Les articles mis en ligne sont une source fiable pour les collectionneurs et les étudiants de renseignements particulièrement précis et vérifiés, facile à traduire en français. La liberté de ton, la légèreté des commentaires ont valu à leur auteur, Alex Novak bien des compliments, et le surnom du Marcel Proust du cénacle des collectionneurs de photographies. Même si “Goncourt” pourrait sembler parfois plus approprié. Vous pouvez facilement demander à vous abonner à la “Newsletter”.
Voici le plus récent article consacré à une vente aux enchères française, qui s’est tenue au début de l’été à Enghien-les-Bains :
Bizarre Enghien Photography Auction Weirds Me Out,
But Still Brings in Nearly $1.9 Million
By Alex Novak
I have gone to hundreds of auctions, but none of them were as strange as the one at Enghien. Looking over the material online before I left for Paris, I was highly impressed. Many of the prints looked rich and dark on the Internet, and there were some major photos and interesting group lots. They all seemed reasonably estimated. In fact some lots looked incredibly cheap. It was an event that convinced me to come to Paris this summer in fact.
Unfortunately what I found was not quite so positive a picture. My first inkling that things would not be what they seemed came from several French dealer friends who warned me that the prints were part of the estate of Georges Aboucaya, who was a Saint Ouen flea market dealer known for picking up large lots of left-over prints. I recognized the name even though I had no direct dealing with him myself.
The expert for the Enghien auction was Yves di Maria. Yves had been a long-time Paris photo dealer with his brother before they parted company. He first had a gallery in the Marais, but then took to being the expert for a number of French auction houses. He was the expert during the Le Gray sale where—briefly at least—a world record was established for a 19th-century photograph when Gustave Le Gray’s “Bateaux Quittant le Port du Havre” sold for just under $1.3 million.
I have always liked Yves and generally have found him to be honest and knowledgeable, but this auction had me questioning my judgment. Perhaps, as he himself said, the estate’s need to sell quickly in the face of taxes forced a too hasty auction, which could not be prepared for properly. However, I found too many mistakes and the reproductions consistently favored the auction house, and in major ways, in my opinion.
It started with the heavily Photoshopped images up on the auction website and in the printed catalogue, and then with the previews in Paris itself. Usually the Paris previews are held in a spacious apartment that Yves maintains. This time it was held in a single small room across the street from his apartment where as many as 16 people would find themselves squashed together trying to look at the material in difficult circumstances and only over a very short period of time. I spent two preview sessions like this and over eight hours in that little space.
Yves and his wife Agnes were as accommodating and pleasant as they could be under the circumstances, but to say that it was difficult to see nearly 600 lots–many, if not most with multiple images–is an understatement. With over 1,500 images to view, this was a serious challenge. Yes, you could go out later to Enghien-les-Bains to preview the sale (and I did as well, adding another three hours to my previewing time), but a lot of the Parisians preferred to preview earlier and in more “privacy”, which was in short demand with this auction. By the way, no magnifying loop or decent light was available at the Paris preview.
After the first appointment, I came back with my own loop to check things. The first thing I looked at under the loop was the “Man Ray” of Tears. It was a large blowup of maybe his most expensive and important work. Only problem was that it was a simple copy from a book, and I believe probably done in the 1950s or later.
As Sotheby’s expert Simone Klein pointed out to me and others, there is the photographer’s name and the title set in type below the image, just as it is in a book. Interestingly enough this line of type was not shown in either the catalogue, or online. Under the loop you could easily see the half-tone dot screen that indicates that this was copied from a book. The description for the lot indicates dates for when the image was made and published, but gives no such information for this actual piece in the auction. This copy photo had gone through intense conservation, removing mold marks as best as possible; however, spotting from the mold as well as blue staining from something else that appeared to have been spilled on the photograph still marked the image here (although virtually absent from the catalogue and website illustration, as you can see at the right–at least on the I Photo Central website). More importantly, this was a mere later copy that had nothing to connect it to Man Ray himself that I am aware of, except that it was a copy of one of his images from a book.
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