Records & Results: Photographs & Photobooks

A Record for Malick Sidibé in Swann Photo Sale
Vernacular albums of nineteenth-century India bring $30k

A grouping of framed images by Malick Sidibé.
Lot 229: Malick Sidibé, 38 silver prints in custom frames highlighting West African Culture, 1964-2001. Sold for $87,500.


Our sale of Photographs: Art & Visual Culture on February 21, a curated sale celebrating photographs as physical objects, saw success across the board with contemporary, twentieth-century and vernacular photography taking the spotlight.


Fine Art Photography

Malick Sidibé led the sale with a grouping of 38 silver prints presented in custom frames by the artist, 1964-2001. The images highlighted the breadth West African Culture and sold for $87,500, a new record for the artist, breaking the previous top price for the Sidibé ($55,000, Swann October 2018).

Additional fine art photography of note included Roy DeCarava’s Dancers (Harlem), 1955, printed 1982, a masterpiece of light and shadow that earned $52,500, a record for a single image by the artist.


Black and white images of Guatemalan people and a sheep by Flor Garduño.
Flor Garduño, suite of 18 photographs from the Witness of Time series, silver prints, 1983-90, printed 1991. Sold for $23,750.


A suite of 18 silver prints from Flor Garduño’s Witness of Time series with a record $23,750; Leg–Paul H., 1979, by Peter Hujar brought $22,500; and Fan Ho’s Cleaning, 1950, reached $21,250.


Black and white image of a leg by Peter Hujar.
Lot 222: Peter Hujar, Leg–Paul H., silver print, 1979. Sold for $22,500.


Vernacular Photography

Engaging vernacular albums exploring the people and industrial landscape of nineteenth-century India came across the block with great fanfare. An album of 105 images of scenes in Bombay, Delhi and Agra from the 1870s set a record with $30,000.


Image of a young Indian boy and teen sitting on the streets of India in the 1870s.
Lot 259: Album with 105 photographs of street scenes in Bombay, Delhi and Agra, albumen prints, 1870s. Sold for $30,000.


Shivshanker Narayen made his auction debut with an album of 80 photographs including six panoramas of civic engineering projects throughout the country which garnered $23,750.


Image of Indian people walking along a train track.
Lot 258: Shivshanker Narayen, album with 80 photographs depicting civic engineering projects in India, including six panoramas, albumen prints, 1883-84. Sold for $23,750.


Ansel Adams

A run of works by Ansel Adams proved successful, including a limited first edition of his first book–Taos Pueblo, 1930. The scarce publication, featuring 12 silver bromide prints from the photographer when he was just 28, and text by nature writer Mary Hunter Austin brought $32,500.


Black and white image of a mountain range by Ansel Adams.
Lot 114: Ansel Adams, Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, California, silver print, 1944, printed early 1960s. Sold for $25,000.


Adam’s Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, California, 1944, printed early 1960s, a black and white silver print of the mountains, garnered $25,000.


Early- & Mid-Twentieth Century Photography

Early- and mid-twentieth-century photography included an archive of 49 vintage photographs by Dorothy Norman & Alfred Stieglitz (47 of which are by Norman), setting a record for the artists with $18,200.


Black and white photo of Dorothy Norman.
Lot 165: Dorothy Norman & Alfred Stieglitz, archive of 49 photographs, silver contact prints, 1931-57. Sold for $18,200.


Also of note were poignant silver prints documenting the Great Depression by Dorothea Lange: White Angel Breadline, 1933, printed 1960s, ($12,500), and Street demonstration, San Francisco, 1934-38, printed circa 1970, ($17,500).


Black and white image of men waiting in a breadline during the Great Depression by Dorothea Lange.
Lot 67: Dorothea Lange, White Angel Breadline, silver print, 1933, printed 1960s. Sold for $12,500.


As well as Robert Frank’s Yom Kippur, East River, New York City, 1955, printed 1970, which sold for $15,000. Shop, Le Bacares, Pyrénées, Orientales, France (with black cat), 1951, printed 1960s, by Paul Strand garnered $12,500.               


Black and white photo of Jewish men and a young boy on a ferry in New York in 1955 by Robert Frank.
Lot 141: Robert Frank, Yom Kippur, East River, New York City, silver print, 1955, printed 1971. Sold for $15,000.


Director of Photographs & Photobooks & Vice President Daile Kaplan:

“The excitement associated with photographs and how they continue to immeasurably enrich our lives was writ large in Swann’s auction dedicated to photography and visual culture, which set several records for fine art and vernacular photographs. Today there’s a broad appreciation for the range of photographic expression, which reflects historical and contemporary, fine art and vernacular, and local and global expressions. I was delighted to see competitive bidding for nineteenth-century Indian photography, and new collectors bidding on sub-genres of vernacular photographs–35mm color slides, women’s work and fashion, and quirky examples of Americana.”


Complete Results.

More about selling at Swann.