More than 400 works from MoMA's photography department will be sold at Christie's over the next nine months. Christie’s will preview highlights of the MoMA collection during multi-city tours in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York beginning in September.
The cache is expected to realize more than $3.6 million, and the proceeds will go toward the department’s acquisition fund. The photographs are by some of the best-known names from the early 20th century to the postwar period, such as Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Edward Weston, Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Walker Evans.
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Ansel Adams, Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park, California (1938). Estimate: $60,000–80,000. I
mage courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd. 2017.
Christie’s international head of photographs, Darius Himes, told artnet News that the sale is the result of a longtime review and refinement of the museum’s photo collection. “A lot of photographers whose works are being sold, the museum has in depth,” he says. Others may be duplicates or were deemed not central to a particular body of work.
Himes says the auction house wanted to offer the 400 works “in a digestible way. We have also found that the online platform excels when there are sales on individual artists and also on themes. So this material fit that like a glove.”
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Coney Island, New York (1946). Estimate: $50,000–70,000.
Image courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd. 2017.
The photos range in asking price from $1,000 to $300,000, and will be offered in a series of auctions—most of which are online sales—starting this fall and running through spring 2018. (The American Alliance of Museums, the field’s leading professional organization, allows for works to be deaccessioned only when the proceeds are used for other acquisitions.) artnet News reached out to MoMA to ask what artists or genres it intends to target for future photo acquisitions, but had not received a response as of publication time.
Himes said the museum “very much responded to the strategy” of offering the works in online thematic and single-artist auctions. “The success that Christie’s has had with our online platform was something that MoMA really wanted to utilize as a way to draw in and reach a broader collecting audience,” he notes.