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March 24, 2008

Christies Photography Book Auction.. Thursday April 10th.. With prices not to be believed!

Christies Important Photography Book Auction.. April 10th.

One of MAO's many obsessions.. is collecting first edition signed photography monographs. And while there are tons of Contemporary Art and Photography auctions coming soon to be very worried blog about, it's important to see a major auction house conducting one of their first significant Photographic Art Book Auctions. We at MAO think photo monographs are one of the only few undervalued art collectibles out there.. and this Christies auction will mark a milestone for the art world.

Just a few reasons to pay-attention to collecting Photo books...

  1. Early want-to-be art collector, since the can't afford the actual photographic art works.. an easy and interesting compromise is to collect the photo books. They are cheap (most are only $25 to $50), and if you go to a book signing.. you can get them signed for free!! YEA!!
  2. Over the last few years, as art book publishing has become a totally money loosing business.. Many publishers are gone, and collectors have realized.. these photo books are hard to get, and undervalued.
  3. The world is going totally digital, and electronic/on-line books are going to become the norm.
  4. Artists first books are frequently small editions, represent the artists most important work. Many of these monographs have gotten destroyed as general circulation copies at public libraries, and coffee table books. Hence artist signed first edition books in good condition have become very rare.
  5. The artist monograph is an important part of art history, it allows you to see the artists full vision, and comprehend a total artistic project.
  6. Photo books frequently force artists to edit their photographic material to their strongest images.
  7. Most used book stores are long gone.. So there are actually only a few places to even buy these old monographs. Hence Christies has begun to enter the photography book auction business.

It looks like some huge records are about to be set.. it's a very high quality Photo book auction coming up at Christies on April 10th. Some of the MAO highlights are :

Cartier_bresson_decisive_moment So, it will be interesting to see if any of these lots go for such sky high prices.. many of these book could have been purchases as recent as 2 years ago.. for almost nothing..

But the catalog essay by Andrew Roth, astutely points out..

"... this is the first major collection offered at public auction, and at present there isn't a significant public holding of inscribed or association copies of rare photobooks in the US."

(photo of CARTIER-BRESSON, Henri. The Decisive Moment. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1952. Folio (14.25 x 10.5 inches), original boards, original dust jacket)

So what do you think... Time to buy?


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Hey MAO!
Love art books but, never like to keep them. I always either donate them or pass them away. I try to keep the images in my head...call it photographic memory.
Good to know that they are fetching such prices.

Isn't it more fun to collect the first editions when they're newly released? Buying someone else's foresight at auction doesn't seem as exciting as hunting down the great books of the future.

Here's the other thing (besides lack of funds) that keeps me on the sidelines: The older books are great for rare book enthusiasts, but how are the images? Printing technology has improved so much in the past few years that I doubt these are the best possible images of, say, Bernice Abbott that you can find.

And, by the way, these grapes are sour. :-)

Lisa.. MAO agrees..finding the next Robert Frank.. is much more fun.

But also finding a first edition copy of The Americans at your local town thrift/Antique shop or used bookstore for a few busks is also..pretty exciting too!

I agree with Lisa...especially regarding the printing technology. That said...I would love to have that copy of Decisive Moment or Observations by Avedon and Capote.

Mike...I am interested to know what you thought of Paul Graham's A Shimmer of Possibility?


My friend works at Christies and said the Andy Worhol sold for $38 mil. He always gets the last laugh!

I want to sell a rare antique book to christie's auction house

I Syed Fazal have a rare book antique and want to sell them to your auction house.If you want to buy then do contact me at 9932116462. My email id is [email protected]

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