Phillips announces the sale of Artist | Icon | Inspiration: Women in Photography, an auction presented with gallerist and collector Peter Fetterman that will explore the role of women as artists, subjects, and innovators. The auction on 7 June in New York will offer approximately 100 works by Dorothea Lange, Alex Prager, Lillian Bassman, Cindy Sherman, and more. The sale will also showcase portraits of iconic 20th century women, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Georgia O’Keeffe, Coco Chanel, Jackie Kennedy, and Audrey Hepburn. The photographs featured in the sale, the title of which encompasses three major intersecting and overlapping concepts of the auction, will highlight and celebrate every aspect of women’s historic and continuing involvement in photography.
Vanessa Hallett, Deputy Chairman, Americas, and Worldwide Head of Photographs, said “Women have played a central role in photography throughout the history of the medium. They have shaped the trajectory and development of this art form through their participation as creators and sources of inspiration. This auction will celebrate the varied roles that they have played by offering works of art created through the lenses of women like Dorothea Lange, Imogen Cunningham, and Lillian Bassman alongside portraits of women who continue to inspire us today, such as Rosa Parks, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Jackie Kennedy. We look forward to providing collectors with the opportunity to acquire important and pivotal pieces that speak to our humanity.”
Peter Fetterman said, “Many of the works in this auction address issues that are as relevant today as the day they were created. The female perspective as experienced in these powerful images adds to the dialogue on the urgent issues we all confront in these times.”
Leading the auction is Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California. In addition to being one of the most iconic images of the 20th century this print has a particularly interesting provenance, coming to auction from the family of photographer William Heick. Heick was a West Coast photographer whose work has become part of permanent collections at institutions across the United States. After World War II, Heick studied at the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA), becoming close with Dorothea Lange and Imogen Cunningham, who took the young artist under their wing. The Migrant Mother offered in this sale was given to Heick by Lange when they were trading works of art. He offered her a print of his photograph Clam Digger, 1950, and in return she gave him the print on offer, an image that would come to define her career. The lot is accompanied by a letter and postcard from Lange to Heick.
The auction features women photographers from all eras, demonstrating their crucial role in the aesthetic and technical development of photography. Phillips has long-championed emerging women photographers, introducing artists like Alex Prager and Lalla Essaydi to the secondary market. Prager’s Ellen is among the contemporary works to be featured, alongside Essaydi’s Bullet Revisted #3. Additional works by women photographers include Imogen Cunningham’s The Unmade Bed, 1957, Julia Margaret Cameron’s My Ewen’s Bride, 1869, Alma Lavenson’s Self-Portrait, 1932, and Martine Franck’s Les Petites Dalles, Normandy, 1973.
Included are photographs of women who, through their accomplishments in many spheres of human endeavor, have become iconic. Among the works of portraiture in the auction are Michael O’Neill’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 1998, Bob Adelman’s Rosa Parks, March on Washington, August, 1963, and Horst P. Horst’s Coco Chanel, II, Paris, 1937.
Women – both behind the camera and in front of it – have inspired great photography throughout the history of the medium. The photographs in the auction—by women and men alike—highlight these figures and celebrate every aspect of women’s role in photography.