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Photography Highlights in the 20th Century, Modern & Contemporary Fine Art Sale

Cornell Capa, photographer and founder of the International Center of Photography, said that ‘photography is demonstrably the most contemporary of art forms. It is the most vital, effective, and universal means of communication…’  During this period of crisis, discord and examination of our  political and cultural systems, we rely on photography to communicate facts, emotions and ideas. Socially and politically themed images can help to educate us and to foster change in the world. Our upcoming 20thCentury, Modern & Contemporary Fine Art sale offers a selection of photographs that explore ideas of social isolation, feminine identity and cultural observation. Lise Safarti’s series of urban portraits titled The New Life dramatize the solitary lives of young adults and their complex emotional states through simple depictions of their everyday activities. Safarti travelled through the United States photographing isolated young adults in urban environments, capturing the geographic and socioeconomic context of each space. The work of Iranian photographer Shirin Neshat addresses the social and political experience in contemporary Islamic society. Her video installation Rapture shows images in two parallel narratives, one of men in an architectural environment, and the other of women moving within a natural one. The photographic stills from this video installation are surreal reflections on the psychology of the experience of Islamic women.

Documentarian photographers observe their surroundings and provide us with photojournalistic images that illustrate social, cultural and political ideas, situations or material objects. Peter Beard’s Tarkana Chief, and Henri-Cartier Bresson’s Eunich of the Imperial Court, Peking  are both fine examples of documentarian portraiture, capturing the internal essence of the sitters through the photographer’s lens. Also a documentarian, Aaron Siskind explored the physical environment in his series San Luis Potosi from 1961 which captured in an almost abstract manner the peeling paint and graffiti on walls in one Mexican town. Siskind’s work relates to ideas associated with Abstract Expressionism, using photography to transform banal objects and scenes into flat, abstracted compositions. Other examples of his work in the sale include Feet 39 and Seeweed 6. Following the true definition of documentation, Charles Sheeler used his camera to document the collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where he worked as consultant. His images of the Egyptian collections were published in three books and are part of his lifelong study of the affinities between art of the past and the present.

Ethereal views of Venice by Alfred Steiglitz, France by Eugene Atget and Hungary by Andre Kertesz offer insight into the early years of photography and are complemented in the sale by contemporary works by Joann Callis and Jan Groover. Other highlights include a beautiful still life by Imogen Cunningham and portraits by Dutch photographer Hellen van Meene.

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