Lot 2
  • 2

Barbara Morgan

Estimate
20,000 - 30,000 USD
Sold
25,000 USD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Barbara Morgan
  • 'SPRING IN MADISON SQUARE - I'
  • Gelatin silver print
  • 15¼ by 19 7/8 in. (38.7 by 50.5 cm.)
oversized, mounted to Bainbridge Board, signed, titled, and dated in pencil on the mount, signed, titled, dated, copyrighted '1972,' and annotated 'Vintage' in ink and with the photographer's copyright stamp on the reverse, framed, the Buhl Collection label on the reverse, 1938

Provenance

The family of the photographer

Laurence Miller Gallery, New York, 1994

Literature

Curtis L. Carter and William C. Agee, Barbara Morgan: Prints, Drawings, Watercolors & Photographs (Milwaukee: Marquette University, 1988), p. 76

Barbara Morgan (Aperture, 1999), p. 73

John Szarkowski, Looking at Photographs:  100 Photographs from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (The Museum of Modern Art, 1973), p. 137

Catalogue Note

Trained as a painter and printmaker, Barbara Morgan was inspired by her husband, the journalist and photographer Willard Morgan, to add a camera to her repertoire.  As she relates in her Aperture memoir, the experience of seeing original silver prints by Edward Weston was a revelation; watching her husband develop photographs in their bathroom-darkroom another.   After the birth of her second son, the uninterrupted hours she needed for painting seemed to evaporate; and so in 1935, she set up her photography studio on East 23rd Street in New York, overlooking Madison Square.

Spring on Madison Square
, one of her defining images, was created by the techniques of photomontage and photogram.  The dancer Eric Hawkins is superimposed above a wintry day in Madison Square, the gestures of his hands paralleled by photograms of flowers.  As Morgan observes in her memoir, her experience with the woodcut, and its overprinting of successive color blocks, gave her expertise in printing from multiple negatives. ‘So when I began to feel the quality of light-projected images on sensitive paper, it seemed quite natural to make multiple-negative compositions through photographic superimposition on the enlarger easel,’ she wrote.  In photomontage, Morgan realized that photography was, in fact, its own medium, distinct from painting: ‘I find photomontage, which is a direct superimposition of negatives, a medium uniquely its own.  The timing of the light beam for different densities and nuances, and the fresh, vibrant overplay, involve no painterly reflexes that I can feel’ (Barbara Morgan, Aperture 11:1, 1964, p. 21, italics hers).

The Buhl Collection print offered here is perhaps the finest print of the image ever to appear at auction.
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