Japanese Photobooks – Auction Results, Christie’s, May 21

I never really followed the price development of the market for rare Japanese photobooks. But I remember that once a collector told me that the price for rare Japanese books goes up by 100 $ every month. But this was before the financial crisis began.

The blog DLK COLLECTION just posted an overview of the results of the ‘Photobook’ auction at Christie’s, South Kensington, May 21:

The results of the recent Photobooks sale at Christie’s in London were considerably stronger than the other photography-related book sales this season. While I don’t have access to historical photobook auction records, according to Christie’s, the inscribed Frank [The Americans] likely set a record for a regularly-published (not special or limited edition) postwar book, fetching a hefty £43250 ($62,194). Photobooks by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Richard Prince also soared to big prices. Overall, the buy-in rate was solid (just under 28%) and the total sale proceeds covered the total High estimate.
[Quote: DLK COLLECTION]

This prompted me to have a closer look at the results of the Japanese photobooks included in the auction. Kikuji Kawada’s “The Map” became the 5th most expensive book and Araki’s extremely rare edition of  “ABCD” (20 copies) made the 9th place on the list, closely followed by the two ‘Workshop’ portfolios (place 11 and 12) and Yutaka Takanashi’s “Toshi-e” (no. 14).

Here are the results for Japanese photobooks:

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Must/should sees: Tokyo Photo fair/ The Provoke Era; Photography Now – China, Japan, Korea, at SFMOMA

TOKYO PHOTO 2009

It’s a little bit late, but for Tokyoites and current visitors to Tokyo not too late:  This weekend the first photography art fair is held in Japan: TOKYO PHOTO 2009. The fair is not that big – not to say quite small with 18 galleries participating, including four galleries from the USA. But some of the leading Japanese galleries have a booth like Tomio Koyama Gallery, Zeit-Photo Salon, MEM or Taro Nasu.

TOKYO PHOTO 2009 endeavors to be the foremost art fair of photography in Japan. The venue is located in the heart of international business and culture in Tokyo. To be held from September 4 to 6, Tokyo Photo 2009 will provide visitors with a unique opportunity to see and buy a wide range of photographic works from vintage prints to cutting-edge digitally enhanced images.

It would be great, if this first photography fair would be successful and would be repeated in the upcoming years. Until now we have two major photography fairs, Paris Photo in Europe and the AIPAD Photography Show New York in the USA. I think, a successful third fair in Asia would be an important tool to promote photography in Japan and nearby countries like China or Korea whose photography scenes are growing, but in which the market for photography still needs development. But of course, for this galleries from others Asian countries need to be included in future photography fairs…

Eikoh Hosoe: Man and Woman #6. 1960  © Eikoh Hosoe

THE PROVOKE ERA – Postwar Japanese Photography

I would love to see this show which opens on September 12 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The show is curated by Sandra S. Phillips, senior curator of photography at the SFMOMA. Sandra did already the two fabulous traveling exhibitions which introduced leading Japanese photographers to the West: Daido Moriyama in 1999 and Shomei Tomatsu in 2006.

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HIROSHI SUGIMOTO | Yellow Sea, Cheju, 1992

Focus on contemporary Japanese photography. Interview with Mariko Takeuchi, Part I

Last year’s Paris Photo fair with Japan as “Guest of Honour” was a huge success and on this occasion the Dutch photography magazine “foam” contacted me to do an interview with Mariko Takeuchi, the Guest Curator of Paris Photo. The interview was published in foam magazine #17, winter 2008. I will publish the full interview in two parts. The images are a new addition for the blog [the interview was without images, except some very nice portraits of Mariko :-)].

Part II here
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Part I (of II)

The 2008 edition of Paris Photo – one of the world’s most important fairs for still photography – took place in the Carrousel du Louvre in mid-November. This year Japan was Guest of Honour, an exceptional opportunity to present an overview of Japanese photography. Photography has been a major feature of Japanese culture since its introduction in 1848, attracting wide international attention in the 1990s and growing world interest ever since.

We asked Ferdinand Brueggemann, Director of Galerie Priska Pasquer in Cologne and passionate founder of the photo blog Japan-Photo.info to discuss the current state of Japanese photography with the Guest Curator of the show, Mariko Takeuchi.

Nobuyoshi Araki, Yoko, from 'Sentimental Journey', 1971 ©Nobuyoshi Araki

Nobuyoshi Araki, Yoko, from ‘Sentimental Journey’, 1971 ©Nobuyoshi Araki

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Mikiko Hara

When I went to Japan in the second half of the 1990s for to research Modern Japanese photography I was fortunate to meet the photographer Eiji Ina who introduced me to the contemporary photography scene in Tokyo. At that time it was nearly impossible for foreigners without a well developed ability to read Japanese (especially names)As an example: when I visited the exhibition “MOBO, MOGA / Modern Boy, Modern Girl: Japanese Modern Art 1910-1935” in Kamakura (1998) all artists names were written in Kanji. Since I find Japanese names very difficult to read I asked other Japanese visitors for the names of some artists. This caused vivid discussions among the Japanese, because the Kanji can have several different readings and sometimes the Japanese could not agree on the correct spelling of the names :-). to find out what was going on in Tokyo, since there were no English sources neither about exhibitions nor galleries available and Eiji Ina was so kind to take me to photography events like exhibition openings at galleries and museums or to the award ceremony of the Kimura Ihei Award. He also introduced me to the photographer Mikiko Hara, whom I met for the first time in 1998 at the opening of her exhibition “Agnus Dei” at Nikon Salon, Ginza/Tokyo.

Mikiko Hara: untitled (from the series: Agnus Dei), 1998

A year later I saw Mikiko’s work again in the group exhibition about young Japanese women photographers “Private Room II” at Art Tower Mito. Curated by Kohtaro Iizawa this exhibition was a kind of assessment of the “onna no ko shashinka” (girly photographer) phenomenon which had already faded at that time. I felt that Mikikos work was misplaced in the girly photographer context, since she was a few years older than these ‘girlies’ like Hiromix and Yurie Nagashima. Also Hiromix’s and Nagashima’s main aim was to use the camera for to talk about themselves and to deal with their own identity. Mikiko’s topic is different, she does not speak about herself:

Mikiko Hara: Untitled (from the series: It As Is), 1996

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The ultimate list of Japanese photography books. Not!

Books on Photography Books

In the last years the interest in Japanese photography books has jumped from non recognition to becoming a must have not only for specialized photo book collectors. Books which were completely unknown outside Japan except to a few well informed collectors and researchers are now sold at high prices by rare book dealers and at auctions.1)The latest and most spectacular rare photobook auction was a few months ago at Christie’s in London. I know it is a little bit late, but nevertheless I will write a short report about the auction results in another post – after I have received the auction catalogue which I had to buy from a auction catalogue dealer in the US, since the catalogue was sold out weeks before the auction started….

It all began in 1999 with the exhibition catalogue “Fotografia Publica. Photography in Print 1919-1939”.

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References   [ + ]

1. The latest and most spectacular rare photobook auction was a few months ago at Christie’s in London. I know it is a little bit late, but nevertheless I will write a short report about the auction results in another post – after I have received the auction catalogue which I had to buy from a auction catalogue dealer in the US, since the catalogue was sold out weeks before the auction started….

Naoya Hatakeyama at Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo

In 2003 the “Regionale 2004” a project by North Rhine-Westphalia (a federal state in West Germany) commissioned Naoya Hatakeyama to document the defunct coal mine “Zeche Westfalen I/II Ahlen”.

Naoya Hatakeyama: Zeche Westfalen I/II Ahlen

From October 2003 to February 2004 Hatakeyama photographed the sites and structures that were home to tens of thousands of workers for over a century. The series, which I have not seen yet, neither on the wall nor in the book with the same name published just recently by Nazraeli Press, is on display at Taka Ishii Gallery in Tokyo.

It seems that Hatakeyam kind of returned with the following series to a topic with which he ‘blasted’ into the Japanese photo scene in 1995, literally.
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Japanese photobooks at Swann auction


“Farwell Photography” by Daido Moriyama (Shashin yo Sayonara, 1972) is one of a dozen Japanese photography books (others are from Eikoh Hosoe, Jun Morinaga and Ikko Nakahara) being included in the upcoming auction “Photographic Literature” at Swann in New York, Dec. 7. The estimate for the book is 4.500 – 5.500 US$! This is above the price range I have seen in France recently. Even this book belongs undoubtly to the important photography books of the 20s century – more on Japanese photobooks and their current appraisal in a future post – I wonder what makes this book the second most expensive book in the auction behind a book by Robert Frank. We will see if the auction will confirm the high estimate…

Speaking of prices, during the extremely successful auction “Veronica’s Revenge” two weeks ago at Phillips, de Pury & Company, New York a “Seascape” by Hiroshi Sugimoto reached 27.600 US$ (estimate 10.000 – 15.000 US$).
Phillips, de Pury & Company New York, Veronica’s Revenge (Session 2), 11/9/2004