Auction Highlights: The Subculture Sale — February 8, 2024

“The alternative current of expression that informed some before it became mainstream.”

The Subculture Sale will bring works from the fringe, the avant garde and the indie for a look at the material culture of Punk, Rock, Psych, Hip Hop, Jazz and more. An interdisciplinary sale, this auction will include posters, records, photographs, fine art, autographs, books and ephemera. Fans of Swann’s similar auctions (LGBTQ+, Focus on Women and African Americana) will enjoy its contents, as will longtime New Yorkers, music aficionados, and collectors of the contemporary.

While some of the material may be recognizable, much will be a pleasant surprise to collectors who find familiar items from their formative years—issues of Cheap Date magazine are offered alongside posters for Dr. Dre, Sonic Youth and The Velvet Underground alike, while artwork from music videos by New Order and Nas brings new dimension to the MTV generation. A letter from Patti Smith features drawings and namedrops Robert Mapplethorpe; Keith Haring roasts Ronald Reagan via little-known Xerox art.

Designer unknown, Sun Ra, Space is the place poster. Estimate $6,000 to $8,000.

Johan Kugelberg’s Notes on Subculture:

In my capacity of teaching a class on post-war cultural archiving at Rare Book School for the last decade-plus, I repeatedly notice how the scattered remains of twentieth-century subcultures inform all aspects of the twenty-first-century mainstream: ideas germinate in the margins of culture where edges overlap. Mysterious artifacts of underground gnosis, reverberating with a positively electric urgency! 

Jamel Shabazz, Back in the days vintage, cover print pre-publication signed, with signed copy of the first edition book, 2001. Estimate $2,500 to $3,500.
Josh Gosfield, Censorship is Un American poster. Estimate $2,000 to $3,000.

Swann is excited to be able to bring this eclectic, unexpected, and seldom-encountered selection of material to market. In many ways, we are offering a living history in this auction. Subcultural relics and societal items from within (or not so much longer ago than) our own lifetimes—a timeframe underserved by the auction community. Our thanks to Boo Hooray Gallery, who helped co-curate this collection of ephemeral fragments and inspirational stepping stones.

Nicholas D. Lowry
Designer Unknown, Dr. Dre / The Chronic, 1992. Estimate $1,200 to $1,200.

Keep in Touch

January 8, 2024
Category: Vintage Posters