Imogen Cunningham, Magnolia Blossom, silver print, 1925; printed late 1960s-early 1970s. Estimate: $12,000 to 18,000.
Imogen Cunningham's life-long love for flora, combined with her keen understanding of line, textural contrast and lighting, bring forth the magnolia blossom's pure form and soft sensuality through shadow and depth in Magnolia Blossom. The photograph is a highlight in the May 20th Photographic Literature and Important Photographs Auction.
While visiting her sister in Washington, D.C., Cunningham purchased a magnolia, the flower that later became the subject of many of her signature images. Since she felt that her feminine imagery separated her at a time when most photographers were male, Cunningham began formalizing her photographs through abstraction and tight cropping, demonstrating her understanding of modernism while simultaneously introducing a delicate eroticism to her imagery.