Postscript – Mossgreen Auction – SMH photographs

Musing on Mossgreen Auction: Sydney Morning Herald
Vintage Photography Collection, Part 1

If you were looking for evidence that interest in photography is alive and well in Australia, then look no further than a couple of recent auctions.

Of particular interest is the early December auction by Mossgreen Sydney of the Sydney Morning Herald Photography Archive Part 1.

On seeing the pre-auction exhibition, I was reminded of how wonderful it is to view the now-rarely exhibited 10X8 (maybe 12×10) black and white photographs. There was a time when we all printed to this size – but now most photographers print to a ‘museum’ size – being large.

As with previous Mossgreen photo auctions, the exhibition was hung salon style (more or less) – being four prints high in groups around the upstairs gallery.

If buyers wished to get their hands on photographs by big names, then this was an ideal opportunity. And gathering from the sales, the buyers present were there to purchase bargains often at less than a thousand dollars (often just a couple of hundred).

The surprise for the night was the sale price of a couple of works of lesser-known photographers. The conclusion was that not all buyers are after the ‘big’ name – some are very keen to have in their collections fabulous images by whoever was brilliant enough to capture it.

There were quiet moments during the auction, but I suspect this was expected given the range of photography offered and that some buyers would have noted that this was ‘Part 1’. So there will be more to come. But once interest was sparked in an image, the auctioneer was put through his paces to keep up with the bids.

I suspect that given the occasional comments by the auctioneer, that the owner was inclined to bargain with bidders immediately after the close of the auction. But not so the day after – that would see items return to full price or possibly be withdrawn from sale.

Of course one of the benefits of buying at these Mossgreen auctions is that you go home with a framed print – just add one nail and you have a new addition to your collection hanging ready to be admired.

The story behind this collection is a sad one – and I have provided links below that cover the many aspects of the tale. Despite how this came about, what Mossgreen have done is to provide lovers of photography with the fantastic opportunity to revisit works we do not get to see often– as well be introduced to lessor known works by both named photographers as well as by some that do not get much of a mention (if any) in the history of Australian photography.

What this means is that the photography lovers need to visit auction photography exhibitions such as those by Mossgreen whenever they appear. These auctions are a wonderful opportunity – to buy and to take in photography.

If you missed this exhibition, it is highly recommended that you keep an eye out for the next ones. The next auction dates for this archive are unknown at the moment.

Meanwhile be aware that there is a healthy and active audience out there for photography – so if you intend to buy – you have competition.

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Background Links

2015 report on the loss of the archive

June 27, 2017 article from The Australian

How a Santa Monica Art Dealer Came to Control Much of Australia’s Photographic History

Article in ProCounter article

Sydney morning herald archive

Here’s a link to their online catalogue

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