figure in the California photographic
community, Jack Welpott was a photographer known for his stately female nudes
and for the decades he spent as an educator.
His collection, part of which is being offered at Swann on October 15, tells the story of both the classical and experimental
trajectories of photography in the 20th century. Many of the photographers are
now known for their unconventional, radical views on the possibilities of the
Lot 201: Jack Welpott, Sabine, silver print, 1973, printed 1980s. Estimate $2,000 to $3,000.
Lot 254: Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Wall Abstraction, silver print, 1958. Estimate $2,000 to $3,000.
Smith, Jerry Uelsmann, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, and Robert Heinecken, among
others, challenged the status quo, redefined what the medium could or should
do, and continue to influence and find meaning with a rising group of young
photographers. These artists pushed the limits of the darkroom, and found new
and challenging ways to articulate themselves.
Lot 347: Henry Holmes Smith, Mother and Son, dye-transfer print, 1950-70. Estimate $2,000 to $3,000.
Lot 348: Henry Holmes Smith, Death of Punch, dye-transfer print, 1960-75. Estimate $3,000 to $4,000.
Smith, once Welpott’s instructor at Indiana University, used photography (often
camera-less) to explore light and color. In Death of Punch, he used broken Christmas tree ornaments to create a
riotous, very nearly dangerous, circus of form and layered color. Mother and Son explores mythic, primordial subjects. In this study, Smith spread a viscous liquid and water on a pane of glass, and
made an exposure with a 100-watt light bulb. The light passed through the
liquid, revealing his expressive, amorphous figures.
Lot 298: Jerry Uelsmann, Small Woods Where I Met Myself (Final Version), silver print, 1967. Estimate $2,000 to $3,000.
Lot 299: Jerry Uelsmann, Untitled (female nude melting into bed), silver print, 1977. Estimate $1,500 to $2,500.
An MFA classmate
of Welpott, Jerry Uelsmann's mysteriously surreal tableaux, created completely
in the dark room, are rich in detail and complexity and invite the viewer to
create a narrative. Using layered negatives, Uelsmann's work paved the way for
20th-century American montage.
Lot 335: Robert Heinecken, Documentary Photogram/ Coffee Break Drinks and Dinner, offset lithograph from a photogram, 1971. Estimate $2,000 to $3,000.
Lot 350: Robert Heinecken, [detail] She/He, Polaroid, 1980. Estimate $5,000 to $7,500.
figure in the California photography community with Welpott, the subversive and
provocative Robert Heinecken called himself a "para-photgrapher,"
often appropriating photographs that appeared in popular media, and
reimagining, recontextualizing, and rephotographing them as an exploration of
media, traditional definitions of "high" versus popular culture, sex,
and advertising. His Polaroids, one of which is offered here as part of the He/She series, represent one of his
forays into his own image-making. Using photography incorporated into
sculptures, moving images, magazine imagery, and traditional printmaking
methods, Heinecken demonstrated that photography has no limits.
For more photos from the
collection of Jack Welpott, be sure to check out our catalogue. Thanks to Associate Director of Photographs & Photobooks Deborah Rogal for contributing this post.
Labels: fine photographs, Henry Holmes Smith, Jack Welpott, Jerry Uelsmann, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Robert Heinecken