- Imogen Cunningham
- CALLA WITH LEAF
- Signed in pencil on the mount; signed, titled, and annotated in pencil on the reverse
- Gelatin silver print
- 9 1/4 x 7 3/4 inches
Collection of 7-Eleven, Inc.
Sotheby's New York, 3 October 2001, Sale 7702, Lot 163
Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, 2005
Richard Lorenz, Imogen Cunningham: 1883-1976 (Köln, 2001), p. 192
William A. Ewing, Flora Photographica: Masterpieces of Flower Photography (London, 1991), pl. 174
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NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
Flowers and plants were central to Cunningham’s oeuvre from the beginning. Trained as a chemist, Cunningham began her photographic career by making slides for botanists to supplement her college income. During a 1909 scholarship to study photographic chemistry in Germany, Cunningham likely encountered Albert Renger-Patzsch’s articles about plant photographs. During her stay, she visited the International Exhibition in Dresden and would have been exposed to photographers working in the realistic Neue Sachlichkeit movement, such as Karl Blossfeldt.
By the early 1920s, with young children at home, Cunningham focused her camera increasingly on plants from her garden. While Cunningham’s dramatic and sensuous flower studies of the early 1920s tended to concentrate on details of floral anatomy, Calla with Leaf and her other botanicals of the late 1920s and early 1930s are more objective renderings of the plants’ natural form. Reacting to the then-current Pictorial trend in photography, Cunningham, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, and four other Bay Area photographers formed Group f.64 in 1932. Named for the smallest aperture on a lens, which yielded the greatest detail, Group f.64 promoted truth and precision of detail in photography and favored contact printing over hand-retouched enlargements and croppings.
As of this writing, it is believed that only two other early prints of this image have been offered at auction: a print from the collection of Dr. Anthony Terrana in 2013; and one from the collection of The Museum of Modern Art sold in these rooms in April 2001.