Thursday, April 30, 2009
Here are the statistics for the auction:
Total Lots: 411
Total Low Estimate: $1527750
Total High Estimate: $2212700
Total Low Lots (high estimate below $10000): 383
Total Low Estimate (sum of high estimates of Low lots): $1333700
Total Mid Lots (high estimate between $10000 and $50000): 26
Total Mid Estimate: $495000
Total High Lots (high estimate above $50000): 2
Total High Estimate: $420000
Overall, while there aren't many photographs in this sale that we found to be a great fit for our particular collection, there are plenty of photo books that we don't currently have in the library and would like to. A few of them include:
Lot 28, Shomei Tomatsu, Nagasaki 11:02
Lot 58, William Klein, Life is Good & Good for You in New York
Lot 62, Eikoh Hosoe, Embrace
Lot 79, Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Chicago, Chicago
Lot 88, Ed Ruscha, Thirtyfour Parking Lots
Lot 117, Takashi Homma, Suburbia
Lot 134 Walter Niedermayr, Momentary Resorts
For some reason however, we seem to be very price sensitive on photo books, and generally not willing to pay large premiums for scarce books. We'll generally wait around to see if anything we want doesn't sell, and then go in for an after sale bid, hoping to pick one off at or below the reserve. I guess we're just not true photo book collectors.
The complete lot by lot catalog can be found here.
Photographic Literature & Fine Photographs
104 East 25th Street
New York, NY 10010
Total Low lots (high estimate 7500€ or lower): 311
Total Mid estimate: 68500€
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
JTF (just the facts): Published in 2008 by the Humble Arts Foundation. Large format book, soft bound, with 176 pages. Curated by Alana Celii, Jon Feinstein, and Grant Willing. Each of the 163 artists (or pairs of artists) is represented by a single large image and contact information. Includes a curatorial statement by Jon Feinstein and an introduction by Ruben Natal-San Miguel (a collector and blogger at ARTmostfierce).
Comments/Context: While most photography collectors, curators, auction house specialists, and art critics spend virtually all of their time and energy focused on artists that have some kind of credible gallery representation, the harsh reality is that 99+% of photographers out there aren’t represented by a reputable gallery or dealer anywhere, much less in New York or London. And while photography became a broadly democratic medium a long time ago, the recent transition to digital imaging has made picture making and sharing even easier, touching off an explosion of new photography over the past few years.
Contrast this with the current state of the retail gallery world and the mismatch becomes clear. Given the challenges of a poor economy, the overall number of operating “bricks and mortar” galleries is generally flat, with some galleries expanding while others are failing. Finding new representation is therefore almost a zero sum game – someone likely has to fall off the list to make room for a new addition; the aggregate “shelf space” is effectively fixed. The prospects for new photographers trying to break in are dim at best.
Of course, the art world is a unique beast. Can you imagine U2 deciding to sell its music through a handful of tiny retail outlets in dodgy neighborhoods? Or Dan Brown selling his newest thriller via a single storefront? Of course not, and yet, this is the distribution model that most artists are killing themselves trying to find.
While gallery owners often complain about the “overwhelming” “deluge” of solicitations they receive and the challenges of responding to each and every one, the reality is having good “deal flow” (access to the best new artists that come along) is the key to a sustainable business, and smart dealers (especially those focused on emerging work) invest time in their networks and build systems for reviewing each portfolio with honest care and attention, ensuring that the artist feels genuinely respected and helped, as a positive experience leads to more deal flow down the road. Given that each gallery has a different vision of what will sell and what is important over a long time scale, the trick is to sift through literally hundreds in search of the one or two that fit the program as envisioned.
Silicon Valley venture capitalists work in much the same manner, looking for the needle (the next Google) in a haystack (a massive pile of marginal business plans), and often finding ways to get pre-screened deals (from known sources, feeder funds, and high quality referrals), where the bottom two thirds have already been cut away, leaving a smaller and higher quality pile that can then be reviewed with more attention.
In many ways, this is exactly what the folks at the Humble Arts Foundation are doing with the collection of emerging photographers in this book: taking the role of triage nurse or venture capitalist, with the idea that the filtered list they generate will have a higher percentage of signal to noise, and that professionals in the industry can use the book as a resource guide and hopefully sidestep some of the time consuming sorting of an ever growing population of aspiring photographers. If their hit rate (artists in the book finding solid gallery representation over time) is better than 1 out of 10, they’ll be doing better than most Silicon Valley technology VCs.
To me, this reference book seems like an intermediate step on the way to something much bigger and more transformational. Today, this is a physical book, sent through the mail to a select group of hand picked insiders. While the world of photography is indeed small, this seems like a very 1980s mindset. Instead, it seems like a logical extension to take advantage of the Internet technologies at our disposal to do something much more powerful. Given that the cost of storage is effectively zero, think of these extensions:
- Put profiles of the all the artists onto a searchable website
- Make the review process a systematic and constant effort, rather than every few years
- Add 100 or 200 or however many new photographers that meet the standards threshold every year, rather than every few years
- Sort the emerging photographers into some sort of taxonomy to make it easier for dealers, collectors and curators to find potential matches
- Feature a dozen pictures by each featured artist instead of just one
- Add live links to the artist websites
The goal is to become the “filter” of choice for galleries and emerging photographers alike. Sure, it’s a bunch of work, but there are literally dozens of ways to take the simple idea embodied in this resource book to the next level. (Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail (here) would be a good place to get some ideas.)
The danger of a volume like this one is that it quickly becomes a quaint set piece of “what photography was like in 2008”. And I will admit that on the whole, there does seem to be a heavy dose of deadpan introspection in this collection; there are plenty of quiet personal moments that seem derivative of Alec Soth and Wolfgang Tillmans. What I didn’t find, and think is out there, is a staggering diversity of approaches and styles that we haven’t seen before. While it is true that emerging photographers are still refining their voices and may not have it all figured out yet, a book like this should blow my hair back and explode in my hands, sizzling with electric new ideas; the point after all is to do something different. I’m sorry to say I didn’t need fire proof gloves to hold this collection, but I think there is the nugget of a great idea buried in these pages.
Collector’s POV: Since we are collectors, it seems only fair that we should take a stab at picking some winners from our particular perch. Unfortunately for us, much of the work here doesn’t fit our specific collecting themes, and therefore wouldn’t be a great fit for our walls; many subjects that were of interest to earlier photographers (and that we collect) seem to have lost their relevance for contemporary artists. That said, based on the single image presented in the book (a crazy premise we know), here are 10 photographers that we think have a better than average chance for longer term success. What we were looking for was a combination of a unique/authentic point of view and that elusive “timelessness”, a picture (or overall vision brought forth in a larger body of work) that might still hold its power a decade or two on. Here’s the list (in alphabetical order):
Robyn Cumming (here)
Amy Elkins (here)
Molly Landreth (here)
Shane Lavalette (here)
Alejandra Laviada (here)
Eric Percher (here)
Friederike Von Rauch (here)
Nadine Rovner (here)
Amy Stein (here)
Jeongmee Yoon (here)
Collecting is of course a personal process, and it seems obvious that others might flip through this volume and select an entirely different group of potential survivors. This is the critical takeaway I think: diversity is a good (and natural) thing. Part of the reason I believe the auction houses fared so well during the recent boom was that they were offering a further democratization of a relatively closed art distribution system; they were following the natural flow toward more choice in the right direction. There is no reason that this curated approach by Humble Arts couldn’t be expanded to 1000 photographers, broadening the scope even further; if they did it right, just think of what a powerhouse in emerging photography it could become.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Total Low estimate (sum of high estimates of Low lots): $49000
Total High estimate: $1430000
Below is a list of the photographers who are represented by more than one lot in the two sales (with the total number of prints for sale in parentheses):
May 15, 2009
Auction: Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening, Morning and Afternoon Sales, May 13 and 14, 2009 @Christie's
Total Low estimate (sum of high estimates of Low lots): $15000
To our eye, the lots in this sale are solid but generally not superlative pieces, so just how well the sale will do on the whole is hard to predict. The two Jeff Wall lightboxes, Sunken Area (lot 10) and Diagonal Composition No. 3 (lot 371) are our particular favorites of what is on offer.
Monday, April 27, 2009
The targets painted on the door, the chain and duct tape holding the door shut, the skull tattoo on his wrist, the mashed up car in the background, and his dejected stare all come together to make a memorable image. The article is well worth a read too.
The summary statistics are below:
Total Photography Lots: 86
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate: $220400
Pre Sale High Total Estimate: $310300
Total Lots Sold: 50
Total Lots Bought In: 36
Buy In %: 41.86%
Total Sale Proceeds: $132376
Here is the breakdown (using the Low, Mid, and High definitions from the preview post, here):
Low Total Lots: 81
Low Sold: 47
Low Bought In: 34
Buy In %: 41.98%
Total Low Estimate: $235300
Total Low Sold: $104251
Mid Total Lots: 5
Mid Sold: 3
Mid Bought In: 2
Buy In %: 40.00%
Total Mid Estimate: $75000
Total Mid Sold: $28125
High Total Lots: 0
High Sold: NA
High Bought In: NA
Buy In %: NA
Total High Estimate: $0
Total High Sold: NA
80.00% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range (with 28.00% above). There were three surprises (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate) amongst the photography in this sale: lot 41, Catherine Opie, Mike and Sky, 1993 at $5625; lot 257, Vanessa Beecroft, Five works: Untitled, 1999 at $4750; and lot 266, Barney Kulok, Pantone 1788 (Church Door), 2006 at $1625.
Complete lot by lot results can be found here.
Phillips De Pury & Company
450 West 15th Street
New York, NY 10011
My favorites in the show were the two massive images from American Night (one 1998, one 2002). The first depicts a seemingly downtrodden man with an eye patch, standing in a darkened alley, near a graffiti covered corrugated steel security pull down and an array of gumball machines. The second shows a lone man standing in an empty parking lot in a pupil-dilating field of white brightness. Both of these works take what at first glance is a simple documentary image and make it something altogether more powerful. We'll certainly go in search of more images from this particular project to get a wider view of the whole effort.
Overall, this show is a bit uneven, but it certainly worth a visit as further background on the evolution of Graham's career.
- Paul Graham Archive (here)
- 2009 Deutsche Borse Prize (here)
- 2009 Interview with PDN (here)
- American Night (here)
Through May 2nd
Friday, April 24, 2009
JTF (just the facts): A total of 165 photographs, from over 70 photographers, variously matted and framed, hung in a single long gallery, loosely divided into six spaces, on the 3rd floor. All of the works are hung thematically (rather than chronologically), in pairs, groups and grids. One space also includes a single glass case displaying two folding panoramas. The images in the exhibit range from the 1850s to the present. The show was curated by Eva Respini, and an accompanying book is available for $45. No installation pictures (beyond the title text at right) were allowed.
Comments/Context: The American West has always had a special place in the collective psyche of the nation. Its massive skies, huge open spaces, and unparalleled diversity of natural beauty have made it a constant source of mythology: of frontiers to be settled, of limitless opportunities, of mavericks and risk takers who made their fortunes out in the wilderness. This current exhibit at the MoMA takes stock of how photographers since the birth of the medium have seen and documented the West, in both its grandeur and its reality.
The story starts with the staggering documentary efforts of Watkins, Muybridge, Jackson, O’Sullivan and others, who ventured out into the vast untamed lands with their glass plates and chemistry tents to explore the new territories, bringing back astonishing images to share with the nation. In many ways, this narrative remains the largely same all the way through Ansel Adams, who tasked himself with capturing the romantic natural beauty of the West, as part of a larger effort to convince the powers that be that we ought to protect and cherish these lands.
Another version of the history of the West runs in parallel with this “nature” story, and tells the tale of entrepreneurship, cowboys and settlers, industrial growth, mining, and rapid expansion. This is the tale of how we as a people set out from the East, moved West, and scratched out a new way of life, taking full advantage of what the land had to offer; it is a narrative about how people “fought” and “tamed” the land, how new opportunities were available for the taking. While many photographs were taken of this activity, this particular show generally skips over much of this early history (I did enjoy the Kinsey logging image which fits in this category), in favor of a heavier dose of imagery of what came after, as cities and towns grew into suburbs and sprawl.
The overall disillusioned tone of this exhibit is drawn most clearly from a large number of images that focus on the aftermath of growth and the downside of our collective movement West, almost a “before” and “after” kind of portrait. Gas stations, billboards and mind numbing tract housing now distract us from the open roads and endless skies. William Garnett, Ed Ruscha, and Robert Adams all expose the ravages of endless “planned communities” of suburban development. Lewis Baltz’ grid of San Quentin Point images is especially harsh, filled with littered close ups of abandoned detritus. And the lives of the people now living in these wastelands (captured by Robert Frank, Bill Owens, Joel Sternfeld, Larry Sultan, Henry Wessel and others) is depicted as dreary, marginal, and potentially deviant, a woeful collection of losers, a far cry from our original optimistic hopes and heroes. Images by Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince turn these dreams into caricatures. And while these are all fair characterizations of the reality, together, they form a pretty depressing view of our ability to build a meaningful life.
While this exhibit is truly brimming with exceptional photography (from all periods) and effectively holds up a mirror to how we have seen ourselves over the past decades, I think the show missed the chance to tell a more complicated, multi-faceted story about the West and its continuing evolution. Here are some of the topics or subjects I found either altogether missing or underreported by this show:
- Silicon Valley
- The borderlands of the Southwest
- The farmlands of the California Central Valley
- Hispanic culture in general
- Las Vegas
- The Pacific Northwest
- San Francisco counter culture
- The importance of water
- Modern ranching
It’s clear that to cover all of these would require lots more gallery space; editing was required to synthesize the narrative down to its essence, and many of these likely ended up on the cutting room floor. That said, I don’t think the show is as even handed as it could have been in its presentation of the artistic facts.
In many ways, given the deep historical roots of the country on the East coast, the West has always been defined in contrast to the East. Having lived a good portion of my life out West, this show, both in its individual examples and its overall feel, has an undertone of East coast dominance, a view of the West by distant observers who are looking down from a position of perceived superiority and offering mostly sarcastic judgments. There is plenty of excitement and positive activity in the West, much of it running counter to the conventional wisdom and traditions of the East, and I think this exhibit misses it entirely. Perhaps the point was to dispel the historical mythology, but America is a nation that constantly reinvents itself, and that reinvention is often more vital and active in the West.
Overall, despite the flaws outlined above, this is a very thought provoking if less than flattering show, with superlative photography on view, ably curated into small groups of pictures that resonate with each other in unusual ways. The Ansel Adams versus Stephen Shore, and Ansel Adams versus Joel Sternfeld, John Divola, and Richard Misrach wall combinations are particularly striking. Find a time to see the show on off hours, as it was nearly overrun with visitors when I went.
Collector’s POV: As a collector, I was most struck by the geometric purity of William Garnett’s aerial pictures in this show. These would fit extremely well into our city/industrial genre. We’re also still on the lookout for just the right Robert Adams work; many of his images are excellent, but only a few would fit well into our current mix of pictures. And as a random aside, I’ve enjoyed some of the modern cowboy/ranch portraits made by Kurt Markus; they might have been a good inclusion in a variant of this show.
Rating: ** (two stars) VERY GOOD (rating system described here)
Into the Sunset: Photography’s Image of the American West
Through June 8th
Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Collector's POV: The prints in the show are priced between $2100 and $2600. Since this show is so small (6 pictures), it's hard to draw a conclusion about the overall nature of the work, since some of the images are fragmented interior shots, while others are more emotionally charged documentary portraits. Perhaps the book is a better vehicle for a more deep and nuanced narrative.
- The artist's website (here)
- Video of Kereszi on Governor's Island (here)
- Review of Fantasies at 5B4 (here)
- 50 States Project (here)
- Dikeou Collection (here)
- The artist's website (here)
- 2008 Interview: The Sweet Allure of Betel Nut Beauties (here)
- Concurrent show at Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta (here)
- Silent Mode (here)
535 West 22nd Street
New York, NY 10011
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Comments/Context: We already own two Gursky monographs: one from the 1998 Kunsthalle Dusseldorf show and another from the 2001 MoMA show. So why do we need another, you might ask? The reason is that this smaller volume is trying to do something different. Instead of being a large format, coffee table sized book with big, beautiful pictures, this monograph is the size of a hardback novel, and the pictures are printed much smaller; what's interesting is that there are many more of them, nearly twice as many as in either of the other books. While this isn't a catalog raissoné, and many of the thumbnail images fail to evoke the grandeur of their mural sized cousins, the deeper dive into Gursky's archives helps to tell a much fuller and more varied story about his evolution as an artist.
For quite a while now I have been wondering about the early work of the Becher students and how it shows the influence of their teaching style. An oversimplified definition of the Becher formula is as follows: 1.) choose a large subject, with lots of different potential examples, 2.) choose a consistent approach to picture making, 3.) take lots of pictures in this manner, and 4.) display some of them together (the "typology") to get at the underlying essence of the subject. How Gursky internalized this teaching (and how he eventually evolved it into his own personal vision) is clearly shown in this book. His first subjects were interiors of restaurants, and he soon moved on to desk attendants (pairs). If you've never seen these images, they have all the Becher hallmarks: cool detached, frontal viewpoint, uniform and meticulous view camera picture making. It's in Gursky's next series, the Sunday Walkers, where the rigidity of the formula starts to break down; the pictures are more fluid, still using a common theme, but allowing for more flexibility of vision.
In the next few years, Gursky started to make his first bird's eye view images, with tiny ant-like people dwarfed by the immense scale of their surroundings, the images still rigorous in their style, but now much less cookie cutter. By the time you get to the early 1990s, the Gursky that took the art world by storm is now in top form: extra large sized prints of far flung locales, where hotels, office buildings, industrial warehouses, raves and stock exchanges become metaphors for the spectacle of our anonymous contemporary lifestyle, minimalism and conceptualism merging (with the help of some digital manipulation) into something altogether new.
The reason I like this book is that many more patterns emerge when you see a larger sample of Gursky's images. Since most of his recent works are printed mural sized and have become so expensive, one hardly gets a chance to see more than one or two at any one time these days; it's hard to plot much of a line with only a couple of points. If you're interested in the broader trajectory of Gursky's career and want to place the themes and approaches he has come back to again and again in a larger context, this is a good book for your library. The exhibition should also be well worth a visit.
Collector's POV: Andreas Gursky is represented by Matthew Marks Gallery in New York (here). Gursky's large prints tend to be made in editions of 4, 5, or 6, and are routinely sold above $100000, ranging all the way up into the low millions of dollars. Smaller prints are often made in editions of 12, 25, 30 or even 60, which generally drives the prices down to a zone between $5000 and $50000.
- The complete list of Gursky's contemporaries while studying with the Bechers: Candida Höfer, Axel Hütte, Tata Ronkholz, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth, and Petra Wunderlich
- 2001 MoMA exhibition (here)
- Jerry Saltz: It's Boring at the Top, New York magazine, 2007 (here)
- Video of Gursky exhibit at Kunstmuseum Basel (here)
- 2008 Matthew Marks show (DLK COLLECTION review here)
- Upcoming 2009 Vancouver Art Gallery exhibit, in conjunction with this book (here)
Comments/Context: I don't think it was until we moved back to New York that I really started to resonate with Helen Levitt's work. Her 1930s and 1940s black and white images of children in the streets, while undoubtedly well crafted, somehow didn't grab my attention; I was more drawn to the architectural transformations documented by Berenice Abbott from the same period.
But it is her color work from the 1960s and 1970s that has made me change my mind a bit on Levitt's rightful place in the history books. How's this for a statement: of the great black and white photographers working prior to the 1950s, Levitt was the most successful at embracing color photography and making a superlative body of color work in her later career. The only other "old school" photographers I can come up with who made the transition to decent color work are Harry Callahan (his later dye transfers), Andre Kertesz (Polaroids) and Walker Evans (Polaroids). If I've missed some glaring great example, leave it in the comments, but I think the statement stands - Levitt did something that almost no one else did.
The images in this book perfectly capture the feeling of New York in the summer (no wonder her work is often labeled "social realism"). Virtually all the pictures are of people, not straight on portraits, but people in the context of their lives: on street corners, with pets, near parked cars, sitting on stoops, smoking, waiting, taking a break. Her compositions often capture the world slightly off-kilter, with spontaneous secondary stories playing out on the periphery, just like they do in real life. On first glance, these images look like snapshots; upon further review, they turn out to be tiny vignettes of everyday life, somehow optimistic amidst generally poor living conditions and plenty of old age. Her use of color isn't self-conscious; she doesn't use super-saturated attention grabbing color. Instead, color is used as just one of many tools that can make a picture resolve into something interesting, the hood or a car, or a dress, or a door frame suddenly providing a visual contrast. And even though there are a few dated fashions and hairstyles, these pictures have a timeless quality to them, as though you could step into the street in parts of New York in August and see these exact same stories playing out all over again.
Collector's POV: Levitt's vintage silver prints from the 1930s and 1940s come up at auction from time to time, ranging in price from $10000 to $60000. Later prints from these same negatives are typically priced between $2000 and $6000. Her dye transfer prints have been much more scarce: only a handful of prints (some vintage, some printed in the 1990s) at auction in the past five years, selling for between $2000 and $12000. Levitt is represented by Laurence Miller Gallery (here) in New York, Fraenkel Gallery (here) in San Francisco, and Robert Klein Gallery (here) in Boston. While these images don't neatly fit into our city/industrial genre (too many people), they are growing on me over time, so perhaps there will be a place in our collection for one or more of these prints at some point in the future.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
After mulling this over for some time, I’ve come to the simple conclusion that for most people, collecting is a search for meaning, a process of finding items that have some underlying significance or importance for them, or that somehow make a real connection to their lives. For some, it is the ongoing pleasure derived from owning the objects; for others, it is the action and education in support the search that is the source of repeated interest.
When we go to a gallery or museum show, read a photography book, or flip through an auction catalog, what we are doing is looking for connections: those pieces that seem to have a bright light shining on them - objects that stand out from the crowd, that resonate with our own personal world view (and we all know them immediately when we see them, like a lightning strike, even if they are wildly different from person to person). Education generally increases the likelihood of understanding and appreciating a work, so artists, dealers, museum curators and auction house specialists can all be sources of information that lead to a deeper appreciation of a photograph.
In the process of our often manic “hunting and gathering”, each collector has his or her own calculus going on behind the scenes that determines which pictures are worth paying attention to: perhaps it is those that have some sense of beauty in our eyes, or those that are challenging and knock us out of our numbness. Some of us see patterns and relationships between pictures and artists, others respond to overt or subtle emotional qualities. While collectors come in all shapes and sizes, from intuitive to structured, in the end, we are all doing the same thing: connecting with images. So maybe we should start calling ourselves “connectors”, focusing on those elusive qualities in a photograph that make our eyes (and brain) light up, rather than the acquisitions that are the end result of the larger process.
If we follow this train of thought, where collecting is really just a euphemism for connecting, then what is a site like this good for? What does the form itself provide, and what should we be trying to accomplish within the confines of its structure, if we are trying to optimize “connecting”?
From our own experience on this site, it is clear that the blog (as a form) is not well suited to long, reasoned arguments, complex reporting, or deeply historical/analytical essays. Print publications like weekly and monthly magazines (ArtForum or The New Yorker) and daily newspapers (The New York Times) are still a better venue for this kind of writing, regardless of whether it is scholarly in tone or more conversational. Ideas that require a complicated exposition don’t seem to fare as well when scrolling down endless pages; while we might have visions of writing these kinds of more in depth articles, reading them at significant length on any kind of screen can be tedious.
Blogs seem to be best suited to the 500 word summary (5 or 6 paragraphs at most): long enough to provide a handful of meaningful thoughts and ideas, short enough to be easily digestible in a few minutes. (This post is an example of a post that is too long; I expect many will give up before getting to the end.) Given the real time nature of our connected world, blog posts are also excellent for up-to-the-minute, time-based factual reporting (something that printed media does not do particularly well, and has largely migrated to online bretheren). A third important structural feature of blogs is their informal connectivity: the ease with which large amounts of external information (especially background material like long articles, images, and video) can be linked into the body of the text to enhance the reader’s experience (again, something that print media does poorly). So instead of trying to replicate the successes of other media in this new form, we should be focused on trying to exploit these strengths to create new experiences.
When we are jumping around from blog to blog and site to site, mixing our RSS reader feeds with Google searches, looking for “connections”, we are grazing. While this type of reading has its parallels in reading a newspaper and jumping from one article to another, Internet grazing is a bit more like following a trail of breadcrumbs. I think a good portion of our readers come to our site in search of something specific: a review of the recent Walker Evans show, details on an upcoming auction, or more information on Osamu Kanemura. Many come directly from a search engine (where they have searched for this specific item), or perhaps they already know about us, and come to the site knowing that what they are looking for might be here. However they arrive, they are generally looking for a succinct dose of precise information and we need to tailor our site to meet those demands.
What I have come to conclude is that once a reader/collector is here, we have an opportunity to use the strengths of this format to not only deliver our own appropriate content, but to help make a timely, relevant and useful connection to something else (the next breadcrumb). Often this will be another recent post or perhaps one from the archive. But it could just as easily be something outside this destination, that we as collectors already know has some relevance to the subject at hand. This neatly leads to the idea of the site as both a destination and a transit hub.
While some folks are interested in a continuing conversation with us (reading our reporting or hearing our voice/opinions in particular), most are just grazing, and need to make a new connection, to follow a new link, once they have finished with the ideas found here. I’ve come to realize that the single collector/critic, omniscient view of photography (or the art world for that matter) is no longer valid; it’s just an old, inward-looking and outdated way of thinking. I now think that our job (and challenge) is to embrace the polyvalent mixture of interdisciplinary ideas and information swirling around out there in the void and use our experience and judgment as collectors to make sense of the inputs, with the ultimate goal of making connections that increase our readers’ (and our own) sense of meaning in the art around us. If we can help you get connected to something that really catches your attention, we’ve been successful.
Our intention then is to evolve our approach and make this site more of a place of transit, or terminal of sorts, where our role is to provide both our own viewpoint/reporting as well as a synthesized subset of easily and rapidly transferable ideas for further exploration. We must force ourselves to learn to leverage others who provide complementary (and contradictory) perspectives, including those that are beyond the obvious mainstream, out on the edges a bit. So from now on, all of our exhibit/show and book reviews will have a new section at the end (called Transit Hub), which will provide some additional, potentially serendipitous roads to travel down.
This whole endeavor to open up the process of photography collecting continues to be a work in progress, and many of you have provided feedback that was helpful in tuning our direction along the way. A final strength of this blog format is its facility for direct interaction with readers. As such, your comments on this and other topics are always welcome.
The summary statistics are below:
Total Lots: 293
Pre Sale Total Minimum Price: $648500
Total Lots Sold: 125
Total Lots Bought In: 168
Buy In %: 57.34%
Total Sale Proceeds: $203304
Here is the breakdown (using the Low, Mid, and High definitions from the preview post, here):
Low Total Lots: 275
Low Sold: 125
Low Bought In: 150
Buy In %: 54.55%
Total Low Minimum Price: $476500
Total Low Sold: $203304
Mid Total Lots: 18
Mid Sold: 0
Mid Bought In: 18
Buy In %: 100.00%
Total Mid Minimum Price: $181000
Total Mid Sold: $0
High Total Lots: 0
High Sold: NA
High Bought In: NA
Buy In %: NA
Total High Estimate: NA
Total High Sold: NA
Since we didn't have estimates to tally (given the way Heritage presented the information), we don't have any statistical data on percentages above, in and below the estimate range or on surprise lots. That said, the best outcome of the sale was lot 75028 Pierre Dubreuil, Black Cat Cigarettes, 1930, which sold for $15525 against a minimum bid of $6000.
Complete lot by lot results can be found here. Lots available for post auction purchase can be found here.
Heritage Auction Galleries
3500 Maple Avenue
Dallas, TX 75219
Monday, April 20, 2009
Rating: ** (two stars) VERY GOOD (rating system defined here)
Howard Greenberg Gallery
41 East 57th Street
New York, NY 10022
Friday, April 17, 2009
Through April 18th
New York, NY 10075
Collector's POV: The images in the show are priced between $2000 and $4500. If deadpan city and architectural details are your thing, then this show is worth a quick flyby. I particularly enjoyed the image of the tape encrusted car hood.
504 West 22nd Street