The impressive highlight of one of the best photography auctions Lempertz has ever organised was the series of vintage prints by Albert Renger-Patzsch. His famous work “Natterkopf” from 1925 went up for auction for the first time, experiencing a dramatic increase as a German art dealer was forced to bid up to €148,800 – far exceeding the estimate of €15–20,000 – in order to beat the competition. This fascinating motif was taken in Dresden Zoo and published in his photo book from 1928 “Die Welt ist schön” (The world is beautiful). Due to its abstract, graphic qualities, it is among the most well-known of the artist’s works (lot 20). With the hammer price of €148,800, Lempertz once again considerably exceeded the record price of €136,400 achieved by Lempertz last December for Renger-Patzsch’s work “Bäumchen”. The piece “Mantelpavian” from 1928 also achieved a considerable price increase, rising from the estimate of €5–6,000 to achieve €31,000 (lot 18). The same price was achieved for his “Garnspulen” from 1925 (lot 23), and the work “Bei Essen” from 1928 achieved €24,800 (lot 26, est. €4–5,000).
Anton Stankowski’s “Drahtwerke Biel” from 1930 rose from the estimate of €2–2,500 to achieve €5,000 (lot 36) and this same result was made by Jaroslav Rössler’s untitled work under lot no. 111. Two chemigrams by Chargesheimer from 1961 were sold for €5,700 and €4,700 – far exceeding the estimates of €1,500–1,800 each (lots 116/117).
Highlight among the 19th century photographs on offer was an album from the 1880s/1890s with views of North America and Mexico. The 220 albumen prints and shots by Isaiah West Taber and other photographers was estimated at €1,500–2,000 but eventually purchased by an American bidder in the face of strong competition for €17,400 (lot 4).
“The International Style through the Eyes of Photography. Works from an Important Collection” (3rd June)
One particular highlight of this spring’s photography auction was the collection entitled “The International Style through the Eyes of Photography”. The 85 lots included important depictions of buildings of the international architectural style of the 1920s, such as the Fagus Factory in Alfeld/Saale, the Bauhaus in Dessau, the German Pavilion at the World Exhibition in Barcelona and the Weissenhofsiedlung in Stuttgart. The images were captured by such famous names as Albert Renger-Patzsch,Lucia Moholy, Werner Mantz and Hugo Schmölz as well as agencies such as the Berliner Bild-Bericht, for which Sasha Stone was probably responsible. The collection is unique in its coherency, documentary value and aesthetic appeal. The most impressive price increases were achieved for Albert Renger-Patzsch’s shot of the Fagus Factory, which sold for €4,500 (lot 201, est. €1,500–2,000), Lucia Moholy’s “Nordansicht Haus Gropius, Dessau” for €5,200 (lot 226, €1,600–1,800) and an anonymous artist‘s shot entitled “Modell eines Landhauses aus Eisenbeton und Glas“ from 1923, which sold for €4,700 despite the modest estimate of €600–800 (lot 205).
'Contemporary Art + Photography' (4th June)
Among the contemporary photographs on offer this spring, two early tableaus comprising four and sixteen small-format gelatin silver prints by Bernd and Hilla Becher were the most successful. The works were made in the year 1971 and used as printing templates. “Kühltürme”, the 16-part work from 1963–1969, far exceeded the estimate of €10–15,000 to achieve €38,500. The four photographs of the winding tower of the “Neu-Iserlohn” coal mine in Bochum-Werne achieved €24,800 (lot 754, est. 10–15,000). Jürgen Klauke’s work “Daseinsrenovierung” from the series “Desaströses Ich” achieved €11,200 (lot 810, est. €9–12,000).