October 11, 2005

Breast and bread line photos set auction records

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two of the best-known art photographs,
Edward Weston's "The Breast" and Dorothea Lange's "White Angel
Bread Line," sold for $822,400 apiece in a record price for
20th-century photographs, Sotheby's said on Tuesday.

The sales reflect a boom in the photography market in
recent years as investors bid up works of masters like Lange
and Weston. Art dealers said the record prices could go even
higher this week as photos by Alfred Stiglitz and Diane Arbus
go to auction.

The Weston photo, which went for more than twice its
$400,000 estimated price tag, marked the most ever paid when it
was sold on Monday night, Sotheby's said. The Lange picture
matched the price the next day.

"It's an interesting coincidence," said Kristin Gelder of
Sotheby's. "But stranger things have happened in the art

The Lange photo, taken in 1932, is a familiar image by the
New Jersey-born artist whose searing pictures of Dust Bowl
migrants in California have become cultural icons. Set in the
midst of the Great Depression, the "Bread Line" shows a man
leaning on a barrier, clutching his cup, while others in
overcoats and hats wait in line for their handouts.

Lange died in 1965.

Weston's picture, less well known to the general public but
prized by art historians, is a nude study of the famed
photographer's lover and fellow artist, Tina Modotti.

The soft-focused, shadow-striped image of the young Italian
woman's bust was taken in a studio the two shared in Mexico in
the 1920s, when Weston was becoming recognized as a leader in
the movement to transform photography into a fine art. Weston
died in 1958.

Older, rare daguerreotypes by photographers including
Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey have sold for more than $1
million in the past. Sotheby's was not able to give previous
records for modern pictures.