Christie’s to Offer Photographs from the Consolidated Freightways Collection

Christie’s New York will offer an insightful coast-to-coast look at the 20th Century American landscape with Crossing America: Photographs from the Consolidated Freightways Collection. The highly anticipated sale has more than 250 lots and will be offered in two parts, beginning on April 7, 2011, followed by a second auction to take place in the fall, at Christie’s Rockefeller Center.

The collection, hailing from the freight transportation giant, has been lauded by photography cognoscenti since its inception in the 1980s. Featuring an exhilarating array of photographs of the American Landscape that span from the 1920’s to the 1990’s, the group offers a poignant narrative of the American life from vast, seemingly endless highways to the skyscrapers of Manhattan. Crossing America: Photographs from the Consolidated Freightways Collection is expected to realize upwards of $1.5 million.

Of the 130 lots in the April 7 sale, standout works include those by Ansel Adams, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Dorthea Lange, Robert Mapplethorpe, Walker Evans and William Eggleston, which depict a strong representation of the Depression Era and Color Photography. Until now, the Consolidated Freightways’ photography collection has been displayed at Con-way Inc.’s San Mateo, CA headquarters. The collection also has been shown publicly over the years at various museums and galleries.

Tom Nightingale, Vice President Communications and Chief Marketing Officer for Con-way Inc. remarks: “This collection was assembled more than two decades ago by prior leaders who at the time believed it would help broaden awareness of Consolidated Freightways and provide unique recognition of philanthropy in support of the arts,” “The collection is a legacy from a different era. The company felt it was the right time to divest the collection, making it available to serious collectors who are better suited to care for these historic works and give them the visibility they deserve to a wider and more appreciative public.”

Laura Paterson, Christie’s Vice President and Photographs Specialist comments: “This expertly curated collection was originally inspired by a commitment to assembling a comprehensive group of seminal photographs that could have been shot from the cab of a truck, and what it evolved into was a veritable testament to the American Spirit. Documenting a coast-to-coast journey from the depression-era fields of California to Wall Street, this unique collection captures some of the most influential moments of the Twentieth Century, offering a rare opportunity to view the evolution of the United States from the perspective of the open road.”

Cathy Elkies, Christie’s Senior Vice President and Director of Corporate and Special Collections concurred: “We are looking forward to bringing this rare and dynamic collection to the auction market on the heels of 2010’s successful corporate collections sold at Christie’s, including those from Daimler, Advanta and Playboy.”

Standouts from the April sale include Robert Frank’s US 285, New Mexico, 1956 (estimate: $50,000-70,000) pictured on page 1, right, an enigmatic image that wholly encapsulates the sentiment of the open road. In the mid 1950’s, Frank went on an inspired journey with funding from a Guggenheim Fellowship, to capture the essence of American life, delving into themes of family, politics, culture, race relations, and consumerism. The present lot emotively illustrates the journey itself, and the allure of an outstretched highway.

Robert Mapplethorpe’s Flag, 1987 (estimate: $70,000-90,000) pictured on page 1, center, is a striking example of the artist’s provocative Flag photographs. Taken from the back of the flag with the sun shining through, the present lot is distinguished for representing an anti-portrait of the American Flag. Mapplethorpe’s atypical composition of the American flag conveys a rare countercultural depiction of this keystone of American iconography.

Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936 (estimate: $40,000-60,000) – pictured on page 1, left, is one of the most recognized images of the 20th century, being reproduced in virtually every history and anthology of photography. Migrant Mother is a distinctly American picture, one of very few, that have achieved icon status.

Additional highlights include:

Cindy Sherman
Untitled Film Still 1980
gelatin silver print
Estimate: $30,000-50,000

Alfred Stieglitz
Equivilent, c. 1929
gelatin silver print
Estimate: $25,000-35,000

Walker Evans
42nd Street New York, 1929
gelatin silver print
Estimate: $20,000-30,000

Ansel Adams
Winter Sunrise, Lone Pine, Sierra Nevada, 1944
gelatin silver print, printed in 1978
Estimate: $25,000-35,000

Diane Arbus
Man at Parade on Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 1969
gelatin silver print, printed later
Estimate: $8,000-12,000

Sally Mann
Gorjus, 1989
gelatin silver print, printed in 1978
Estimate: $15,000-25,000

Edward Weston
Lettuce Ranch, Salinas Valley, 1938
gelatin silver print
Estimate: $12,000-18,000

William Eggelston
Black Bayou Plantation near Glendora, Missisippi, 1974
dye-transfer print, printed in 1980
Estimate: $15,000-25,000

Hiroshi Sugimoto
Studio Drive-In, Culver City, LA 1993
gelatin silver print
Estimate: $20,000-30,000

Bernd & Hilla Becher
Toledo, Ohio, 1974
gelatin silver print, printed in 1992
Estimate: $10,000-15,000

Auction: April 7, 2011 at 2:00 p.m.

Viewing: Christie’s Rockefeller Center Galleries, April 2-6

Image: Robert Frank, US 285, New Mexico, 1956. Estimate: $50,000-70,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2011.

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