Vernacular Spectacular: A Note About Our Photographs Catalog

Daile Kaplan, Swann Vice President and Director of Photographs & Photobooks, contributed the following post in response to recent questions about Vernacular Photography:

Within the past few days, since our May 21st auction catalog has been online, I’ve received a number of inquiries from clients who asked, “What is vernacular photography?” They were surprised to learn snapshots, industrial and advertising albums and three-dimensional objects are avidly collected.

Bert Stern, Marilyn Monroe, from The Last Sitting, oversized Fuji Crystal Archive contact sheet,
1962, printed 1979. Estimate $5,000 to $7,500. At auction May 21.
As auction house specialists, we champion all forms of photography. But, as the global marketplace for art has increasingly focused on contemporary examples, the public’s awareness of classical photographs–those intimate black-and-white and albumen prints created by talented artists (who happen to refer to themselves as photographers)–has been obscured. Enormous color works by popular brand-name artists dominate the headlines.
Model in a Fetching Red Chiffon Hat and Dress, by an unknown photographer, early 1960s.
Estimate $600 to $900. At auction May 21.
The vernacular images and objects in our May sale, which have been integrated alongside “high” artworks, may be seen as a bridge between classical and contemporary expressions. After all, the constellation of photographic imagery is vast; discovery and inspiration can be found by looking in unlikely and, yes, even ordinary places.

Editor's Note: read a great profile on Daile in the May/June 2015 issue of Photograph Magazine!

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