about the results of their action or inaction. Thus, these images of jocular soldiers buddying up in the cold, or spending some precious time at home with their wives, children and extended families--not to mention the images of callow Germans in their Hitler Youth outfits, posing with their grandparents--suggest a common humanity that is the ironic contrast to the inhumanity of the Holocaust they were helping to perpetrate.
Indeed, were it not for the swastikas, lightning bolts and jackboots of their uniforms, these at-ease Axis soldiers are poignantly indistinguishable from their Allied counterparts. Most of them exude youthful innocence, enthusiasm and anxiety as they await orders on the Russian front, march stoically in the cold or slog through the mud. But there are other images--of Jewish prisoners being herded through the streets, of execution squads forcing men, women and children to lie down on the ground, of the Gestapo and SS brandishing guns and setting their dogs on helpless victims, of corpses rotting in some anonymous Ukraine shelter, of soldiers slaughtering pigs for food. These snapshots are Garson's grim reminders of the Third Reich's overarching reality.
This is an evocative book, certainly, with helpful annotations and enough chronology to bring the reader, photo by photo, through the progress and degeneration of the Third Reich. And the arresting cover photograph, of an adorable German baby in a carriage, a storm trooper's cap on the baby's head, is marvelously emblematic of Garson's rhetorical stance--that the essential humanity of the German people was subverted by a system imposed on them by fascist tyranny. But this smacks of simplification, unfortunately. It may no longer be enough to affirm Hannah Arendt's formulation, not when the likes of Norman Mailer have upped the ante in deconstructing the German ethos that gave birth to Hitler (in Mailer's novel, "The Castle in the Forest"). Garson's ambitions are more modest, of course--a compilation of amateur photos on a tragic theme--but there is far more to all this than he can muster, and the result is less than satisfying.
Which leads us back to "Who We Were," with its amateur depictions of Americana beautifully presented in a sequence of images that say a lot about the populist power of photography in the New World. Indeed, as the authors note, the advent of popular photos paralleled the last pioneer push across the Great Plains, and so there are striking images of the American landscape in all its unspoiled vastness, with human figures providing a sense of scale; of homesteaders proudly standing before their tiny houses in the middle of nowhere; of the railroads chugging through. There are also images of poverty in the rural South, before the great migration of African-Americans to the northern cities. And then there are the snapshots of city life--the streets, buildings and shop fronts, the signage and the urban, industrial energy that begin to define America as the century wears on.
All of these photos--reproduced here in their actual size, which emphasizes their intimate provenance as mementoes--convey a sense of wonder at the photographic process. Snapshots of the night sky in Atlantic City, NJ reveal only electric signs advertising cigarettes and lampposts along the distant Boardwalk, while various indoor portraits and self-portraits--especially a macabre postmortem photo of a small child laid out for her wake--make clear that the camera was a tool of delight and important documentation for the American masses ("Down with the Suffragetts" [sic] reads a poster proudly displayed by one group of sitters in 1910). And the wonderful examples of hand-tinted snapshots--which flourished in the 1920s and '30s, thanks to Marshall's Photo Colors and other marketed techniques employing transparent oil paints or watercolors--are evidence of a nascent American love of multimedia and gimmickry.
Then there are the snapshots of a changing America--of the oil fields and Model T automobiles that would define the nation, of the immigrant life of the tenements, of the Great Depression with shots of families evicted from their homes and their furniture littering the streets. And there are the snapshots of the World War II era--air raid wardens in their comical gas masks on Midwestern streets, American women at work in factories, U.S. soldiers "over there," women modeling their nylon stockings, and the advent of the nuclear age.
By the 1950s, the post-war glow and the advent of Kodachrome led to snapshots of simple domestic scenes suffused with warm primary colors that bespoke pure American optimism--a white picket fence accented with red flowers; people frolicking against the happy blue of public swimming pools; and even three-dimensional snapshots (of a gaily dressed woman batting a baseball) taken with the popular Stereo Realist Camera.
As the fragmentations and disaffections of the 1960s creep in, snapshots reflect a bit more domestic unraveling and the end of so much innocence--a sequence of images snapped from a black-and-white television set capture the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald and Kennedy's funeral. Soon, the Vietnam and hippie era results in snapshots that reek of shifting mores and psychedelia, presaging the searching, alienated quality of future fine-art photography, especially William Eggleston's.
But, as Richard Avedon is quoted in this volume, "All photos are accurate. None of them is the truth." And so the burden of snapshot compilations such these is ultimately, a heavy one--to distill the larger truths of great art from the smaller truths of amateur work. Where "Album of the Damned" sags under the weight, "Who We Were" shoulders it remarkably well. Compilers Williams, Cahan and Osborn have chosen with an eye for the most expressive potential of every image, and with a determination to capture the breadth of the American experience through a trove of unassuming shots. And so they have.
Matt Damsker is an author and critic, who has written about photography and the arts for the Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, Philadelphia Bulletin, Rolling Stone magazine and other publications. His book, "Rock Voices", was published in 1981 by St. Martin's Press. His essay in the book, "Marcus Doyle: Night Vision" was published in the fall of 2005.
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PHOTO NEWS BRIEFS
New York City photo gallerist Bruce Silverstein and his wife announced the arrival of an 8 pound, four ounce baby boy last month, whom they have named Blake. And fellow New York City photo gallerist Tom Gitterman and his wife are expecting momentarily. What's in the water that all these photo dealers are drinking lately?
PHOTO DEALER BOOK OF SHORT STORIES
Private photo dealer Larry Baumhor, who maintains a few tables on the second floor of New York City's famed "Garage" flea market on 25th and Sixth Ave., has written and published a new book called "Gefilte Fish in the House of Bedlam". The price is $14.95 and it comes in paperback. I can tell you that the stories are alternatively hilarious and desperate, as Larry bares his soul for all of us to watch--even if it is sometimes from behind hands shielding our eyes from the emotional collision. I applaud Larry for having such courage to open himself up for all to see, and you really will enjoy these stories, even as you cringe (perhaps in self-recognition). You don't have to be Jewish to get lost in this book of short stories--only human. You will laugh, cry, and moan in sympathy, embarrassment and commiseration. Larry leaves no prisoners--least of all himself and his readers. These stories are a very good read indeed. You can either pick up your copy/copies directly from Larry at the Garage or visit and order from his website at http://www.shortstoriesandphotos.com
. You will also be able to order the book in about two or three months from Barnes & Noble stores and from that company's website.