T his November, Sotheby’s London presents an exciting selection of works from some of the most celebrated names in photography from the 20th and 21st centuries. The Photographs auction will give both established and first-time collectors the chance to acquire seminal works by masters of the medium including Nobuyoshi Araki, Wolfgang Tillmans, Man Ray, Guy Bourdin, and Hiroshi Sugimoto.
With this sale Sotheby’s continues to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the first Photographs Auction, which took place at Sotheby’s London in 1971. Earlier in the same year, The Photographers’ Gallery was established in London and quickly became the UK’s foremost centre for the presentation and exploration of photography in all its forms. This coincidence makes it especially fitting to be partnering with The Photographers’ Gallery for our sale as we jointly celebrate 50 years of championing photography in the UK. We are delighted to be offering for sale an outstanding selection of works, from some of the most interesting contemporary photographers today, all donated in support of The Photographers’ Gallery.
Lots 1-24 are offered to benefit The Photographers’ Gallery, by artists including Rineke Dijkstra, Elliott Erwitt, Karen Knorr, Martin Parr, Alex Prager, Sebastião Salgado and Yinka Shonibare CBE RA.
In 1924 the French writer André Breton published the Manifest du Surréalisme, his first manifesto regarding Surrealist aesthetics. Many of the iconic works inspired by this text and produced until the outbreak of WWII, were created by photographers. Photography was able to explore the nature of representation and create uncanny visual imagery in a way that paintings and sculptural assemblages could not. Dreamy scenarios and mannequins - such as the ones depicted in the three examples below - speak indeed to the subconscious, a key concept for Surrealism. While Man Ray and Hans Bellmer’s photographs featured in major Surrealist journals in the 1930s, Horst P. Horst’s fascination with the movement is demonstrated by his interpretation of Salvador Dali’s costumes for Leonid Massine’s ballet Bacchanale in 1939.
Artists throughout history have been drawn to the human form. Whether it is to compel, shock or seduce, the resulting artworks form one of the key subjects of art history. Selected works in this sale explore this theme through the medium of photography. Highlights include seminal works by some of the most renown names of the genre, from Robert Mapplethorpe’s 'Man in Polyester Suit', 1980, to Daido Moriyama’s 'Tights no.9’, 1987 and Ruth Bernard’s ‘In the Box (Vertical)’, 1962. Their role in the development of the medium and constant challenging of societal norms had an immeasurable effect in the history of art. Following their footsteps, we find works by artists who continued to explore the theme and executing strong and fascinating photographs such as Nobuyoshi Araki.