Strong Sales at Auction of Photographs from the Polaroid Collection

More than 1000 photographs from the Polaroid Collection have been sold by Sotheby’s, New York.  The sale began on Monday with a 100-lot session in which every photograph found a buyer. Competition was fierce, with a full salesroom competing against numerous telephones, resulting in as many as ten different bidders vying for certain works. In the evening session there were works for sale by Edwin Land’s great friend and collaborator, Ansel Adams. His mural-sized prints achieved high prices, e.g. Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park, which sold for $722,500 after a battle between four different bidders. That price was well-above the high estimate and a record for the artist at auction (lot 100, est. $300/500,000) and Adams’ Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico sold for $518,500 (lot 94, est. $300/500,000). Photographs like William Wegman, Silver Tilt didn’t reach the estimate ($10,000 to 15,000)  with $8750 Among the first three lots of Monday evening’s offering was Chuck Close’s 9-Part Self Portrait, a collage of large-format Polapan prints, which sold for $250,500, more than four times the high estimate and record for a photograph by the artist at auction (lot 3, est. $40/60,000). The auction record for a photograph by Andy Warhol was broken twice – Self-Portrait (Grimace), a unique large-format Polaroid Polacolor print, sold for $146,500 (lot 52, est. $10/15,000) and then, with more than seven bidders competing, his Self-Portrait (Eyes Closed) soared past a high estimate of $15,000 to sell for $254,500 (lot 53, est. $10/15,000). Likewise, the artist record for Lucas Samaras was also surpassed twice in the session – first with the cover lot – Untitled (Self-Portrait with Hands), a unique large-format Polaroid Polacolor print, which sold for $56,250 (lot 2, est. $10/15,000), and then with his Ultra-Large (Hands), a unique muralsized Polaroid Polacolor print, which sold for $194,500 (lot 24, est. $20/30,000). Auction records for a photographic work were also set for Robert Rauschenberg, whose Japanese Sky I (From The Bleacher Series) brought $242,500 (lot 5, est. $40/60,000), and David Hockney, when his Imogen & Hermione, Pembroke Studios, London, 30th July, 1982, a unique SX-70 collage sold for $194,500 (lot 6, est. $30/50,000). Non-Polaroid works from the “Library Collection,” which were acquired by Ansel Adams on behalf of the Polaroid Corporation beginning in the mid-1950s, were also among the top sellers of the session. Harry Callahan’s Chicago (Trees in Snow) more than doubled a high estimate of $100,000 to sell for $254,500 (lot 74, est. $70/100,000) – a record for the artist at auction. Dorothea Lange’s equally iconic Peapickers Family (Migrant Mother, Nipomo) achieved $218,500, above a pre-sale estimate of $60/80,000 (lot 80) and Imogen Cunningham’s Unmade Bed also soared past the pre-sale high estimate of $25,000 to sell for $146,500 (lot 75, est. $15/25,000).

North Carolina (From The Bleacher Series), a further Rauschenberg work from the same series as Japanese Sky 1, achieved the highest price in the second session when it sold for $116,500, many multiples of the high estimate (lot 195, est. $20/30,000). A number of photographs by David Levinthal also sold for prices considerably higher than the pre-sale estimates – Selected Images from American Beauties, a lot of two unique large-format Polaroid Polacolor prints from 1989/90, sold for $34,375 (lot 185, est. $3/5,000) and Selected Images from Wild West fetched $17,500 (lot 177, est. $3/5,000). Several unique large-format Polaroid Polacolor prints by Valeriy Gerlovin/Rimma Gerlovina and Mark
Berghash, founding members of Soviet Russia’s conceptual art movement in the 1970s, were well received including ‘Myself,’ which fetched $15,00 (lot 188, est. $5/7,000). Two Helmut Newton SX-70 Polaroid’s beat their estimates by considerable margins; Couple with Motorcycle sold for $15,000 (lot 106, est. $5/7,000), and Nude in Pumps more than doubled the high estimate to sell for $18,750 (lot 107, est. $5/7,000). A number of Photographs from the “Library Collection” achieved strong prices in the third session including Selected Plates from the ‘Fiftieth Anniversary Portfolio’ by Edward Weston, acquired for the Collection in September 1957 from the artist, which sold for $86,500 (lot 311, est. $50/70,000). Attic Door (The Photographer’s Home, Rochester, NY) by Minor White, which was also acquired for the Library Collection in the same month, fetched $10,000 (lot 313, est. $6/9,000) and ‘Surf, Pacific Ocean, California Coast’ by the same artist comfortably exceeded the estimate to sell for $10,625 (lot 352, est. 5/7,000). There were further strong prices for Library Collection works in the final session of the sale; ‘The Rio Grande Yeilds Its Surplus To The Sea’ by Laura Gilpin, aquired for the collection in May 1957, was the subject of bidding by four collectors before eventually selling to a telephone bidder for $28,125 (lot 366, est. $6/9,000), and ‘South African Diamond Miners,’ the image by Margaret Bourke-White fetched $13,750 (lot 394, est. $8/12,000). Photographs by Ansel Adams were once again in demand with the mural Mission José De La Laguna, Laguna Pueblo, New Mexico selling for $31,250 to beat pre-sale expectations (lot 428, est. $20/30,000) and a print from a 1962 Polaroid Type 55 negative of his great friend Dr. Edwin Land selling above theestimate for $11,875 (lot 450, est. $5/7,000).

Prices are without buyers premium.

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