Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Auction: Soviet War Photography and 19th-21st Century Photography, December 3, 2008 @Bassenge

Galerie Bassenge in Berlin has the largest array of photography material up for sale this season, so for sheer volume of lots, it's the winner. On December 3rd, there will be a total of 662 lots on offer. To reduce buyer fatigue, the lots have been broken up into four separate groups:

Soviet War Photography: 119 lots (separate catalog, at right top)
19th Century Photography: 118 lots (group catalog, at right bottom)
20th Century and Contemporary Photography: 302 lots (group catalog)
Photo Books: 123 lots (group catalog)

The Soviet sale has a broad group of World War II documentary images from Boris Kudojarow, Dimitri Baltermans, Michail Trachman, Jewgeni Chaldej, and Ivan Shagin (among others). The images in the 19th Century and 20th Century/Contemporary sale are virtually all Low end images from a cross section of German, European and other photographers.

Particularly interesting to us were the photo book lots, where it is clear that an expansive photo book collection is being liquidated. Nearly all the lots are group lots, some containing as many as 25 or 30 books in a single lot, each grouped under a common artist or theme. What was interesting to note is that when the special volumes, the first editions, the signed copies and the association items are stripped away, a tremendous library like this one isn't worth much. We wish this sale was local, so we could better examine all the books up for sale and worry less about the problems of getting a heavy shipment to the US done. Where else are you going to find 22 books by Renger-Patzsch in one lot for 300 Euros? Or 15 books by August Sander in one lot for 200 Euros? If you are a photo book collector, you will find a quick skimming of this sale catalog (direct link here) entertaining. It offers a way to build an instant library of significant depth.

The total high estimate for all the sections of the sale is 549140 Euros. Here's the overall price breakdown:

Total Low Lots (high estimate below 7500 Euros): 660
Total Low Estimate (sum of high estimates of Low lots): 530140 Euros

Total Mid Lots (high estimate between 7500 and 35000 Euros): 2
Total Mid Estimate: 19000 Euros

Total High Lots (high estimate above 35000 Euros): 0
Total High Estimate: 0 Euros

Beyond the books, surprisingly, there wasn't much to tempt us in this massive sale. Several works by Ulrich Wust were new to us and would fit well with Lewis Baltz and other 1970s American topographic photographers. (See Kaufhalle in Bad Muskau, 1980 at left.)

Soviet War Photography
December 3rd

December 3rd
Erdener Strasse 5a
14193 Berlin-Grunewald

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