A striking black and white photograph taken by the American photographer Paul Strand auctioned yesterday evening (December 11) in New York for $32,000. The price represents a stunning 78.8% increase on the presale valuation of $18,000.
The photograph, entitled Wall Street, New York was taken in 1915 and is considered stylistically typical of the artist's work. It depicts a crowd of New Yorkers silhouetted outside a colossal modernist structure, perhaps a large scale financial building, and suggests ideas of urban alienation while warning against the looming Wall Street Crash.
Strand's three principal themes during 1915 comprised movement in the city, street portraiture and abstractions, and, with solipsistic flair, he was able to capture the increasing pace, scale and scope of New York City during the interwar years.
Strand's work is no stranger to strong performances. His 1923 platinum print Rebecca sold for $645,800 at Sotheby's in April 2008.
A 1923 San Francisco police department album also performed well at the photography auction, achieving $36,000 - a 140% increase on its $15,000 presale estimate. The fascinating album contains more than 720 mug shots which are arranged over 60 pages, and documents the gamut of local criminal activity, from murder and mayhem to vagrancy and theft.
Further highlights included a group of 11 circus panoramas shot by Edward J Kelty, depicting the Hagenback-Wallace Circus, which sold for $14,400 after being given a high valuation of $12,000, and a beautiful Max Dupain photograph printed in the early 1970s entitled simply Sunbaker, which sold for $13,200 - $4,200 over its $9,000 high estimate.