Vernacular Spectacular: A Note About Our Photographs Catalog

Daile Kaplan, Swann Vice President and Director of Photographs & Photobooks, contributed the following post in response to recent questions about Vernacular Photography:
Within the past few days, since our May 21st auction catalog has been online, I’ve received a number of inquiries from clients who asked, “What is vernacular photography?” They were surprised to learn snapshots, industrial and advertising albums and three-dimensional objects are avidly collected.


Bert Stern, Marilyn Monroe, from The Last Sitting, oversized Fuji Crystal Archive contact sheet,
1962, printed 1979. Sold May 21, 2015 for $10,400.
As auction house specialists, we champion all forms of photography. But, as the global marketplace for art has increasingly focused on contemporary examples, the public’s awareness of classical photographs–those intimate black-and-white and albumen prints created by talented artists (who happen to refer to themselves as photographers)–has been obscured. Enormous color works by popular brand-name artists dominate the headlines.
Model in a Fetching Red Chiffon Hat and Dress, by an unknown photographer, early 1960s.
Sold May 21, 2016 for $625.


The vernacular images and objects in our May sale, which have been integrated alongside “high” artworks, may be seen as a bridge between classical and contemporary expressions. After all, the constellation of photographic imagery is vast; discovery and inspiration can be found by looking in unlikely and, yes, even ordinary places.
Editor’s Note: read a great profile on Daile in the May/June 2015 issue of Photograph Magazine!