The Wall Street Journal is touting the December sale of mutual fund executive Howard Stein’s 175-photo collection for an estimated $13-20m as a test of the photography market
ALFRED STIEGLITZ’s 1915 photo, ‘Out of Window—291-—N.Y.,’ right, is the auction’s top lot, priced to sell for over $400,000. Christopher Mahoney, head of photographs at Sotheby’s in New York, called it a prime example of Mr. Stieglitz’s skill, adding that snow is famously difficult to photograph because the negatives are too dark to coax the finer points from the image. But Stieglitz ‘was able to pull out this phenomenally detailed picture that somehow manages to be more than just a picture of a tree with snow on it,’ Mr. Mahoney said. Top Stieglitz photographs have sold for more than $1 million.
ROBERT FRANK, the Swiss photographer known for his coverage of postwar America, turned his lens on a nanny and baby in Charleston, S.C., left. Denise Bethel, Sotheby’s chairman of photographs, Americas, said that as a collector, Mr. Stein had a rigorous eye for quality. ‘Some people have it, some people don’t—he had it,’ she said. The 1956 photo was printed around the time it was taken rather than several decades later, adding to its value. Mr. Frank’s auction record was set last year at Christie’s with the $663,750 sale of a 1955 photo of a New Orleans trolley, according to Artnet. This piece carries a $150,000 low estimate.
IRVING PENN’s 1949 posed image, “Girl (in Bed) on Telephone (Jean Patchett),” first appeared in Vogue magazine. The tangled sheets recall the folds of fabric in a Renaissance sculpture and point to a signature of Mr. Penn’s work: ‘He’s a real genius at incorporating what first seems like messiness or chaos into the images—the incredible disarray of the sheets is actually really deliberate,’ said Mr. Mahoney. Perhaps still intimidated by the famous perfectionist, people who worked closely with the photographer years ago continue to refer to him as ‘Mr. Penn.’ The photo is priced to sell for more than $60,000.
MARTIN MUNKÁCSI’s work was one of the inspirations for fashion photographer Richard Avedon. At right is Munkácsi’s candid 1930 photograph of boys running into the surf in Africa. The Hungarian artist took advantage of the relatively new technology of hand-held cameras when shooting this image, allowing him to move along the beach with his subjects. Munkácsi started as a sports photographer, shooting soccer games in Eastern Europe, and later went on to introduce the idea of motion in fashion photography. The photograph carries a $150,000 low estimate.