An iconic portrait Twins, 1967 by Diane Arbus

Sunday, October 25, 2015
An iconic portrait Twins, 1967 by Diane Arbus

On November 13, Sotheby’s France is pleased to invite photography enthusiasts to a variation on black.

An iconic portrait Twins, 1967 by Diane Arbus

On November 13, Sotheby’s France is pleased to invite photography enthusiasts to a variation on black. This majestic colour – black is the combined spectrum of all colours – is in turn graphic, minimalist, dramatic, mysterious and elegant and its timeless quality is ever fascinating. Our specialists have compiled an audacious catalogue based on this narrative framework. Alongside a section dedicated to ground-breaking and emblematic works by well-established contemporary masters, the department has meticulously singled out prints that are praised for their astounding modernity and rarity.

The catalogue opens with iconic pictures coming straight out from the world's leading fashion magazines: Charlotte Rampling captured in all her leonine nudity by Helmut Newton's camera; a model perched on the top of the Eiffel tower before vertiginous panoramic view of Paris by Peter Lindbergh, and Irving Penn's exquisite Mouth for L’Oréal (B). Celebrated images also include pictures from photojournalists such as Robert Doisneau with his portrait of Pablo Picasso wearing striped jersey.

The selection further takes on a modernist offering with rare vintage prints by masters like Man Ray and Herbert List, striking photographic studies by the painter José Maria Sert, a group of experimental nude studies by Erwin Blumenfeld and Heinz Hajek-Halke, and five magnificent abstract studies by the Czech photographer Cestmir Kratky.

Great masters of American photography are also wellrepresented with Ansel Adams, Berenice Abbott, Walker Evans, Richard Avedon and Diane Arbus, whose strange portraits trigger a magnetic attraction.

After a fascinating journey through works by well-regarded artists such as Sebastião Salgado and Nick Brandt, the catalogue concludes with a curated selection of contemporary masterpieces by Hiroshi Sugimoto, Bernd & Hilla Becher, Thomas Struth.

Two photographs by Diane Arbus, Identical Twins, Cathleen and Colleen, New Jersey, 1967 (estimate: €200,000-300,000 / $226,500-340,000) and Triplets, New Jersey (estimate: €80,000-120,000 / $90,600- 135,800) are among the highlights of the sale. In line with her fascination with the bizarre, these images evince the photographer's interest in individuals whose genetic peculiarity sets them apart. With Identical Twins, Cathleen and Colleen, New Jersey, 1967, Diane Arbus photographed two seemingly identical twin girls dressed in the same way, however, a swift examination reveals subtle differences: one seems melancholic, while the other has a slight smile. Side by side, these little girls appear to form a single being; only their hands and postures express tension.

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