Records & Results: The Subculture Sale — February 8, 2024

“The Subculture Sale was an exciting foray into relatively new territory for Swann Galleries, not focusing on works from previous centuries, but, on the personally memorable. Among the scores of people who came to preview and attend related events most were nearly giddy with the prospect of seeing things at auction from within their own lifetimes. It was an incredible combination of nostalgia and commerce.” – Nicholas D. Lowry, Swann President

First Time Auction Appearances

First-time auction appearances included a poster for Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground and Nico’s performance at 23 St Marks Place in 1966 ($15,000); Ben Morea made his auction debut with 1965 acrylic-on-paper work ($5,250); Peter Christopherson’s Johnny Rotten in Straight Jacket, silver print, 1976—this image of Johnny Rotten is from the first Sex Pistols photo shoot, taken February 1976 ($2,500); and Josh Gosfield‘s Censorship is UnAmerican, 1990, which was commissioned by Virgin Records when an album by 2 Live Crew was outlawed for obscenity in parts of Florida in June 1990 ($1,375).

Auction Records

Auction records included Christian Marclay‘s Record Without a Cover, 1985, with an original press release from the Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center in Buffalo, New York, which supported the release of the album, the record’s reverse side bears black lettering stating, “DO NOT STORE IN A PROTECTIVE SLEEVE” ($4,000); the earliest known flyer for Madonna, announcing her performance at Danceteria, opening for Manchester band A Certain Ratio, with a photograph of the band on the verso, from 1982 ($875); and an oversized offset lithograph poster for Nirvana – In Utero, 1993, a record for this format ($2,125).

Additional Highlights

Sun Ra at Carnigie Hall, 1968. Sold for $4,250.

Additional highlights included an early pressing of the album Velvet Underground and Nico signed by the band ($7,000), a poster for Sun Ra at Carnegie Hall ($4,250), and works by Jamel Shabazz, Yoko Ono, Mark Gonzales, Ed Templeton, and others rounded off the successful offerings.