PARIS—Thanks to two years during which Sotheby’s Paris photography sales have outperformed those held in London, the house has transferred its photography sales from London to Paris. The shift was inaugurated May 10 with two major sales: “The Essential Heinz Hajek-Halke,” a selection of vintage prints from the 1920s to the 1950s of the German avant-garde photographer from the artist’s estate in Berlin; and “Photographies” offering a panoramic selection of works by the leading photographers of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
The photography sales consisted of 160 lots, including experimental works by Man Ray, the auction’s top seller with an untitled Rayogram, 1924, estimated at €120,000/150,000, which sold for €120,750 ($172,672). The second-highest lot was by Rudolf Koppitz, a study in movement, 1925, estimated at €80,000/120,000 and selling for €84,750 ($121,190). Czech photographer Joseph Sudek’s Verre, a vintage pigment print, from his series of “Simple Still Lifes,” 1950–59 fetched €82,350 ($117,760), several times the estimate of €14,000/18,000.
An albumen print by Gustave Le Gray, an 1856 cloud study, Marine, etude de nuages, more than doubled its estimate of €30,000/40,000, selling for €75,150 ($107,464).
Other top sellers included Before the Storm, a landscape by American photographer Edward Sheriff Curtis; the 1906 gold-toned print fetched what some observers said was a surprisingly strong price of €72,750 ($104,030) against an estimate of €8,000/12,000.
Man Ray’s Nu, 1933, a vintage silver print estimated at €40,000/60,000, sold for €60,750 ($86,870).
Other photographs that drew interest included Shirin Neshat’s Rebellious Silence, 1994, a chromogenic print with calligraphic inscriptions, that sold for €46,350 ($66,280) on an estimate of €40,000/60,000; Ansel Adams’ Portfolio Four: What Majestic Word, in Memory of Russell Varian, 1963, containing 15 mounted silver prints, brought €39,150 ($55,980), falling within the estimate of €30,000/40,000. Another portfolio by Adams dated 1960, containing 16 prints of Yosemite Valley, sold for €36,750 ($52,550) on an estimate of €25,000/35,000, while the same artist’s Frozen Lake and Cliffs, a photograph of the Sierra Nevada in California, 1927, more than doubled its estimate of €12,000/18,000, bringing €27,150 ($38,800).
Man Ray’s Mathematical Object, a silver print, 1936, sold for €31,950 ($45,670), meeting the estimate of €30,000/50,000. Irving Penn’s vanitas still life with skulls and a fish, a 1996 selenium-toned silver print entitled Crossing the River Styx, fetched €21,150 ($30,240), doubling its estimate of €10,000/15,000. The sale also included works by Andy Warhol, William Klein, Lee Friedlander, Herb Ritts, Helmut Newton, Massimo Vitali, Rineke Dijkstra, Peter Beard and Sean Scully.
The auction of works by Heinz Hajek-Halke, an experimental photographer known for his photomontages, brought together 78 lots. The top lot was a 1932 vintage silver print entitled Die Üble Nachrede (Malicious Gossip) that, estimated at €8,000/12,000, sold for €39,150 ($55,980) setting a world record for the artist. An untitled photograph, one of his famous studies of sculpted black and white nudes, 1930–36, sold for €29,550 ($42,256) against an estimate of €20,000/30,000. Another of these studies, an untitled vintage print estimated at €15,000/25,000, fetched €27,150 ($38,825).
Warten! (Waiting!), a photomontage of a clock superimposed on the face of a woman whose eyes are closed, ca. 1928–32, sold for more than double its high estimate of €6,000/8,000, for €19,950 ($28,530).