Spring Photography Auctions Total More Than $30.8 Million, Set Artist Records

© 2013 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Man Ray's "Untitled Rayograph, 1922" set an auction record for a work by the artist of $1.2 million at the Christie's photographs sale on April 4.

© 2013 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Man Ray’s “Untitled Rayograph, 1922″ set an auction record for a work by the artist of $1.2 million during a Christie’s photographs sale on April 4.

Six photography sales last week at the three major auction houses in New York City brought in more than $30.8 million dollars and included record sales for masters Man Ray and Diane Arbus, among others, as well as contemporary artists including Robert Frank, Richard Misrach, Alex Prager and Viviane Sassen.

Two sales at Christie’s on April 4 and 5 totaled nearly 15 million. “The strength of these results is indicative of the thriving market for photographs, which continues to gain momentum with every sale,” said Philippe Garner, one of the Christie’s directors, in a statement.

The April 4 sale of a private collection of modernist photographs totaled more than $7.5 million, including a $1.2 million, auction record sale of a unique gelatin silver photogram by Man Ray, “Untitled Rayograph,” made in 1922. Nine other world auction records for artists were set during the sale, according to Christie’s.

The Christie’s general photographs sale on April 5 brought in more than $7.2 million, setting a world auction record of $663,750 for a work by Robert Frank for a 1955 print of his “Trolley—New Orleans.” Prints from Irving Penn, Ansel Adams, William Eggleston, Peter Beard and Francesca Woodman were among the top ten sales.

Sotheby’s also held two photography sales last week, including one private collection and a general photographs auction. The collection sale, held April 5, totaled more than $2.5 million, including $533,000 for a 1927 Edward Weston print, “Two Shells.” Prints by Robert Frank, Edward Steichen, Frantisek Dritkol, Dorothea Lange, Philippe Halsman and Imogen Cunningham were also among the high sales.

Sotheby’s general photographs sale, held April 6, totaled more than $5 million. The high sale was $293,000 for another print of Robert Frank’s “Trolley—New Orleans,” which was made in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s, according to Sotheby’s. Other prints by Frank, as well as photographs by László Moholy-Nagy, Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, Bernd & Hilla Becher and Richard Avedon were among the top sales. “Major works by the masters of the medium… were all sought by multiple bidders before achieving prices in excess of their high estimates,” noted Sotheby’s photographs department SVP Christopher Mahoney in a statement.

Two sales at Phillips on April 2 and 3, which included the sale of a private collection and a general photographs sale, totaled more than $8.3 million. The high sale for the Phillips auctions was for a print of Diane Arbus’s “Identical Twins Cathleen (l) and Colleen, Roselle, N.J.,” which fetched a price of $602,500, also an auction record for the artist. Also among the top sales were works by Hiroshi Sugimoto, Irving Penn, Alfred Steiglitz, Robert Frank (a third print of “Trolley—New Orleans” brought in $242,500 in this auction), André Kertész, Sally Mann, Barry Frydlender, Hans Bellmer, Helmut Newton and Thomas Struth.

Several world auction records were set for works by contemporary artists, among them Richard Misrach ($98,500), Alex Prager ($30,000), Viviane Sassen ($6250), Mona Kuhn ($11,250) and Julie Blackmon ($8,750).

“Results achieved were consistently high for the leading names in the medium, from Modernists such as László Moholgy-Nagy and André Kertész to contemporary leaders such as Hiroshi Sugimoto and Richard Misrach,” said Phillips director and head of photographs Vanessa Kramer Hallett in a statement. “We are confident that the international demand for photographs will continue to develop.”

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