A year ago, Artnet auctions sold another one of these Irving Penn still lives for $158,500, five years before that, one sold for $84,000. Perhaps that’s why the specialist sent us a note pointing out that the work would close on Tuesday, May 22nd. So far the bidding is at $127,000. That’s not enough to meet the reserve price and the estimate of $140-160k which would put this print on par with last year’s sale. Will it make it? If it doubled in five years, what should the price be after this year? Check back with Artnet on Tuesday to find out!
Rarely seen at auction, After Dinner Games, New York (1947) is only available until Tuesday, May 22, at 10:45 a.m. (EST).
This color photograph—one of an edition limited to 13 dye transfer prints of the image made between 1959 and 1960—employs all the stylistic and formal devices that characterize Penn’s work. As is typical of his still lifes, the scene is composed of carefully, yet casually arranged food and found objects, which tell their own story through their physical and metaphorical autonomy. Like a Baroque vanitas, this work is laden with symbols that remind us of the transience of life; it says that we are all players in the game of life, an unpredictable game of risk and chance.
Print/Casting Year: 1959-1960
This stunning print is an early example of Penn’s meticulously arranged and photographed still lifes. Printed no later than 1960, it is one of no more than 13 prints of this image in dye-transfer. Penn’s still lifes often included food and found objects, which Penn would skillfully arrange to create odd, sometimes surreal compositions. In addition to conveying a sense of whimsy, Penn’s still lifes employ his trademark style of clean, clear images with an articulated expression of line and volume.
Irving Penn (June 16, 1917 – October 7, 2009) studied under Alexey Brodovitch at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art (now the University of the Arts) in the late 1930s. His immensely successful career spanned the next six decades.