New York

New York – On April 4, 2013, Christie’s will commence its spring Photographs sales in New York with the deLIGHTed eye: Modernist Masterworks from a Private Collection. This extraordinary collection of 70 vintage prints executed mainly between 1900 and 1925 was formed by a private collector based in South America with his advisor, Jill Rose, who later became Vice President of the International Center of Photography. In building the collection, it was their intent to focus on photographers who had been keenly influenced by the artistic revolution in Western Europe at the turn of the century, and who in turn profoundly affected the history of the medium. The sale expects to realize in excess of $5.2 million.

“I love my collections as living beings and that is why I have always named them. I call this one “the deLIGHTed eye.” One reason for the name arose from the fascination I have for photographs’ new and ingenious use of light, so very much freer than in contemporary painting.  In addition, these photographs have delighted my eyes. And they have not only given me joy but have also enlightened me about today’s art. That is my perspective and these are the experiences that I would like to share with the viewer of “The deLIGHTed eye.”Carlos Alberto Cruz, from his essay “the deLIGHTed eye” (International Center of Photography exhibition catalogue, 1985)

The collection initially took its form when the collector and Rose put together a ‘wish list’ of elite photographers and gathered reproductions of ideal images by this influential group. Using this list as a guide, they acquired extraordinary photographic masterpieces, their first purchase being a unique photogram by László Moholy-Nagy from 1925 (estimate: $200,000-300,000) – pictured above, left. Additional highlights include prints by Eugène Atget, Constantin Brancusi, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Man Ray, Christian Schad, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston.

Edward Weston

Nude, 1925, palladium print (estimate: $400,000-600,000), is one of Edward Weston's finest and most important nudes, yet very little-known. A very rare print, it was probably only published once – on the November 1980 cover of an auction catalogue for a New York Photographs sale. The sitter is Miriam Lerner, a young Los Angeles socialite, with whom Weston began a passionate affair just two weeks after he arrived in California after leaving Tina Modotti in Mexico.

Edward Steichen

Bricks, c. 1922, gelatin silver print (estimate: $200,000-300,000), is one of a highly-prized series that the artist made of the view from his apartment window on West 86th Street in New York. It is a rare example of Steichen working within the Modernist idiom, where his viewpoint screened out as many extraneous details as possible, leaving the viewer to focus on the strong vertical shaft between the two walls and the pattern of bricks. The photograph owes a debt to Alfred Stieglitz's From My Window series done at `291'.

Alfred Stieglitz

Alfred Stieglitz was the single most influential figure in the development of early 20th century American photography. He guided the remarkable transition from Pictorialism to Modernism and made New York City an important center for both. From the Back Window - "291"- N.Y., Summer 1914, gelatin silver print (estimate: $200,000-300,000), is an important example of how Stieglitz's style changed in a four-year period that included the 1913 Armory Show, and his subsequent departure from Pictorialism. From the Back Window can be regarded as a transitional work – an incorporation of the influences from the Armory Show evident in Steiglitz’s new work. His series of photographs from ‘291’ are among his most prized works, each a formal and objective study in delineating shapes and expressing structure.

Alvin Langdon Coburn

Alvin Langdon Coburn is represented by a Vortograph titled The Eagle, 1917, gelatin silver print (estimate: $200,000-300,000), which was originally part of a larger group in the collection of George Eastman House, Rochester, New York. Coburn’s career as a Vorticist photographer began in London in 1917 and lasted for only about a month. Anxious to disprove the common notion that the camera could not be truly abstract, he made 18 Vortographs which are now prized for their rarity, their power and the fact that they take abstraction just about as far as it can go in photography. The resulting images, exhibited at the Camera Club in London, prompted the Vorticist painter Ezra Pound to proclaim in his introduction for the exhibition catalogue that `the camera is freed from reality.’

Francis Bruguière

Francis Bruguière was of America's most innovative photographers. His cut-paper experiments compare in importance with Alvin Langdon Coburn's more famous Vortographs as pioneering examples of pure photographic abstractions. Experiment from ‘The Way,’ c. 1925, gelatin silver print , was taken by Bruguière in New York during the last year he worked on his first experimental film, The Way. The image is powerful, dramatic and macabre, with five overlapping views of the sitter's face wearing a frenzied expression and filling the frame.

Constantin Brancusi

Two Sculptures: ‘Le Nouveau Né II’, 1920 and ‘L’Enfant Dormant’, 1906, gelatin silver print (estimate: $70,000-90,000), was one of a group of studies discovered in Paris in the late 1970s. One of the finest and most complex examples from the artist's large body of photographs, the print is in an unusually large format. The photograph is an exquisite document of conception and purpose, not simply a record of completed work.

Tina Modotti

This print of Texture and Shadow, palladium print (estimate: $200,000-300,000), is the only one in private hands. The only other known print is in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Neither print was titled by Modotti, but her close friend, the journalist Carleton Beals, used this title when publishing the image in 1929. Dated between 1924 and 1926, the present image is the purest of Modotti's abstractions, a stunning juxtaposition of darkness, light and material.

Man Ray

Francis Picabia, Grande Vitesse, 1924, gelatin silver print (estimate: $100,000-150,000), depicts the painter Francis Picabia and brilliantly captures the excitement that he felt when driving fast in what is probably his favorite Mercer.  Picabia liked to have his friend Man Ray photograph him in extravagant cars. The image was published in La Révolution Surréaliste in 1925.

About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi, 2017), for a single collection sale (the Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, 2018), and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019).

Christie’s Private Sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.

Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats. 

Christie’s is dedicated to advancing responsible culture throughout its business and communities worldwide, including achieving sustainability through net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and actively using its platform in the art world to amplify under-represented voices and support positive change.

Browse, bid, discover, and join us for the best of art and luxury at: or by downloading Christie’s apps. The COVID-related re-opening status of our global locations is available here.