A celebration of women’s historic involvement in photography is taking place at Phillips auction house in New York on June 7, when approximately 100 images by illustrious names such as Diane Arbus, Julia Margaret Cameron, Dorothea Lange, Cindy Sherman and Alex Prager will go under the hammer. Artist Icon Inspiration: Women in Photography, which is presented in collaboration with gallerist and collector Peter Fetterman, will explore the roles of women as artists, innovators and inspirational subjects – with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Georgia O’Keeffe and Coco Chanel at centre stage.
“Women have played a central role in photography throughout the history of the medium,” says Vanessa Hallett, deputy chairwoman, Americas, and worldwide head of photographs at Phillips. “They have shaped the trajectory and development of this art form through their participation as creators and sources of inspiration. This auction will include 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 and Jackie Kennedy. We look forward to providing collectors with the opportunity to acquire important and pivotal pieces that speak to our humanity.”
Among the starring lots will be Dorothea Lange’s iconic image Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California (estimate $120,000-$180,000) – a powerful work that is as relevant today as when it was created in 1936. Other notable works for sale include Lillian Bassman’s Blowing Kiss, Barbara Mullen, New York ($20,000-$30,000) and Imogen Cunningham’s The Unmade Bed ($12,000-$18,000) from 1957. Phillips has been an important supporter of emerging photographers and contemporary works such as Alex Prager’s haunting Ellen, from Polyester ($30,000-$40,000) will sit beside the more historic portraits.
In addition to female makers, the accomplishments of women in various fields – from justice to haute couture – will also be explored through such portraits as Michael O’Neill’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court, DC, November 1 from 1998 ($3,000-$5,000), Bob Adelman’s Rosa Parks, March on Washington, August from 1963 ($4,000-$6,000), and Horst P Horst’s glamorous vision, Coco Chanel, II, Paris that was taken in 1937 ($5,000-$7,000).
Not only is this show thought-provoking and powerful – it is hopeful too.